Recognising Abuse in Animals and Humans

Escrito por BVA.


In this section you can find out more about the new guidance for veterinary surgeons and other veterinary employees on recognising deliberate or non-accidental injury in animals and the link to abuse in humans


Veterinary surgeons may occasionally be presented with animals that have suffered abuse. A Guidance document, endorsed by the BVA, has been designed to help veterinary surgeons determine if harm to an animal is the result of deliberate or non-accidental injury (NAI) rather than genuine accident.

Beyond NAI in animals, veterinary surgeons will be aware that abuse is perpetrated in a number of relationships; child abuse, domestic violence and abuse of older people. Increasingly it has come to be recognised that there are complex interrelationships within these abnormal relationships and animals may be part of the equation too. Over the last 10 years, it has become apparent that veterinary surgeons must become an essential part of the team required to break the cycle of abuse and a cross-reporting mechanism has been established so that suspicions of abuse whether to animal, adult or child may be reported to the relevant body.

What the BVA has done

A Guidance document by the Links Group (a multi-agency interest group that promotes the welfare and safety of vulnerable children, animals and adults) has been published to guide veterinary surgeons and veterinary staff in this difficult area. The Guidance encourages the provision of a straightforward practice protocol for members of staff who have concerns that they may be observing evidence of NAI. It also provides:

  • A reminder of the veterinary profession’s responsibility under the Animal Welfare Acts
  • An overview of child, animal and domestic abuse and the links between them
  • Definitions of the types of abuse and how to recognise them
  • Explanation of the importance of a multi-agency approach
  • Practical advice on how to establish channels of communication for cross-reporting.


The BVA has produced a short guide outlining the main points in the Guidance document by the Links Group to allow for quick reference to the key facts and practical information.

Recommended protocols for display in veterinary practices the Medics Against Violence (MAV) Domestic Abuse and Veterinary Initiative practice note are available here(see pages 15 and 16 of the Links Guidance).

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