At Woolf Veterinary Forensics Consulting, we are big on education. Veterinarians receive very little, if any, training in animal abuse during their formal schooling. In a 1999 study, most students received on average 76 minutes of training on animal abuse in four years of veterinary school, and only 8 minutes on interpersonal violence, even though most agreed that these would be issues for graduating veterinarians. This had not changed much by 2013 as most veterinary students still felt unprepared to deal with animal abuse and interpersonal violence issues in their jobs. Yet some states like California have mandatory reporting laws for veterinarians. How can one report on what one does not know?
But the educational needs are not limited to veterinarians. Anyone coming into contact with animals or people who own animals needs to be able to recognize the signs of animal abuse and know how to report it. Prosecutors, law enforcement, social workers, physicians, and home-service providers are all examples of people who may encounter animal abuse.
Animal abuse has repeatedly been linked to interpersonal violence. Furthermore, animal abuse is now a potential felony in all 50 states. Not only should animal abuse be taken seriously for its own sake, it should also be recognized as a symptom of problems within a family unit or community, and the ability to charge for felony animal abuse may be a powerful tool for law enforcement.
We also are available to consult on specific cases, helping veterinarians, law enforcement and attorneys identify and document animal abuse. We can also review medical records, assist in case preparation, and testify as an expert witness.
Finally, we may be able to provide lead veterinarian services on animal abuse cases, supervise large intakes, or assist with large intakes. Please contact us in advance of need to discuss.
Landau RE. A survey of teaching and implementation: the veterinarian’s role in recognizing and reporting abuse. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999;215(3):328–31.
Creevy KE, Shaver SL, and Cornell KK. Domestic violence shelter partnerships and veterinary student attitudes at North American veterinary schools and colleges. J Vet Med Ed. 2013(40.2):184-91.
"Your presentation received consistently high marks of 5, the highest available, and very positive comments. ...I really will be thinking about a way to bring you back and have a focused group with law enforcement, vets, and prosecutors. It was truly a pleasure meeting you."
-- Sue Hand, Executive Director, FavorHouse of Northwest Florida
If you are an individual such as a residential homeowner and you suspect animal abuse, contact your local law enforcement agency.
In the United States, this varies with location and may be:
- County or city animal control services;
- Humane societies;
Woolf Veterinary Forensics is not a law enforcement organization.