18 Feb Kentucky veterinarians host luncheon for legislators and advocate for ability to report suspected animal abuse
Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association members hosted a luncheon for legislators and staff at the State Capitol Annex on Wednesday, February 12. The luncheon provided veterinarians the opportunity to stress the importance of veterinarians being able to report suspected animal abuse. Currently, by state statute, they are in violation of their veterinarian-client-patient relationship if they report suspected abuse of animals under their care unless they have a client waiver or a court order or subpoena. Kentucky is the only state with this restriction on veterinarians.
The veterinarians provided to legislators and staff multiple reasons why they need the option to use their professional judgment to decide if and when to report suspected abuse to appropriate authorities. One of these reasons is that veterinarians take an oath to prevent and relieve animal suffering. Also, the link between some animal abusers and domestic violence is well documented. The FBI has been collecting data on animal cruelty since 2016. In addition, abuse of opiate drugs is a major problem in Kentucky and elsewhere. There are cases where animals are being deliberately abused and then being presented to veterinarians in order to obtain opiates.
There have been several bills introduced in the 2020 legislative session that would allow veterinarians to report suspected abuse. One of those bills, Senate Bill 21, passed the Senate Agriculture Committee and is currently awaiting action by the full Senate. The two bills filed in the House are HB 60 and HB 108. While visiting with legislators, the veterinarians also thanked them for their support of House Bill 214. This legislation places in statute a program to purchase enrollment spaces for Kentucky residents at participating veterinary schools, establishes a trust fund for the program, and affirms the General Assembly’s intent that Kentucky continue the relationship with Auburn and Tuskegee’s veterinary schools. This bill has passed the full House and Senate Agriculture Committee and is awaiting action by the full Senate.
The Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association (KVMA), founded in 1911, has more than 1,300 member veterinarians representing many facets of veterinary medicine.