Increasing Veterinary Recognition and Reporting of Animal Crimes


SPEAKER: Dr. Margaret Doyle, BSc MVB MSc MRCVS, Forensic Veterinarian, Horizon Veterinary Group

‘The Link’, along with the One Health initiative, has highlighted the need for better recognition and reporting of animal abuse and neglect. As veterinarians, we are on the frontlines of combating this problem that should be regarded as a form of community violence affecting society as a whole. Unfortunately, our position, frequently as business owners, and our professional and often personal commitments to our clients make us too often silent or blind to cases of neglect and abuse.

Veterinarians are unquestionably the most important part of any investigation involving an animal though very few, if any of us, have training in the recognition and reporting of abuse. Dr. Doyle is a forensic veterinarian as well as a private practitioner and a clinic owner. She will discuss the necessity for better recognition of animal cruelty by veterinarians as well as basic guidelines for increased suspicion of abuse. As professionals who dedicate our lives to animals – and frequently go above and beyond to help any animal in need the idea that anyone would intentionally or unintentionally harm an animal – can be quite an alien concept. Dr. Doyle will address 'The Link’ and encourage veterinarians to view their role in the health of people in the community as well as animals, and to increase awareness of the potential widespread benefits of recognizing animal crimes.

Veterinarians are natural advocates for animals and virtually every veterinary professional organization recognizes the need for better awareness of animal cruelty within our profession. We are uniquely positioned to bear witness to the effects of these crimes and to be the voices for the victims. This 45-minute presentation will help raise awareness on a basic level of the role veterinarians have in recognition and reporting animal crimes, as well as our obligation to society to fulfill that role.

Key Learnings:

  1. Abuse red flags for veterinary health professionals.
  2. The role of veterinary health professionals in helping break the cycle of violence.
  3. Why vets don't report and what we can do to change that.


Dr. Margaret Doyle graduated from the University College Dublin in 2009 before moving to Calgary to practice in small animal primary care. She began working with animal protection officers from the Calgary Humane Society in 2010 and has since completed a Masters in Veterinary Forensics through the University of Florida to help address a need for better veterinary evidence and involvement in animal abuse cases. She currently consults with multiple law enforcement agencies in Alberta on animal abuse and neglect files and focuses on improving inter-agency cooperation. Dr. Doyle has worked on hundreds of cases, from crime scene analysis to necropsies to providing expert witness testimony at trial. She is passionate about increasing the awareness of the connection between animal abuse and domestic and interpersonal violence as a means to combat violence of all kinds in society.