National Directory of Abuse Investigation Agencies Published
The National Link Coalition – the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence—has announced the publication of a free National Directory of Abuse Investigation Agencies, covering more than 6,500 counties, cities and towns, that identifies which agency in that jurisdiction investigates reports of suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect.
The Directory was created in response to laws in 34 states, and policies from AVMA and AAHA, which require or permit veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty. Many clinical, forensic and practice management publications can now help veterinarians to identify non-accidental injuries and resolve contentious business concerns. But because of the lack of uniform systems for investigating such reports and the absence of information on animal welfare and control websites, many practitioners are confused as to who they should call in their local community.
The online directory has an interactive map that lists the names and phone numbers of 6,513 animal cruelty investigating agencies organized by county and city within each state. The goal is to eliminate confusion and make it easier for veterinarians to report suspected animal maltreatment.
Simplifying the Complexity of Animal Care and Control
The investigation of animal welfare complaints is not systematized. Depending on the jurisdiction, reports may be investigated by a humane society, SPCA, animal control/services, police, sheriff, or other agency. Not all animal care and control agencies have sworn officers empowered to file misdemeanor or felony charges. Some agencies are species-specific and may not be allowed to investigate cases involving cats or livestock. Meanwhile, contrary to popular opinion, local humane societies and SPCAs are not branches of national organizations.
The Directory will be a work-in-progress and will be continually updated. Please contact the National Link Coalition at [email protected] to report edits to the listings.
Recommendations for veterinarians
- Refer to the Directory at http://nationallinkcoalition.org/how-do-i-report-suspected-abuse to find out who investigates animal cruelty, abuse and neglect in your area.
- Establish lines of communication in advance with these agencies to determine what information they will need if you report a case.
- Refer to the practice management guidance available from the National Link Coalition at http://nationallinkcoalition.org/resources/articles-research#TOOLS%20FOR%20VETERINARIANS to establish a protocol for situations when you believe a patient is experiencing abuse.
- Remember: it is not your responsibility to determine if a situation meets a legal standard of animal abuse; rather, it is your responsibility to report your suspicions to the appropriate agency and let them investigate further.
- National Link Coalition speakers can provide training at your state conferences on how animal abuse is linked to human violence and its implications for veterinary medicine.
- Please let them know if any Directory listings need changing.