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Animal Abuse Reporting Position Statement

Veterinary professionals are likely to encounter many forms of animal abuse ranging from minor neglect to malicious harm.

The American Animal Hospital Association supports the reporting of suspicions of animal abuse to the appropriate authorities. The Association encourages the adoption of laws mandating veterinary professionals to report suspicions of animal abuse and providing immunity from legal liability when filing such reports in good faith. Veterinary professionals should be familiar with animal cruelty laws and their veterinary practice act, including any mandatory reporting requirements.

Studies have shown there is a link between animal abuse and other forms of violence, including child, spousal, and elder abuse.  Reporting suspicions of animal abuse is important as it will trigger an investigation that may ultimately protect both animals and humans. It upholds the veterinary oath to prevent animal suffering and promote public health.

Veterinarians should seek education about animal cruelty and the profession should provide training on the recognition, documentation, and reporting of animal abuse and the development of forensic models. Collaboration with animal and human welfare groups, law enforcement and other professionals within communities is crucial to improve response and reduce the incidence of animal abuse.

Veterinarians are referred to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association for information and resources on the signs, recognition, and reporting of animal abuse.

Adopted by the American Animal Hospital Association Board of Directors November 1995. Revised October 2009. Last revised November 2015.

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