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 at the Animal Legal Defense Fund 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 Lora Dunn, director of the Animal Legal Defense Funds 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.”

Animal Cruelty’s Link to Other Forms of Community Violence (PDF)
Domestic Violence and Animal Cruelty
Poster: “Battered Women Share Their Homes With Battered Animals” (PDF)

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