State Summary Report

 Reporting requirements for animal abuse

Updated May 2013

In recent years, many states have focused their attention on animal abuse, neglect, and cruelty reporting by veterinarians, health care providers, and other social service providers. Currently, AVMA is aware of eleven states that require licensed veterinarians to report certain suspected animal cruelty violations. Section 21 of the AVMA's Model Veterinary Practice Act encourages veterinarians to report animal abuse.

The following table highlights the states with laws and regulations requiring, allowing, or encouraging veterinarians and veterinary technicians to report animal abuse and cruelty. The table also highlights the states that provide civil immunity for good faith reporting of animal abuse.

State Persons Required to Report Suspected Animal Abuse Reporting Allowed/Encouraged Immunity Clause Other
Arizona Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Arkansas     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians or a person acting at the direction of a licensed veterinarian  
California Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Colorado Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Florida     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Georgia   Licensed veterinarian or veterinary technician having reasonable cause to believe that an animal has been subjected to animal cruelty may make a report. Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians, veterinary technicians, or any person participating in the making of a report  
Idaho     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Illinois Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Indiana     Civil immunity for good faith reporting for veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians  
Kansas       Failure to report cruel or inhumane treatment to an animal constitutes grounds for disciplinary action against a veterinarian if the veterinarian has direct knowledge of such treatment.
Maine Veterinarians must report instances of aggravated animal cruelty. Veterinarians may report instances of animal cruelty or neglect. Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Maryland   Veterinarians are encouraged to report suspected instances of animal cruelty. Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Massachusetts     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Michigan     Civil immunity for good faith reporting for veterinarians and veterinary technicians  
Minnesota Licensed veterinarian      
Mississippi     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Nebraska Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians and veterinary technicians  
Nevada       A person may report an act of cruelty against an animal to any peace officer, officer of a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals or animal control officer.

Reports are confidential, and no information concerning the report may be released except for the purposes of a criminal investigation or prosecution.
New Hampshire     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
New York   Veterinarian may report suspected incidents of animal cruelty. Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
North Carolina     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Oklahoma Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Oregon Veterinarians must report instances of aggravated animal cruelty. Veterinarians may report instances of animal cruelty or neglect. Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians and veterinary technicians  
Pennsylvania Veterinarians must report repeated acts of negligence or animal abuse by a professional colleague.      
Rhode Island     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Texas     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Utah     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Vermont     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Virginia     Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians  
Washington​ ​Civil and criminal immunity liability for reporting, in good faith and in the normal course of business, a suspected incident of animal cruelty
West Virginia Licensed veterinarian   Civil immunity for good faith reporting by veterinarians or any other person making a report  
Wisconsin Veterinarian must report only when he or she has reason to believe that an animal has been in a fight.      

Source:   Staff Research, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department
Contact:  Tara Southwell, State Policy Analyst, AVMA State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department, 847-285-6779.