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Open AccessArticle

An Analysis of Veterinary Practitioners’ Intention to Intervene in Animal Abuse Cases in South Korea

1
Research Institute for Veterinary Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
2
Research Ethics Center, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(5), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050802
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 1 May 2020 / Accepted: 4 May 2020 / Published: 6 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
In South Korea, from 2013–2018, the number of animal abuse crimes has increased by 3.3 times. Since veterinarians are at the forefront of witnessing and identifying such issues, we aimed to investigate the perceived barriers and factors that influence their intention toward reporting animal abuse cases and counseling animal owners in South Korea to develop insights into how they can be encouraged to engage in abuse prevention. We collected data regarding the number of cases witnessed, responses to these cases, barriers associated with reporting cases, belief in the link between animal abuse and human crimes and moral and legal obligations, and participant characteristics via a questionnaire. On analyzing the responses, we uncovered that 80% of the participants witnessed suspected animal abuse cases, and more than half of them were reluctant to report them to the authorities. We found that a “pro-animal” attitude and belief in the “link” between animal abuse and human abuse and moral and legal obligations toward animals are significantly associated with intervening in animal abuse cases. To reinforce these aspects, we recommend that veterinarians be trained in legal liability, moral responsibility, and veterinary forensic medicine. To overcome perceived barriers, legislation to protect victims and reporting veterinarians should be introduced.
Due to their professional abilities, veterinarians have a duty to reduce animal abuse. Therefore, it is crucial to understand their attitude and behavior on encountering animal abuse cases. We analyzed the responses from completed questionnaires (n = 593) filled by small and large animal practitioners in South Korea. The majority (n = 513, 86.5%) of the respondents witnessed suspected animal abuse cases in their practice. The female participants, small animal practitioners, and younger veterinarians tended to report animal abuse cases more frequently. Based on a hierarchical regression model, moral obligation was the statistically significant predictor of intention toward counseling owners (F = 22.089, R2 = 0.232, p < 0.001) while “pro-animal” attitudes, belief in the “link” between animal and human crimes, and moral and legal obligation were significant predictors of intention to report (F = 22.877, R2 = 0.239, p < 0.001). The most frequent barrier in reporting abuse cases was the difficulty in assuring animal safety afterwards. Our findings revealed that individual characteristics (sex, age, practice type, pro-animal attitude) affect veterinarian sensitivity in recognizing animal abuse. Participants lacked self-efficiency in managing animal abuse cases. Therefore, strengthening professionalism and training veterinarians in identifying nonaccidental injuries caused by abuse are recommended to motivate them to intervene in abuse cases. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal abuse; veterinary practitioner; reporting; education; forensic science; human crimes; animal safety; abuse prevention; interventions animal abuse; veterinary practitioner; reporting; education; forensic science; human crimes; animal safety; abuse prevention; interventions
MDPI and ACS Style

Joo, S.; Jung, Y.; Chun, M.-S. An Analysis of Veterinary Practitioners’ Intention to Intervene in Animal Abuse Cases in South Korea. Animals 2020, 10, 802.

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