The horrific child sexual abuse scandal that has been festering at Penn State gets worse by the day. Among the legal issues are the state law requirements about who has an obligation to report suspicions of abuse, who should receive the reports, and when the reports must be made. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett already has called for strengthening the reporting requirements, and comments from spokespersons representing both political parties suggest that change will come quickly.
What are the requirements for reporting to the authorities when a veterinarian suspects animal abuse and neglect? Not surprisingly, state laws are a mishmash of regulations ranging from mandatory reporting in some states to an outright prohibition on the release of any veterinary records without client consent in others.
If you’ve been a reader of Horses and the Law for a while you know that I’m a member of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and a supporter of many of the organization’s positions. A couple of months ago, ALDF compiled an informative list of state reporting requirements.
According to the ALDF, reporting at least some instances of suspected abuse and neglect by a veterinarian is mandatory in only 11 statesÑArizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. In five statesÑGeorgia, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Rhode IslandÑveterinarians “may” report abuse and neglect but are not required to do so. (Maine and Oregon show up twice because reporting is mandatory only for “aggravated” cruelty and discretionary for everything else.) In M