6 Starting Points

Focus on the veterinary profession: 6 Starting Points for those considering the role of the veterinarian in the issue of animal abuse.

There has been a substantial amount of material posted on IAL regarding the link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Accompanying this material there has been attention drawn to the role of the professional veterinarian, in addressing this issue.

With the advent of animal law, it is arguable that there is going to be greater transparency and accountability required of the veterinary profession.

Listed below are 6 samples of excerpts, abstracts and articles addressing the role of the veterinary professional in the issue of animal abuse/welfare.

They are listed to provide a “starting point” for debate about the issues and legal obligations that warrant attention in considering the development of animal law, and the imminent focus on the role of the veterinary professional.

1. The ethics guidelines of the Royal College of Veterianary Surgeons states “Veterinary surgeons are one of a number of professionals who may see and hear things during the course of their professional activity which arouse suspicion of animal abuse and/or domestic violence and child abuse. Increasingly domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse are seen to be linked and efforts are being made to raise awareness within the veterinary profession.” Website of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons http://www.rcvs.org.uk/Templates/Internal.asp?NodeID=92594&int2ndParentN...

2. Similarly, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in their 1994 position statement on animal welfare, included the following text: The AVMA recognizes that veterinarians may have occasion to observe cases of cruelty to animals, animal abuse, or animal neglect as defined by state law or local ordinances. When these observations occur, the AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report such cases to the appropriate authorities. Such disclosures may be necessary to protect the health and welfare of animals and people. (AVMA, 1997a, p. 58; Anonymous, 1996a)

3. In the last decade, the veterinary profession has experienced many changes, including the birth of a new area of law known as animal law, and an increased scrutiny by the legal community and veterinary state boards. This article provides a sampling of some of the more challenging issues the profession is facing in the early part of the 21st century, namely, guardianship versus ownership, the awarding of non-economic damages in negligence lawsuits, and challenges in maintaining medical records. Lacroix, CA Current trends in animal law and their implications for the veterinary profession. (Practice Management.) [Journal article] Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, USA: 2006. 36: 2, 341-353, vi. 9 ref.

4. This article discusses issues relevant to recent efforts to increase veterinary reporting of cases of animal mistreatment in the USA. These issues include mandatory vs. voluntary reporting, client confidentiality obligations, the legal definitions of animal cruelty, abuse, and neglect in state laws, ethical conflicts between a veterinarian's obligations to animals and clients, perceived vs. real barriers to reporting, the circumstances under which a veterinarian is likely to encounter animal mistreatment in practice, and the lack of accepted diagnostic criteria for the "battered pet." Issues for Veterinarians in Recognizing and Reporting Animal Neglect and Abuse Author: Patronek, Gary J. Source: Society and Animals, Volume 5, Number 3, 1997 , pp. 267-280(14) Publisher: BRILL

5. Papers are included on the current economic trends affecting the veterinary medical profession (including) current trends in animal law and their implications in the veterinary profession; …. Lee, DE Practice Management. (Practice Management.) [Journal issue] Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, USA: 2006. 36: 2, xii + 267-436.

6. The discussion about mandating reporting has generated considerable contro- versy. A lack of information, and misinformation, about animal cruelty have no doubt contributed to professional anxiety over this issue. There may be fears about loss of income and becoming entwined in protracted litigation, or worries about an animal being euthanatized as a result of a report. Veterinarians may not know to whom they should make a report of animal abuse or neglect, and they may fear being prosecuted or disciplined themselves if they fail to make a report. Physicians have raised legitimate questions about the merits of mandating reporting of adult domestic violence because of possible negative consequences, including escalation of the abuse, for patients who may not be willing or able to leave an abusive home environment (Hyman, Schillinger, & Lo, 1995). In this respect, the situation with cruelty to animals may be more similar to that of domestic violence than child abuse, because it can be very difficult to remove an animal from its owner on the basis of a suspicion. “Issues for Veterinarians in Recognizing and Reporting Animal Neglect and Abuse” Author: Patronek, Gary J. Source: Society and Animals, Volume 5, Number 3, 1997 , pp. 267-280(14) Publisher: BRILL

Further articles on this topic of veterinarians and professional responsibility may be found at:

• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 210, p151
• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 208, p175
• Irish Veterinary Journal 49, p692
• Society and Animals 5, p195
• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 208, p682
• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 199, p1576
• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 198, p67
• Canadian Veterinary Journal 37, p453
• Veterinary Technician 12, p60
• Journal - American Medical Association 181, p17
• Irish Veterinary Journal 49, p721
• Canadian Veterinary Journal 35, p408
• Anthrozoos 6, p218
• Journal - American Medical Association 273, p1744
• Journal - American Veterinary Medical Association 197, p48
• Journal - American Medical Association 267, p65
• Anthrozoos 6, p248

Article added: 11/2008