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Potential Legal & Animal Cruelty Cases: Protect your Patients, Protect your Practice

Hosted by: Office of Continuing Education
From: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

This course will be offered virtually and provide 7 hours of continuing education credit, which includes 2 hours of LEAP.

Veterinarians serve an important public health role in maintaining the health and well-being of both pet and production animals, which can include cases of abuse, negligence, and purposeful injury. Animal abuse and endangerment occurs in all species, and perpetrators that abuse animals are at high risk of endangering their immediate families and the public. The mental health and wellbeing of veterinarians and others is important, and should be considered in these unfortunate situations.

After completing this course, veterinarians will have learned

  • The different types of animal abuse under Georgia Law, and current GA laws on reporting suspected cases of animal abuse or cruelty
  • Understand why veterinarians should report, and their legal protections for reporting (immunity)
  • Know the most important measures you can take to help investigators of animal cruelty
  • How to  identify potential cases of animal endangerment and cruelty based on client behavior and patient physical exam
  • How to differentiate different types of injuries based on radiographs
  • How to collect and handle appropriate diagnostic samples critical not only to an accurate diagnosis but also suitable for legal purposes
  • Understand issues related to mental wellness in veterinary professionals, and learn resources to help them stay healthy

Registration is now closed. We are at capacity. If you would like to be added to the waitlist, please email cheryls@uga.edu.


Event Information

Veterinarian Registration Fee : $95.00
Veterinary Technician Registration Fee : $95.00
Event Capacity: 100




Office of Continuing Education
Phone Number: (706) 542-1451
Email: cheryls@uga.edu

Event Agenda


Start Time
End Time
8:15 am 8:30 am
Log-in to ZOOM

Please log-in a few minutes prior to the start of the meeting to allow for downloading of ZOOM or to troubleshoot any issues.

8:30 am 8:35 am
Introductory Remarks
Paula Krimer
8:35 am 9:25 am
Georgia Laws on Animal Abuse & Cruelty (DVM LEAP GVBM-2398/RVT GVBM-2416)
Jessica Rock
Learn the different types of animal abuse under Georgia Law, and current GA laws on reporting suspected cases of animal abuse or cruelty. We will review reasons why veterinarians should report, and their legal protections for reporting (immunity). We will review the most important measure veterinarians can take to help investigators of animal cruelty, focusing on the common missteps.
9:25 am 9:35 am
9:35 am 10:25 am
Identifying Potential Cruelty Cases
Jo Smith

Through understanding the “5 freedoms” and “the LINK” we will learn how animal cruelty is connected to other forms of violence. We will learn what to look for in the exam room and on the farm to identify potential cruelty cases and discuss strategies for how to approach these situations. [e.g. verbal and non-verbal indicators of hoarding, violence in the home, or dog fighting. Non-confrontation techniques]. Current AVMA and AHAA policies on reporting will also be reviewed.

10:25 am 10:35 am
10:35 am 11:25 am
Breakout Groups

Attendees will be broken out into moderated small groups to briefly review the types of animal abuse categories and reflect on their personal experiences.

11:25 am 11:35 am
11:35 am 12:00 pm
Radiology in Cruelty Cases
Doris Miller

Radiographic evidence can be critical in distinguishing accidental from purposeful trauma and identifying foreign bodies. This class will review what lesions are consistent or inconsistent with a variety of patient histories

12:00 pm 1:00 pm
1:00 pm 2:00 pm
The Investigation & Legal Process (DVM LEAP GVBM-2399/RVT GVBM-2417)
Jessica Rock

Veterinarians will learn how to report cases (varies by county) and basics of evidentiary chain of custody. We will review what happens from the perspective of an investigator and standards of proof, what happens after the investigation, and elements of the courtroom presentation if the case goes to trial.

2:00 pm 2:10 pm
2:10 pm 3:30 pm
Case Examples with Breakout Sessions
Doris Miller & Moderators

Participants will be broken out into small moderated groups to go over a case. The entire class then reviews all cases together.

3:30 pm 3:40 pm
3:40 pm 4:30 pm
Veterinarian Wellness & Mental Health
Sheryl Gamble

Through a review of Merck’s recent mental wellness study, participants will learn of issues in veterinarian’s mental health and of available resources to help them stay healthy.


  • Doris M. Miller, DVM, PhD, DACVP Anatomic Pathology - AVDL

    Doris M. Miller, DVM, PhD , DACVP  is a Professor of Veterinary Pathology and Associate Director of State Government Relations for the Athens and Tifton Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine,  Athens, Georgia. Dr. Miller received her DVM and PhD degrees from the University of Georgia. She has been a board- certified veterinary pathologist at the University since 1981. She served as Director of the Athens Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory from 1989 to 2007. At UGA she  has taught various courses to undergraduate , veterinary, and graduate students. She began the Human/Animal Bond program at the University of Georgia in 1984, at a time when the idea was just beginning to gather an interest in the veterinary community.  Miller’s interests include forensic pathology and reproductive pathology.  Several years ago Dr. Miller helped initiate and teach an elective Veterinary Forensic Pathology course to sophomore veterinary students – only the second such course offered in the United States at the time. She also now teaches an undergraduate Freshmen Odyssey course – Forensic CSI. She has worked closely with local and state crime scene investigators, veterinarians, law enforcement agents, attorneys and animal cruelty investigators. Dr. Miller is a liaison between the College and other organizations such as the Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Veterinary  Medical Association and the CVM Alumni Association.  She works  closely with veterinarians and their legislators to improve communications and their relationship with the College and Diagnostic Laboratories  to benefit their human and animal clients.

  • Jo Smith, MA, VetMB, PhD, DACVIM

    Dr. Jo Smith received her veterinary degree from the University of Cambridge in 1997. After a year in private practice she returned to Cambridge to complete a PhD in immunology. This was followed by internships at Davies White Veterinary Specialists, UK, and Purdue University, before her residency in small animal internal medicine at the University of Tennessee. She has worked at the University of Tennessee as a Clinical Instructor and lectured in veterinary endocrinology at the University of Nottingham, UK. She became board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Small Animal Internal Medicine) in 2007. In January 2009, she joined the University of Georgia.

  • Jessica Rock

    Jessica Rock is an Assistant District Attorney with the Towaliga Judicial Circuit and the Georgia Statewide Animal Crimes Prosecutor and Trainer, only the 3rd of this kind in the nation. She provides statewide animal crime (animal cruelty and dogfighting) case assistance for law enforcement and prosecutors.  She also provides statewide and national training to law enforcement, animal control officers, prosecutors, judges and veterinarians on a variety of topics including animal abuse cases from the crime scene to the courtroom, dogfighting investigations and prosecutions and the link between animal abuse, interpersonal violence, and other collateral crimes.

    Former Deputy Chief of the Special Victims Unit for DeKalb County, Jessica graduated with Honors from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Jessica received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Emory University School of Law in 2003. After clerking for a superior court judge and the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, in 2004, she became Georgia’s first dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor, creating Georgia’s first animal cruelty task force with law enforcement. For over a decade, Jessica successfully prosecuted thousands of special victims cases involving homicide, RICO, gangs, domestic violence, elder abuse, child victim cases, animal cruelty, and dogfighting. Training judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, animal control officers, and veterinarians for over 16 years, she continues teaching nationally and throughout Georgia.

    In addition to her speaking engagements, she also works diligently drafting laws related to animals in Georgia on both the state and local levels. She is the past Chair of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia and on the executive board of the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program.


  • Sheryl Gamble, DVM

    A triple alumnus of Auburn University, Dr. Sheryl Gamble holds three Summa Cum Laude degrees, including a bachelor’s and Master of
    Science in Zoology and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Her Auburn roots run strong, as she was an award-winning instructor of general
    biology and physiology in the College of Science and  Mathematics. It was also at Auburn where she received the Clinical Achievement Award for
    Excellence in Small Animal Surgery and Medicine, the Dr. Wilford S. Bailey Scholarship and the Deborah Harrington Memorial Award.

    After graduating with her DVM, Dr. Gamble did a preceptorship at the San Diego Zoo in the pathology department, then for two years became involved in full-time small animal private practice. Before joining the team at Merck Animal Health, Dr. Gamble spent the majority of her professional career focused on human health in the areas of vaccines, cardiology and oncology. Today, in her current role as a Sr. Veterinarian at Merck Animal Health, she combines her medical expertise with a natural passion for the well-being of animals to raise the level of veterinary care.

  • Paula Krimer, DVM, DVSc, DACVP Clinical Pathology - AVDL

    Paula Krimer, DVM, DVSc, DACVP, is a clinical pathologist and professor at the AVDL. She obtained her DVM and DVSc degrees from the University of Guelph in 1996 and 2001, and became board certified in 2002. She is interested in diagnostic testing, epidemiology, and hepatic diseases. She is the Outreach Services Chief, addressing the needs of clients, improving communications with veterinarians and other stakeholders, and organizing continuing education events.


Additional Information

We’d like to extend a very special thanks to Merck for sponsoring this event. With their sponsorship, we are able to offer a reduction in registration fees for this important topic.