Tracking Animal Crimes Data in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program – A Huge Step Forward

Posted by Scott Heiser, Senior Attorney and Director, Criminal Justice Program on September 17, 2014


Since 1929, the FBI has been the central repository for the collection and dissemination of federal, state, and local crime statistics. Law enforcement and lawmakers alike regularly cite these statistics when making key policy decisions—be it a decision by a local sheriff to add patrols to reduce the rate of residential burglaries or a state legislature’s enactment of a new statute defining a new crime or enhancing the penalties for an existing one.

For those of us who champion animal protection issues, we have been frustrated by the fact that the FBI’s UCR program has not included data related to crimes against animals. However, that glaring deficiency is about to change. The key internal committee within the FBI that proposes changes to the UCR program rules recently (and unanimously) passed two resolutions that amend the UCR program to expand its scope to finally include crimes against animals, and in September 2014 the Director of the FBI formally approved these changes.

This great outcome is the product the hard work of many, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. However, this could not have happened without the Herculean efforts of John Thompson, Deputy Executive Director of the National Sheriffs’ Association (or as we like to say, the “other NSA”).

This is great news and we have every confidence that, when armed with the hard facts of the extent and frequency of crimes against animals, this data will play a vital role in improving federal, state, and local laws for the betterment of animals—thank you, Mr. Thompson!

36 thoughts on “Tracking Animal Crimes Data in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program – A Huge Step Forward

  1. Bonnie Crocker says:

    I believe animal abuser become people abusers and serial killer. Those people that make or watch those crush films need to h o to jail.anyone that enjoys hurting a living creature needs to go to jail. I also believe we need a animal abuser list like the sex offenders do. Protect the defenseless.

    1. Please….. more needs to be done.


      1. Linda Costa-Bryan says:

        Crystal – I was so glad to see your response about the FBI animal abuser listing. I have been wanting to start a registry here for a long time and have had no luck. Every one pushes me off to someone else who is less interested and enthusiastic than the previous person. A registry needs to be started so that we are able to check on the safety of our neighborhoods and so that we don’t sell pets to people on the list. I could go on and on and was so pleased to see someone agreed with me. Should you wish, my e-mail is Thanks for caring.

  2. Deborah Mitchell says:

    What awesome news!!! It is so frustrating and heartbreaking to see innocent animals abused, and those responsible get only a slap on the wrist (if that). I hope the FBI Director will approve the new resolutions to the UCR program rules, and they will include factory farm animals. They deserve the same protection from cruelty and abuse as other domestic animals.

  3. This is indeed good news but Iam a bit bewildered, the FBI, has long since determined the correalation between violent crimes against humans and animal cruelty. Why has this” tracking” taken so long? It would be only common sense to track these types of crime in order to find the perpetrators of all sorts of crime.

    1. Kimberley Carrizo says:

      Thank you for this comment. The FBI has repeatedly commented on serial killers and that most, if not all, begin their terror with animal abuse.

      1. Rena says:

        I am agree and that is what I am always talked about that animal abusers are a big danger to our children and society, when they kill an animal then the should get life for first degree murder. The animals are victims like humans and there is no difference in the act of murder animal or humans, it is cold blooded murder, the same law must be applied.

  4. Jan says:

    What is going to be done about law enforcement shooting dogs instead of using non lethal ways of dealing with aggressive animals? In my area, two family pets have been shot by law enforcement in less than six months. One shot and left to die. Is this because it’s easier than forcing animal control officers to do their jobs? I realize that the DOJ frowns on this, but who is going to police the police?

  5. anne parrish says:

    …Finally! They should look into the abuse and tortures happening in factory farms, experimental labs, slaughter houses, etc. all across the U.S. Animals should be treated and have the same basic rights as infant children. They breathe the same air we do and bleed the same color. Why doesn’t this country recognize that there is soooo much needless animal suffering?.
    Our country is supposed to be a super power nation, not some third world country where they are ignorant to the welfare of animal lives.

  6. Philip says:

    Thank you Mr. Thompson!!!! YAYZ!!!!

  7. Patricia Dibler says:

    This is wonderful news. Thank you, Mr. Thompson!

  8. Sharon C. says:

    I hope this includes figures and stats on cops as well, since they’re among the WORST and most egregious cases of animal cruelty and abuse out there. How many dogs die at the hands of cops every single day in this country for doing nothing but barking? How about the kittens shot and killed for no reason or beaten to death by these thugs? They do it because they can, and they can get away with it: and that includes killing their own neighbors’ pets.

    1. Michele Tucker says:

      Here Here. I hope so too. But the only hope of reporting a crime from that kind of cop will come from requiring them to wear automatic body cameras. Hopefully this will be one of the results of the tragedy in Ferguson, MO. The Los Angeles Sheriff Dept. has just announced a Pilot Prog. of body cams in 4 LA Counties. I hope it’s instituted across the country.

  9. Veronica A. says:

    This is the best new a I get animals has to be protected by the law Im so happy about this decisión for FBI, Animals crimes and abuses generare violence in the society the people that hurt them has no sensibility and Obviously it will cause several humans crimes they trained with the pain Of animals to became to be serial killer!! Its no right it has to be persecuted, stop animal,CRUELTY please, Experiments, and torture. I have crimes to report from people involved with several abuses with animals in california, I hope Animal Crimes Data start persecuted with a strong sentence for criminals asap by the law!!.. Thank you..

  10. Maureen Convers Allen says:

    Integrating crimes against animals into the UCR makes basic “horse sense”! A grateful nation salutes the sensible experts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and of course, the point of the spear: Deputy Executive Director JOHN THOMPSON of the National Sheriffs’ Association!

  11. Maryrose "Mimi Borda says:

    Finally!!!!Taking note that Animal abusers are all around criminals,that need to be monitored like any other criminal.

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  12. C Kirby says:

    Thank You Mr Thompson and everybody that was involved in making this happen!

  13. I Believe That ALL Authorities In Every Country Should Be Taking Animal Abuse Crimes Far More Seriously Than They Have Done. When Anyone Is Taken To Court And Convicted Of Cruelty / Abuse – Against Any Animal – The Punishment That Is Handed Down To Them Has To Also Be Severe Enough To Act As A Deterent To Other Would Be Abusers. Animals Are Sentient Beings Who Feel Suffering And Pain Every Bit As Much As Humans Do And They Need Our Protection.

  14. Kimberley Carrizo says:

    Thank you Mr. Thompson for your patience and incredible hard work. You are an inspiration! I’m sure the animals would thank you if they could.

  15. Animal abuse should have long been a capital offense. Including Rodeos and kill shelters. This is barbaric behavior that is legalized.

  16. mat kanno says:

    this is awesome! keep up the great work!!! one day, animal cruelty will be a federal crime with a 10 year to life sentence!!!!

  17. AC says:

    ALDF – do you know how will this data will be collected?

    1. Deputydawg says:

      Was wondering the same thing. It is not useful to ACO’s if we can’t access the database.

  18. Louis says:

    Yes but it has to be for all animals not just domesticated!#

  19. Deb says:

    Fantastic news! Progress !

    The animals deserve this …..


  20. Arlene V. says:

    Finally we are taking animal abuse seriously!! It is a crime that deserves harsh penalties and fines. We need to make examples of these people to discourage anyone who thinks they can be a perpetrator and get away with it. Kudos to John Thompson.

  21. Diane smith says:

    I’m really glad that someone is finally stepping in like the FBI because these animal abusers need to be stopped & put in jail for the rest of their lives which means the death sentence.i really think that Obama really needs to wake up & see what’s going on with all these animal killings not only here but,in other countries because he’s a dog owner also

  22. Betsy Cheever says:

    Any human being who can abuse an animal, neglect an animal is in my opinion a disturbed human being. This is no difference between abusing an animal and/or another human being. Animals, just like people, suffer from physical injury, neglect, starvation/dehydration, disease….they suffer emotionally. What punishment would be act as a deterrent for such crimes? Experience is a great teacher!!
    Thanks for making a difference Mr. Thompson..for caring…for sharing. You are an inspiration.
    I hope you will be able to keep us updated as to future progress as related to the issues involved. Agan…thank you for the work you have done, are doing and will continue to do.

  23. This is a GIANT PAW forward for animals! The tracking will not start until early 2016 because of all the document changes and everything else that goes along with the implementation process. I feel we have done good and I commend the FBI, APB, Director James Comey and all the Animal Advocates involved!! Thank you ALL!!

  24. Megan Houck says:

    This puts a huge smile on my face!! It kills me to know that these poor innocent animals are being starved, beaten, used as punching bags! I believe that there needs to be list of Animal abusers, just like a sex offender list! These poor babies don’t have a voice, but we do!!! Let’s stop this pain and hurt to these animals now!!!

  25. Robin Dupuis says:

    Thank goodness!!! I’m so glad this was passed!!! Some of these abusers usually start with innocent animals!! I also believe people who make dogs fight for illegal gain should have a minimum, yes a minimum of 8-10 years! This would potentially stop these kind of abusers. ie: Michael Vick (who was allowed to return to football and make millions). There should also be a LIMITATION of ALL breeders as well as MANDATORY spay/neutering.

    Thank goodness the FBI, and the Sheriffs, were able to make this happen!!!

  26. Linda says:

    This is great news. I would like to know how this will relate to the disgusting video’s posted on Face Book of people torturing and murdering animals. This should not be allowed. To me this gives the abuser a high and makes them do it more, the next one they do may be a human. Why are these violators not tracked down and put in prison for posting these horrible acts of abuse. I don’ watch them, as soon as I see what it is I get rid of it. Please help get this off of Face Book so more people don’t get the idea to do it to.

  27. ANNA AREBALO says:


  28. Practically and legally speaking, outside of providing hard statistical numbers, how is this move by FBI beneficial to individual states, animal advocates in pursuing and prosecuting animal abusers? In other words, beneficial to the victims of animal abuse, the animals. Thank you.

  29. Bonnie Daut says:

    Don’t forget to track the COPS THAT MURDER peoples dogs for no reason whatsoever!!!!!

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