Academic Forensic Pathology

The Official Publication of the National Association of Medical Examiners

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Title: Eternally Vulnerable: The Pathology of Abuse in Domestic Animals
Author(s): McEwen Beverly
Citation: Acad Forensic Pathol. 2017 Aug; 7(3):353-369.
Type: Invited Review
Keywords: Forensic pathology Veterinary Animal abuse Animal neglect
Abstract: Animals are amongst the most vulnerable of all sentient beings. Animal neglect and abuse may involve a single animal and one person, or hundreds of animals and many people. Animals and people are victims of the same types of fatal injury and severe neglect; however, the anatomy and physiology of different animal species and even breeds of animals are a unique challenge for veterinary pathologists. Identifying and describing external lesions of blunt force trauma and projectile wounds requires that the entire skin be reflected from the animal because fur and feathers partially or totally mask the injuries. Because quadrupeds or birds may react differently to the same traumatic force applied to bipedal humans, extrapolating from medical forensic pathology must be done with caution. Animal abuse, however, does not occur in a vacuum. An established link exists between animal abuse, interpersonal violence, and other serious crimes. Using examples, this paper describes specific injuries in abused and neglected animals in the context of domestic violence, interpersonal violence, mental illness, and drug addiction. Medical examiners should be aware that animal abuse affects not only the animal, but individuals, families, and society as a whole.
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