Animal Cruelty Manual

Protocols for Veterinarians

Identifying and Reporting Signs of Animal Cruelty

In 2014 the PAWS (Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety) Act was enacted as Massachusetts law. Among its provisions for protecting animals, the law mandated that veterinarians in the state report suspected animal abuse to law enforcement.

To support the reporting and prevention of animal cruelty, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, and Animal Folks (MN) have collaborated to produce:

Reporting Animal Cruelty, The Role of the Veterinarian: Establishing Protocols to Identify and Report Suspected Animal Cruelty in Massachusetts.

This manual provides guidance so that veterinarians can develop protocols for their clinic or practice to inform the reporting of cases of animal neglect, cruelty, and abuse.

The manual also includes overviews of the: “Link” (the co-occurrence between animal and human violence); the criminal and judicial systems; and, other considerations such as confidentiality, immunity and liability.

All staff, from the receptionist and office manager to veterinary technicians and fellow veterinarians, need to know:

  • how to identify and document animal cruelty
  • how to report animal cruelty
  • the role each person can play in the prevention of animal cruelty and breaking the cycle of violence

The manual is intended to be a resource to strengthen the capacity of all who encounter animal cruelty to document and report this serious crime and is available at no cost to veterinarians, their staff, and others in the field of veterinary medicine.  There are multiple examples throughout the manual highlighting cases both within the Commonwealth as well as nationally.

The Reporting Animal Cruelty manual can be downloaded as a pdf from either of the links below. Please note, this manual contains graphic images of animal cruelty and is not intended for the general public.

For Licensees: The manual itself does not have the force and effect of law, as would a Massachusetts General Law or a Board rule or regulation, but is highlighted by the Board as a resource to help comply with statutory reporting obligations.

Additional Resources

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