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RCVS announces charity receiving 2018 Christmas donation

RCVS President Amanda Boag has chosen the animal welfare charity The Links Group, as the sole recipient of this year’s RCVS Christmas Box, a £3,000 donation to the charity of the President’s choice given in lieu of sending Christmas cards to the profession.

The charity is part of The Animal Welfare Foundation, and is a multi-agency interest group that promotes the welfare and safety of vulnerable animals, children and adults to ensure they are free from violence and abuse. Research and clinical evidence suggests that there are ‘links’ between the abuse of children, vulnerable adults and animals. The charity seeks to research and discover these potential links between animal abuse and domestic violence, with the aim to prevent this and protect those involved. It also strives to raise awareness of these links, to encourage agencies to work together to help prevent any cases from going undetected.

The charity has made notable progress since its inception and can list a number of achievements, including initiating the first successful RSPCA prosecution for non-accidental injury as well as the first successful Scottish SPCA prosecution for non-accidental injury. It has also ensured that pet fostering services are increasingly widespread and provided advice and training to veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and other employees in how to recognise abuse in animals and humans.

Dr Freda Scott-Park, Chairperson of the Links Foundation, said: “The Links Group has promoted multi-agency working for nearly 20 years; members of the veterinary team working closely with human healthcare professionals, victim support agencies and police domestic abuse leads. 

“In a household torn apart by violence, vulnerable people, often women, children and the elderly, suffer daily, at risk of direct physical harm or perhaps subject to controlling or coercive control – an insidious denigrating situation that strips self-esteem from the victim and leaves them unable to seek help. With over 50% of households in the UK owning a pet, animals too are at risk of direct harm, or they may be used as a lever for the perpetrator to further control or coerce a victim. The words “I will hurt/kill the dog if you don’t….” must strike dread into every veterinary heart but is the reality for many victims who rely on their pet for support and unconditional love.

“The Links Group offers practical support and advice to vets and human health professionals, through guidance and education for the veterinary profession.  An online course in basic animal welfare is available for human healthcare professionals entering violent households to evaluate the wellbeing of pet animals.

“We work under the banner of One Welfare, supporting the wellbeing of both animals and vulnerable victims at risk of abuse.  Our volunteers take no payment for the work that they do and therefore we are so pleased to have been nominated to receive support from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as their Christmas charity. With this support, we can continue to promote our role in helping to break the cycle of violence.” 

Speaking about the charity, Amanda Boag, President of the RCVS, said: “The Links Group does tremendous work supporting animal welfare along with the welfare of vulnerable adults and children. As veterinary professionals, we all recognise the importance and value of the human-animal bond, and how this bond can enrich our lives. When animals suffer abuse it can be very distressing for the veterinary professionals involved and may mean that humans are also at risk of this behaviour.

“The Links Group works tirelessly to promote better understanding of the link between animal and human abuse, throughout all of the relevant professions, and through this work, aims to reduce and prevent human and animal suffering. I therefore felt this was a truly worthy cause for our Christmas donation this year.”

The President’s Christmas Box donation is made every year, with previous recipients including The Horse Trust, Medical Detection Dogs, Worldwide Veterinary Service, Mind, Riding for the Disabled Association, Canine Partners, Hounds for Heroes, and Vetlife.

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