Factors Affecting Reporting and Recognizing Animal Cruelty by US Veterinary Professionals
Animal cruelty includes a range of behaviors harmful to animals, from neglect to malicious killing, and veterinary professionals are on the front lines when it comes to responding. However, they may not have access to the resources and training they need to respond successfully.
This study was designed to help the field better understand the experiences and perceptions of veterinary professionals faced with suspected animal cruelty cases in the US.
Researchers circulated an anonymous survey to veterinary professionals to learn more about their experiences and perceptions of suspected animal cruelty cases.
Here are some of the findings:
1,027 veterinary professionals from 56 US states and territories responded:
391 VNTAs (veterinary nurses, technicians, or assistants)
178 Other Roles (directors, managers, administrators, other)
Respondents’ mean reported length of employment as a veterinary professional was 13 years.
78% of veterinary professionals reported seeing a suspected animal cruelty case in their career, with 33% indicating they had seen at least 1 suspected case in the previous 12 months.
VNTAs reported seeing cruelty more commonly (81%) than the veterinarian respondents (75%).
Of the 340 respondents who indicated they had seen suspected animal cruelty in the last 12 months, 36% said they didn’t report any cases to the authorities, 37% reported some of the cases, and 27% reported all the cases to authorities.
Most respondents (80%) had not received any formal or structured training associated with recognizing or reporting animal cruelty.
31% of respondents indicated their workplace has policies or procedures describing how to respond to suspected animal abuse, with respondents from animal welfare and shelter workplaces most commonly reporting having these types of policies.
More cases of suspected cruelty were seen by those who reported having had cruelty training and in workplaces with emergency intake or a relationship with law enforcement.
Suspected cases were more likely to be reported to authorities by respondents who indicated there was a workplace policy for handling cruelty cases and by individuals who indicated they were aware they were mandated reporters.
Findings suggest the following:
Although veterinary professionals are highly motivated to respond effectively to suspected animal cruelty, they face obstacles.
Providing training on recognizing and reporting animal cruelty and having animal cruelty workplace policies in place could potentially increase the number of veterinary professionals reporting suspected animal cruelty.