What is the Veterinarians Moral Obligation in Dog Fighting?
To report or not to report. That is the question. Many believe, including the AVMA, that there is a moral obligation for a veterinarian to report a suspected dog fight and to cooperate with law enforcement to eliminate dog fighting. In theory, I totally agree with this. But this also puts the person reporting in a dilemma.
Consider that the person bringing the pet in is doing what they think is right to "help" the injured pet by bringing it to your office for care. They have other options such as trying to treat the pet themselves, or doing nothing and letting the animal die. Personally, I'd prefer they bring them in. If every fighting pit bull owner thinks that they will be reported, they won't bring them in. They will suffer, receive suboptimal care or will be euthanized in some inhumane way.
Also consider that the individuals that participate in fight are also often involved in drugs, gambling and gangs. Are these the types of people you want to "tick off"? Not really. Not when they have seen MY face and know exactly who is reporting them. I understand that the right thing to do is to "report" the possible fight but I'm not totally comfortable with reporting a client that knows exactly where I work and probably where I live. This can put my staff and even my family at risk.
Intellectually, I realize that NOT reporting a dogfight would be like a physician not reporting suspected child abuse. Your first obligation is to your patient. However, child abuse is different. Child abuse is not a sport at which many people attend and gamble. It is not tracked by the FBI. By the way, can't the FBI
even find a dogfight? Do they really need health care professionals to put their safety on the line to help them figure that out? My Final Thoughts
So...I don't believe in dog fighting. I think it should be illegal and those that breed, gamble and perpetuate the trade should be punished.
Should it be reported? Yes. Am I brave enough to report it if I'm not legally required to do so? I'm not sure. Probably not.
What about Michael Vick? I think he has become the presses icon for this cause. On one hand, he is getting prosecuted by the press without proof of his guilt. On the other hand, as a celebrity in the lime-light and should be extremely smart and cautious about what he does. People and kids look up to him. If he is guilty, put him away.
That's my opinion and that's all I'll say.
Feel free to disagree or give me your thoughts. Email me
, I'm curious about what you think.
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The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to PetPlace.com. The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another view. All opinions are those of the Politically Incorrect Vet and not the views of PetPlace.com and are not endorsed by PetPlace.com.