How the AVMA Hurts Animals

Most veterinarians would never recommend caging animals so that they are unable to turn around or comfortably lie down or cramming pipes down animals’ throats and force-feeding them until their livers become massively enlarged and diseased. Yet the professional group representing American veterinarians, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), supports these practices.

Unfortunately, farmed-animal industry representatives have, in most instances to date, been able to dictate policies surrounding their industries, despite the obvious and scientifically irrefutable evidence of extreme cruelty involved in many of the systems and practices employed. As one veterinarian, Peggy Larson, D.V.M., put it, “[M]ost of the association’s policies promote animal industries at the expense of … animal welfare, including promoting practices that cause great harm, pain and unplanned death.”

Why does the AVMA support such practices? Says current AVMA President Dr. Bonnie Beaver, who seems to be honestly attempting to reverse some of the AVMA’s most obscene positions, “It is important for each of us to recognize that we may at times become too close to the industries we serve, losing our objectivity about what is the best welfare and adopting instead that suggested by the industry.”

Below is a synopsis of just some of the AVMA’s anti-animal positions.


“Gestation crates” are miserably uncomfortable concrete-floored stalls so small that pigs inside them can’t even turn around. Although the scientific evidence condemning them as physically and mentally torturous for mother pigs is overwhelming and uncontested among scientists and veterinarians with animal welfare as their primary concern, the AVMA continues to support them. Sows in crates are forced into a constant cycle of pregnancy and birth and are never allowed to breathe fresh air, feel the sunshine on their backs, or know a moment’s joy or contentment.

In addition to torturing these intelligent animals into complete psychosis, the crates cause the sows’ bones and muscles to atrophy, and the pigs develop painful sores and lesions. Most of them are lame and very sick by the time they’re slaughtered. According to industry reports, more than 400,000 are crippled by the time they arrive at the slaughterhouse.

Clearly the AVMA would not remain silent were dogs so horribly abused, but pigs are smarter than dogs and just as sensitive and worthy of the AVMA’s concern. Unfortunately, pigs have anti-animal representatives in positions of power at the AVMA. The veterinarian who proposed the endorsement for gestation crates, Dr. David Madsen, is the AVMA delegate from the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, and he actually admitted in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association that the resolution was a response to animal rights groups’ objections to the use of gestation stalls.

Read PETA’s in-depth review of the science regarding gestation crates and sow welfare.


Despite foie gras bans all over the world, the AVMA has thus far remained silent regarding this cruel industry, which shoves long pipes down the throats of young ducks and geese to pump massive amounts of food into their stomachs in order to enlarge their livers. The frightened, battered birds often become too sick to walk when they develop serious liver disease as a result of the force-feeding.

Ducks and geese, who naturally form hierarchies and families in the wild, often tear out their own feathers and even cannibalize each other as a result of the extreme stress on foie gras farms. A PETA investigation in New York’s Hudson Valley facility (formerly Commonwealth Enterprises) found one duck who had a maggot-covered neck wound that was so severe that water spilled out of it when he drank. Many birds died when their stomachs burst from overfeeding, and many more developed foot infections, kidney necrosis, spleen and kidney damage, bruised and broken bills, and tumor-like lumps in their throats.

Foie gras farms are so cruel that force-feeding birds has been banned in many countries, including the U.K. and Switzerland. In 2004, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also signed a bill that will outlaw both the production and sale of foie gras in California. Many restaurants worldwide have removed foie gras from their menus after restaurant owners and their customers learned just how abusive foie gras production really is.

Learn more about foie gras production.


Barbaric steel-jaw traps, which slam onto animals’ limbs and cut into their flesh, often down to the bone, have been banned in 88 countries and in a growing number of states across the U.S., including California, Florida, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington state. But while the world moves forward, the AVMA recently took a step back, weakening its position against trapping with this preface: “The AVMA recognizes that trapping is a useful and necessary method for managing … populations.” This comes as no surprise when you learn that a trapper was reportedly added to the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee to steer the group away from progressive policymaking. These traps—most commonly used by the fur industry—clamp onto the legs of wild animals such as foxes and rabbits and can hold them there for days until trappers return to beat or stomp them to death or to break their necks. Many animals, especially mothers desperate to return to their young, will often chew or twist their own legs off in order to escape these cruel traps.

Learn more about steel-jaw traps.


For decades, the AVMA has given face-branding the thumbs up. This cruel procedure involves burning the sensitive skin on cows’ faces with hot irons. Thankfully, in 1995, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally dropped its face-branding requirements—no thanks to the AVMA, which has always been silent on this issue.

Learn more about how cattle suffer for the meat industry.

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