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Attitudes to Animal Abuse in Veterinary Practice in Poland

By Michał Piotr Pręgowski, Sandra Cieślik

Category Journal Articles

Over the last two decades, animal abuse and neglect, as well as the relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence, have been the subject of numerous academic inquiries. Existing studies on this issue have primarily been conducted in Anglo-Saxon and Western European countries, and little is known about the reality of animal abuse in other countries, including Poland. Our study sheds light on Polish veterinarians’ experiences and perspectives on animal abuse and related topics, including the relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence. The study was designed as an in-depth look into a purposive sample of 19 veterinarians; semi-structured interviews with 11 female and eight male interviewees were conducted in 2017 (March–September). The main results indicate that outright physical abuse of animals is not commonly seen in veterinary offices—predictably, most owners who visit veterinarians treat their animals well; respondents assumed that perpetrators of abuse tend to avoid veterinary help. At the same time, 17 out of 19 interviewees actively linked neglect with abuse and witnessed neglect significantly more often than physical abuse. Upon witnessing outright animal abuse, the respondents said they took action (e.g., calling the police and other authorities, as well as local animal protection agencies). Having a moral obligation was openly mentioned as the motive to do this by a few respondents. The interviewees did not have detailed knowledge of the existing regulations concerning the role of the veterinarian in reporting animal abuse and had only cursory knowledge of “The Link” (i.e., connection between animal abuse and domestic violence). Lastly, the findings of our study indicate there was poor cooperation from law enforcement authorities. Most interviewed veterinarians voiced at least some frustration toward such authorities in relation to their knowledge, attitude and quickness to act. Our research thus shows that animal abuse cases and reports are not handled well by Polish law enforcement, consistent with a 2016 study of judicial application of animal protection law in Poland conducted by two non-governmental organizations: Fundacja Czarna Owca Pana Kota and Stowarzyszenie Ochrony Zwierząt Ekostraż.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 33
Issue 3
Pages 427-440
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2020.1746532
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal abuse
  2. Animal neglect
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Law and legal issues
  5. veterinary practices