New directory aims to make reporting animal abuse easier for veterinary professionals
The National Resource Center on the Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence, or the National Link Coalition, has published a new national directory of agencies that investigate animal abuse. The directory represents more than 6,500 counties, cities and towns across the United States and identifies which agency follows up on reports of suspected animal cruelty, abuse and neglect, according to a release from the coalition.
The directory was created in response to laws in 36 states, as well as policies from the AVMA and AAHA, that either require or permit veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty. Lack of uniform systems for investigating these reports or unclear procedures for reporting may make it difficult for practitioners to determine who to contact, the group says.
The National Link Coalition was founded in 2008 and is made up of 3,400 veterinary, animal care and control, law enforcement, domestic violence, child and adult protection, academic, human health, and prosecution professionals in all 50 states and 53 foreign nations, the release states. The coalition, which focuses on the link between animal abuse and human violence, has the goal of making communities safer by recognizing that animal abuse is often the first link in the chain of family and community violence and may point to co-occurring or future violence.
The directory can be found at nationallinkcoalition.org/how-do-i-report-suspected-abuse. An interactive map lists the names and phone numbers of investigating agencies organized by county and city within each state, with the intent of eliminating confusion and making reporting easier.
“Veterinarians who want to report suspected animal abuse often encounter a bureaucratic runaround,” says coalition coordinator Phil Arkow in the release. “Unlike the simplified statewide hotlines for child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, the animal protection field is extremely fragmented with no national or statewide coordination of services. Each local agency operates independently with its own varying degree of enforcement powers, resources, training, organizational capacity and program priorities.
“A caller to an animal control or humane agency may be told to call law enforcement; the police or sheriff may say they are not trained in animal welfare issues and to call animal control," Arkow continues. "The result is a veterinarian who gives up in frustration and animal abuse that goes unresolved. Our goal is for people to use the directory to cut through the confusion.”
The directory also includes information for reporting suspected child and elder abuse and domestic violence. Veterinary personnel are mandated reporters of suspected child and elder abuse in 23 states, without fear of civil or criminal liability.
The directory will be updated continually, the group says. To report or request edits to the listings, contact the National Link Coalition at [email protected].