CVMA | Obtaining Pertinent History

Obtaining Pertinent History

The history is likely to be an important factor in raising your suspicions of abuse. A history inconsistent with the injury(ies) is a major feature of non-accidental injury/physical abuse.

Suspicious features in the history

  • Discrepant history - the client tells differing versions, or the story varies with who is telling it.
  • History inconsistent with the injury. Either the injuries could not logically have occurred as described, or the injuries are too severe for the history that is given. Animals with severe injuries are often supposed to have fallen off the bed, or down the stairs. (Cats, for example, generally don’t fall downstairs.)
  • Repeated injuries.
  • Unexplained injury, or certain patterns of injury (see NAI).
  • Previous ownership of animals with suspicious injuries or animals that died unexpectedly, often at a young age.

Obtaining pertinent information

Gather as much information as possible, in a non-confrontational manner.

  • Ask: How/when did this happen? Who was involved? (It is often in the retelling, or trying to fill in details, that discrepancies will become evident.)
  • Ask about previous pets – medical conditions, where they are now.
  • Children may volunteer pertinent information.
  • After the client has left, speak to staff members to determine if they received any information from other family members, including children.
  • As soon as possible, make a written record of any conversations with the client and family members.