No Boundaries for Abusers: The Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Violence Toward Humans
Obviously, animal abuse is a heinous crime. But it can be more than that. In many cases, it’s a sign that people are also being abused — or soon will be.
Several academic studies have found a clear link between animal cruelty during youth and violence against humans as an adult. This link is so well established, profilers routinely use animal cruelty reports in their assessment of the possible threat criminals pose.
Studies have also found that men who abuse their domestic partners often target the family’s companion animals, as well. An abused dog or cat often means there’s a bruised child, spouse or elder in the same home.
The legal experts in ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program work closely with law enforcement agencies across the country to ensure that animal abuse cases are taken seriously. In doing so, they frequently find themselves educating prosecutors and police officers about the link between crimes against animals and crimes against humans.
“Sometimes it helps them understand how important it is to vigorously pursue these cases,” says Scott Heiser, director of ALDF's Criminal Justice Program. “When someone is prosecuted for animal abuse, it sends a signal to other potential abusers in the community. It says violent behavior won’t be tolerated. And it also puts a mark on the abuser’s permanent record so in the future law enforcement officials know this is somebody who has these dangerous tendencies.”