( by Corinna Underwood )
Although it might be a subject you prefer not to think about, animal abuse is unfortunately rife throughout the United States. So much so, that one animal suffers abuse every 60 seconds. Almost 65% of abused animals are dogs. And each year in the U.S. 10 million animals die from cruelty and abuse.
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, perhaps they are 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. Here’s 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.
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
States with Regulations
The following states 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.
Reports 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 vets must report any incidence of animals who are believed to be the victims of neglect, abuse, or abandonment to local law enforcement.
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 still have an obligation to do so. 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.