Although all states outlaw cruelty to companion animals, most jurisdictions only prohibit causing unnecessary suffering as well as failure to provide food, water, and shelter. They do not address whether owners must obtain veterinary care. Even the few statutes that mention such treatment do not define exactly what kind and how much is required. This article highlights the deficiencies in these laws. It argues that keeping pets creates an obligation to get them medical treatment when they are sick or injured and also explains why such a duty is necessary. In addition, it proposes uniform legislation that creates an explicit obligation to provide health care to companion animals, imposes a duty on veterinarians to report cruelty, and establishes strict penalties for violations.
(pdf file - 125.40 KB)