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Wednesday, May 25 • 14:30 - 15:30
Role of veterinarians in cruelty cases

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Veterinary surgeons in the UK are often asked to provide reports to courts describing factual observations and their expert opinion on the presence or absence of unnecessary suffering. Although experts are obliged to act on behalf of the court, the quality of expert witness reports has been recently criticised. This presentation will summarise a recent review of 42 expert witness reports that describes the approaches taken to the assessment of unnecessary suffering. Whilst most reports suitably described factual observations, there was significant variation in the opinions on suffering and the actions of the owner. Severity and duration of potential suffering was inconsistently included as was comments on the impact on either mental or physical state. The necessity of suffering was also often not included in the opinion. External references supporting the opinion of the expert was only provided in a minority of reports. There was evidence of disputes between experts concerning the definition of suffering, the significance of clinical findings and the relevance of different assessment methods. It is suggested that expert witness reports should include a systematic consideration of the animal’s mental and physical states, severity of harm, duration of harm and a commentary on the necessity of suffering as defined by legislation

avatar for Professor David Main

Professor David Main

Professor of Animal Welfare, University of Bristol
David Main is a Head of Animal Welfare and Behaviour Group and Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol Veterinary School. His research interests include welfare assessment, intervention strategies to improve welfare and animal welfare education in farm and companion... Read More →

Wednesday May 25, 2016 14:30 - 15:30 ACST
Hall N Adelaide Convention Centre