New Zealand Veterinarians Mulling Domestic Violence Response

Escrito por NZVA.

Veterinarians in New Zealand have long had policies in place to respond to animal abuse: since 1998 their Code of Professional Conduct has required practitioners to take action to ensure that animals suffering unreasonable orunnecessary pain or distress are effectively dealt with, and to report such incidents to inspectors if the situation is not remedied. But as with veterinarians in other countries, veterinarians in New Zealand are less comfortable responding to cases of human violence. A 2008 article in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal reported that 63% of practitioners had seen deliberate animal abuse: of these, 16% either knew of or suspected human abuse within the animals’ families. A clear majority of veterinarians agreed with the statement that animal abusers are more likely to abuse their children (77%) or spouse (70%).
Meanwhile, a landmark study by the New Zealand SPCA (See April 2012 LINK‐Letter) reported that one in three women delayed leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets would be killed or tortured, and one‐quarter said their children had witnessed violence against animals.
Recognizing the potential for veterinarians to become aware of domestic violence issues in their practices, the New Zealand Veterinary Council has undertaken to address this difficult area by developing guidelines that will both inform practitioners about animal abuse and domestic violence and assist them with dealing with the issue. A working group was convened on April 12.
The veterinary association has also been asked to participate in a meeting with Rural Women New Zealand to consider providing support networks for rural women who have been subject to domestic violence, but who also have concerns about leaving animals behind that may themselves be vulnerable to abuse.
Veterinarians in New Zealand have long had policies in place to respond to animal abuse: since 1998 their Code of Professional Conduct has required practitioners to take action to ensure that animals suffering unreasonable orunnecessary pain or distress are effectively dealt with, and to report such incidents to inspectors if the situation is not remedied. But as with veterinarians in other countries, veterinarians in New Zealand are less comfortable responding to cases of human violence. A 2008 article in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal reported that 63% of practitioners had seen deliberate animal abuse: of these, 16% either knew of or suspected human abuse within the animals’ families.

A clear majority of veterinarians agreed with the statement that animal abusers are more likely to abuse their children (77%) or spouse (70%). Meanwhile, a landmark study by the New Zealand SPCA (See April 2012 LINK‐Letter) reported that one in three women delayed leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets would be killed or tortured, and one‐quarter said their children had witnessed violence against animals. Recognizing the potential for veterinarians to become aware of domestic violence issues in their practices, the New Zealand Veterinary Council has undertaken to address this difficult area by developing guidelines that will both inform practitioners about animal abuse and domestic violence and assist them with dealing with the issue. A working group was convened on April 12.The veterinary association has also been asked to participate in a meeting with Rural Women New Zealand to consider providing support networks for rural women who have been subject to domestic violence, but who also have concerns about leaving animals behind that may themselves be vulnerable to abuse.

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Link between animal abuse and family violence – developing a guideline for vets

Published date:
23 April 2012

 

By Virginia Williams, NZVA Animal Welfare Coordinator

A recent study, commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in partnership with Women's Refuge, showed that one in three women surveyed reported delaying leaving violent relationships because they feared their pets and other animals would be killed or tortured. Of these, one quarter said their children had witnessed violence against animals.

Veterinarians are well aware of the link between animal abuse and family violence as demonstrated in a survey reported in the New Zealand Veterinary Journal [NZVJ 56(1), 21-28, 2008]. A majority of respondents to the survey agreed that people who abuse their animals are more likely to abuse their children (77%) and their spouse (70%). The survey also showed that although responding veterinarians felt a strong ethical duty to deal with cases of animal abuse, they were less comfortable about the issue of human abuse. However, there is certainly potential for veterinarians in practice to become aware of domestic violence issues.

The Veterinary Council has undertaken to address this difficult area by developing guidelines that will both inform veterinarians about animal abuse and domestic violence and assist them in dealing with the issue when they are presented with it in practice. To that end, the Council has put together a Working Group, including NZVA members, which will meet for the first time on April 12.

The NZVA has also been asked to participate in a meeting set up by Rural Women New Zealand in response to the RSPCA/Women’s Refuge study, with the aim of providing support networks for rural women who have been subject to domestic violence, but who also have concerns about leaving animals which may themselves be vulnerable to abuse.

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