Raising awareness in the New Zealand veterinary profession of the links between animal abuse and family violence

Author: Cat Rice

Raising Awareness in the New Zealand Veterinary Profession of the Links Between Animal Abuse & Family Violence

Catherine Rice
30 November 2020

Rice, C.M. (2020). Raising Awareness in the New Zealand Veterinary Profession of the Links Between Animal Abuse & Family Violence. (A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice at Otago Polytechnic, New Zealand.) [PDF 2.2MB]


Family violence is a significant public health issue in New Zealand which requires a collective commitment to address. Current government strategy calls for a multidisciplinary response. Links between family violence and animal abuse are widely accepted and cases of family violence can present in the veterinary clinic as an abused animal. As companion and rural animal healthcare providers, veterinary professionals are well-placed to recognise the abuse of animals and respond to victims by offering support and referral to specialist agencies. To do this, veterinary professionals need the knowledge and confidence to discuss the links to family violence with their clients. Currently, NZ veterinary professionals receive little to no education regarding links between animal abuse and family violence. Consequently, they feel unprepared in this area of practice. This study developed and trialled a tailor-made educational workshop about the links between animal abuse and family violence.

Stage one was a survey of NZ veterinary professionals which collected quantitative and qualitative information regarding knowledge and confidence in practice aspects of managing cases of animal abuse where links to family violence may apply. The results of this survey then informed the second phase. Stage two was the development of an interactive workshop which was trialled on veterinary students. Participants completed pre- and post- intervention surveys so that the participant’s knowledge, confidence, and preparedness for practice in responding to animal abuse and family violence could be compared before and after attending at the workshop.

The findings of this research support the use of an interactive workshop to increase veterinary professionals’ confidence in raising concerns and responding to clients in cases of animal abuse with links to family violence. By educating veterinary professionals to respond appropriately when faced with cases of animal abuse where there are concerns about family violence, they will be better able to support victims to find ways of maximising their safety and well-being, and ultimately live lives free from violence.

Key words: Family Violence; Animal Abuse; The Links; Veterinary Education; One Welfare.

Cat Rice's academic mentor was Jo Thompson and her facilitator Trish Franklin.


The redacted thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

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