A survey of teaching and implementation: the veterinarian's role in recognizing and reporting abuse

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas.

I believe that recognition of animal and human abuse is in line with veterinarians' responsibilities to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering, and promote public health.
1: J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Aug 1;215(3):328-31. Related Articles, Links

A survey of teaching and implementation: the veterinarian's role in recognizing and reporting abuse.

Landau RE.

Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.

Many families seeking assistance from domestic violence agencies are known to local humane societies or animal control officials because of previous incidents of animal abuse. This is because pets are often the first victims of family disputes that erupt into violence. Analysis of domestic violence statistics indicates that veterinarians potentially treat hundreds of thousands of abused pets each year. Because veterinarians may be the first or only individuals to have access to abusive family situations, it is it important for veterinarians to be aware of potential signs of abuse of pets and their owners and to be familiar with the mechanisms for reporting suspected incidents of abuse. Thirty-one North American veterinary schools and a sample of large and small animal practitioners in Indiana were surveyed to understand to what degree current veterinary curricula prepare students to recognize abuse of animal patients and human clients and to what extent practitioners recognize and report their suspicions of abuse to appropriate authorities. The data indicate a discrepancy between beliefs about prevalence of abuse and the amount of time spent educating veterinary students to recognize and report that abuse. I hypothesize that: 1) practicing veterinarians are reluctant to report suspicions of domestic family violence directed against animals, children, or spouses for various reasons (e.g., lack of adequate training, fear of litigation, time constraints, fear that violence will escalate, belief that it is not their place to intervene, lack of contact information, fear of losing a client's business); 2) practicing veterinarians (in large and small animal practices) may not be aware that animal patients and human clients may have been abused and being unfamiliar with this diagnosis, are unfamiliar with the mechanism for reporting the abuse, especially when it involves human victims; and 3) veterinary school curricula could be modified so that veterinary students are trained to recognize human and animal abuse, thereby reducing risks to animal patients, other animals in the household, and human clients. I believe that recognition of animal and human abuse is in line with veterinarians' responsibilities to protect animal health, relieve animal suffering, and promote public health.

PMID: 10434967 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]