Veterinarian's Duty to Animals

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Veterinarian's Duty to Animals

Like family physicians, veterinarians take an oath of care prior to becoming veterinarians. Although the oath recognizes animal welfare, this does not give rise to legal duties to care and to treat animals. Nevertheless, depending on the state, veterinarians have duties of care to treat sick animals.

Duty to Pet Owners

When a pet owner brings a pet to the veterinarian, the veterinarian generally has a duty to treat the pet. Moreover, the veterinarian must first ask the pet owner what he wants to be done to the pet and what the cost is. If the pet owner does not give consent, then nothing much could be done except for payments and malpractice. Unlike for humans, the law that covers battery does not apply to animals.

A veterinarian can also euthanize pets and can keep your pets if you do not pay for the requested treatments.

Duty to Stray Animals

Veterinarians have no duty to treat stray animals that wander into their offices. However, the veterinarians may treat them, and even, euthanized them in emergency situations. Further, some states such as Massachusetts, provide the veterinarians with reimbursements to treat stray dogs.

Duty to Abandoned Pets

When a pet owner abandons his pet at the veterinarian’s office, the veterinarian does not have an infinite duty to care and to feed the pet. Most states have procedures set out for the veterinarians to follow.

In some states, the veterinarian has a certain amount of days to find a home for the abandoned pet. If the veterinarian is not successful, then the veterinarian may euthanize the pet. However, if the veterinarian euthanizes the dog too soon and the rightful owner wants to reclaim the pet, then the owner may have a claim against the veterinarian.

Consulting an Attorney

If you suspect that a veterinarian is guilty of animal cruelty or mistreatment, you should consider contacting a veterinary malpractice lawyer to assess your case.

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Last Modified: 06-16-2014 03:46 PM PDT

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