While most animals are treated well by their owners, unfortunately veterinarians may encounter animal abuse or neglect in their practices. This section of the AVMA website has been created by the Animal Welfare Division with the assistance of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to facilitate veterinarians' access to resources to help them develop protocols and response plans for handling cases of suspected animal abuse. Please bookmark this page as additional resources will be posted as they become available.
It is important that veterinarians be familiar with the concepts of animal abuse and neglect, and how these are defined under any law or ordinance that applies to their practice.
You may be legally mandated to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect or animal fighting to an appropriate authority. The AVMA has collected basic information about Abuse Reporting Requirements by State. Please be aware that statutes may change and you should consult the most recent version at your state's legislative website and review your state's veterinary practice act.
The AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report suspected cases of animal abuse when an educational approach is inappropriate. (see policy: Animal Abuse and Animal Neglect). Therefore, it is important to be familiar with the animal abuse laws that apply in your jurisdiction to know which actions may be considered criminal.
It is important to develop a protocol for responding to suspected abuse cases prior to encountering them in practice. The whitepaper shown below provides some information on what to consider and how to develop this protocol.