Animal Abuse Reporting By Veterinarians

Last week, I was preparing for a radio interview on animal abuse when I came across a surprising fact.  Only eight states require veterinarians to report suspected cases of animal abuse.  Those states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and West Virginia.  I was shocked and terribly disappointed.  Studies demonstrate that animal abusers often commit domestic violence and child abuse.  So, mandatory reporting of suspected animal abuse protects both animals and people.  I learned about this firsthand when I worked in Minnesota.  A family brought in a kitten who hurt its leg after “falling” down the stairs.  Closer inspection revealed the kitten was strangled.  The whites of his eyes were red with blood, his neck was sore and he had a broken tibia.  I reported the incident and the man eventually pled guilty to animal abuse.  It turns out he had killed many cats by crushing their skulls.  He was also abusing his wife and child.  While he was in jail, they fled the state to get a fresh start on life – away from the fear and away from the pain.    

It is my sincere hope that soon, all states will require veterinarians to report animal abuse.  Yes there are many important issues including fiscal matters that states need to address.  Still, I hope they find this issue to also be vital to correct, for the benefit of both animals and people.   

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.