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Animal cruelty and violence toward humans run hand-in-hand

  • Scott LaMar

Aired; March 7th, 2024.


Animal abuse is widely recognized as both a risk factor for and a potential consequence of interpersonal violence. In children, especially, factors such as dysfunctional families, antisocial personality, physical, psychological, or intimate abuse, and frequent exposure to domestic aggression or animal abuse have been confirmed as factors that can predispose young people to perform acts of animal cruelty. That’s according to the National Institutes of Health.

The FBI has recognized the connection between animal cruelty and violence toward humans since the 1970s, when its analysis of the lives of serial killers suggested that most had killed or tortured animals as children.

Obviously not everyone who hurts animals becomes a serial killer but there is a correlation between violence and animal cruelty.

On The Spark Thursday, Teresa Olsen, Program Director, Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN), Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics quoted an eye-opening statistic,”There’s an 88% chance that if there is child physical abuse, that there is animal abuse in the home at the same time.”

Olsen addressed one scenario foir animal abuse,”The threat can be a big factor there. There might be sexual abuse going on, and they want that secrecy. So they’ll be like, okay, well, if you say anything, that means I’m going to to hurt your belovd pet or kill your beloved pet. So it can be used in a variety of ways. But again, that kind of pecking order of who’s the weakest in the family, and that person is going to get that abuse.”

Kristen Tullo, the Humane Society of the United States, Pennsylvania Director talked about the organization’s Keystone Links,”We aim to connect the dots between animal abuse and interpersonal violence, and our coalitions really come together dedicated to the prevention of protecting both humans and animals as victims of abuse.

Tullo indicated the FBI has understood the correlation between animal cruelty and violence and investigated animal abuse,”In 2016, the FBI actually began tracking animal abuse crimes into different categories. Prior to that, they were all lumped together. But now they’re broken into four areas. The first is animal neglect. The second is intentional abuse and torture. The third is animal sexual assault, and the fourth is organized abuse, like rooster and dog fighting.”

Animal sexual abuse? Tullo commented,”It is these most the most highly linked predictor of going on to child sexual abuse. And that’s why it’s so important that we intervene to get these preventative strategies in place to help protect people and pets.”

Dana Herrmann-Hart, Director of Legal Services and the PAWS for Empowerment Program for Crisis Center North, works with victims of domestic violence,”We have women that are entering shelters report that pet abuse, use those perpetrators to manipulate and control their victims. They found that 71 to 83% of women that are entering into DV shelters report that their partners had abused or killed the family pet in the court system. I have seen it. I have heard it from people.”

Herrmann-Hart said vistims of domestic violence often forma  bond with their pets and her organization helps to keep them together,”We work not only on educating the people about how do we identify this to get them services, but also to help them because that pet ownership can sometimes be a barrier to leaving. The abuser will say, if you leave, I’m getting the pet, or they don’t want to leave their pet in an abusive situation, and they have that intensified emotional bond with that pet during the crisis. The second part of our program is that we will help them leave. We will help them get, if it’s an emergency situation, a pet friendly hotel. We have, different kind of housing problems with pets. We help them financially with their pets way so that because they will not, they won’t leave their pet if they believe that that pet is going to be harmed, abused or killed.”

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