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Survey of attitudes toward and experiences with animal abuse encounters in a convenience sample of US veterinarians

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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 4 Veterinary Information Network, 777 W Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95615.
  • | 5 Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To survey practicing veterinarians regarding their perceptions of and experiences with cases of suspected or confirmed animal abuse and related state laws.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

POPULATION Members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN; n = 34,144) who were in veterinary practice at the time of the survey.

PROCEDURES A survey was designed and distributed online to all VIN members from January 26 to February 28, 2015. Responses were compiled, and binary logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors that influenced decisions or perceptions regarding animal abuse encounters and related legislation.

RESULTS 1,209 completed surveys were received (3.5% response rate); 1,155 (95.5%) surveys were submitted by currently practicing veterinarians. One thousand five (87.0%) practicing veterinarians reported having encountered at least 1 case of animal abuse while in practice; 561 (55.8%) of these veterinarians indicated that they had reported at least 1 case. The most common reasons selected for reporting abuse were to protect the animal, ethical beliefs, and to protect other animals in the household. The most common reasons selected for not reporting the abuse were uncertainty that the animal had been abused, belief that client education would be better, and belief that the injury or illness was accidental versus intentional. Most respondents were unaware of the current status of laws in their state regarding animal abuse reporting.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested a need for state and national veterinary and humane-law enforcement organizations to increase communication and education efforts on recognition and reporting by veterinarians of animal abuse and the related laws.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To survey practicing veterinarians regarding their perceptions of and experiences with cases of suspected or confirmed animal abuse and related state laws.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

POPULATION Members of the Veterinary Information Network (VIN; n = 34,144) who were in veterinary practice at the time of the survey.

PROCEDURES A survey was designed and distributed online to all VIN members from January 26 to February 28, 2015. Responses were compiled, and binary logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors that influenced decisions or perceptions regarding animal abuse encounters and related legislation.

RESULTS 1,209 completed surveys were received (3.5% response rate); 1,155 (95.5%) surveys were submitted by currently practicing veterinarians. One thousand five (87.0%) practicing veterinarians reported having encountered at least 1 case of animal abuse while in practice; 561 (55.8%) of these veterinarians indicated that they had reported at least 1 case. The most common reasons selected for reporting abuse were to protect the animal, ethical beliefs, and to protect other animals in the household. The most common reasons selected for not reporting the abuse were uncertainty that the animal had been abused, belief that client education would be better, and belief that the injury or illness was accidental versus intentional. Most respondents were unaware of the current status of laws in their state regarding animal abuse reporting.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results suggested a need for state and national veterinary and humane-law enforcement organizations to increase communication and education efforts on recognition and reporting by veterinarians of animal abuse and the related laws.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix s1 (PDF 652 kb)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Kogan (lori.kogan@colostate.edu).