Animal Cruelty

Animal Cruelty Reporting– A Resource Guide for the Veterinary Professional – WSVMA Poster
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Washington Law Regarding Animal Cruelty

Washington law prohibits the following as animal cruelty:

  • Intentionally (a) inflicting substantial pain on, (b) causing physical injury to, or (c) killing an animal by a means causing undue suffering, or forcing a minor to inflict unneccessary pain, injury, or death on an animal.
  • Knowingly engaging in sexual conduct or contact with an animal or activities related to such behavior (photographs/films, organizes, participates as obsearver, allows on premises, etc.).
  • Knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicting unneccessary suffering or pain upon an animal including:
    • Failure to provide neccessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention resulting in unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain to the animal;
    • Abandonment resulting in bodily harm or imminent and substantial risk of substantial bodily harm to the animal.
  • Animal fighting of dogs or male chickens, including spectating or other co-conspiring activities.
  • Using dogs or cats as bait.
  • Intentionally poisoning an animal (not including euthanasia by an animal's owner, authorized agent or public official in a humane manner or reasonable use of rodenticides, insecticides, slug bait, etc., for their intended purposes).
  • Transporting or accepting delivery of non-ambulatory livestock.
  • Public abandonement of old, maimed or diseased domestic animals.
  • Cutting off more than half the ear of any domestic animal except as a customary husbandry practice; tail docking in horses; use of hook to pierce flesh or mouth of any bird/mammal (misdemeanors).
  • Certain dog breeding and keeping practices as set forth in RCW 16.52.310.
  • Transporting animals on the running board, fenders, hood, or other outside part of any vehicle unless suitable harness, cage or enclosure is provided as set forth in RCW 46.61.660.

RCW 16.52 contains current Washington laws concerning animal cruelty.  Local jurisdictions may have additional laws governing animal cruelty.

Articles, Links and PowerPoint Presentations

Animal Abuse: To Report or Not to Report? –

Animal CSI: An Introduction to Veterinary Forensics in the Investigation of Animal Cruelty – Melinda Merck, DVM

Myths and Mistakes in Forensic Pathology – Charles W. Leathers, DVM

Practical Guidance for the Effective Response by Veterinarians to Suspected Animal Cruelty, Abuse and Neglect – AVMA

Statement to WSVMA Members regarding involvement with puppy mill seizures The Case Against Mandatory Reporting - WSVMA

The Case for Civil and Criminal Immunity for Licensed Veterinarians Who Report Actual or Suspected Animal Abuse or Neglect - WSVMA

The Recognition and Documentation of Animal Abuse – Dr. Lila Miller, DVM for the Oregon VMA

The Veterinarian’s Responsibility to Recognize and Report Animal Abuse - JAVMA, Vol 234, No. 6, March 15, 2009

The Veterinarian’s Role in Handling Animal Abuse – ASPCA

Veterinary Forensics – Information and resources to aid in suspected abuse cases.

Veterinary Guide to Recognizing and Reporting – American Humane Association

Large Animal Resources 

Animal Welfare Audits – What you Should Know about Them – Jim Reynolds, DVM, MPVM

Cattle Welfare Certification Module Outline – NYSCHAP  

An Overview of Animal Welfare in the US Dairy Industry – Franklyn B. Garry, DVM

Pain Scales, Assessments and Forms

The following resources are for WSVMA members only. Please log in to gain access to links.


AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

Instructions for using the CSU Acute Pain Scale – CSU- CVM

Instructions for use of Glasgow pain scale – Peter W. Hellyer, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVA

The Problem Oriented Medical Record and the “Academic” SOAP – WSU/CVM

Medical Evaluation/Condition Assessment Forms

Feline Acute Pain Scale – Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center 

Canine Acute Pain Scale – Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center 

ASPCA Sample Medical Evaluation/Condition Assessment Forms – Forms accessible on ASPCA’s website include:

Body Condition Assessment – Tufts

Body Condition Scoring of Horses – Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Patterns on Accidental Injury – Melinda Merck, DVM, by ASPCA

NOTE: The information contained in the documents presented in this section is not to be used as a substitute for professional care. Neither the authors nor the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in these self-help documents.


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