Veterinarians Can Help Fight Against Animal Abuse

Thirty-one states either mandate or encourage veterinarians to report animal abuse, and most of these provide vets with immunity from civil (and sometimes criminal) liability for good-faith reporting. Moreover, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has a very firm policy calling for such reporting, regardless of state law.

Nonetheless, even in the face of AVMA policy and state law, many veterinarians are reluctant to report possible cases of animal abuse to law enforcement authorities. Possible reasons for this include uncertainty about what abuse really looks like and what to do when it is suspected. To raise vets’ awareness of the likelihood that some of the problems they see in their patients may be due to abuse, and to demystify the process for reporting such concerns, AWI created posters listing some of the most frequent signs of possible abuse and the proper steps to address the situation. While there are several documents that go into great detail about recognizing animal abuse (see, e.g., http://bit.ly/2amze2v), we identified the need for something more accessible for vets to hang in their offices that would serve as a reminder and a “how-to.” These posters will assist vets in fulfilling their role not just to treat animals but also to protect them from harm.