Advancing the fight against animal cruelty

February 28, 2019

The newly launched Suspect It, Detect It campaign hopes to help veterinarians become better able to recognize animal maltreatment.

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Laws protecting animals against abuse are becoming stricter across the nation, and veterinarians are on the front lines when it comes to recognizing and reporting animal cruelty and neglect.  

Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, an adjunct professor at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and founder and president of the independent consulting firm Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC, has launched the “Suspect It, Detect It” campaign in an effort to help other veterinary professionals improve their ability to identify and address animal maltreatment. 

Recognizing and reporting abuse is an important role for veterinarians, not only because of their duty to protect the welfare of animals but also because of the strong link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence. 

“As doctors, we have a duty to protect the health and welfare of both the animals and people in our communities,” Dr. Smith-Blackmore says. “We need to keep our eyes open to the idea that an individual may be criminally responsible for an animal's condition. And that individual may also be responsible for other harms to people and animals in the home or community.”

Suspect It, Detect It offers a shareable infographic reminding veterinarians to consider nonaccidental causes of injury in their patients and provides a checklist of things to consider when something doesn't seem quite right with a patient or client. 

Click here or on the image below for a PDF version of the handout.