Research demonstrates that animal abuse is linked with various forms of interpersonal violence and that veterinarians themselves are concerned about this link. However, Australian veterinarians are not currently mandated to report cases of suspected animal abuse (AA), a position outlined by the Australian Veterinary Association under their “Animal Welfare principles and philosophy–Animal Abuse” section. A range of barriers to reporting suspected abuse cases have been identified. Barriers specifically mentioned in the AVA statement regarding the non-mandatory reporting stance were presented to a community sample of 209 participants. While 161 (77%) indicated they were aware that certain professionals were mandated to report animal abuse, notably 76% of these (n=123) indicated (incorrectly) that veterinary professionals in Australia were so mandated. Over half of the participants (n=117, 58%) indicated that “Concerns about the continued welfare of the animal victim” was, in their opinion, the most significant barrier to introducing mandatory reporting for the veterinary profession in Australia. The implications of community opinion regarding veterinarians and mandated reporting, along with acknowledgement of barriers and potential consequences of mandated reporting, are discussed.
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