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SFT/ACT Position Statements
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SFT/ACT Position Statements

Use of Progestogens in Feral Cats

Use of Ultrasonography Imaging to Determine Reproductive Status

Mandatory Spay/Neuter

Members of the Spay/Neuter Task Force

Basis for Position on Mandatory Spay/Neuter (Extended version with references)

Evaluation for the Breeding Soundness of Animals

Definition of Theriogenology in Veterinary Practice

Welfare of Breeding Dogs

Tritrichomonas Foetus Testing

Collection, Shipment and Use of Fresh Chilled Extended Canine Semen

The Boards of Directors of the Society for Theriogenology
and the American College of Theriogenologists
Pike Road, Alabama

 

Use of Progestogens in Feral Cats

The Diplomates of the American College of Theriogenologists (ACT) and members of theSociety for Theriogenology (SFT) support population control of feral cats, but do not endorse the use of synthetic progestogens for contraception in feral cat colonies. Products containing megestrol acetate, the progestogen approved for estrus suppression in dogs under the brand name Ovaban®, have been suggested as a method for estrussuppression in feral cat colonies. Megestrol acetate has not been approved by the FDA for use as a contraceptive in cats and no progestational product is approved for this use.Progestagens, including megestrol acetate, may be available to veterinarians for treatment of individually owned cats, but only within the strict confines of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, including a veterinary prescription. Progestogen administration in cats can be associated with adverse health issues, including development of diabetes mellitus, mammary hypertrophy, mammary neoplasia, andacromegaly in both female and male cats. Inadvertent administration to pregnant female cats may induce teratogenic changes in developing fetuses, and may prevent onset of normal labor. An oral bait route of administration cannot ensure accurate dosing and there is no assurance that animals other than the intended targets would not ingest the medication. The potential population control benefit is outweighed by the known adverse effects of progestogen administration in cats, and it is the position of the Society and College that such use should be discouraged.

Use of Ultrasonography Imaging to Determine Reproductive Status

It is given that the Model Veterinary Practice Act (AVMA, 2007) defines the practice of veterinary medicine as meaning to diagnose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including … the use of any manual or mechanical procedure for reproductive management. For diagnostic techniques to be effective, an extensive knowledge of the veterinary disciplines of anatomy, embryology and physiology are required as well as training in pathology and radiographic principles, all of which are provided in a veterinary medical education. As such, the Society for Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenologists hold that the use of ultrasonography as a diagnostic imaging procedure in determining reproductive status constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine.

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Mandatory Spay/Neuter

The American College of Theriogenologists and The Society for Theriogenology believe that companion animals not intended for breeding should be spayed or neutered; however, both organizations believe that the decision to spay or neuter a pet must be made on a case by case basis, and this decision should be made between the pet’s owner and its veterinarian, taking into consideration the pet’s age, breed, sex, health status, intended use, household environment and temperament. While there are health benefits to spaying and neutering these must be weighed against the health benefits of the sex steroids. In general, the advantages of spaying or neutering a pet include effective population control, decreased aggression, decreased wandering, decreased risk of being hit by a car, and decreased risk of mammary, testicular and ovarian cancer. On the other hand, the disadvantages of spaying or neutering may include increased risk of obesity, diabetes, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, prostatic adenocarcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, autoimmune thyroiditis, hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia. Therefore, the decision to spay or neuter a dog or cat should be made solely by the pet’s owner with the direct input of their veterinarian and will be dependent on each particular animal’s situation.

Additionally, research has shown that in locations where mandatory spay and neuter programs have been instituted, a decrease in the number of vaccinated and licensed animals has been seen due to poor program compliance from pet owners’ fears of seeking veterinary care if their animals are still intact. This may result in decreased preventive care and regular wellness examinations which may then diminish the pet’s quality of life because of increasing undiagnosed health issues. It also may result in an increase in zoonotic diseases, such as hookworm and roundworm infection in children due to poor deworming programs, and decreased compliance with routine rabies vaccination.

The ACT and SFT make the following recommendations to continue moving toward effective methods of reducing the number of abandoned, unwanted and euthanized dogs and cats in the US and other countries where similar problems exist: (1), provide increased jurisdictional control to the AVMA Governmental Relations division, Animal Welfare Committee, and the APHIS-Animal Care division; (2), ensure suppliers to pet stores are providing adequate care for breeding stock and offspring; (3), support programs to expand the public awareness of pet overpopulation, acceptable breeding standards, and responsibilities of pet ownership; (4), provide the public a means to access assistance with concerns of pet health, ownership, behavior and management issues; (5), work with state and local rescue and humane societies to assemble accurate data on causes for relinquishment of dogs and cats to enable these organizations, federal and local governments, and veterinary organizations to address the fundamental causes of abandonment; (6), provide low cost spay/neuter facilities for economically disadvantaged persons and communities; (7), continue to work on reduction of feral cat populations; (8), establish programs to ensure access of breeders to proper reproductive care and counseling: and (9), provide local or federal governmental assistance to registered rescue organizations to facilitate placement of unwanted pets.

Members of the Spay/Neuter Task Force

The American College of Theriogenologists (ACT) and Society for Theriogenology (SFT) wish to thank the Spay/Neuter Task Force for their work in developing the Position Statement on Mandatory Spay/Neuter. Membership of the task force consisted of veterinarians representing the European College of Animal Reproduction (ECAR), the European Veterinary Society for Small Animal Reproduction (EVSSAR), ACT, and SFT.
Spay Neuter Task Force: Drs. Cheryl Lopate (chair), Dana Bleifer, Wenche Farstad, Cathy Gartley, John Hamil, Kit Kampschmidt, Rebecca Kestle, Stephano Romagnoli, Katherine Settle, Fran Smith, and Phil Thomas.

 

Evaluation for the Breeding Soundness of Animals

It is given that the Model Veterinary Practice Act (AVMA, 2007) defines the practice of veterinary medicine as meaning to diagnose, treat, correct, change, alleviate, or prevent animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; including the use of any manual or mechanical procedure for reproductive management. Determining the reproductive soundness along with the associated prognosticating requires an extensive knowledge of the veterinary disciplines of anatomy, embryology and physiology, as well as training in theriogenology, pathology andradiographic principles, all of which are provided in a veterinary medical education. As such,the Society for Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenologists hold that evaluation for the breeding soundness of animals constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine.

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Definition of Theriogenology in Veterinary Practice

The American College of Theriogenologists and Society for Thereriogenology recommend that the definition of veterinary practice in theriogenology include any procedures that involve making a diagnosis, therapeutic plan, or prognosis. In addition, veterinary practice should include any procedures that involve surgery, more than momentary pain (such as castration of stallions), or specific severe risk to patient life (such as rectal palpation of the equine). The use of analgesics, antibiotics and hormonal preparations for therapeutic indications or for manipulation of the reproductive cycle should include a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

Welfare of Breeding Dogs

The American College of Theriogenologists and Society for Theriogenology promote the breeding of healthy, genetically superior dogs to maintain a diverse canine population that meets the needs of society for companion dogs and working dogs. The College and Society support practices to promote optimal health of all breeding dogs. Purpose-bred dogs are maintained subject to regulation by institutional and government agencies, while similar guidelines for non-institutional breeders are lacking. This position statement refers to care and management of breeding of dogs intended for personal ownership. It is the position of the ACT and SFT that:

- Animals must be provided water, food, proper handling, health care, and environments appropriate to their species and use, and should be cared for in ways that prevent and minimize fear, pain, distress, and suffering.

- Specifically, all breeding animals should be housed in clean, properly sized facilities that permit them to express normal behavior, include environmental enrichment, and are appropriate for stage of life. Male and female dogs may be co-housed in social units except for those times when bitches are in estrus. Specific attention to individual temperament to avoid inter animal aggression is required. Regular observation of and interaction with dogs by handlers must occur.

- Dogs should have access to a balanced diet that is appropriate for their life stage and fed to them in a manner that will permit them to maintain a body condition score (BCS) of 4 or 5 out of 9, excepting certain breeds of dogs such as sight hounds that are naturally lean in body type. Fresh water should be available. Dogs should have routine health care and disease prophylaxis including regular veterinary examination, vaccination, internal and external parasite control, dental care and coat care when applicable.

- Dogs intended for breeding should be evaluated for hereditary disorders before being bred. Owners of breeding dogs should develop a breeding plan with a veterinarian to minimize or eliminate production of puppies with hereditary defects.

- All dogs intended for breeding should be appropriately tested for canine brucellosis to prevent spread of this disease. At a minimum, both members of a breeding pair should be tested prior to each breeding. All dogs intended for breeding should be regularly tested for canine brucellosis, either at the time of breeding or every six months.

-Intact male dogs should be regularly evaluated by a veterinarian for prostate and testicular disease.Bitches should be regularly evaluated by a veterinarian for pyometra and mammary neoplasia. Decisions about when to spay or castrate individual dogs and bitches no longer intended for breeding should be made with the counsel of a veterinarian.

- Bitches should not be bred before they are physically mature and should not be bred on the first estrous cycle without the advice of a veterinarian.

- Bitches may be bred on consecutive estrous cycles if they maintain or regain their breed appropriate body condition and are deemed healthy on the basis of veterinarian examination prior to the onset of the next proestrus.

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Tritrichomonas Foetus Testing

Approved January 28, 2012

The Society for Theriogenology, the organization representing veterinarians dedicated to animal reproduction, and the American College of Theriogenologists, the AVMA recognized specialty group focusing on animal reproduction, recognize venereal Trichomoniasis as a threat to the cattle industry.

Recommendations:

Producers are encouraged to work with veterinarians and regulatory personnel to implement epidemiologically sound biosecurity protocols and prevent introduction of venereal Trichomoniasis.Pre-purchase testing of bulls is strongly encouraged. Annual testing of the bull battery may be indicated. Testing recommendations should be based on recognized, epidemiologically sound, peer reviewed data. Sensitivity and specificity should not be sacrificed for convenience. Experiences with naturally infected herds conclusively indicate that regardless of test chosen, a single test is often insufficient to detect all infected bulls present on a premise or to appropriately exclude infected bulls from inclusion into a herd. Vaccination does not guarantee freedom from infection.Producers and veterinarians should develop protocols to include isolation and appropriate retesting of bulls prior to herd introduction. As new testing modalities evolve, recommendations should be updated. Current acceptable tests for Trichomoniasis in bulls include collection of smegma and submission for culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), or combinations of both tests. For any test, sample quality influences results. Training and certification of veterinarians and technicians on collection and submission of samples is a necessary component of quality control in the testing process when test results are used to satisfy pre-purchase requirements or when they are to be incorporated into health certificates. When test results are to be used in preparation of interstate health certificates or pre-purchase health certification, unique identification of individual animals on laboratory submission forms is required. Veterinarians should utilize diagnostic laboratories certified to meet or exceed the quality control guidelines established by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. Laboratory reports should indicate the type test(s) employed, and the associated sensitivity and specificity. Current recommendations, sometimes codified by state regulation, are to slaughter infected bulls. Appropriate confirmatory testing to eliminate false positive tests must be provided for in regulatory protocols. Clearing infected herds of infection is a complex process and requires management changes and serial testing. Sale of breeding age males and females from infected herds should be restricted to sale for slaughter unless rigid and appropriate testing protocols are in place.

 

Collection, Shipment, and Use of Fresh Chilled Extended Canine Semen

The American College of Theriogenologists and Society for Theriogenology promote the breeding of healthy, genetically superior dogs to maintain a diverse canine population that meets the needs of society for companion dogs and working dogs. The College and Society support practices to promote optimal health of all breeding dogs.

There are many steps that involve veterinary care to maximize breeding outcomes including:

1. Reproductive soundness: Determining reproductive soundness requires an extensive knowledge of the veterinary disciplines of anatomy, embryology and physiology, as well as training in theriogenology, pathology and radiographic principles, all of which are provided in a veterinary medical education. As such, the Society for Theriogenology and the American College of Theriogenologists hold that evaluation for the breeding soundness of animals constitutes the practice of veterinary medicine.

1.1 Physical examination - to detect hereditary disorders and other causes of pathology.

1.2 Brucellosis testing - both the stud dog and recipient bitch should be tested and shown to be negative for canine brucellosis, either at the time of breeding or every six months.

1.3 Breeder counseling – to help minimize or eliminate production of puppies with hereditary defects.

2. Semen collection, handling, processing and shipping: One of the two most important aspects of optimizing breeding is providing high quality spermatozoa from healthy stud dogs. This involves the following:

2.1 Collection of semen – to include assessment of the stud dog and appropriate handling of the stud dog and collection of the semen.

2.2 Evaluation of semen – to include a gross and microscopic evaluation of the semen. Percentage progressively motile spermatozoa, percentage morphologically normal spermatozoa, and total number of spermatozoa shall be assessed and reported.

2.3 Extending the semen – to use an appropriate extender added in the correct ratio to the semen based on the anticipated route of insemination.

2.4 Labeling the container of extended semen – to include the stud dog owner’s name, stud dog’s name and breed, date and time of collection, extender used, as well as the recipient owner’s name, bitch’s name, and breed. This often-overlooked step of labeling is critical to ensure accuracy in matching incoming semen with the designated recipient bitch.

2.5 Packaging the semen – to include packing to minimize leakage, undesirable thermal changes, loss, delays and damage during shipment and to meet federal guidelines for shipping of biological materials. Some of these factors are beyond the control of the shipping veterinarian. Required for successful outcomes.

2.6 Shipping the semen – to include a pick up service at the veterinarians business or to be transported by the stud dog’s owner.

3. Semen receipt, handling, and insemination: The second of the two most important aspects of optimizing breeding is delivering the semen to an appropriately timed bitch in the selected insemination technique.

3.1 Evaluation of the intended brood bitch – to include assessment for overall health and genetic soundness.

3.2 Timing for breeding – to maximize breeding efforts.

3.3 Assessment of the semen sample received – to evaluate semen quality and assure the intended semen is used for the intended recipient bitch.

3.4 Insemination – to counsel the owner of insemination options so the owner is educated and able to make the best breeding route choice for the recipient bitch.

 

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Mission Statement

The mission of the ACT is to promote animal well-being, reproductive health, responsible breeding and genetic practices, and efficient management of breeding-age animals in agriculture, veterinary practice, zoos, preserves, and ecosystems. In particular, the ACT envisions development of focus areas in theriogenology to incorporate the following in theriogenology/reproductive medicine:

1. Population control for domestic and non-domestic animals including feral animals, free-ranging and captive wildlife.

2. Genomics in livestock and companion animal practice.

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