Policies, Regulations, Guidelines, and Issues

Veterinary Mobility Act (Visit AVMA site for more information)

The Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act amends the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) to permit veterinarians to freely transport the drugs they need to euthanize, anesthetize or manage pain in animals as long as they have a license to practice and are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The DEA previously barred veterinarians from transporting, dispensing and administering controlled drugs away from where they are registered to handle them, per an interpretation of the CSA that many in the profession deemed to be overly restrictive.

Specifically, the law states:

"a registrant who is a veterinarian shall not be required to have a separate registration in order to transport and dispense controlled substances in the usual course of veterinary practice at a site other than the registrant's registered principal place of business or professional practice, so long as the site of transporting and dispensing is located in a State where the veterinarian is licensed to practice veterinary medicine and is not a principal place of business or professional practice."

Veterinarians often administer controlled substances for pain management, anesthesia and euthanasia. The newly revised CSA permits practitioners to carry and administer those drugs when providing medical care in rural areas, making house calls and responding to emergencies in the field.

FDA Regulations on Importing Veterinary Drugs into the U.S. (http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/Products/ImportExports/ucm050077.htm)

New animal drug substances for which there are no approved New Animal Drug Applications (NADAs) or Investigational New Animal Drug (INAD) exemptions, consigned to veterinarians for use in their private practices, or to manufacturers, or distributors, may not be legally imported into the United States. These drugs will be considered adulterated under section 501(a)(5) of the Act, or misbranded under section 502(f)(1).

Bulk drug substances labeled for further manufacturing or processing and bearing some indication for veterinary use, are adulterated within the meaning of 501(a)(5) unless the recipient or distributor holds an approved NADA, ANADA, conditional NADA, or an INAD exemption for preparation of a finished dosage form drug or medicated feed premix from that particular bulk drug source, or an approval is not required at this time either by regulation or policy.

Bulk drug substances labeled for further manufacturing or processing, which do not bear any indications for veterinary use, may be misbranded under Section 502(f)(1) if they are intended for veterinary use. Such drugs are in violation of Section 502(f)(1) because they do not bear adequate directions for veterinary drug use and they are not exempt from adequate directions for use.

New animal drug substances may be imported only if the consignee is:

  • the holder of an approved NADA, ANADA, or a conditional NADA for the imported new animal drug substance; or,
  • the sponsor or investigator named in an INAD exemption for the imported drug substance; or,
  • the investigator conducting tests in vitro and in laboratory research animals with drugs which comply with pertinent Federal regulations (21 CFR 511.1(a)); or,
  • a distributor holding the requisite approvals or having an order from a consignee holding the appropriate approved NADA or INAD exemption.

FDA will take appropriate action to prevent importation of new animal drug substances if the importer does not meet one of these criteria. Field compliance officers will prevent illegal importation by detaining the drug substances at the port of entry. Veterinarians and others should be aware of these requirements when planning to import bulk drugs.

Pet Ownership of Exotic Mammals

Pet ownership of exotic mammals can be controversial, especially in regard to those species not traditionally considered pets, such as large exotic feline species, and wildlife species such as raccoons. AEMV currently has no formal policy statement regarding ownership of specific exotic mammal species, but suggests that ownership be based upon the following guidelines:

  • Ownership must be in compliance with federal, state and local community regulations -owners must be able to provide for the animal's physical and psychological needs.
  • Owners must have a relationship with a veterinarian willing and able to provide veterinary care.
  • Owners must take steps to ensure the animal presents no danger to the public.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a number of policy statements regarding ownership and veterinary care of exotic pet species and are listed below. These statements are under review for inclusion into a wider AEMV policy statement. AEMV member and public comments are invited. Please direct comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Policy Statements

1. Removal or Reduction of Canine Teeth in Captive Nonhuman Primates or Exotic and Wild (Indigenous) Carnivores (Approved by the AVMA Executive Board November 2003; revised April 2004, June 2007)

The AVMA is opposed to removal of canine teeth in captive nonhuman primates or exotic and wild (indigenous) carnivores, except when required for medical treatment or scientific research approved by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Reduction of canine teeth may be necessary to address medical and approved scientific research needs, or animal or human safety concerns. If reductions expose the pulp cavity, endodontic procedures must be performed by a qualified person.

To minimize bite wounds, recommended alternatives to dental surgery include behavioral modification, environmental enrichment, and changes in group composition.

2. Declawing Captive Exotic and Wild (Indigenous) Cats
(Current as of June 2005)

The AVMA opposes declawing captive exotic and other wild (indigenous) cats for nonmedical reasons.

3. Position on Canine Hybrids
(Approved by the AVMA Executive Board November 1995; CPHRVM reviewed October 2003)

The AVMA recognizes that: a) wild canines crossbred with domestic animals (canine hybrids) are often maintained in captivity as companion animals, for breeding purposes, for research activities, and for exhibition; b) depending on the management and disposition of canine hybrids, they may constitute a significant hazard to human health, other animal species, the environment, or themselves; and c) there is much controversy with regard to the amount of genetic diversity between some wild and domestic canines and the suitability of canine hybrids as companion animals.

The AVMA strongly opposes keeping as pets any hybrids of wild canines crossbred with domestic animals. The AVMA believes that all commercial traffic in these animals for such purposed should be prohibited.

Persons who own or are contemplating owning canine hybrids should be aware of the following:

  • Laws in their state or community that may prohibit canine hybrids or require a permit for their presence.
  • The existence of strong evidence from experts in animal behavior, animal control, animal welfare, and public health that canine hybrids can exhibit unpredictable behavior and pose a significant threat of severe attacks on humans.
  • Public health officials may require euthanasia of canine hybrids after they bite a person or are exposed to a rabid animal, regardless of their rabies vaccine status, because presently there is no rabies vaccine licensed for canine hybrids and little scientific data on the pathogenesis of rabies in these animals.
  • The need for special housing, including secure fencing to prevent escape and to prevent direct contact with humans and other animals.
  • Owners or keepers of canine hybrids may be at increased risk for liability.
  • The importance of establishing a good relationship with a veterinarian who has some knowledge of canine hybrids and is willing to provide appropriate health care through treatment and preventive medicine.
  • Veterinarians should be aware of all of the above so that they can appropriately counsel their clients. In addition, each veterinarian should clarify the position of his or her liability insurance carrier to determine if protection will be available if the veterinarian accepts canine hybrids as patients.

Recognizing that some states allow canine hybrids to be owned, the AVMA encourages the development and licensure of drugs and biologicals that can be used on such animals.

4. Importation and Interstate Movement of Exotic and Native Wildlife (Approved by the AVMA Executive Board 1995; revised 2003)

The AVMA recommends that appropriate state and federal agencies develop, implement, and enforce regulations prohibiting the importation and interstate movement of wildlife when there is reasonable probability that such movement may spread diseases that threaten the health of humans, domestic animals, or wildlife. (e.g. chronic wasting disease, pseudorabies, rabies, tuberculosis, brucellosis, monkeypox, foot and mouth disease, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, exotic newcastle disease). Such wildlife species include, but are not limited to, wild canids and other carnivores, wild rodents, raccoons, feral swine, and wild cervids. This position recognizes that planned release and relocation, when carried out with adequate controls and planning by wildlife, agriculture, and public health authorities, are valid management tools, especially in species propagation and recovery plans. Consideration should be given to all potential impacts of movement of wildlife, such as genetics, parasites and pathogens. When extralabel use of drugs is necessary for movement of wildlife, veterinary supervision is required. (EB approved-4/95 [as Translocation]-CPHRVM; Reviewed-CPHRVM-2000; EB approved CPHRVM revision-11/03)

For further information, please contact: Scientific Activities Division, Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine.

5. International and National Trade in Exotic Animals (Approved by the Executive Board November 2005)

The AVMA supports the creation of working group to formulate effective policy and to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to address the public and animal health threats associated with the international and national trade of exotic animals. The AVMA recommends that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lead the initiative to coordinate federal agencies, including the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior, and Food and Drug Administration; the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians; the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; the American Veterinary Medical Association; and other stakeholders.

6. Nonhuman Primates as Assistance Animals (Current as of November 2005)

The AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, the potential for serious injury, and zoonotic risks.

7. Private Ownership of Wild Animals (Approved by the AVMA Executive Board November 2006)

The AVMA recommends limiting or prohibiting private ownership (as defined below) of indigenous and non-native wild animals that pose a significant risk to public health, domestic animal health, or the ecosystem, as well as those species whose welfare is unacceptably compromised. Except under special circumstances (such as recognized conservation and research programs) , the AVMA especially supports regulatory efforts to prohibit private ownership, and the importation for the purpose of private ownership, of non-native animals that threaten public health, domestic animal health, indigenous wild animal health, agriculture, or the ecosystem, as well as those species whose welfare is unacceptably compromised.


Private ownership – Ownership by individuals, non-public entities or institutions that are exempt from the Animal Welfare Act.
Wild – Species that have not yet been subjected to domestication or that may be in the process of being domesticated. These species may be indigenous to North America or non-native (exotic).
Non-native (Exotic) – Originally imported species; not native to North America; not domesticated.
Indigenous – Native to North America.

8. Position of the AVMA's Professional Liability Insurance Trust on Vaccination of "Wolf Hybrids" (Approved by the PLIT March 1992, reaffirmed November 2005)

The vaccinating of wolf-hybrids has become a topic of concern for veterinarians as a result of their increasing popularity as companion animals. The Trust office is frequently asked whether the AVMA policy will provide coverage if a veterinarian vaccinates a wolf-hybrid. The answer hinges on the state or local regulations regarding the harboring of these animals as pets.

The Trust office advises veterinarians to check with state authorities to determine the hybrid's legal status as a pet. If the state or local government has no law against keeping a wolf-hybrid as a pet, the Trust would consider the vaccination of this animal as a discretionary use of a biologic by the veterinarian, an act which the policy does not specifically exclude.

Prior to any such vaccination, however, the owner must be informed that the vaccine is not approved for use in wolf-hybrids and that there have been no studies to provide efficacy of the vaccine in these animals. Make a notation of this discussion in the record and have the owner initial it. This allows the owner to make an informed decision regarding the use of the vaccine.

If the veterinarian practices in a state where it is illegal to keep these animals as pets, any treatment of a wolf-hybrid may be considered an illegal act. Illegal acts are excluded under the AVMA professional liability policy.

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