The veterinarian's role in detecting, assessing, and responding to cases of animal maltreatment

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Kovacs, J. Suzie
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University of Guelph

A combination of qualitative and quantitative methodology was used to investigate animal maltreatment and the veterinarian's role from the perspective of Canadian veterinary practitioners. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 practitioners in southwestern Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Information gathered from these interviews were used to develop a practitioner survey, which was distributed to a sample of 168 practitioners in southwestern Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. Results indicated that the majority of veterinarians consider the issue of animal maltreatment one in which they have a fundamental role and responsibility; nevertheless, they believe this role is currently ill-defined. Results also indicated that variability exists in how veterinarians define animal maltreatment and how they respond to such cases when seen in practice. Definitions and responses are influenced by factors other than the patient's condition. The most influential factors in a veterinarian's decision-making process in such cases were found to relate to the client and the client-veterinarian relationship.

animal maltreatment, veterinarian, role, responsibility, Canada, veterinary practitioners, decision-making process