Because The Fenway Foundation For Friesian Horses has a surrender program, we often get questions or receive concerns regarding Friesian horses that are in less than desirable situations. While we are all saddened by circumstances such as this, the real question becomes one of what can and should be done and by whom? In a recently published article, one veterinarian looked specifically at what a veterinarian’s
reasonability is in horse abuse cases. “Every veterinarian has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of animals” according to Dr. Ron DeHaven, the CEO of the AVMA, and it is the responsibility ofevery veterinarian to report animal abuse to the appropriate authorities. The Animal Welfare Act, which became a federal law in 1966, is the only federal law in the U.S. that regulates the treatment of animals in
research, exhibition, transport and by dealers. Increased public concern regarding animal cruelty means that these cases are treated with “more respect that at any time in the past”. Tough economic times has caused an increased number of cases of unwanted and neglected horses and rescue facilities are often at capacity, forcing them to turn these horses away. Equine veterinarians become aware of these cases of
neglect and abuse often through their daily work and can face a dilemma as to when it’s appropriate to report them, to whom and the ramifications of doing so. “Veterinarians can be challenged by conflicting professional, personal, public and legal standards of what constitutes inhumane treatment.
“ Veterinarians need to become familiar with the statues within the state that they practice and follow these cases through the appropriate process. Once a report of abuse or cruelty has been made, an investigation is undertaken by law enforcement and the result is either seizure of the horses or the horses are left in place with a set of terms and conditions if an “imminent risk of death is not present”. In most cases, animals cannot be removed from the property without the owner present unless a warrant is obtained or the horses are in danger and law enforcement is involved. Equine veterinarians must also take a role in assisting law enforcement and aiding officials in the investigation and prosecution of cases. “All veterinarians should take a stand to serve in this capacity whenever needed in order to make our world a kinder and more humane place for its human and animal inhabitants.”
Article: Grice, AL VMD, MBA. A Veterinarian’s Responsibility in Horse Abuse Cases.
EquiManagement, Summer 2016, pp.20-26.