I speak often about the link between animal cruelty and violence against people, in that, it is the same act aimed at different victims. It is now known that serial killers commence their criminal careers practicing their craft upon animals. I often advocate that all of us, in related disciplines, talk to each other, cross report and network to stop the damage at the earliest possible points in the cycle. To that end, major advances have occurred to tighten the noose around the perpetrators. In many states adult and child protection workers cross report with animal protection workers. In other words, a humane officer would report evidence of child or elder abuse while social workers would report animal abuse. The reporting requirements are either mandatory or permissive depending upon the state statutes. This is excellent, as violence is violence and we must intervene wherever we enter the cycle.
However, I discovered something. While preparing for a presentation on laws mandating and/or prohibiting veterinarians to report animal abuse, I discovered that veterinarians are excluded from participation in the human animal cycle of violence! This is particularly troubling as it is likely that a veterinarian could see an injured pet, child or adult simultaneously! How often do we see a family where a spouse beats his/her partner, and the child's pet to assert dominance and to manipulate behavior. (It was such a scenario that inspired our domestic violence program -Animal Safety Net- over a decade ago.) The injured spouse then takes the child and pet to the veterinarian. The well being of the pet is usually critical to the emotional survival of the child or elder victim and/or witness. Currently, the veterinarian is under no obligation to report the people abuse in any state and only in some states can the veterinarian report the animal abuse! Clearly this must change as the veterinary profession should be a valued asset in our concerted efforts to move towards a more civil and humane world. With your help we will remedy this oversight post haste.