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Phil P.
July 2nd 08, 01:49 AM
I think this is an important paper.


Lila T. Miller, BS, DVM
North American Veterinary Conference
January 18, 2008

The Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians defines the
human-animal bond as the relationship between people, animals, and their
environment. In most cases, the term is perceived to refer to a situation
that is a positive one. Veterinarians focus on providing education,
resources, and support to clients, the public and other professionals to
create, enhance and sustain an ethical and mutually satisfying relationship
between animals and people. When a positive bond has formed, not only do we
feel good emotionally, there is scientific evidence that there are physical
benefits as well. Much attention has been given to medical research that
reveals that pet ownership can lead to a reduction in stress, blood pressure
and the number of visits to the doctor's office. There has been widespread
publicity about the value of pets for troubled children, the elderly, and
people suffering and recovering from major clinical illnesses such as heart
disease and depression. We hear that pets are increasingly considered to be
members of our families. We give them gifts, celebrate their birthdays, take
them with us on vacations and to restaurants, and even share our beds with
them. The American Pet Products Manufacturing Association (APPMA) estimates
that 63% of US households own a pet, which equates to 69.1 millions homes.
They also estimate the amount of money spent on pet food, toys, accessories,
and veterinary care in the United States in 2006 was 38.5 billion dollars.
This certainly paints an appealing picture of the human-animal bond and the
life of pampered dogs and cats in the United States.

But what happens to these family members if the bond never forms or fails?
The consequences are usually tragic for the animals, resulting in
abandonment, relinquishment or abuse. This is the part of the picture that
still goes largely unnoticed by both the veterinary profession and the
public, but that needs widespread attention.


Animal abandonment and abuse or cruelty can be the darkest
consequences of a failed bond. Animal abandonment is defined as animal
cruelty specifically in many states. Pets who are the victims of
non-accidental trauma or deliberate abuse and cruelty may be presented to
the veterinary practice, but the true cause of the problem may remain hidden
if the veterinarian is unwilling to accept that possibility. One of the most
common reasons that veterinarians fail to identify animal abuse is that they
have not been trained to recognize the warning signs. Furthermore, many do
not believe it is a problem that they will ever encounter in their practices
so they fail to include it in their list of differentials. But DeViney
(1983) found that in pet-owning households (in NJ) with a history of child
abuse, utilization of veterinary services was consistent with the norms in
the non-abusive population. Landau (1999) found that 87% of veterinarians
who responded to a survey had treated abused patients; 50% saw one to three
cases per year, 60% suspected they had treated animals that had been abused,
and 20% had clients they suspected were being abused. An Ohio State
University study (Sharpe, 1999) found the mean number of animal abuse cases
seen per year was 5.6 per 1000 patients. So while it may be easy to hide
abuse from veterinarians by not bringing the animal in for care, it is a
mistake to believe abused animals will not be seen in the average practice.


Many veterinarians fail to recognize animal abuse because of the
various ways it may be defined. The terms abuse and cruelty are often used
interchangeably. Even though cruelty is defined by state laws and not by the
veterinarian, it can be useful to have a basic understanding of how the
terms abuse, neglect and cruelty are commonly used in these cases. While the
1997 American Humane Association (AHA) publication: Recognizing and
Reporting Animal Abuse: A Veterinarian's Guide defined abuse in one of the
chapters as the "willful knowledge of failing to provide care, or awareness
of doing something harmful," Vermeulen and Odendaal (1993) proposed a
typology of physical abuse that included passive neglect or ignorance as
well as active maltreatment that we so commonly think of such as beating,
burning, drowning, and so forth. The typology included the lack of food,
water, shelter, sanitation, necessary veterinary care to alleviate
suffering, and general neglect, as well as categories for emotional abuse.
Although neglect was defined in the AHA publication as "unintentional lack
of care that comes from ignorance," some states include it in their legal
definition of cruelty, which makes it prosecutable. Finally, cruelty was
defined generically in the 2006 forensics text by Sinclair, Merck and
Lockwood, Forensic Investigation of Animal Cruelty as "any act that, by
intention or by neglect, causes unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal."
By broadening the generic definition of cruelty, veterinarians will be more
likely to at least consider the possibility that an animal has been cruelly
treated, and to act upon those suspicions. Cruelty does not have to be
egregious, deliberate, or intended for pleasure in most states to be
prosecuted at least as a misdemeanor offense. But instead of focusing on
one's preconceived ideas of what constitutes abuse, neglect and cruelty or
the differences between the terms, the veterinarian should understand that
cruelty is defined by statute and that the statutory language may encompass
all the terms.

The Role of the Veterinarian in Cruelty Cases

Veterinarians are mandated in at least eight states to report
cases of suspected abuse or animal fighting to the appropriate authorities,
and may suffer penalties for failure to do so. State laws vary and may
require veterinarians to have suspicions, reasonable or direct knowledge, or
be a "known case" in order to mandate filing a report. The AVMA position
statement on reporting animal abuse is that "veterinarians may observe cases
of animal abuse or neglect as defined by federal or state laws or local
ordinances. When these situations cannot be resolved through education, the
AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report such
cases to the appropriate authorities. Disclosures may be necessary to
protect the health and welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians should
be aware that accurate record keeping and documentation of these cases are
invaluable." When deciding whether to file a report or educate,
consideration should be given to the number, severity and duration of the
problems. Good faith reports of suspicions of animal abuse should be filed
on the basis of the physical exam and history. Veterinarians must use good
judgment in considering how to handle these cases just as they put in
considerable time determining the best treatment course for any client. The
report only initiates the legal process that launches an investigation to
uncover the facts. Veterinarians serve as the medical expert on a team that
includes law enforcement, animal control officers, shelters, and
prosecutors. As the medical expert, the veterinarian examines, documents,
preserves and interprets the forensic evidence only. The prosecutor presents
it to the court and it is important to remember that the final determination
of cruelty is made by a judge and jury, not by the veterinarian.

The "Link" Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

When discussing the failure of the human-animal bond, the link between
human violence and animal abuse must be explored. Animal abuse usually does
not occur in isolation or a vacuum. It is often violent and deadly, and when
animals are at risk, humans are at risk and vice versa. It is often stated
that animal abuse serves as a sentinel for the early detection of family
violence. The recognition that an animal is being abused may provide the
first point of intervention in breaking a continuum of violence that
includes domestic, spousal and elder abuse as well as other violent crime.
Many households with children also have pets, and aggressive acts against a
family member, including the family pet, place all the family members at
risk, and can spill over into the community.

The studies that provide evidence that this link exists yield
some very startling and sobering statistics. Studies by Kellert (1985),
Felthous (1977) and Ressler (1988) have shown that 25% of aggressive male
prison inmates, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of assaultive women
offenders, 48% of convicted rapists, and 46% of incarcerated sexual homicide
perpetrators had childhood and adolescent histories of animal cruelty.
Ascione found in 1998 that 71% of women seeking shelter from an abusive
situation reported that their partner had hurt, threatened or killed their
pet; 32% of these women reported that one or more of their children had hurt
or killed pets. DeViney found in a 1983 study that animals are abused in 88%
of homes where physical child abuse occurred. An MSPCA study of men who were
prosecuted for animal cruelty revealed that men who abused animals were five
times more likely to have been arrested for crimes of violence against
humans, four times more likely to have committed property crimes, and three
times more likely to have committed drug and disorderly conduct offenses.
Merz-Perez found in a 2001 study that violent offenders in a maximum
security prison were significantly more likely to have a prior history of
acts of animal cruelty than non-violent offenders.

In the case of several highly publicized school yard shootings, prior to the
shootings, Kip Kinkel decapitated cats and blew up cows, Andrew Golden shot
dogs, Luke Woodham beat and torched his dog Sparkle, Eric Harris and Dylan
Klebold mutilated animals, and Michael Carneal threw a cat into a bonfire.
Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo, David Berkowitz, and Ted
Bundy all committed earlier acts of animal cruelty. Kellert and Felthous
conducted studies of the childhoods of men in prisons and psychiatric
hospitals for criminal behavior and found that there was a significant
association between acts of cruelty against animals in childhood and later
serious, recurrent aggression against humans. In another study, HSUS
estimated that approximately 12% of the reported acts of intentional animal
cruelty involved some form of family violence.

There is a strong association between early childhood animal
cruelty and later juvenile delinquency, violent adult criminal behavior and
conduct disorders. While not all children who commit acts of animal cruelty
become criminals or become involved in illegal or violent activities in
adulthood, they are more likely to do so than children who do not. In 1966,
Hellman and Blackman determined there was a positive and predictive
association between a triad of behaviors including bed-wetting, arson, and
animal cruelty, and future criminal activity. The FBI has been known to
refer to this as the "homicidal triad." Children exhibiting these three
behaviors should receive serious counseling and intervention to prevent
future acts of violence. A study by Tapia in 1971 also revealed that not all
children "outgrow" performing acts of animal cruelty. That study indicated
that 62% of the children who entered clinics for treatment for animal abuse
and other disorders were still abusing animals 2 to 9 years later. Animal
cruelty should not be viewed as just "boys will be boys." In 1964,
anthropologist Margaret Mead warned that "the most dangerous thing that can
happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it."
Veterinarians who encounter deliberate animal abuse by children should
evaluate it very seriously and discuss it with their parents and encourage
them to seek professional counseling. Many experts believe that early
interventions can prevent future violence against both humans and animals

Reasons for Animal Abuse

The bond may be broken or never have been formed in cases of
animal abuse. There is no single profile that describes the animal abuser.
Just as with family violence, animal abuse crosses all socioeconomic lines.
Animals may be abused by people for a variety of reasons. Kellert and
Felthous provided some of the following reasons: "1) to control the animal,
possibly to eliminate undesirable characteristics; 2) to retaliate against
the animal for a presumed wrong; 3) to satisfy a prejudice against a breed
or species; 4) to instill aggressive tendencies in the animal; 5) to enhance
one's own aggression; 6) to shock people and gain attention; 7) to retaliate
or get revenge against another person; 8) displaced hostility, 9)
nonspecific sadism, including sexual assault." Animal abuse may be used to
hurt or control family members. Abused children may perform acts of animal
cruelty or even kill their pets to protect them from even worse abuse, to
act out aggression against a more vulnerable household member, to act on
aggressive feelings toward abusive adults, or because they are imitating the
behavior they have observed.

Warning Signs of Animal Abuse

Veterinarians should be aware of the following warning signs that animals
may be abused: 1) injuries that could not logically have occurred in the
manner that the owner has described; 2) discrepancies or changes in the
history; 3) lack of concern about the disposition of previous pets or their
(in)ability to care for animals; 4) refusal to acknowledge the seriousness
of a condition, provide treatment for or follow-up on treatment of painful
conditions that cause suffering; 5) indifference about the cause of an
injury; 6) constant parade of new animals; or 7) use of several

A combination of the following physical signs of neglect in one animal or
the presence of these signs in several animals may present cause for
concern: 1) emaciation; 2) severely matted hair; 3) avulsed and ingrown
nails; 4) multiple fractures or wounds in various stages of healing
(characteristic of the "Battered Pet Syndrome"); 5) heavy parasite
infestations with resultant anemia and skin lesions; 6) collars that are
embedded in the neck; 7) overall filth; or 8) bite wounds that are
characteristic of dog fighting. Animals who present with problem behaviors
such as inappropriate elimination, aggression, noisiness, disobedience, or
destructiveness or who are in need of constant supervision are also at
greater risk of being abused.


Bestiality is one of the oldest and rarest forms of animal abuse, yet Kinsey
found as far back as 1953 that overall, 8% of the US male population
surveyed admitted to having had sexual contact with animals. No one likes to
talk about it, but bestiality is currently not illegal in all states.
Historically, sexual contact with animals has been punished by society in a
wide variety of ways, ranging from death to no punishment at all. In many
cases, the animal is injured or dies as a result of the sexual encounter.
Sexual assault of animals may occur in a variety of settings. It may be used
to satisfy adolescent curiosity about sex, as a substitute for a human
sexual partner, or to control more vulnerable family members or children.

Zoophilia is a term that is used for situations in which the person claims
to be in a loving sexual relationship with the animal. According to the
American Psychiatric Association, zoophilia is defined as a disorder of
sexual preference. There are many Internet sites devoted to zoophilia and
reason to be believed it may be more widespread than reported. Veterinarians
should be aware of this activity because they will be responsible for
analyzing the forensic evidence for confirmation of actual sexual contact
with and/or cruelty to the animal.

(For more information the reader is referred to Helen Munro's article on
sexual abuse of animals as part of the Battered Pet Syndrome [Munro, 2001]
or the textbooks, Veterinary Forensics by Melinda Merck or Forensic
Investigation of Animal Cruelty by Sinclair, Merck and Lockwood, 2006.)


Most veterinarians will eventually encounter an animal hoarder. On the
surface, people who take in multiple animals may seem to epitomize the
human-animal bond at its best, but animal hoarding is a multifaceted problem
that often causes true and intense animal suffering. A case definition
(taken from Illinois state law) of an animal hoarder is someone who 1)
accumulated a large number of animals that overwhelmed their ability to
provide minimal standards of nutrition, shelter, sanitation, and veterinary
care; 2) denied the deteriorating conditions of the animals and
environment; and 3) denied the negative impact of the collection on health
and well-being of themselves or other household members. Some experts
believe that many hoarders suffer from an obsessive-compulsive or other
psychological disorder. Hoarding is not about good intentions gone awry;
dead and severely ill animals were found in 80% of cases.

Hoarders are not just the stereotypical well meaning "cat lady."
It is true that nearly three quarters of them are women and live alone, but
they are represented in every socioeconomic level and many professions,
including shelter rescue and foster care groups. Some do have minors living
with them. Almost half are over 60 years of age and cats are slightly more
hoarded than dogs, although it can be other species as well. They can be
very clever and use several veterinarians to escape detection. The Hoarding
of Animals Research Consortium (http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/) that
is studying this problem has provided some warning signs that a client may
be a hoarder: 1) perfuming or bathing the pet to conceal odors; 2) using a
surrogate pet to get medications for other unseen animals; 3)
showing an unwillingness to say how many pets are owned; 4) claiming to have
just found an animal in deplorable condition; 5) having a constantly
changing parade of pets; 6) office visits for problems related to poor
preventive health, filth, overcrowding and stress (fleas, ear mites,
intestinal parasites, upper respiratory infections, urine scald); or 7)
demonstrating an interest in acquiring more animals.

Veterinarians who suspect their clients may be hoarders should
resist the temptation to simply offer discounted and pro bono services
because that only serves to enable their behavior and prolong animal
suffering; instead they should file a report to get assistance for both the
human and animal victims of this problem. Veterinarians cannot handle these
cases alone, as treatment or simple removal of the animals from true
hoarders never solves the problem. The recidivism rate is 100%. They will
always obtain more animals unless there is constant follow up monitoring and
counseling. A community inter-agency approach involving the department of
health, social services, psychiatrists, law enforcement, animal shelters and
veterinarians is necessary to find a resolution to the problem of animal
hoarding. For more information go to http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/


Finally, animals who are victims of an unformed or broken bond
often wind up as a "problem" for local humane societies and animal control
shelters. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(ASPCA) National Outreach Department estimates there are between four and
six thousand animal shelters in the US. Because there are no federal
regulations and few state guidelines governing the operation, definition of
or record keeping in shelters, no one knows the exact number. It is known
that millions of animals enter shelters and are euthanized every year. While
some of these animals are surrendered by their owners for euthanasia (rather
than going to their private practice) due to sickness and old age (Kass et
al, 2001) shelter euthanasia numbers are still used to measure the magnitude
of the pet population problem. While many communities are struggling to
reduce the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals through the use of
aggressive adoption, behavior counseling and spay-neuter programs, one of
the highest risk factors for death for dogs and cats in this country remains
ending up in an animal control shelter.

The National Council on Pet Population and Study (NCPPS) is a
coalition of animal welfare and animal control organizations, breed groups,
industry and veterinary professionals, that was formed to conduct studies to
determine the "number, origin and disposition of pets (dogs and cats) in the
US, and to recommend programs to reduce the number of homeless pets in the
US." The Council reached the conclusion that "many human companion animal
relationships fail because people have inaccurate and inappropriate
expectations of their pet's medical and behavioral needs, and their role and
responsibility in providing for these needs." In addition, they determined
the top ten reasons for dogs and cats being relinquished to shelters. The
list for dogs included: 1) moving; 2) landlord issues; 3) cost of pet
maintenance;, 4) no time for pet; 5) inadequate facilities; 6) too many
pets in the home; 7) pet illness; 8) personal problems; 9) biting and 10) no
homes for littermates. The top ten reasons for cats being relinquished to a
shelter included: 1) too many in the house; 2) allergies; 3) moving; 4) cost
of pet maintenance; 5) landlord issues; 6) no homes for littermates: 7)
house soiling; 8) personal problems; 9) inadequate facilities, and 10)
doesn't get along with other pets.

Veterinarians should be familiar with the issues that increase the risk of
relinquishment due to a broken bond and be prepared to intervene to keep
animals in their homes. They can offer affordable behavior counseling and
neutering services, work with the local shelter, encourage adoption of
shelter animals and support pet friendly legislation that allows pets in
housing, and opposes breed and insurance bans, etc. If all else fails,
families that relinquish their pets to shelters should be encouraged to
provide the shelter with honest information in order to successfully rehome
the animal. Conversely, in shelters with high euthanasia rates where
rehoming opportunities are scarce, relinquishers should be provided with a
realistic assessment of the chance of their pet finding a new home so the
shelter will not be blamed if the animal is ultimately euthanized. The
reader is directed to the NCPPSP website at www.petpopulation.org and
www.aspca.org for more information on these topics.


When the human-animal bond fails or is negative, the consequences for
animals can be devastating, often resulting in relinquishment, hoarding or
abuse. Whatever fate befalls the animals, the ultimate costs are too high
for the profession to ignore. The veterinarian's oath calls for
veterinarians to use their skills for the benefit of society through the
relief of animal suffering and the promotion of public health; and to
practice conscientiously and in keeping with the principles of veterinary
medical ethics. Educating clients and the public about responsible pet
ownership and care, providing affordable spay neuter, veterinary care and
behavior counseling, and taking a leadership role protecting animals is
surely as much a part of the professional's duties as practicing quality
medicine. When deciding how to manage cruelty cases, veterinarians should
always bear in mind that cruelty is defined by statute and the court, not by
the veterinarian. In addition to promoting and preserving a positive
human-animal bond, by investigating and reporting suspected animal cruelty,
veterinarians can also enrich and save the lives of both humans and

July 6th 08, 01:02 AM
Response to "Phil P." >:

> I think this is an important paper.

I do too.

> Lila T. Miller, BS, DVM
> North American Veterinary Conference
> January 18, 2008

BUT... this is a very scary read for someone who wants to help

For example.

We came to know Gabby about a year ago. Phat Kat about 3-4 months
ago. Lumkin about a month ago. (Lumkin found a home after we had
him neutered -- that home dumped him back outside.)

Does it not appear that I have a "parade of animals?" Animals that I
may need to say, "Ummm... duuhhhh... I have no clue what happened.
I'm just here to help."

Sounds to me like the the "duh" may find me at the end of a criminal

I think this article covers a very serious topic, but it's similar to
throwing salt at your dinner plate. Everything gets salty.

Remove the extra words to reply by e-mail. Don't e-mail me. I am
kidding. No I am not.

Phil P.
July 6th 08, 09:41 AM
"hopitus" > wrote in message

> Long but worthwhile, Phil. Years ago, one of the first docs I
> personally worked
> for was and still is a radiologist specializing in pediatrics. He is
> on record locally
> as an expert court witness who is regularly called to testify in child-
> abuse cases.
> He knows (and I learned from him) certain signs in bone injuries of
> abuse vs.
> "accidental" injury. I sure hope somewhere there is a similar expert
> witness vet
> who could testify re animal abuse, even though penalties far lesser
> than for
> child abuse.

One of the biggest problems I've run into in abuse/neglect/cruelty cases is
getting the vet to actually testify in court- unless its a highly publicized
case- like the two dogs we rescued that were burned with acid.
http://maxshouse.com/urgent_matters.htm (Snowy & Champ). They were on all
the TV channels and in all the regional newspapers. 'Never caught the
*******s who did it- even with a $16,000 reward.

Its even harder to get a vet to turn in a client unless its a really
horrific case-- then you still have to prove the owner did it- which can be
very, very difficult- unless you have an eye witness or there's physical
evidence that the animal was abused repeatedly.

A lot of vets I know- other than a few- seem to think turning in a client
would hurt their businesses. I think they would lose all credibility if
their clients ever found out they didn't!

Phil P.
July 6th 08, 09:41 AM
"-Lost" > wrote in message
> Response to "Phil P." >:
> > I think this is an important paper.
> I do too.
> >
> > Lila T. Miller, BS, DVM
> > North American Veterinary Conference
> > January 18, 2008
> BUT... this is a very scary read for someone who wants to help
> animals.

It doesn't scare me. The only thing that should scare you is what happens to
the animals.

> For example.
> We came to know Gabby about a year ago. Phat Kat about 3-4 months
> ago. Lumkin about a month ago. (Lumkin found a home after we had
> him neutered -- that home dumped him back outside.)
> Does it not appear that I have a "parade of animals?"

Uh, no. How about me? At any given time I have 20-30 cats- sometimes more-
in my house- not counting my 11.

Animals that I
> may need to say, "Ummm... duuhhhh... I have no clue what happened.
> I'm just here to help."
> Sounds to me like the the "duh" may find me at the end of a criminal
> investigation.


> I think this article covers a very serious topic, but it's similar to
> throwing salt at your dinner plate. Everything gets salty.

Actually, the article sprinkles salt only where its needed.