UPDATE: Bill to require vets to report all animal abuses - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Bill to require vets to report all animal abuses

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The responsibility to report animal abuse would fall on veterinarians, a new bill reads.

Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) is sponsoring legislation that would require vets to report cases of animal cruelty to police or to a humane officer. Vets would have civil immunity for reporting cases.

Dr. Tom Bach, of the Lakeshore Veterinary Clinic, still remembers reporting a case of animal abuse when he worked as a veterinarian in Edgerton. A woman brought in a lab-mix with a fractured leg, and x-rays revealed bone chips surrounding the break. She told Bach the dog had injured itself, but later revealed the truth.

"She broke down and talked about how her boyfriend got mad at times. And the most recent time, he had thrown the dog down the basement stairs," Bach said.

Bach said he felt it was his responsibility to call the authorities, regardless of whether he lost a client.

"It's our job to do everything we can for the animals we see and be advocates for them," Bach said.

Vets like Bach support Risser's bill. Currently, state law only requires vets report animal abuse when they suspect an animal has been involved in animal fighting.

"It is not enough to report the abuse of an animal only if that animal is suspected to have been used in a fight," Risser said in a statement."The mistreatment of animals is a serious crime and is one which we can better address with the help of veterinarians. As experts in assessing injuries and ailments, veterinarians are invaluable in identifying and protecting animals who have been subject to cruel treatment."

However, Bach says that it is difficult to tell when animals have been abused unless the injuries are "dramatic."

"Unfortunately our patients can't talk to us. If we were to feel an area that was painful, there's no way we can tell whether it was related to some kind of arthritis or trauma the dog suffered itself, as opposed to something a human did to it," Bach said.

We weren't able to speak with a local vet on Wednesday that opposed the bill outright; however, other vets say they rarely come across animal abuse cases in Madison. They say it is possible it happens in other areas, but it is unlikely someone who abuses their pet would regularly bring it to a veterinarian for checkups.

Risser is currently looking for co-sponsors for his bill. Lawmakers have until May 10 to sign on.

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MADISON (WKOW) – A Wisconsin state lawmaker is looking for co-sponsorship on a bill that would require veterinarians to report all cases of animal abuse to law enforcement or humane society officers.

Sen. Fred Risser, a Democrat from Madison, says mistreating animals is a serious crime and veterinarians can help better identify and prevent it.

Under current state law, veterinarians are only required to report abuses when an animal is suspected to have been engaged in animal fighting.  The law does not punish them if they do not report the incident.

The bill would provide veterinarians with civil immunity for good faith reporting of abuses. Risser says 29 states have such laws already in place.

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