Under Vermont law, the Agency of Agriculture has specific legal authorities and responsibilities in animal welfare cases. The Agency's scope of authority is generally dictated by the species of animal and its use.
To learn more about reporting an animal welfare concern, please visite the website for the Vermont Humane Federation.
Questions regarding the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's role in animal welfare cases should be directed to the Animal Health Office.
Click on one of the links below for more detailed information about each topic:
The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets' Animal Health Section must be consulted by humane or other law enforcement officers in cases of alleged animal welfare violations that involve livestock and poultry species. Title 13 of the Vermont statutes requires that this consultation occur prior to the time that a humane agent brings any enforcement action against an owner of a livestock animal. This consultation with the Agency is required because under Vermont law, animal cruelty laws may not apply to certain acceptable livestock and poultry husbandry practices. It is the Agency's legal responsibility to provide guidance to the law enforcement community. The Agency's Animal Health Section personnel are available to assist humane and law enforcement agents for purposes of determining if a situation represents an acceptable husbandry practice. However, Animal Health Section personnel do not have any enforcement authority in alleged cases of animal welfare violations.
Animal Health Section personnel may also work closely with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's dairy inspectors to provide welfare-related technical assistance to owners and managers of commercial dairy farms that are otherwise regulated by the Agency. In the event that this technical assistance does not result in an acceptable outcome, the state veterinarian may refer the case to a humane agent for further investigation and enforcement action if deemed necessary.
Animal Health Section personnel inspect pet shops on a yearly or complaint driven basis. If an animal welfare violation is observed during an inspection, a referral will be made to the humane agent with jurisdiction of the municipality where the business is located for investigation and enforcement action if deemed necessary.
Cattle and calves are routinely transported into, out of, and within the state of Vermont for many purposes, including show, exhibition, sale and slaughter. The care of cattle and calves on the farm directly impacts the welfare of those animals during transport, and it is incumbent on all persons involved in livestock transport to ensure that best management practices are followed on the farm of origin, while on the road, and at the point of delivery. Ensuring the safe and humane transport of Vermont cattle and calves will protect their well-being, improve the economic bottom line of Vermont's livestock producers and businesses, and protect the integrity of the Vermont Brand. Please review the Vermont Livestock Care Standards Advisory Council's Transportation Guidelines for Cattle and Transportation Guidelines for Calves in order to become familiar with these important best management practices. Other formats, including palm cards, tri-fold brochures and fact sheets, as well as Spanish translated materials may be obtained by contacting Dr. Kristin Haas.
The well-being of sheep is an important consideration for all sheep producers. For information on how to care for sheep, health management, sheep handling, and disease prevention programs, please refer to the following links.
In 2009, the Vermont legislature authorized the formation of the Vermont Livestock Care Standards Advisory Council (LCSAC). This body, comprised of 14 members and Chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, is tasked with advising the Secretary of Agriculture and the legislative committees on agriculture on issues relating to livestock well-being in the state of Vermont. The Council is also authorized to engage in educational and outreach initiatives meant to improve the welfare of Vermont's livestock animals. The Council created bilingual outreach materials that outline best management practices for transporting cattle and calves and that have been disseminated to Vermont producers, licensed livestock dealers and transporters, and auction markets. These materials will help to ensure all Vermonters are utilizing best management practices when engaging in livestock transport.
Since its inception, the LCSAC has provided recommendations to the legislature on issues such as bovine and equine tail docking and the use of swine gestation crates in Vermont. Additionally, the Council has provided information to the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association's member veterinarians on the Veterinarians' Role in Animal Welfare Investigations. The LCSAC generally meets quarterly. All meetings are public and follow applicable Vermont regulations and laws pertaining to public meetings. Please contact Dr. Kristin Haas to obtain copies of meeting minutes.
LSAC Position Statements
- Tail docking position statement - 2012
- Swine gestation crate position statement - 2013
- Act 83 letter to legislature - February 2014
- H.299 position statement - March 2018
- S.310 position statement - April 2018
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