Originally Published August 9th in Abby News, by Tyler Olsen
The College of Veterinarians of British Columbia send out a directive to their membership in July, advising that veterinarians should only report animal abuse if they have “unequivocal evidence” of wrongdoing by clients. B.C.’s Chief Veterinary Officer Jane Pritchard disagrees with this position.
“And she took the CVBC to task for emphasizing client confidentiality above reporting abuse in an email the organization sent to members in June.
That memo states that reporting a client “should be reserved for circumstances where there is clear and unequivocal evidence of an animal being in distress as a direct result of the actions of the veterinarian’s client. Threatening to report or reporting on circumstantial evidence will leave veterinarians open to criticism for breaching client trust and confidentiality … Veterinarians will best serve their patients when clients can rely on them to make patient treatment a priority, while simultaneously meeting client confidentiality obligations.”
The Prevention of Cruelty Act (PCA) states that veterinarians “must promptly report” what they know if they think a client is “likely” abusing an animal. The CVBC position, which cites the need for “unequivocal evidence,” would require a vet to know for certain that abuse is happening before reporting it to authorities.
In opposing the CVBC memo, Pritchard cited provincial law, an oath taken by vets to protect animal health and welfare, and several high-profile animal abuse cases in the Fraser Valley over the last year.
“The emphasis on protecting client confidentiality to defend not reporting animal cruelty seems to me to be less than professional within the context of our oath and the requirements of the PCA.”
Pritchard wrote that the “CVBC memo focused on the role for veterinarians to protect client confidentiality in face of possible animal abuse.”
She wrote: “In B.C. we have witnessed high-profile media coverage and public outrage on extreme acts of cruelty against farm animals in recent months and years. The public often questions what the role of the veterinarian is in these circumstances, and if we do not speak up, take an interest, ask questions and become engaged in this area, I fear we, as veterinarians, will be seen as irrelevant in protecting animal welfare. I feel that veterinarians need to remain relevant in animal welfare that we should actively continue to strive to promote animal health and welfare, relieve animal suffering.”
Thank you Dr. Pritchard!
The rest of the article can be read here.