Update: Florida Senator Jason Pizzo has introduced S 216 to require veterinarians to report suspected animal abuse.
December 17, 2020
To Florida Representatives Dan Daley and Scott Plakon for supporting House Bill 621 in an effort to help stop animal abuse.
Veterinarians use their expertise to diagnose and treat the numerous patients they see every day. Some of the ailments they encounter are self-explanatory, while others are more complex. When the animals are accompanied by their owners, relaying accurate information helps provide a diagnosis and treatment plan. In some cases, the cause is knowingly withheld due to animal abuse. When faced with this ugly truth, veterinarians who live in states that mandate animal abuse reporting know how to proceed. When reporting is not mandatory, veterinarians’ responses vary. According to VIN News Service, veterinarians do not report suspected abuse: (1) out of fear of recourse; (2) because they feel inadequately trained to detect the signs of animal abuse; (3) because they do not want to break the code of ethics; or (4) they are afraid reporting abuse will deter owners from seeking medical care. The inclusion of laws to protect veterinarians is important when deciding to require veterinarians to report abuse. When suspected animal abuse goes unnoticed or no report is filed, animals continue to suffer and may even lose their lives.
At the end of 2019, House Bill 621 was introduced by Florida Representatives Dan Daley (D-District 97) and Scott Plakon (R-District 29). Unfortunately, the bill died. HB 621, referred to as Allie’s Law, was named after a Boston terrier whose abuse went undocumented by a veterinarian. Her previous owner used her for breeding and surrendered her to the veterinary clinic/hospital while she was in labor with her third litter of puppies. Her body told the story of her life. She had scars all over. Allie now lives a pampered life with her adoptive family, but she might have been spared the longevity of her abuse if mandatory reporting had been in place. If passed, HB 621 would have: (1) required veterinarians to report suspected abuse; (2) provided immunity for veterinarians; and (3) prevented altering or destroying the documentation of veterinary medical records. Any veterinarian found guilty of not reporting suspected abuse may have faced disciplinary action.
This month, Florida Senator Jason Pizzo (D-District 38) introduced a version of Allie’s Law with S 216 that will: (1) require veterinarians and other animal care staff to report suspected animal abuse; (2) give veterinarians and other animal care staff the authority to report suspected animal abuse at “certain commercial food-producing animal operations”; and (3) provide disciplinary measures for veterinarians and other animal care staff who do not report suspected animal abuse. If passed, S 216 will go into effect at the beginning of July 2021.
Take Action: Florida residents, if you believe that veterinarians should be required to report suspected animal abuse, please contact your representative today.