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Dealing with abuse cases: what can vets do?

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Abuse can be categorised into four types: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. Non-accidental, physical injury is most likely to present itself in practice.

However, non-accidental injuries are often difficult to differentiate from those caused by a genuine accident. Vets can use this 10-point plan to tackle abuse cases.

What to look for

There are some pointers that vets can look out for. These include:

  • The history does not match the injury presented;

  • Different stories being given by different people, or the story changing throughout the consultation;

  • Evidence of repetitive injury and old injuries;

  • Behaviour of the animal – scared, anxious, subdued or overly aggressive;

  • Owner profile – new to the practice or visiting multiple practices in the area, discrepancies in name or address, history of high turnover of pets;

  • A delay in visiting the practice for a serious injury.

Get training

The Links Group works with vets to encourage them to recognise signs of abuse in the animals they treat and their owners. The group provides guidance, training courses (such as the Links Veterinary Training Initiative), and workshops for veterinary professionals and veterinary students.

Use a process

The Links Group advocates …

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