Menu Icon Search
Close Search

About the ads

  1. If you prefer the SDN Blue style, go to the bottom left of the page and select "SDN Blue"

Reporting Clients. Opinions?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by Riaton, 07.19.12.

  1. Riaton

    Riaton

    Joined:
    07.19.12
    Messages:
    4

    SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads)
    Hey SDN

    I have a question about reporting clients to the authorities when you suspect abuse. I worked for a vet for 4 years and he was an all around awesome vet. When we had clients who came in with animals that look abused he would tell the staff not to report it for several reasons:

    1. The client will stop bringing animals into the vet if they get reported by a vet, and the animal will receive less care.
    2. It is hard to prove what actually happened to the animal if the client lies about it. If the authorities place an investigation they will see vet visits and it will be even hard to prove abuse.
    3. If the abuse is reported then the animal may not get the care that they need for broken bones or wounds that require many vet visits.

    The vet said his reasoning is all backed up by his personal experience.

    I now work for a new vet and the other day a dog came in with a very serious injury that made us suspect abuse. This dog was less then a year old and already has a history of broken bones etc. That, along with the clients apathetic attitude, made the staff suspect abuse. But instead of not reporting it the staff immediately contacted the authorities. They were surprised when I said that I usually dont report abuse.

    Obviously, this type of thing is a very emotional situation for the staff because its heartbreaking. So if you suspect abuse what is the right thing to do for the animal? I have heard two completely opposite opinions and now I am just confused on what is the best thing to do for the pet!
  2. orca2011

    orca2011 PennWe c/o 2016!!! Gold Donor

    Joined:
    09.01.11
    Messages:
    4,289
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    Honestly, the clinic I work at kind of works the same way the first practice you worked at did. I work at low cost clinic, and we've seen cases that we have wanted to report for neglect but ended up not pursuing it for pretty much the reasons you just listed. Also, for many of our clients, we're the only one's who haven't turned them away yet and try to find ways to help them out when costs are a bit much. Also, if they're still bringing the animal in, they're at least making the attempt to get care, as horrible as that may sound.

    The clinic is associated with a humane society, but we no longer really have the funding to have a full time animal control officer or anything like that, so the head of the shelter kind of acts as one. He does follow up on some patients and puts threats out there, but without the manpower to really follow up on anything, that's generally about as far as it goes. If we have a pretty strong case though, he usually will follow up more often or there will be more pressure for the owner to surrender the animal. The local animal rescue league also doesn't really have the man power to do anything either and there aren't really any ASPCA's in the area. I think the closest one to me is in Philly which is like 90 minutes away.

    It's really quite a shame. :(
  3. orcagirl

    orcagirl NCSU 2016

    Joined:
    08.20.09
    Messages:
    1,559
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    It's best to report from what I've heard if you actually suspect something is going on. Generally the person who reports it is kept anonymous. Also I think it might come back to bite you if you don't report it and someone else does and it comes out you've been treating the animal and suspecting abuse without reporting. I could be wrong, but in not reporting it you allow it to continue with that animal and potentially many more.

    Edit: I think in AZ there are more people to enforce it (especially in the Tucson area. They have an Animal Cruelty Taskforce).
  4. Whyevernot55

    Whyevernot55 OKSU 2016!

    Joined:
    12.15.09
    Messages:
    1,320
    Location:
    MA
    Status:
    Pre-Veterinary
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    My old practice saw a fair bit - we were on the edge of a low-income area. In one instance, the person actually admitted, in our presence, to kicking the cat (resulted in a broken leg). He was reported and the cat was seized by the local animal authorities. We had several other cases that were reported, but I am unsure about the outcome.
    Personally, I'll always report it - the report stays anonymous from the accused, and if you can help save an animal from that situation, you should.
  5. bbeventer

    bbeventer Illinois 2016

    Joined:
    09.27.10
    Messages:
    2,448
    Location:
    Illinois
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    The clinic I worked at dealt with a lot of fighting dogs. Clear fight wounds, burn wounds, etc. and we weren't allowed to report. The reasons we were given were 1) If the client is seeking medical treatment, they can't prosecute. 2) If a tech reports abuse and the vet fails to, the vet can lose their licence.

    So, I don't know, but I think not reporting is pretty common, unfortunately.
  6. jmo1012

    jmo1012 SGU (NCSU) c/o 2015!

    Joined:
    03.18.11
    Messages:
    2,209
    Location:
    Under the Sea
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
  7. PetPony

    PetPony Rawr :*

    Joined:
    11.22.10
    Messages:
    5,923
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    Status:
    Pre-Veterinary
    SDN 2+ Year Member
  8. jmo1012

    jmo1012 SGU (NCSU) c/o 2015!

    Joined:
    03.18.11
    Messages:
    2,209
    Location:
    Under the Sea
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    :cry:if you're looking to break your heart into a million pieces and sob for awhile, look up spindletop pitbull rescue
  9. Tiger369

    Tiger369

    Joined:
    05.01.12
    Messages:
    115
    Status:
    Pre-Veterinary
  10. Riaton

    Riaton

    Joined:
    07.19.12
    Messages:
    4
    Thank you everyone for your replies. This is one of the hardest parts of veterinary medicine for me and sometimes I literally cannot go into the rooms because I know I am going to lose it. I live in a poorer area and we see abuse cases all the time. These are not just neglect, they are people being straight up cruel to their pets. Just when you think you have seen the most shocking thing ever, the next abused dog makes you want to quit your job. I just hope I can find a way to deal with it when I become a vet.
  11. PetPony

    PetPony Rawr :*

    Joined:
    11.22.10
    Messages:
    5,923
    Location:
    Athens, GA
    Status:
    Pre-Veterinary
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I'm a bit nervous about that if I actually do go to Mexico. I get to hear stories all the time about how animals are treated there and I don't know what I'd do if I do have to see it. :(
  12. bunnity

    bunnity Penn 2014

    Joined:
    01.26.09
    Messages:
    1,987
    Status:
    Veterinary Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    Just FYI some states have laws requiring vets to report abuse.
    Some states have laws protecting vets that report abuse.
    Some states have no laws about it at all.

    You also have to consider that the dog/cat is probably not the only one being beaten up / neglected at home.

    For me it depends... if it is something you can fix with some education (ie not willful neglect) then don't go overboard reporting every dog that needs a dewormer and more food if the owner is willing to step up. But if it is willful abuse or neglect then I would report it, for the animal's sake and the sake of other animals and humans in the home. If there is truly nothing wrong then the person won't get in trouble, but I don't think that is MY call to make when there are humane officers trained for that job where I live.

    Side note: I think it's really important to remember to take everything you see while shadowing or working at a vet, with a grain of salt. Just because Jane Doe DVM does something one way doesn't mean it's right. Jane may not have picked up a textbook or journal since she graduated 20 years ago. I feel the same way during vet school too. Not everything I've been taught is something I agree with or think is reasonable. I think you have to get as many experiences as you can, read as much as you can, and never stop questioning if you're going to be good in this field.
  13. chickenlittle

    chickenlittle

    Joined:
    10.07.06
    Messages:
    113
    Status:
    Veterinarian
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    In my mind, it's always best to report unless there's a darn good reason (ie. someone who has always taken perfect care of their pets, goes out of town, and comes back to find some sort of neglected injury that the petsitter didn't address but the client makes every possible effort to treat as well as possible.. I've seen that happen a time or two).

    The reality, though, is that if you're an associate veterinarian, it's completely up to your employer whether you are allowed to report or not. I am six years out of school and in my fourth job since graduation, and none of those jobs have permitted me to report neglect/cruelty cases to local authorities. My previous employers likely would have fired me for reporting cases - the few times that the situation arose, I was told very firmly that I was not permitted to file a report because the clinic would lose business if people thought we may report them for cruelty. I currently work for a corporate practice - we are expected to report neglect/cruelty to our corporate offices and then they determine if/how to handle the situation with the authorities.

    It stinks, but even as a veterinarian, it's not really your decision (unless you own your own clinic).
  14. ursulamajor

    ursulamajor Junior Member

    Joined:
    04.02.05
    Messages:
    30
    Status:
    Veterinarian
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    California law says that vets and RVT's have a duty to report abuse. That said, as chickenlittle said, you may feel pressure from practice management or even your fellow associate veterinarians not to report. I have reported severe willful neglect in the past, but if the owner is seeking veterinary care (no matter how little or how late), our local animal control is less keen to get involved. So in these cases, you really need to marshall all your moral authority with the client and try to persuade them to change their ways. Not all clients are amenable, but you can say you tried (this allows you to sleep at night).
  15. Bill59

    Bill59 Member

    Joined:
    01.04.06
    Messages:
    994
    SDN 7+ Year Member
  16. chickenlittle

    chickenlittle

    Joined:
    10.07.06
    Messages:
    113
    Status:
    Veterinarian
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    Yep, this is the approach that I've tended to take. I'll also admit that I've *threatened* to report people before... but never actually done it (if I think that some scare tactics may work with that particular client). I live in a poor/rural/Southern area (my state is not one that requires vets to report, according to Bill59's link) and therefore animal control usually won't do anything about suspected neglect/abuse cases anyway. The stories that I've seen in the local news have convinced me of that!! So as much as I'd like to have the authority to report, I'm not really convinced that it would make any difference in the long run.

    In my case, it hasn't just been an issue of "pressure" not to report. I have little doubt that I actually would have lost my job if I had reported, As someone who is the sole breadwinner in my family, that's really not a chance that I can afford to take. There are times that I'd like to take the moral high road, but the reality is that paying the bills has to come first. And it's not just a matter of changing jobs... as I said, I've done that several times and still have yet to find an employer who gives permission to their DVM's to report abuse.

    ETA: Just to illustrate what type of area that I live in... the maggot video on the VBB Blog? In all of my previous DVM jobs (except my current one - yay for corporate practices having higher prices that tend to dissuade cruddy clients!), it was pretty much taken for granted that we would see at least 1-2 maggot cases per week during the summer. I've euthanized numerous patients for maggot infections. Some of those were due to a wound, but the majority were geriatric long-haired outdoor dogs (Chows, etc) who were forced to lay in their own excrement and/or not given appropriate sanitary clips... they developed such severe urine scalding & sores on their skin that it allowed the maggots to set up shop. THOSE are the ones that are infuriating.
    Last edited: 07.23.12
  17. Tiger369

    Tiger369

    Joined:
    05.01.12
    Messages:
    115
    Status:
    Pre-Veterinary
    Yeah, that is infuriating chickenlittle. And, I think it's kind of sad that vets can't report abuse because they are afraid of losing their jobs. It should not be like that.

// Share //

Style: SDN Universal