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WEBINAR PREVIEW: Euthanasia Guidelines

Oct 17, 2016

WEBINAR PREVIEW: Euthanasia Guidelines

October 20, 2016 | 12:00 pm EST | Watch Here

Making the decision to euthanize an animal is always difficult. Jan Shearer, DVM, MS, professor and extension veterinarian, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, will review the decision-making process for euthanasia and considerations for selection of method. In this webinar, Dr. Shearer will provide tools and information that can minimize pain and distress in the animal.


Jan Shearer, DVM, MS

Professor and Extension Veterinarian
Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Shearer serves the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine as Professor and Extension Veterinarian. In cooperation with Extension Faculty from the Department of Animal Sciences and Iowa State’s statewide network of county and regional extension specialists, he is responsible for the development and delivery of veterinary extension programs designed to meet the needs of Iowa’s cattle industries, veterinarians and the allied agri-business industry. Dr. Shearer’s primary areas of research interest are lameness and welfare issues of beef and dairy cattle. He is probably best known for establishing the Master Hoof Care Program, a training program designed to teach on-farm employees how to properly care for foot problems in cattle. This program acquired national and international attention for its impact on foot health in dairy cattle and was fittingly recognized by the USDA Secretary of Agriculture in 2003 with the Honor Award for outstanding innovation in animal health. He is a Diplomat of the American College of Animal Welfare and serves as a board member and scientific advisor to multiple organizations and dairy operations. He served as Chair of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) from 2004 to 2010 and was appointed as the AABPs Alternate Liaison to AVMA Animal Welfare Committee in 2012. He is currently the Chair of the Food Animal Working Group (FAWG) of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia and member of the AVMA’s Panel on Humane Slaughter and Mass Depopulation. Dr. Shearer has been honored by the University of Florida with the Superior Accomplishment Award (2001), by The Ohio State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with the Distinguished Alumnus Award (2006), by the American Association of Bovine Practitioners with the Award of Excellence (2006), by the AVMA in 2011 as recipient of the AVMA Animal Welfare Award and in 2015 with the Delaval Dairy Extension Award.  .


Why is the topic of euthanasia important to the dairy industry?
In a “perfect world,” we’d cure all diseases and prevent any possibility of catastrophic injury that might interfere with an animal’s “quality of life.”  But, it’s not a perfect world; “things happen” and not all are good. Euthanasia is one way to assure relief from suffering when medical options have been exhausted or do not exist. 

How can proper euthanasia make a difference within the greater dairy industry?
In many cases, euthanasia is the only practical way to provide prompt relief of uncontrollable animal suffering. It is our responsibility as animal caretakers to have the knowledge and proper equipment to conduct this procedure effectively and with compassion to help assure the welfare of animals.

Why should dairy producers care about proper euthanasia guidelines?
An “unwritten agreement” called the “Ancient Contract” exists to work together for the benefit of domesticated animals and man. We, as caretakers, have a moral responsibility to provide animals with their basic needs – food, water, shelter, protection from predators, medical care as needed, and when the time comes, a humane death. Euthanasia means a “good death.”  When properly performed the welfare of animals is preserved.

Why is proper training important for dairy operations to implement?
Just as important as providing cattle with a high quality of life, is, when the time comes, to ensure a merciful death. Conducting euthanasia procedures correctly, regardless of method chosen, requires training.

What do you feel is the most important factor that leads to appropriate euthanasia practices on dairy farms?
Without doubt, the most important factor in assuring that euthanasia practices are properly implemented on farm is training. 

How will FARM help industry stakeholders raise the bar for animal euthanasia?
Participation in the FARM program provides an opportunity for dairy farmers, managers/herdsmen and veterinarians to consciously evaluate and revise or tweak their euthanasia practices. 

This webinar is part the of the Merck Dairy C.A.R.E & FARM Animal Care Webinar series. You can view the FAQs and full schedule here.