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Becoming a Diplomate

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About The American College of Animal Welfare

The American College of Animal Welfare (ACAW) is an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)-recognized veterinary specialty organization. ACAW is incorporated in the State of Illinois as a not-for-profit corporation and has received federal income tax exemption under section 501(c)6 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The mission of the American College of Animal Welfare is to advance animal welfare through education, certification, and scientific investigation. Diplomates of the American College of Animal Welfare are veterinarians with specialized training and experience to carry out the ACAW mission. This mission is fulfilled through the application of specific knowledge listed in the Role Delineation Document.

Ensuring good animal welfare has been intuitively recognized as a critical goal of veterinary medical practice since its inception. However, during the past twenty years, animal welfare has expanded exponentially as a distinct discipline of veterinary medicine. In recognition of this expansion of knowledge, ACAW believes it is time to offer advanced animal welfare training, education, and board certification to ensure the veterinary profession continues to lead in advancing animal welfare knowledge for the benefit of the public and the profession.

Veterinarians educated to an advanced level in all aspects of animal welfare science and ethics are uniquely positioned to step forward to provide the public, general veterinary practitioners, and other stakeholders with accurate information, advice, and advanced expertise concerning animal welfare questions and challenges.

Important Information

ACAW Application 2020
Updated information coming soon.

ACAW Short Course

The ACAW Short Course is now given as animal welfare lectures at the annual AVMA convention. The AVMA convention will be held August 02-06, 2019 in Washington, DC. Click here for convention details.

ACAW Exam 2019
The 2019 Board Exam will be given to qualified applicants at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine on Saturday, June 01, 2019.


ACAW Membership Meeting 2019
Details will be posted when available.


Recent ACAW Diplomate Awards


Dr. John Herbold
National Academies of Practice Nicholas A. Cummings Award (April 2016)

Dr. Melissa Bain
AVMA Leo Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award (January 2016)

Dr. Gail Golab
University of Illinois Dr Erwin Small Distinguished Alumni Award (September 2015)

Dr. Jan Shearer
DeLaval Dairy Extension Award (July 2015)


Dr. Stacy Pritt
Laboratory Animal Welfare Training Exchange Founders Award (June 2015)

Dr. Txema Peralta
AVMA Animal Welfare Award (2015)

Dr. Melissa Bain
WSAVA Companion Animal Welfare Award (2019)

Dr. Steven Hansen
Healthcare Innovator
Phoenix Business Journal
Finalist (2017)



Dr. Andrew Knight
Shomer Award from the Society of Veterinary Medical Ethics (2019)