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Shelter Medicine: Animal Cruelty: Where We Are, Where We Should Be

The veterinarian’s role in cruelty cases has often been limited—but that needs to change

Since I began working for the National Outreach Department of the ASPCA, I’ve divided my teaching time primarily between two subjects: shelter medicine and animal cruelty. As a veterinarian working in the shelter, I’ve written hundreds of statements detailing the results of physical examinations performed on injured and abused animals rescued by our humane law enforcement department.

But while I view veterinary forensics as part of shelter medicine, few opportunities exist to teach about it, and even fewer veterinarians are qualified to do so. I’ve noticed with dismay that whenever I lecture to veterinarians about animal cruelty, the room is never as crowded as it is when I discuss the control of disease transmission.

Some recent events have made me focus on animal cruelty, and particularly on the role veterinarians can and should play in stopping it.

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