Animal abuse and animal neglect

The AVMA recognizes that veterinarians may observe cases of suspected animal abuse or neglect as defined by federal or state laws, or local ordinances. The AVMA encourages state legislation providing immunity from liability in any civil, criminal, or state licensing action to any veterinarian who reports, in good faith, a suspected case of animal abuse or neglect to the proper authorities. Additionally, the AVMA encourages state legislatures to pass legislation that client/patient records related to suspected cases of animal abuse or neglect provided to proper authorities are exempt from confidentiality restrictions. Prompt disclosure of abuse is necessary to protect the health and welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians should be aware that accurate, timely record keeping and documentation of these cases are essential. The AVMA encourages veterinarians to educate clients, recognize the signs of animal abuse and neglect, and familiarize themselves with relevant laws and the appropriate authorities to whom they should report suspected cases of animal abuse or neglect within their jurisdiction.

Additional Resources:

Animal Abuse Response—Resources for Veterinarians

Abuse reporting requirements by state

Related Policies: