2.1 Veterinarians and Animals
Veterinarians should be aware of the particular ethical status of animals as sentient beings
and the veterinary responsibility for animal health and animal welfare.
Veterinarians should always take into account the five freedoms for assessing animal welfare:
– Freedom from hunger and thirst,
– Freedom from pain, injury and disease,
– Freedom from fear and distress,
– Freedom to express normal behaviour,
– Freedom from discomfort.
Veterinarians should use the least stressful techniques necessary for a sound diagnosis and
Veterinarians should attempt to relieve animals of pain and suffering as soon as possible; if
the condition is untreatable, they should perform euthanasia (killing with as little pain,
distress and fear as possible).
Veterinarians should consider to euthanize an animal even without the owner’s permission in
urgent cases, in which there are no medical means to prevent excessive suffering of the
animal (in case of accident, first aid etc., when the owner of the animal may not be present or
cannot be contacted). Prior to taking such a decision, however, all possible treatments should
have been carefully considered and ruled out in all conscience and to the best of one’s
knowledge, assuming full responsibility for the act.
When aware of violations to animal welfare legislation, veterinarians should immediately
bring this to the attention of the owner of the animal(s) and do everything within their power
to solve the problem.
Where applicable, in these specified circumstances, veterinarians should report it to the
appropriate legal authority.
Beyond first aid, veterinarians should only undertake veterinary services where they possess
adequate knowledge and abilities: if they do not, veterinarians should refer the case to a
veterinarian with the appropriate knowledge and skills.
(Source: FVE European Code of Conduct)