In the Netherlands, veterinarians who suspect they may have encountered a case of animal abuse in their practice can now turn to the Dutch Centre for Expertise on Animal Abuse (LED), which has just celebrated its first six months of existence. The initiative is currently in a pilot phase with 25 veterinarians, but will be available for all veterinarians from 2019 onwards.
The LED is a joint initiative of the faculty of veterinary medicine in Utrecht and the Dutch forensic institute (NFI). Veterinarians can express their suspicions, file their reports and submit pictures anonymously to the LED expert panel, consisting of pathologists, toxicologists, radiologists and criminologists.
‘Our faculty has a wealth of knowledge about animals, but very little about forensic medicine, and NFI experts can help us with that,’ confirms professor Nienke Endenburg, coordinator of the LED.
During the pilot phase, twelve reports of suspicion were filed, of which six turned out to be effectively animal abuse. These were passed on to the animal police, together with the expert findings.
The centre will help uncover cases of animal abuse – and thereby of child and domestic abuse. Often, animal abuse cases are not stand-alone incidents, according to professor Endenburg, who looks forward to extend the initiative to the entire country – and beyond. ‘We’ve received requests from Israel, England and Poland to share their expertise and to have an English language version of the site.’ That would be step three: ‘Allowing all veterinarians to contact our centre of expertise in case of doubt, whether they live in the Netherlands or at the other side of the world.’