Why doctors should care about animal cruelty

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas.

Australian Family PhysicianAnimal cruelty impacts on human health in disparate ways: intentional and unintentional acts of cruelty may reflect underlying mental health problems that need to be addressed. Cruelty within the family setting is an important sentinel for domestic violence and should prompt an assessment for possible child abuse. Furthermore, animal cruelty raises important questions about the nature of empathy, and the type of society that we wish to live in.

AUSTRALIAN FAMILY PHYSICIAN Vol 36, (1/2) 1–96

Why doctors should care about animal cruelty

Miranda Sherley BSc(Hons), PhD, is Research Officer, RSPCA Australia, and a student, School of Medicine, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.

BACKGROUND Animal cruelty is a significant problem for society, and there are good reasons why doctors should be particularly concerned by it. Increasing evidence for links between animal cruelty and child or spousal abuse is an area of growing concern internationally and of real importance to health professionals.

OBJECTIVE This article aims to raise awareness of the relevance of animal cruelty to medical practice. The links between animal cruelty and human health are discussed broadly and some wider ethical issues raised.

DISCUSSION Animal cruelty impacts on human health in disparate ways: intentional and unintentional acts of cruelty may reflect underlying mental health problems that need to be addressed. Cruelty within the family setting is an important sentinel for domestic violence and should prompt an assessment for possible child abuse. Furthermore, animal cruelty raises important questions about the nature of empathy, and the type of society that we wish to live in.


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