CVMA | On-Site Assessments

On-Site Assessments

Veterinarians may be asked by humane authorities to examine homes, breeding facilities or farms that are the subject of animal abuse investigations. In addition to examining the animals, veterinarians should be careful to examine and document the animals' environment as well.

1. Assess Animal Condition

Live Animal

  • Look for evidence of neglect.
  • Assess the condition of companion animals, including those kept in the house, when visiting farms.
  • Look for inappropriate groupings of animals (i.e. cows and horses together, different species together, different classes of same species mixed together).

On Post Mortem

  • Look for evidence of starvation.
  • Look for complicating factors that may contribute to death. For example pneumonia may be the primary cause of death but starvation contributed to the death.
  • Look for deceased animals.
  • Dead and dying animals may in among the live animals or found elsewhere on the property. Be sure to look behind buildings and on the periphery of the site.

2. Assess Animal Behaviour

Look for evidence of behavioural abnormalities that may indicate maltreatment or a substandard environment.

  • Stereotyped behaviour
  • Self-mutilation
  • Evidence of cannibalism in pigs, chickens
  • Evidence of pica

3. Assess Feed and Water Quality and Availability

  • Evaluate:
    • Appropriateness of feed for species and class of animal
    • Quantity and quality of feed
    • Availability of salt and minerals
  • Take samples of available feed and water. Check for potability of water.
  • Look for evidence that animals are actually being fed. Although the animals may be starving, acceptable feed may be in storage on the premises.
  • All animals should have access to adequate feed supplies.
    • Problems may be due to an insufficient number of feeding/watering spaces – this is more problematic if different sizes/classes of livestock are mixed.

4. Assess the Environment

  • Examine the shelter or enclosures for all the animals.
    • Is the housing of appropriate size?
    • Do animals have access to shelter when needed? (i.e. windbreak for cold season)
    • Do infant animals have access to shelter from snow/rain?
    • Are the corrals, chutes, feeders in good repair so as to not cause injuries?
  • Is there proper disposal of carcasses?
    • Look for dead animals on the farm.
  • Is there chewed housing material indicating a lack of availability of food?
  • Are there foreign bodies such as paint, stones, wood, etc. in fecal material?
  • Ventilation equipment should be clean and working properly.

5. Assess the Level of Sanitation/Cleanliness

  • Assess the level of cleanliness and overall management of the farm or breeding facility. This can be important as it shows the level of management of the producer. Look for:
    • Accumulation of empty food cans and bags
    • General garbage piling up
  • Refer to the Recommended Codes of Practice to determine appropriate cleanliness/sanitation levels for livestock.
  • Bedding (if provided) should be removed regularly as per the appropriate code of practice requirements.
  • Clean bedding should be provided as a resting area for livestock.
  • Corrals/barn should be reasonably clean, and cleaned on a regular basis.
    • Animals should not be forced to stand in manure/water.
    • A cleaning/sanitizing schedule that is appropriate to the species should be in place.
    • Feeding facilities should be clean (so that animal excrement is not mixed with feed).