The Twelve Commandments of Companion Animal Health and Well-being Rights


    By Michael W. Fox BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS

Advances in veterinary bioethics lead us to consider the rights of animals under our care and link with the principles and praxis of One Health that encompasses public, animal, and environmental health. The following twelve core duties of responsible animal care are essential veterinary bioethical stipulations that all companion animal care-givers and their animals’ veterinarians can follow for the common good.

1.No breeds or “designer” dogs and cats should be propagated, shown, and sold who have hereditary anomalies or are at predisposed familial risk for them that will impair their quality of life.

2.None will be subjected to elective surgical mutilation such as de-clawing, ear-cropping, and tail-docking.

3.Every purchased and adopted cat, dog, kitten, and puppy be immediately given a full Wellness examination preferably by a holistic veterinary practitioner.

4.Every companion animal should be microchipped or tattooed in a non-removable place for identification.

5.All owners be educated by veterinarians and adoption agencies to understand behavioral communication and provide proper care, exercise, play and socio-environmental enrichment.

6.The health-benefits of partial neutering (vasectomies and hysterectomies) of dogs to save the ovaries and testicles of many breeds should be discussed with informed veterinarians.

7.The benefits of fully neutering cats, especially tom cats, and not allowing them to roam free should be explained by informed veterinarians.

8.All dogs and cats, puppies and kittens should be provided with healthful diets rather than those that contribute to obesity and a host of health problems like dysbiosis that create a revenue stream for costly special prescription diets from manufacturers and prescribers.

9.All vaccinations should be based on risk-exposure location which is limited for indoor cats and greater for dogs going to play-groups and dog parks.

10.The use of parasiticides that can harm companion animals and cause environmental and in-home contaminating hazards should be limited in accord with seasonal risks and diagnosed presence of ecto- and endo-parasites.

11.All animals should be provided a humane death to end incurable suffering and where there are no resources to sustain their health and well-being.

12.All animals should be accorded legally mandated “Five Freedoms:” freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress.