The concept of the animal-human bond simply refers to the role that animals play in human’s lives. Veterinarians play a critical role in the animal-human bond with their duty to provide the animal with the needed care. However, in circumstances where the animal isn’t being afforded the care that it needs, what does a veterinarian got to do to preserve the animal-human bond? Preserve the animal’s health and life by all means and hold the human responsible for neglect? Practice empathy for the human but put the animal’s life in peril? It is a delicate balance which this course aims to discuss.
This session’s speakers are Emily Lewis, Dr. Linda Fielder and Dr. Kris Otteman. Emily is the Senior Staff Attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund who works with various stakeholders on animal cruelty investigation and prosecution. Linda is an Animal Welfare Specialist with a 20-year career overseeing animal cruelty cases from end-to-end. Kris has over 30 years’ experience in the field of veterinary medicine and is currently the Senior Advisor of the Oregon Humane Society and Veterinary Leadership and Forensics Expert.
Topics discussed on this webinar include:
- A historical look into the human-animal bond and how it manifested over thousands of years.
- Breaks in the human-animal bond that transpire brought about by challenges that humans experience in terms of finances, livelihood and living conditions.
- The veterinarian’s role in preserving the bond.
- The Veterinary Oath establishing the veterinarian’s duty to use scientific knowledge to protect animal health and welfare, and consider the adverse impact on both animals and humans when the human-animal bond is threatened or breaks.
- The scope of the profession when it was first instituted and the broadening of the discipline which saw partnerships with other fields and innovations in processes.
- The current state of veterinary medicine in the United States characterized by:
- Shortages of veterinary professionals and available veterinary services for pet owners and those working in animal cruelty cases.
- The increase in cost of veterinary education and operating a veterinary hospital.
- The rising cost of care which prevents professionals from providing the gold standard of care when the pet owners are limited in terms of resources.
- The physical and mental toll on veterinarians of having to negotiate with and educate pet owners repeatedly.
- Efforts being done to prevent negative outcomes through expanded training and inter-agency collaboration, instilling the concept of One Health.
- The other actors that have a stake in the human-animal bond and what each of these can do within their purview to ensure that the bond is not jeopardized.
- How failure to provide veterinary care can lead to adverse outcomes to both humans and animals and the emerging trends that aim to counter this.
- How poverty compounded by lack of affordable resources renders pet owners unable to provide the standard of care, and how access to affordable pet care and veterinary services create a huge difference to both the animals and human’s outcomes.
- The elements of veterinary care that animals must have access to to ensure their health and survival.
- Animal hoarding cases
- How these manifest neglect on a large-scale level exacerbated by the pet owner’s potential mental challenges.
- The different sectors of the community that must work collaboratively to address these.
- The veterinarian’s ethical and legal obligations based on the Veterinary Oath, the AVMA’s Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics, and the Statutory Reporting Duties based on the jurisdiction they operate in.
- Case examples were provided demonstrating…
- How a punitive approach to cases of animal neglect threatens the human-animal bond and doesn’t necessarily address the root of the problem.
- Creative solutions resolving issues on shelter population, inability to provide the emergency medical services, and humane law enforcement approach to assist those challenged in terms of resources for the animal.
Questions from the audience were about:
- References for statistics mentioned in the webinar.
- Resources and other assistance for agencies that need help themselves handling animal law cases.
- How to best work on and prosecute cases of neglect due to poverty.
- Creative ways to address these issues given the current economic challenges.
- Assistance that stakeholders can extend to elderly pet owners who are physically limited to access veterinary care.
Webinars in this Series with the ALDF include:
- The Status of Animals in Criminal Animal Cruelty Cases
- Understanding Wildlife Animal Cruelty
- Preserving the Bond: the Veterinarian’s Role in Pre-Empting Animal Cruelty (this webinar)
- April 1: When the Evidence Needs a Home: Pre-Conviction Forfeiture
- July 15: Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty
- “This was a great and sometimes poignant webinar! I really enjoyed the cross-discipline approach.” — Rebecca
- “The reality of underserved community need for affordable and caring veterinary medical services; great presentation by articulate and informative speakers.” — David
- “The most valuable thing I learned was that there are better ways to help rather than further hurt well-meaning but down and out pet owners. This was very uplifting and hopeful. Thanks!” — Suzanne
- “Great articulation of the community approach to addressing poverty-related neglect. Thanks!” — Leigh Anne