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The Correlation Between Animal Abuse, Child Abuse, and Domestic Violence


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Title: The Correlation Between Animal Abuse, Child Abuse, and Domestic Violence

The Correlation Between Animal Abuse, Child
Abuse, and Domestic Violence
  • George Ryan, Investigator
  • Mary Migliaro, M.Ed.

Immanuel Kant
  • He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in
    his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of
    a man by his treatment of animals.

There is ample evidence to suggest that
individuals who engage in acts of animal violence
have a greater probability of committing acts of
violence against people as compared to
individuals who have no history of committing
acts of violence against animals.(Ritter, 1996
Arkow, 1995 Lockwood and Hodge, 1986)
Video 1
  • Animal Abuse Overview

Interconnectedness of Types of Abuse
Case in Point
  • Kip Kinkel 15 years old, Springfield
  • Unleashed a hail of bullets that killed two
    classmates and wounded 22 others.
  • He had a history of animal abuse that included
    decapitating cats, dissecting live squirrels and
    blowing up cows.
  • One classmate recounted that Kinkel would go into
    graphic detail about cutting open the animals
    with hunting knives.

Case in Point
  • Michael Carneal 14 years old, Paducah, Kentucky
  • He shot three classmates to death and wounded
    five others during a prayer meeting held at his
    high school.
  • He had talked about throwing a cat into a bonfire.

Case in Point
  • Luke Woodham 16 years old, Pearle, Mississippi
  • Convicted of killing two students and wounding
    seven in the lobby of his high school in 1997
  • He wrote in his personal journal how he beat,
    burned and tortured his own dog Sparkle.
  • Luke described the animals painful death as a
    thing of true beauty.

Video 2
  • The Cruelty Connection

Child Adolescent Motivations for Animal Abuse
  • Curiosity or exploration
  • Peer pressure
  • Mood enhancement
  • Sexual gratification
  • Animal phobias
  • Posttraumatic play
  • Imitation
  • Rehearsal for interpersonal violence

Nine Motivations for Cruelty to Animals Kellert
and Felthouse-1985
  • To control an animal
  • To retaliate against an animal
  • To retaliate against another person
  • To satisfy a prejudice against a species or breed
  • To express aggression through an animal
  • To enhance ones own aggressiveness
  • To shock people for amusement
  • To displace hostility from a person to an animal
  • To perform nonspecific sadism

Characteristics of Child Abusers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Maltreated as a child
  • Angry
  • Socially isolated
  • Apathetic or passive
  • Depressed
  • Possessive or jealous of a child or children

Characteristics of Batterers
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Poor impulse control
  • Demonstrates unpredictable behavior
  • Inability to effectively manage anger
  • Suffering from depression or other mental health
  • Previous family history of abuse or domestic

  • A 1997 study conducted by Northeastern University
    and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention
    of Cruelty to Animals found that over a 20 year
    period, a group of 153 animal abusers were five
    times more likely to commit violent crimes, four
    times more likely to commit property crimes and
    three times more likely to have drug or
    disorderly conduct offenses than a matched group
    of 153 non-animal abusers.

  • A 1980 study in England found that of the 23
    families that had a history of animal abuse, 83
    percent had been identified by human service
    agencies as having children at risk of abuse or
    neglect. (Hutson 1983)

  • A similar study by Walker in 1980 comparing the
    record of a Pennsylvania countys society for the
    prevention of cruelty to animals and those of the
    same countys youth social services found that
    the behavior pattern established towards ones
    children were similar to those established
    towards ones pets.

Video 3
  • Belcross, North Carolina Case

Common Characteristics of Abusers and Batterers
  • Frequently exhibit more than one motivation
  • Objectify their victims and treat them as
  • Have a strong leader/follower relationship
    between the abuser and the victim
  • Victim is often physically weaker and unable to
    defend against the perpetrator
  • Unreasonable expectations from victims

Abuser and Batterer Characteristics
  • Believe physical punishment is necessary and
  • Rarely empathize with the victims feelings
  • Often repeat abuse generation after generation

Single Anecdotal Case Histories
  • Jeffrey Dahmer killed neighbors pets, staked
    cats to trees and impaled frog and dog heads on
  • Patrick Sheril stole pets, tied them up and
    allowed his dog to mutilate them. He went on to
    murder 14 co-workers before killing himself.
  • David Berkowitz shot his neighbors Labrador

Single Anecdotal Case Histories
  • Albert DeSalvo trapped dogs and cats in orange
    crates and shot arrows through the boxes.
  • Carroll Edward Cole, executed in 1985 for
    murdering 35 people, admitted that his first
    violent act was strangling a pet.

What is Cross-Reporting?
  • A multidisciplinary approach to reporting
    incidents of child abuse and animal abuse.
  • May involve any combination of animal care
    professionals reporting animal, child, or spousal
    abuse or social workers or health care personnel
    reporting suspected cases of abuse they encounter
    incidental to their responsibilities.

Two Important Underlying Premises
  • That one form of abuse such as animal cruelty may
    be predictive or a proxy to another type of abuse
    such as child abuse
  • That certain professions may have special
    exposure, and in some cases training, to spot
    various types of abuse in families.

Cross-Reporting Inhibitors
  • Inadequate training in recognizing and evaluating
    other forms of abuse/neglect
  • Fear of litigation
  • Unwillingness to breach client confidentialities
  • Inadequate resources to handle existing problems
  • Fear of economic reprisal

Cross-Reporting Inhibitors (contd.)
  • Absence of protocols establishing cross-reporting
    policies and procedures
  • Inconsistent definitions of abuse neglect
    across professional boundaries
  • Absence of an organization to which suspicions of
    abuse may be reported
  • Lack of faith in the capabilities of the
    organization to which a report is made

Cross-Reporting Inhibitors (contd.)
  • Reluctance to involve the government in a family
  • Perception that the abuse is not serious enough
    to warrant an investigation
  • No desire to become involved.
  • The Evolution of Animal Welfare as a Human
    Welfare Concern by Phil Arkow (1999)

Video 4
  • The Benefits of Cross Reporting

States Practicing Cross-Reporting
  • Minnesota and West Virginia require veterinarians
    to report known or suspected cases of animal
  • Minnesota law requires potential animal abuse
    cases to be reported to police and humane
  • West Virginia law requires reporting to humane
    officers only.

More States
  • Idaho provides veterinarians with immunity for
    such reports made in good faith but does not
    require reporting.
  • Colorado law creates an affirmative duty for
    veterinarians to report known or suspected child
    abuse to county or local police.

More States
  • In 1993, California amended its mandatory
    reporting law to include animal control officers
    and humane society officers to the list of those
    required to report. The law requires them to
    report known or suspected child abuse to a child
    protective agency by telephone as soon as
    possible and to send a written report within 36

Video 5
  • Promising Practices

Nashville, Tennessee
  • Had one of the highest domestic violence homicide
    rates in the country.
  • Instituted a screening process for all domestic
    violence calls.
  • Abusers with any of the characteristics were sent
    to special programs.
  • Within one year, domestic violence fatalities
    fell by 80 percent even though domestic violence
    calls increased 50 percent.

What can we do for our communities?
  • Educate the general public that animal abuse is a
    crime and can serve as an indicator of other
    interpersonal violence.
  • Encourage professionals in the community to
    receive cross-training for domestic violence,
    animal abuse and child abuse.
  • Encourage agencies responsible for investigating
    these crimes to cross-report and provide a safety
    net for our children and their families.

  • The America Humane Association
  • The Humane Society of the United States
  • The Latham Foundation for the Promotion of Humane
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals