Bill would require Florida veterinarians to report signs of animal abuse

Published: November 26, 2019 4:54 PM EST
Updated: November 26, 2019 6:25 PM EST

A new bill proposal would further protect animals in Florida. If a veterinarian suspects animal abuse is happening, he or she must report it to the authorities. The bill aims to protect both veterinarians and pets. But some people said a law like that would do more harm than good.

Carmela, a furry dog, is a new mom and a victim of abuse.

Under Dem. State Sen. Jason Pizzo’s new bill, SB 1044, any veterinarian who sees an animal abused like Carmela, would be required by law to report that abuse to law enforcement. Carmela’s caretakers at the Gulf Coast Humane Society, Jennifer Galloway, told WINK News the bill is a fantastic idea.

“She struggled and almost didn’t make it and lost two of her puppies,” Galloway said. “Veterinarians should already be reporting any signs of suspected abuse. But i think making it mandatory is even better.”

If passed, the bill would also require other employers, like volunteers and technicians, to report any suspected abuse to the clinic’s veterinarian.

“Animal Folks,” which is an animal abuse prevention group, said right now veterinarians fear retribution if they report abuse. But that worries dog owner, Scott McFarland, who fears veterinarians might label accidents as abuse.

“You punish a person,” McFarland said, “because a dog comes to a dog park and hurts itself?”

Critics of the bill believe the law would discourage dog owners from going to the veterinarian. Abbe Finn, a counselour at Florida Gulf Coast University, said that it is unlikely because people would benefit from monitoring animal abuse because it is indicative of a person who may be “escalating on their pattern of abuse.”

Between 50 percent and 75 percent of domestic violence victims report their pets are also being abused and animals like Carmela might get the care they need more quickly with the passage of the bill.

“People might be concerned about going to the doctor to get treatment for themselves because they’re embarrassed,” Finn said, “but they may show up for treatment for their pet.”