An Analysis of Veterinary Practitioners’ Intention to Intervene in Animal Abuse Cases in South Korea
Research Institute for Veterinary Science, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
Research Ethics Center, Korea University, Seoul 02841, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 1 May 2020 / Accepted: 4 May 2020 / Published: 6 May 2020
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.