Do Vets Have to Report Abusive Pet Owners?

Do Vets Have to Report Abusive Pet Owners?

( by Corinna Underwood )

Though we hate to think about it, animal abuse is rife throughout the United States. So much so that:

  • one animal suffers abuse every 60 seconds
  • 49 states have laws to provide felony penalties for animal torture on the first offense
  • each year in the U.S. 10 million animals die from cruelty and abuse

 So what can be done? What is currently being done to prevent animal abuse in the United States?

Do Vets Have a Responsibility to Report Abuse?

According to Dr. Jeff Werber, vets have a moral obligation to do something if they believe that an animal owner is being abusive to their pet. After all, if a person is abusive to animals, they might be abusive to humans as well. But could reporting abuse put a vet in a dangerous position for blowing the whistle?

When it comes to the law on whether vets should take a stand or not, each state has its own regulations. Below is a rundown on how these differ.

States Without Regulations

The following states have no specific statutes or regulations stating that a veterinarian must report suspected animal cruelty, nor do they offer any protection if a vet does so.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • Washington D.C.

States with Regulations

The list of states below have regulations that require vets to report suspected animal abuse. They also protect reporting vets by giving them immunity to any civil liability resulting from the report. 

Reports should be made to a local humane officer or a local law enforcement officer; and should be submitted in writing and must include a description of the evidence of abuse, the satiation, and the name and address of the animal’s owner.

 

  • Arizona

 

Vets are required to report suspected animal abuse and dog fighting within 30 days of examination or treatment. They are also required to report any suspected livestock abuse within 30 days of examination or treatment.

 

  • California

 

Vets are required to report suspected animal abuse when they suspect that a dog has been harmed or killed due to a staged animal fight. The report should be submitted to a humane officer or a local enforcement officer.

 

  • Illinois

 

Vets in Illinois are required to report pets they suspect have been abused and dogs they suspect have been used in fighting events. The report should be filed with the Department of Agriculture of Illinois.

 

  • Kansas

 

Any Kansas veterinarian who suspects an animal has been subject to cruelty may take the animal into custody. The report should be submitted to a local enforcement officer or humane officer.

 

  • Maine

 

Vets in Illinois are required to report animals they suspect have been abused and dogs they suspect have been injured in staged fights. The report should be submitted to a local enforcement officer or humane officer.

 

  • Maryland

 

Vets in Maryland should record and report any evidence that suggests an animal had been abused or any dog that has been involved in staged animal fighting.  The report should be submitted to a local enforcement officer.

 

  • Minnesota

 

Vets in Minnesota are required to report any suspected or known cases of animal neglect or abuse to humane agents and local law enforcement officers.  

 

  • Oklahoma

 

Vets in Oklahoma are required to report suspected cases of animal abuse to local law enforcement officials within twenty-four hours of examination or treatment.

 

  • Oregon

 

If an Oregon vet has reasonable cause to suspect that an animal has suffered aggravated animal abuse, or has been abandoned or neglected, they must report the situation to local law enforcement.

 

  • West Virginia

 

West Virginia vets must report any incidence of animals who are believed to be the victims of neglect, abuse, or abandonment to local law enforcement.

 

  • Wisconsin

 

In the state of Wisconsin, vets are required to report suspected cases of animal abuse related to dog fighting. The report should be made to a local humane officer or local law enforcement officer.  

Even in states where vets do not have to report abusive pet owners, they should still do so. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 Pet abuse is cruel, and pet owners are responsible for taking care of their animals and treating them with care and respect, regardless of whether their state has specific pet laws related to animal abuse or not.

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