Editor’s Note: In light of the recent publicity over a case of animal abuse at Fair Oaks Farms, we’re reissuing this article from 2016, outlining a case study and ways veterinarians can help clients prevent mistreatment and respond if mistakes occur.
You've spent countless hours on a client's farm. You've helped train the crews and developed health and welfare protocols. You know the owner and management team well and have seen first-hand their commitment to proper animal care. And yet, early one morning you find your phone and e-mail swamped with messages about an undercover video supposedly documenting animal abuse on the farm.
Like it or not, you have a fire to fight. That's the bad news. The good news is that you, as the farm's veterinarian, are a trusted source with a high level of credibility among the general public. Also through an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship, you are in a good position to help your client minimize the fallout.
George Palmer, DVM, at Palmer Veterinary Clinic, Plattsburgh, N.Y., faced that scenario a few years back when an employee of the animal-rights group PETA clandestinely joined the staff at a client's dairy and released a video allegedly showing animal abuse on the operation.