Wisconsin considering mandatory veterinary reporting of animal abuse

Wisconsin is taking steps toward requiring veterinarians to report animal abuse to law enforcement or to a humane officer, with the effort being spearheaded by State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison).

Risser's proposed legislation takes veterinary reporting beyond the current law in Wisconsin, which only requires veterinarians to report suspected animal fighting cases. The new legislation would allow veterinarians to report the suspected abuse under a good faith reporting clause, which protects them from civil liability.

According to Risser, abused animals will benefit from his proposed legislation's goal to enlist the expertise of the state's veterinarians.

"The mistreatment of animals is a serious crime and is one which we can better address with the help of veterinarians," Risser said. "As experts in assessing injuries and ailments, veterinarians are invaluable in identifying and protecting animals who have been subject to cruel treatment."

The revised language of the bill states that veterinarians suspecting animal fighting or abuse will be required to submit a written report that includes a description and the location of the animal, any injuries suffered by the animal, and the name and address of the owner or person in charge of the animal, if known.

If the legislation is eventually passed, Wisconsin will join 29 other states that address veterinary reporting of animal abuse.

The bill was sent out for co-sponsorship on April 30, and legislators will have until May 10 to add their name to the bill before it heads to the Senate Chief Clerk's office for committee referral. If it passes out of the committee, it will go to the Legislature for a vote.