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Animal Cruelty and Human Violence

A documented connection
The Humane Society of the United States

Is there a connection between animal abuse and criminal violence?


A number of studies have drawn links between the abuse of animals and violence against
people. A 2001-2004 study by the Chicago Police Department "revealed a startling propensity
for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward
human victims." Of those arrested for animal crimes, 65% had been arrested for battery
against another person.[i]
Of 36 convicted multiple murderers questioned in one study, 46% admitted committing acts of
animal torture as adolescents.[ii] And of seven school shootings that took place across the
country between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys who had previously committed acts of
animal cruelty.

How does animal abuse relate to domestic abuse?


Pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic partner violence, according to a six-year "gold
standard" study conducted in 11 metropolitan cities.[iii] In both domestic violence and childabuse situations, abusers may manipulate and control their human victims through threatened
or actual violence against family pets.
Researchers have found that between 71% and 83% of women entering domestic violence
shelters reported that their partners also abused or killed the family pet. And another study
found that in families under supervision for physical abuse of their children, pet abuse was
concurrent in 88% of the families.[iv]

Can animal neglect indicate abuse toward people?


Animal abuse in the form of neglect is often one of the first indicators of distress in the
household. Whether owing to lack of empathy, mental illness, or substance abuse, a person
who fails to provide minimal care for the family pet is more likely to neglect the basic needs of
other dependents in the household. In many cases, children found living among the squalor of
neglected pets are taken into foster care.
Animal hoarding is an extreme example of how life-threatening neglect affects both people and
animals. By the time an animal hoarding situation is discovered, the unsanitary conditions and
lack of care may have killed a large number of the animals and compromised the health of
dependent children or elders in the household.

Is animal abuse in children normal?


No. Children who abuse animals are sending out clear warning signs that they pose a risk to
themselves as well as to others. The National School Safety Council, the U.S. Department of
Education, the American Psychological Association, and the National Crime Prevention
Council agree that animal cruelty is a warning sign for at-risk youth.[v]

Longitudinal studies show that chronic physical aggression (e.g., animal cruelty) by elementary
school boys increases the likelihood they will commit continued physical violence as well as
other nonviolent forms of delinquency during adolescence.[vi]
A child who abuses animals may also be acting out against violence in his own home.[vii].
Professional intervention can remove a child from a potentially abusive situation and divert him
or her from future abusive behavior.
Experts agree that early prevention and treatment of animal cruelty is the key to stopping the
cycle of violence, because as aggressive children get older, they are less responsive to
therapeutic intervention[viii].

How can stopping animal abuse affect other issues?


Reporting, investigating, and prosecuting animal cruelty can help take dangerous criminals off
the streets. Police know that in homes where animal abuse is a problem, other issues are often
concurrent. Acts of animal cruelty are linked to a variety of other crimes, including violence
against people, property crimes, and drug or disorderly conduct offenses. [ix]
Stopping animal abuse in children can help curb violent tendencies before they escalate to
include violence against people.

Are there any laws or policies addressing the connection between animal abuse
and other violence?
Several states have cross-reporting laws, which require social workers, veterinarians, or
doctors who encounter suspected child abuse to report it. In San Diego, Calif., social workers
must report suspected cases of animal abuse to animal control officials. [x]
At least 13 states have laws allowing courts to include pets in temporary restraining orders
(TROs) in domestic violence situations.[xi]
At least 28 states have counseling provisions in their animal cruelty laws. Four of these states
require psychological counseling for anyone convicted of animal cruelty, and six
mandate counseling for juveniles convicted of animal cruelty. [xii]

What can I do to help?


You can help stop the cycle of violence by recognizing that animal abuse is an indicator of
serious problems. Reporting animal abuse can help authorities stop other types of violence, and
vice versa. Encouraging local law enforcement and prosecutors to take crimes against animals
seriously is the key to creating safer communities.
Animal cruelty in children should not be taken lightly. Children who abuse animals shoud
receive immediate professional psychological intervention for both their own welfare and that
of the community.

[i] Degenhardt, B. 2005. Statistical Summary of Offenders Charged with Crimes against
Companion Animals July 2001-July 2005. Report from the Chicago Police Department.
[ii] Cohen, W. (1996). Congressional Register, 142(141), Oct. 3.

[iii] Walton-Moss, B. J., Manganello, J., Frye, V., & Campbell, J. C. (2005). "Risk factors for
intimate partner violence and associated injury among urban women." Journal of Community
Health, 30(5), 377389.
[iv] DeViney, E., Dickert, J., & Lockwood, R. (1983). "The care of pets within child abusing
families." International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4, 33213329.
[v] Randour, M. L. (2004). "Including animal cruelty as a factor in assessing risk and designing
interventions." Conference Proceedings, Persistently Safe Schools, The National Conference of
the Hamilton Fish Institute on School and Community Violence, Washington, D.C.
[vi] Broidy, L. M., Nagin, D. S., Tremblay, R. E., Bates, J. E., Brame, B., Dodge, K.,
Fergusson, D., Horwood, J., Loeber, R., Laird, R., Lynam, D., Moffitt, T., Petitt, G. S., &
Vitario, F. (2003). "Developmental trajectories of childhood disruptive behaviors and
adolescent delinquency: A six site cross national replication." Development and
Psychopathology, 39(2), 222245.
[vii] Randour, M. L., & Davidson, H. (2008). A Common Bond: Maltreated Children
andAnimals in the Home: Guidelines for Practice and Policy. The Humane Society of the
United States: Washington, D.C.
[viii] Kazdin, A. E. (1995). Conduct Disorder in Childhood and Adolescence (2nd ed.). Sage:
Thousand Oaks, Calif. and Loeber, R. (1990). "Development and risk factors in juvenile antisocial behavior and delinquency." Clinical Psychology Review, 10, 142.
[ix] Arluke, A., & Lockwood, R. (Eds.). (1997). Society & Animals, Special Theme Issue:
Animal Cruelty,5(3). Society & Animals Forum (formerly Psychologists for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals): Washington Grove, Md. 301-963-4751.
[x] The Humane Society of the United States. (2008). First Strike: The Violence Connection.
[xi] Ramsey, S., Randour, M.L., & Gupta, M. (2010). "Protecting Domestic Violence Victims
by Protecting Their Pets." Juvenile and Family Justice Today 19(2), 16-20.
[xii] The Humane Society of the United States, 2008.

People Who Are Violent Towards Animals


Rarely Stop There

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Violent acts towards animals have long been recognised as indicators of a dangerous psychopathology that
does not confine itself to animals. "Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living
creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives", wrote humanitarian
Dr Albert Schweitzer.
Robert K Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),
states, "Murderers ... very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids". Studies have now
convinced sociologists, lawmakers and the courts that acts of cruelty to animals deserve our attention. They
can be the first sign of a dangerous pathology that threatens humans as well.
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser but rather a symptom of a deep
mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to
animals don't stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in the backgrounds of serial rapists
and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists
cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.
A study conducted in the US by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who
abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. The majority of inmates
on death row in California's San Quentin State Prison "practiced" their crimes on animals, according to the
prison's warden.

Notorious Killers

As a child, serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy who was convicted of two murders but was suspected
of actually killing more than 40 women witnessed his father's violence towards animals, and he
himself later tortured animals.

Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped and stabbed a 7-year-old boy, was known in his neighbourhood
for hanging cats and torturing dogs.

David Berkowitz (aka the Son of Sam), who pleaded guilty to 13 murder and attempted murder
charges, once shot a neighbour's Labrador retriever.

Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a California school, killing two children and injuring nine
others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often setting their tails on fire.

Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs and cats on sticks.

What You Can Do

Write to the Minister of Environment and Forests and encourage him to increase the currently
meagre and ineffective penalties for cruelty to animals. When the penalties are increased, police,
animal protection groups and citizens will have more power to stop the senseless animal abuse that
could lead to cruelty to humans:

Mr Jairam Ramesh
Minister of State, Ministry of Environment and Forests
C-1/9, Lodhi Gardens, Rajesh Pilot Marg
New Delhi 110003
24638111, 24632288

Encourage your local police to take cruelty-to-animals cases seriously. In order to motivate police to
take strong action against unlawful cruelty, PETA has prepared a video for them on the unlawful
manner in which some animals are transported and slaughtered. Write to PETA at
PETAIndia@petaindia.org to request a copy to share with your local police department.

Urge your state government and local school to take cruelty to animals seriously. Laws must send a
strong message that violence against any sentient creature human or non-human is unacceptable.

Be aware of signs indicating that children or animals are being abused. Take children seriously when
they report that animals are being neglected or mistreated. Some children won't talk about their own
suffering but will talk about an animal's.

Don't ignore even minor acts of cruelty to animals committed by children. Talk to the child and the
child's parents. If necessary, call a social worker.

The Animal Abuse-Human Violence


Connection
"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an
animal and get away with it." -Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Until the past 20 years, the connection between violence against animals and violence against
humans went unrecognized. Now a growing body of research has shown that people who
abuse animals rarely stop there.

Increasingly, child protection and social service agencies, mental health professionals, and
educators recognize that animal abuse is aggressive and antisocial behavior. It is also a reliable
predictor of violence against people after a young abuser grows up.
Children learn about abuse by being its victim. They often fail to develop empathy, and without
this key quality they cannot recognize their victims' pain. When they begin to "act out" their
abuse trauma, children first target animals. As adults, they find new victims among the most
vulnerable--children, partners, and the elderly.
Consider the following facts:

The FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people and considers
past animal abuse when profiling serial killers.

National and state studies have established that from 54 to 71 percent of women
seeking shelter from abuse reported that their partners had threatened, injured or killed
one or more family pets (Anicare Model workshop, Tacoma, 2004. Created in 1999,
the AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse treats people over 17 by bringing
abusers and animals together. A companion program treats children.)

In assessing youth at risk of becoming violent, the U.S. Department of Justice stresses
a history of animal abuse.

More than 80 percent of family members being treated for child abuse also had abused
animals. In two-thirds of these cases, an abusive parent had killed or injured a pet. In
one-third of the cases, a child victim continued the cycle of violence by abusing a pet.

A 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and
Northeastern University found that 70 percent of animal abusers had committed at least one
other crime. Almost 40 percent had committed violent crimes against people.
The researchers also compared matched groups of abusers and non-abusers over a 20-year
period. They found the abusers were five times more likely to commit violent crimes than the
non-abusers.

Responding to and reporting animal abuse


Many adults, including teachers, camp counselors, family friends and parents have a bond of
trust with children. If you are a trusted adult, you may hear children talk about animal abuse
they have seen or even committed. When children reveal violence against animals, rely on the
trusting relationship to talk to them and learn more.
By getting as much information from the child as possible and reporting the suspected animal
cruelty, you can help break the cycle of violence in your community. You may also need to seek
guidance from other professionals or agencies if you learn of other kinds of abuse, such as
domestic violence. In cases where a report of animal abuse would put the complainant at risk,
contact a social services agency first. Animal control officers are also trained to look for signs
of other kinds of violence and are required to report what they've seen to social service
agencies.
Get tips on identifying and reporting animal cruelty and neglect.
At PAWS, we work to combat violence toward animals and people through our Humane
Education Program by nurturing the compassion in every child.

Information and resources


Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Their First Strike campaign offers investigative support, rewards, expert testimony, and
information on the animal-human cruelty connection to law enforcement and prosecutors in
high-profile animal cruelty cases. HSUS also conducts an annual study of animal cruelty cases.
Contact:
2100 L St NW, Washington D.C. 20037
202.452.1100, fax: 301.258.3081
The Latham Foundation
This organization offers "Breaking the Cycles of Violence: A Practical Guide," a 26-minute
video and 64-page training manual developed to help human service and animal care
professionals recognize, report, investigate, and treat their interrelated forms of family
violence.
Contact:
Latham Plaza Building, 1826 Clement Ave, Alameda, CA 95401
510.521.0920
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
A national non-profit of attorneys, law students, professors, and other legal professionals who
work to ensure enforcement of state and federal animal protection laws.
Contact:
Anti-Cruelty Division: 919 SW Taylor St, Fourth Floor, Portland, OR 97205-2542
503.231.1602
action@aldf.org
National Office: 127 Fourth St, Petaluma, CA 94952-3005
707.769.7771
info@aldf.org
American Humane Association
American Humane works to protect children and animals through public education, advocacy,
and training for animal control officers and humane professionals.
Contact:
63 Inverness Dr, East, Englewood, CO 80112-5117
866.242.1877
Animals and Society Institute
ASI is an independent research and educational organization that advances the status of
animals in public policy and promotes the study of human-animal relationships.
Contact:
2512 Carpenter Rd, Suite 201-A2 Ann Arbor, MI 48108-1188
734. 677.9240

Articles and books


"Animal Abuse and Youth Violence"
Juvenile Justice Bulletin. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Program. September,
2001. Frank R. Ascione.
"Another Weapon for Combating Family Violence: Prevention of Animal Abuse." Animal Law.
Volume 4, 1998, pp. 1-31.
Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for
Prevention and Intervention, Frank R. Ascione and Phil Arkow
Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application, Frank
R. Ascione, author and Randall Lockwood, editor
AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse, Animals and Society Institute

Animal Abuse & Human Abuse: Partners in


Crime
Violent acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous
psychopathy that does not confine itself to animals. Anyone who has accustomed himself to
regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives, wrote humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Murderers very often
start out by killing and torturing animals as kids, according to Robert K. Ressler, who
developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Studies have
now convinced sociologists, lawmakers, and the courts that acts of cruelty toward animals
deserve our attention. They can be the first sign of a violent pathology that includes human
victims.
A Long Road of Violence
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser, but a symptom of a
deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who
commit acts of cruelty against animals dont stop there; many of them move on to their fellow
humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear
in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and
treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic
criterion for conduct disorders. (1)
Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused
animals as children than criminals considered non-aggressive. (2) A survey of psychiatric
patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of
aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a boy. (3) To
researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the lives of serial rapists and
killers. (4)

Says Robert Ressler, founder of the FBIs behavioral sciences unit, These are the kids who
never learned its wrong to poke out a puppys eyes. (5)
Notorious Killers
History is replete with notorious examples: Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post
office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to
attack and mutilate them.(6) Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-yearold boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs
rectums and strung up cats.(7) Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing
two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting
their tails on fire.(8) Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler who killed 13 women, trapped
dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth.(9) Carroll
Edward Cole, executed for five of the 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of
violence as a child was to strangle a puppy.(10) In 1987, three Missouri high school students
were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of
animal mutilation starting several years earlier. One confessed that he had killed so many cats
hed lost count. (11) Two brothers who murdered their parents had previously told classmates
that they had decapitated a cat.(12) Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs heads,
frogs, and cats on sticks.(13)
More recently, high school killers such as 15-year-old Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Ore., and
Luke Woodham, 16, in Pearl, Miss., tortured animals before embarking on shooting sprees.(14)
Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 12
classmates before turning their guns on themselves, bragged about mutilating animals to their
friends.(15)
There is a common theme to all of the shootings of recent years, says Dr. Harold S.
Koplewicz, director of the Child Study Center at New York University. You have a child who
has symptoms of aggression toward his peers, an interest in fire, cruelty to animals, social
isolation, and many warning signs that the school has ignored.(16)
Sadly, many of these criminals childhood violence went unexamineduntil it was directed
toward humans. As anthropologist Margaret Mead noted, One of the most dangerous things
that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.(17)
Animal Cruelty and Family Violence
Because domestic abuse is directed toward the powerless, animal abuse and child abuse often
go hand in hand. Parents who neglect an animals need for proper care or abuse animals may
also abuse or neglect their own children. Some abusive adults who know better than to abuse a
child in public have no such qualms about abusing an animal publicly.
In 88 percent of 57 New Jersey families being treated for child abuse, animals in the home had
been abused.(18) Of 23 British families with a history of animal neglect, 83 percent had been
identified by experts as having children at risk of abuse or neglect.(19) In one study of battered
women, 57 percent of those with pets said their partners had harmed or killed the animals. One
in four said that she stayed with the batterer because she feared leaving the pet behind.(20)
While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isnt always the one harming
the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home; like their
parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the
only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal. One expert says,
Children in violent homes are characterized by frequently participating in pecking-order

battering, in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, domestic violence is the most
common background for childhood cruelty to animals.(21)
Stopping the Cycle of Abuse
There is a consensus of belief among psychologists that cruelty to animals is one of the
best examples of the continuity of psychological disturbances from childhood to adulthood. In
short, a case for the prognostic value of childhood animal cruelty has been well documented,
according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.(22)
Schools, parents, communities, and courts who shrug off animal abuse as a minor crime are
ignoring a time bomb. Instead, communities should be aggressively penalizing animal abusers,
examining families for other signs of violence, and requiring intensive counseling for
perpetrators. Communities must recognize that abuse to ANY living individual is unacceptable
and endangers everyone.
In 1993, California became the first state to pass a law requiring animal control officers to
report child abuse. Voluntary abuse-reporting measures are also on the books in Ohio,
Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. Similar legislation has been introduced in Florida. Pet
abuse is a warning sign of abuse to the two-legged members of the family, says the bills
sponsor, Representative Steve Effman. We cant afford to ignore the connection any
longer.(23)
Additionally, children should be taught to care for and respect animals in their own right. After
extensive study of the links between animal abuse and human abuse, two experts concluded,
The evolution of a more gentle and benign relationship in human society might, thus, be
enhanced by our promotion of a more positive and nurturing ethic between children and
animals.(24)
What You Can Do:
Urge your local school and judicial systems to take cruelty to animals seriously. Laws must
send a strong message that violence against any feeling creaturehuman or other-than-human
is unacceptable.
Be aware of signs of neglect or abuse in children and animals. Take children seriously if they
report animals being neglected or mistreated. Some children wont talk about their own
suffering but will talk about an animals.
Dont ignore even minor acts of cruelty to animals by children. Talk to the child and the childs
parents. If necessary, call a social worker.
References
1. Daniel Goleman, Childs Love of Cruelty May Hint at the Future Killer, The New York
Times, 7 Aug. 1991.
2. Animal Abuse Forecast of Violence, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1 Jan. 1987.
3. Alan R. Felthous, Aggression Against Cats, Dogs, and People, Child Psychiatry and
Human
Development, 10 (1980), 169-177.
4. Goleman.
5. Robert Ressler, quoted in Animal Cruelty May Be a Warning, Washington Times, 23 June
1998.
6. International Association of Chiefs of Police, The Training Key, No. 392, 1989.

7. The Animals Voice, Fall 1990.


8. The Humane Society News, Summer 1986.
9. International Association of Chiefs of Police.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Lorraine Adams, Too Close for Comfort, The Washington Post, 4 Apr. 1995.
13. Goleman.
14. Deborah Sharp, Animal Abuse Will Often Cross Species Lines, USA Today, 28 Apr.
2000.
15. Mitchell Zuckoff, Loners Drew Little Notice, Boston Globe, 22 Apr. 1999.
16. Ethan Bronner, Experts Urge Swift Action to Fight Depression and Aggression, The
New York Times, p. A21.
17. Margaret Mead, Ph.D, Cultural Factors in the Cause and Prevention of Pathological
Homicide, Bulletin in the Menninger Clinic, No. 28 (1964),
pp. 11-22.
18. Elizabeth DeViney, Jeffrey Dickert, and Randall Lockwood, The Care of Pets Within
Child-Abusing Families, International Journal for the Study of
Animal Problems, 4 (1983) 321-329.
19. Child Abuse and Cruelty to Animals, Washington Humane Society.
20. Sharp.
21. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Health Newsletter, Nov. 1994.
22. Ibid.
23. Sharp.
24. Stephen R. Kellert, Ph.D., and Alan R. Felthous, M.D., Childhood Cruelty Toward
Animals Among Criminals and Noncriminals, Archives of General Psychiatry, Nov. 1983.

Animal cruelty leads to crimes against


humans (Rep. Elton Gallegly)
By Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) - 10/05/09 02:28 PM ET
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the case of a man convicted of violating a
law I authored that criminalizes the interstate sale of depictions in which a living animal is
intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed, if such conduct is illegal under
Federal law or the law of the State in which the creation, sale, or possession takes place.
In crafting the law, I consulted closely with constitutional attorneys to ensure it does not affect
constitutionally protected speech. The act specifically exempts any depiction that has serious
religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value.
Bob Stevens is appealing his conviction by arguing that his videos are protected by the First
Amendment. But his videos promote criminal acts and, as such, are not protected by the
Constitution.
For example, his video Pick a Winna invites viewers to see how you are at picking the
winner, as Stevens acts as sportscaster for match after bloody dogfighting match. His video
Japan Pit Fights similarly depicts a series of graphic dogfights from beginning to end. They
are gruesome pro-dogfighting videos geared specifically to dogfighters.

Animal cruelty has no place in a civilized society. Numerous studies have shown that people
who abuse animals often escalate to violence against people. Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert Boston
Strangler DeSalvo, Ted Bundy, David Son of Sam Berkowitz and Ted Unabomber
Kaczynski all had a history of torturing animals.
In addition, other crimes often go hand-in-hand with animal fighting, including illegal gambling,
drug trafficking and acts of human violence. Virtually every arrest for animal cruelty has also
led to additional arrests for at least one of these criminal activities. Moreover, gratuitous
cruelty toward animals dehumanizes all of us and is simply wrong.
This is not a First Amendment issue; this is a law enforcement issue. The FBI, U.S. Department
of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early
warning signs of potential violence by youths.
That is why 26 state attorneys general have asked the high court to uphold the law. None have
opposed it.

Aggression and Animal Abuse


Violence against Animals is Linked to Family Turmoil

Mar 14, 2009

Karen Stephenson

1 Comments
Join the Conversation

Protect Animal Rights - K.Stephenson


Animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people. Deviant
behaviors such as animal abuse usually originates from a traumatic childhood.
The American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty as one of the diagnostic criteria
of conduct disorder. The fourth edition of the DSM, (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders), defines conduct disorder as "a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior
in which the basic rights of others or major age appropriate societal norms or rules are
violated." Conduct disorder is found in those who abuse animals and abuse people.
Many psychological, sociological and criminology studies in recent decades have clearly shown
that violent offenders have adolescent histories of serious and repeated animal cruelty. The
F.B.I. has analyzed the lives of serial killers and their findings suggest that most serial killers
have killed or tortured animals as children. Further research has shown consistent patterns of
animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of abuse such as: child abuse,
spouse abuse and elder abuse.

Motivations
In 1985, researchers Stephen Kellert and Alan Felthous, extensively studied the animal abuse
phenomenon. They discovered several motivations that helped to characterize animal cruelty in
adults, many of which are applicable to youth who abuse animals. Some motivations are:
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To enhance one's own aggressiveness.To shock people for amusement.

Controlling an animal through inflicting pain as a result of the sense of loss of full
control in one's own life. (Physically abused by parents.)

Retaliation against a person by hurting their pet.

To experience sadism (the suffering experienced by the animal).

Case reports and a youth interview study conducted by researchers Frank Ascione, T.
Thompson and T. Black suggest a number of developmentally related motivations such as:

Peer pressure

Mood enhancement (e.g. animal abuse is used to relieve boredom).

Sexual gratification (bestiality).

Forced abuse (child is forced into animal abuse by a more powerful individual).

Animal phobias.

Post-traumatic play (reenacting violent episodes with an animal victim.)

Imitation (copying a parent's or other adult's abusive discipline of animals).

Kellert and Felthous found that family violence, particularly alcoholism and paternal abuse,
were significantly more common among aggressive criminals with a history of childhood
cruelty toward animals. This connects with statistical information from animal control agencies
in the United States. They say that 80% of homes in which animal control agencies found
abused pets, there had been investigations by child welfare agencies due to reports of physical
abuse and neglect.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Allen Brantley was quoted as saying Animal cruelty is not a
harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this is a warning sign. There are deep
psychological issues that lead to violent crimes against people.

More on this topic

Animal Cruelty Linked to Violence Against People

Animal Cruelty Review

The Weakening Link: Animal Abuse and Violent Behavior

Dr. Randall Lockwood, who earned a doctorate in psychology and is senior vice president for
anti-cruelty and training for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says
that children and adolescents who are abusive to animals is often acting out violence
experienced or witnessed in their home. Aggressive individuals usually become that way
because of a real or perceived injustice.
Jeffrey Dahmer, David Berowitz, Ted Bundy, all sadistically tortured animals in their childhood.
Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killed two students and injured nine
other children. When she was young, she had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting
their tails on fire.

Prevention
Like child and spousal abuse, this is a highly problematic issue that sadly, will not go away for
a long time. Being proactive is something everyone can do. Volunteer time, or donate to your
locate Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a start.
If you see an act of violence against any animal, report it to both the local S.P.C.A. and to the
police. If you know of or suspect there is violence in a neighbor's home or a child is being
abused, the perpetrator could be a future violent criminal. It's a moral and civic duty to report
these situations to local child welfare agencies.
If everyone does a little, changes can happen.
Read more at Suite101: Aggression and Animal Abuse: Violence against Animals is Linked to
Family Turmoil | Suite101.com http://suite101.com/article/aggression-and-animal-abusea102429#ixzz26p0Da0e0

According to a 1997 study done by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to
commit violent crimes against people and four times more likely to commit property crimes
than are individuals without a history of animal abuse.
Many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years have
demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of
serious and repeated animal cruelty. The FBI has recognized the connection since the 1970s,
when its analysis of the lives of serial killers suggested that most had killed or tortured animals
as children. Other research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators
of more common forms of violence, including child abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. In
fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty one of the diagnostic
criteria of conduct disorder.
If you break it down to its bare essentials:
"Abusing an animal is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the
torture of a victim they know cannot defend itself."
Now break down a human crime, say rape. If we substitute a few pronouns, it's the SAME
THING.
"Rape is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the torture of a victim
they know cannot defend themselves."

Now try it with, say, domestic abuse such as child abuse or spousal abuse:
"Child abuse is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the torture of a
victim they know cannot defend themselves."
Do you see the pattern here?
The line separating an animal abuser from someone capable of committing human abuse is
much finer than most people care to consider. People abuse animals for the same reasons they
abuse people. Some of them will stop with animals, but enough have been proven to continue
on to commit violent crimes to people that it's worth paying attention to.
Virtually every serious violent offender has a history of animal abuse in their past, and since
there's no way to know which animal abuser is going to continue on to commit violent human
crimes, they should ALL be taken that seriously. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Allen Brantley
was quoted as saying "Animal cruelty... is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy
individual; this is a warning sign..." It should be looked at as exactly that. Its a clear indicator
of psychological issues that can and often DO lead to more violent human crimes.
Dr. Randall Lockwood, who has a doctorate in psychology and is senior vice president for
anti-cruelty initiatives and training for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals, states "A kid who is abusive to a pet is quite often acting out violence directly
experienced or witnessed in the home," Lockwood said, adding that about one-third of
children who are exposed to family violence will act out this violence, often against their own
pets.
Others either abuse pets or threaten to abuse them as a way to control an individual.
"So much of animal cruelty... is really about power or control," Lockwood said. Often,
aggression starts with a real or perceived injustice. The person feels powerless and develops a
warped sense of self-respect. Eventually they feel strong only by being able to dominate a
person or animal.
Sometimes, young children and those with developmental disabilities who harm animals don't
understand what they're doing, Lockwood said. And animal hoarding - the practice of keeping
dozens of animals in deplorable conditions - often is a symptom of a greater mental illness,
such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Just as in situations of other types of abuse, a victim of abuse often becomes a perpetrator.
According to Lockwood, when women abuse animals, they "almost always have a history of
victimization themselves. That's where a lot of that rage comes from."
In domestic violence situations, women are often afraid to leave the home out of fear the
abuser will harm the family pet, which has lead to the creation of Animal Safehouse programs,
which provide foster care for the pets of victims in domestic violence situations, empowering
them to leave the abusive situation and get help.
Whether a teenager shoots a cat without provocation or an elderly woman is hoarding 200 cats
in her home, "both are exhibiting mental health issues... but need very different kinds of
attention," Lockwood said.
Those who abuse animals for no obvious reason, Lockwood said, are "budding psychopaths."
They have no empathy and only see the world as what it's going to do for them.
History is full of high-profile examples of this connection:

Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post office and then shot himself, had a
history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to attack and mutilate them.

Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-year-old boy, had been
widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs? rectums
and strung up cats.

Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing two children and
injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting their tails on
fire.

Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler" who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats
in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth.

Carroll Edward Cole, executed for five of the 35 murders of which he was accused,
said his first act of violence as a child was to strangle a puppy.

In 1987, three Missouri high school students were charged with the beating death of a
classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of animal mutilation starting several
years earlier. One confessed that he had killed so many cats he?d lost count. Two
brothers who murdered their parents had previously told classmates that they had
decapitated a cat.

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs? heads, frogs, and cats on sticks.

More recently, high school killers such as 15-year-old Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Ore., and
Luke Woodham, 16, in Pearl, Miss., tortured animals before embarking on shooting sprees.
Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 12
classmates before turning their guns on themselves, bragged about mutilating animals to their
friends.
As powerful a statement as the high-profile examples above make, they don't even begin to
scratch the surface of the whole truth behind the abuse connection. Learning more about
the animal cruelty/interpersonal violence connection is vital for community members and
law enforcement alike.
Related Links (Off-site links open in a new window)
The Whole Picture
Pet-Abuse.Com Cruelty Connection Cases
American Humane: The Link
NCPC: Screening Animal Cruelty Cases for Domestic Violence
Factors in the Assessment of Dangerousness in Perpetrators of Animal Cruelty
First Strike: The Connection Between Animal Cruelty and Human Violence
HSUS: Animal SafeHaven Directory
Society & Animals Forum: Articles on the Link
The Abuse of Animals and Domestic Violence
Battered Women's Reports of Their Partners' and Their Children's Cruelty to Animals
Animal Welfare and Domestic Violence
The Latham Foundation for the Promotion of Humane Education
Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners in Crime
Bibliography of Materials about Animal Abuse, Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

Read more: Abuse Connection - The Link Between Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence

| Pet-Abuse.Com Animal Cruelty Database http://www.petabuse.com/pages/abuse_connection.php#ixzz26p10PKYs

There are many different reasons why individuals abuse animals. Animal cruelty covers a wide
range of actions (or lack of action), so one blanket answer simply isn't possible. Each type of
abuse has displayed certain patterns of behavior that we can use to help understand
more about why people commit the crimes we encounter today.
Animal cruelty is often broken down into two main categories: active and passive,
also referred to as commission and omission, respectively.

Passive Cruelty (Acts of Omission)


Passive cruelty is typified by cases of neglect, where the crime is a lack of action
rather than the action itself - however do not let the terminology fool you. Severe animal
neglect can cause incredible pain and suffering to an animal.
Examples of neglect are starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, allowing a collar to grow
into an animal's skin, inadequate shelter in extreme weather conditions, and failure to seek
veterinary care when an animal needs medical attention.
In many cases of neglect where an investigator feels that the cruelty occurred as a result of
ignorance, they may attempt to educate the pet owner and then revisit the situation to check
for improvements. In more severe cases however, exigent circumstances may require that the
animal is removed from the site immediately and taken in for urgent medical care.

Active Cruelty (Acts of Commission)


Active cruelty implies malicious intent, where a person has deliberately and intentionally
caused harm to an animal, and is sometimes referred to as NAI (Non-Accidental Injury). Acts
of intentional cruelty are often some of the most disturbing and should be considered signs of
serious psychological problems. This type of behavior is often associated with sociopathic
behavior and should be taken very seriously.
Animal abuse in violent homes can take many forms and can occur for many reasons. Many
times a parent or domestic partner who is abusive may kill, or threaten to kill, the household
pets to intimidate family members into sexual abuse, to remain silent about previous or current
abuse, or simply to psychologically torture the the victims, flexing their "power".
Read more: Animal Cruelty | Pet-Abuse.Com Animal Cruelty Database http://www.petabuse.com/pages/animal_cruelty.php#ixzz26p1CZtDS

The fact is that the serial killer examples are only the ones that are sensational enough to make
the news. These are the high-profile cases that some animal welfare organizations use to drive
their point home, but the reality is that this pattern has shown itself over and over again in
much less "news-worthy" cases. One might argue that they in fact, lessen the impact, because it

makes this connection appear to be something that only exists in serial killers and "psychos",
when in fact its very likely that everyone reading these words knows someone who has abused
animals.
Surely you know at least one person who suffers from child-abuse, or is beaten by their
spouse...

In 88 percent of 57 New Jersey families being treated for child abuse, animals in the
home had been abused.

Of 23 British families with a history of animal neglect, 83 percent had been identified
by experts as having children at risk of abuse or neglect.

In one study of battered women, 57 percent of those with pets said their partners
had harmed or killed the animals. One in four said that she stayed with the batterer
because she feared leaving the pet behind.

Because the household pet is often used as a control device to keep the abused from seeking
help, some shelters have developed programs to assist in these situations. Programs like
Rancho Coastal Humane Society's Animal Safehouse Program allows victims to leave their
animals in foster care while they seek medical attention, counseling and help. For a national
listing of Animal Safehouse/Safe Haven organizations, visit the HSUS Safe Haven Directory.

What Can be Done?


Children who have abused animals should learn through teachers, social situations, and good
parenting that abuse is wrong, and correct their behavior. This is a critical time, and if any one
of those corrective elements is missing, that child is high risk for potentially becoming more
abusive later on. As said by Anthropologist Margaret Mead, "One of the most dangerous things
that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it".
There are things that can be done. Be sure to stop by the Prevent section to read some of our
suggestions on how you can get involved, and how small things you can do now will help to
raise your children to be caring adults - and be sure to educate others about the abuse
connection.
While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isn't always the one harming
the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home; like their
parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the
only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal. One expert says,
"Children in violent homes are characterized by ... frequently participating in pecking-order
battering," in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, domestic violence is the most
common background for childhood cruelty to animals.
Read more: Whole Picture | Pet-Abuse.Com Animal Cruelty Database http://www.petabuse.com/pages/abuse_connection/whole_picture.php#ixzz26p1FFJ5F

Factors in the Assessment of Dangerousness in Perpetrators of Animal Cruelty


by Randall Lockwood, Ph.D.
We are frequently called upon to assist cruelty investigators, law-enforcement officers, court
officials or mental health professionals in evaluating the significance of an individual's

involvement in a particular act of animal cruelty as an indicator of dangerousness or possible


risk for involvement of future acts of violence against others. The relatively low level of
attention given to even the most serious acts of animal abuse has made it difficult to
systematically or quantitatively assess the various factors that should be considered in
evaluating the potential significance of various violent acts against animals. However, the
following factors are suggested as relevant criteria in such evaluations. They are based on
several sources including:
1. Retrospective studies of acts of cruelty against animals reported by violent offenders
2. Studies and reports of acts of animal cruelty committed prior to or in association with
child abuse and/or domestic violence
3. Extrapolation from criteria used in threat assessment by the National Center for the
Analysis of Violent Crime
4. Extrapolation from numerous studies on general characteristics of habitual violent
offenders
There is, as yet, no absolute scale that determines when a particular collection of factors
reaches critical levels. It is suggested, conservatively, that more than five of these aggravating
factors should be cause for serious concern, and that more than ten can indicate a high
potential that the offender has been or will be involved in serious acts of violence against
people.
1. Victim vulnerability
Acts of violence against victims that are particularly small, harmless or nonthreatening by
virtue of species, size, age, injury or disability are indicative of perpetrators particularly willing
to gain a sense of power and control through violence against those least likely to retaliate, and
thus should be considered at higher risk of aggression to children, the elderly, the disabled and
other vulnerable victims.
2.Number of victims
The selection of multiple victims killed or injured in the same instance suggests a greater
potential for uncontrolled violence.
3. Number of instances within a limited time frame
Several separate instances (e.g. attacks on animals at two or more locations) within a 24 hour
period reflects a predatory style of attack that is suggestive of organized and premeditated
violence against others.
4.Severity of injury inflicted
(on continuum from minor injury to death of victim)
5. Repetition of injuries on individual victim(s)
In general, perpetrators who have inflicted multiple blows, stab wounds, etc. on one or more
victims should be considered a higher risk.
6. Multiple forms of injury to individual victim(s)
Perpetrators who inflict two or more forms of injury (e.g. burn and bludgeon) should be
considered a higher risk
7. Intimacy of infliction of injury
Abuse that involves direct physical contact or restraint and obvious opportunity to witness the

victims? response (e.g. beating, strangling, crushing, hanging, stabbing) may be a more serious
indicator than actions that are more remote (e.g. shooting, poisoning, vehicular injury).
8. Victim(s) is bound or otherwise physically incapacitated
Abuse that includes binding, tying, securing with duct tape, confining in a box or bag or
otherwise rendering the animal incapable of escape (e.g. crippling) is suggestive of a higher
degree of intentional, premeditated violence.
9. Use of fire
A large body of criminological and psychological literature points out the connection between
animal cruelty and arson as significant predictors of violent and even homicidal behavior. The
combination of these factors, i.e. the intentional burning of a live animal should be considered
particularly significant as an indicator of the potential for other violent acts.
10. Duration of abuse
Acts of prolonged maltreatment (e.g. torture) rather than sudden or instantaneous death are
more indicative of potential for repeated violence against others
11. Degree of pre-planning or premeditation
Acts that were premeditated rather than reactive or opportunistic and which involved
assembling tools or instruments of injury are more suggestive of high risk. Very long term
planning (e.g. several days or weeks) suggests possibility of psychopathic thought processes as
contributing factor.
12. Act involved overcoming obstacles to initiate or complete the abuse
Abuse that involves risk or effort (e.g. climbing barrier, breaking and entering, etc.) or pursuit
of a victim that escapes initial attack, is indicative of highly motivated violent behavior and thus
should be considered an indicator of greater risk for future violence.
13. Act was committed with high risk of detection or observation
Animal cruelty that is perpetrated in public or with high probability of detection should be
considered indicative of low concern for consequences of the perpetrator? s acts, and thus an
indicator of risk for other violence.
14. Other illegal acts were committed at the scene of the animal cruelty
Personal and property crimes occurring in conjunction with the commission of animal cruelty,
(e.g. vandalism, theft, threats to assault on owner or witness) should be considered indicative
of higher risk for other violent and/or criminal acts.
15. Individual was the instigator of an act involving multiple perpetrators
Although the perpetration of many acts of violence may be more likely in a group setting,
particular attention should be paid to instigators of such group violence against animals.
16. Animal cruelty was used to threaten, intimidate or coerce a human victim
Killing or injuring animals to exercise control or threats over others, especially those
emotionally attached to those animals, should already be considered a form of emotional abuse
and a behavior that, by definition, already involves violence against people.
17. Act of animal cruelty was indicative of hypersensitivity to real or perceived threats or
slights
Violent perpetrators often misread cues and intentions of others as indicative of threats, taunts,
etc. Acts of violence against animals conducted with this motivation can be considered
indicative of a high-risk response to social problems.

18. Absence of economic motive


While an economic motive (e.g. killing and stealing animal for food) does not excuse animal
cruelty, the presence of an economic motive, in the absence of other aggravating factors, may
suggest a mitigating factor that could decrease the assessment of risk for future violence.
Conversely, the lack of such a motive suggests the act was rewarding to the perpetrator by
itself.
19. Past history of positive interactions with victim
Instances of animal abuse in which the perpetrator has previously interacted positively or
affectionately with the victim ( e.g. acts against one? s own pet) suggest an instability in
relationships that can be predictive of other types of cyclic violence such as domestic abuse.
20. Animal victim was subjected to mutilation or postmortem dismemberment
Mutilation is usually associated with disorganized motives of power and control which are
often associated with interpersonal violence.
21. Animal victim was sexually assaulted or mutilated in genital areas or perpetrator
indicated sexual arousal as a consequence of the abuse
The eroticization of violence should always be considered a potential warning sign for more
generalized violence. A past history of sexual arousal through violent dominance of animals has
been characteristic of many serial rapists and sexual homicide perpetrators.
22. Act of cruelty was accompanied by indicators of sexual symbolism associated with
the victim
Written or spoken comments indicating that the perpetrator viewed the animal as
representative of a substitute human victim (e.g. ? that pussy had to die? , ? the bitch deserved
it? ) should constitute a serious warning sign of the potential for escalation of violence to a
human target.
23. Perpetrator projected human characteristics onto victim
If other evidence suggests perpetrator viewed the animal victim as a specific human individual
or class of individuals, this may indicate that the violence could be a rehearsal for related acts
against human victims.
24. Perpetrator documented the act of animal abuse through photographs, video or
audio recording, or diary entries
The memorialization or documentation of cruelty indicates that acts of violence are a
continuing source of pleasure for the perpetrator, a serious indicator that such violence is
strongly rewarding and very likely to be repeated and/or escalated.
25. Perpetrator returned at least once to scene of the abuse, to relive the experience
As above, the continuation of the emotional arousal experienced during the perpetration of
cruelty is an indicator of significant likelihood of reenactment, repetition or escalation of the
violence to reach the same rewarding emotional state.
26. Perpetrator left messages or threats in association with the act of cruelty
Using violence against an animal as a form of threat or intimidation is often symptomatic of
more generalized violence. The additional intimidation of written or verbal threats (e.g. notes
left with an animal body or letters sent to someone who cared about the animal), are strongly
indicative of potential for escalated violence.
27. Animal victim was posed or otherwise displayed
Positioning or displaying the body of a victim (e.g. on front steps, in mailbox), or wearing or
displaying parts of the remains (e.g. skins, paws) can be indicative of the use of such violence

to gain feelings of power, control and domination - or to alarm or intimidate others. This
should be considered a serious warning sign of potential for escalated or repeated violence.
28. Animal cruelty was accompanied by ritualistic or "satanic" actions
Animal cruelty accompanied by "satanic" or other ritualistic trappings suggests an active effort
to reject societal norms or attempts to seek power and control through magical? thought
processes, which may escalate to fascination with the application of such ritual to human
victims.
29. Act of abuse involved staging or reenactment of themes from media or fantasy
sources
The reenactment of cruelty to animals in ways the perpetrator has been exposed to through
media or fantasy sources (including video games) can be indicative of weak reality testing and
a greater likelihood of copying other media portrayals of violent acts against human victims.
30. Perpetrator reportedly experienced altered consciousness during the violent act
Acts that are accompanied by blackouts, blanking, de-realization or depersonalization should
be considered indicative of thought disorders that could contribute to acts of violence against
human victims.
31. Perpetrator reportedly experienced strong positive affective changes during the
violent act
Violent or destructive acts that are reportedly accompanied by strong positive affect (laughter,
descriptions of a rush, exclamations of generalized or sexual excitement) indicate that
such violence is being strongly reinforced and is likely to be repeated and/or escalate.
32. Perpetrator lacks insight into cause or motivation of the animal abuse
Repeat violent offenders often display little or no insight into the motivation of their violent
acts.
33. Perpetrator sees himself as the victim in this event and/or projects blame onto others
including the animal victim
Repeat offenders and those resistant to intervention are less likely to take responsibility for
their actions and often offer self-serving, fanciful or bizarre justifications for their actions.
Last revision November 17, 2003. Reproduced with permission.
Read more: Factors in the Assessment of Dangerousness in Perpetrators of Animal Cruelty |
Pet-Abuse.Com Animal Cruelty Database http://www.petabuse.com/pages/abuse_connection/risk_assessment.php#ixzz26p1MGfF4

The Abuse of Animals and Domestic Violence:


A National Survey of Shelters for Women Who Are Battered

By Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D, Claudia V. Weber, M.S., and David S. Wood,


Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Originally published in Society and Animals, 1997, 5(3)
The maltreatment of animals, usually pets, may occur in homes where there is domestic
violence yet we have limited information about the prevalence of such maltreatment. We
surveyed the largest shelter for women who are battered in forty-nine states and the District of

Columbia. Shelters were selected if they provided overnight


facilities and programs or services for children. Ninety-six
percent of the shelters responded and analysis revealed that it
is common for shelters to serve women and children who talk
about pet abuse. However, only a minority of respondents
indicated that they systematically ask about pet maltreatment in
their intake interview. We discuss the implications of these
results for domestic violence programs, animal welfare
organizations, and programs serving children of women who
are battered by their partners.
"A moment later Francine heard Nicky scream...'Nicky was
crying so hard she couldn't talk. I'd never heard a child cry like
that. I ... held her in my arms until she calmed down enough to
tell me what had happened. Mickey [Francine's husband] had warned her that if he found the
cat on the porch he'd wring its neck. When he caught her with it the second time he took it out
of her arms and just broke its neck in his two hands'."
(McNulty, 1989, p. 165)
"Francine Hughes was charged with the death by fire of her husband, Mickey Hughes, in
1977."
(McNulty, 1989, author's note)
"[Her lawyer] asked Francine to tell the story of their pet dog, Lady. As Francine described
Lady's death [Mickey had refused to allow his family to assist Lady while she was giving birth]
a shockwave of emotion swept the courtroom. The simplicity of the eventa helpless animal,
a female, left outside to freeze while struggling to give birthheld no ambiguity, no shadings
of motive; it left no room for doubt. The impact of the story was as strong as anything
Francine had told so far."
(McNulty, 1989, p. 258)
Although an age-old issue, the relation between the abuse and maltreatment of nonhuman
animals and human interpersonal violence is receiving renewed attention from the scientific
community. Two recent reviews of literature (Arkow, 1996; Ascione, 1993) highlight the
potential confluence of child maltreatment, domestic violence, and animal maltreatment as
shown in the diagram in Figure I which illustrates how each form of abuse can occur
independently or in combination with other forms of violence.
The present study is the outgrowth of a series of projects specifically examining the dynamics
of human-perpetrated violence toward animals (herein used to refer to nonhuman animals).
Following a brief overview of related literature, we report the results of a national survey of
shelters for women who are battered conducted to assess shelters' experience with reported
animal maltreatment and whether shelters systematically assess this form of abuse. We
conclude with discussion of policy and therapeutic issues that need to be addressed as animal
welfare organizations and domestic violence programs embark on more collaborative efforts to
deal with violence toward animals and people.

Overview
An earlier paper (Ascione, 1993) outlined a series of issues that pertain to the development of
cruelty toward animals in childhood and adolescence, using the following definition of cruelty:
"...socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or
distress to and/or death of an animal..." (p. 228). Case examples from the early psychoanalytic
literature were reviewed as well as primarily retrospective research from forensic psychiatry

and sociology linking childhood histories of animal abuse with contemporary patterns of
criminal violence. One of the watershed events for research in this area was the inclusion of
"cruelty to animals" among the symptoms of Conduct Disorder in children and adolescents in
major psychiatric diagnostic manuals (American Psychiatric Association, 1987; 1994). Conduct
Disorder represents a pattern of antisocial behavior that can persist into adulthood.
Research examples included the association of animal maltreatment with cases of child physical
abuse, the sexual abuse of children, and partner battering or domestic violence. Follow-up
work by colleagues and the present authors has included the design and field testing of a
questionnaire for assessing children and adolescents' histories of animal abuse (Ascione,
Thompson, & Black, in press) and a survey on animal maltreatment for use with women who
have been battered (Ascione, in press; Ascione & Weber, 1995)
Since this review, there has been a number of publications attempting to raise the
consciousness of the child welfare community (Boat, 1995) and the veterinary profession
(Arkow, 1994; Munro, 1996) about the need to attend to the maltreatment of animals.
However, similar advances are only beginning within the community of professionals who deal
with domestic violence.

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence


Much of the information we have about the relation between the maltreatment of animals and
partner battering is derived from anecdotal reports (like the passages quoted at the opening of
this paper) in the literature on domestic violence. Hogarth (1 750/175 1; Shesgreen, 1973
Plates 77-79) provided an artistic representation of the relation in his series of engravings
entitled, "The Stages of Cruelty" in which childhood cruelty to animals progressed to a fatal
domestic assault. In 1809, the psychiatrist Pinel provided a similar example from his case
histories (cited in Berrios, 1996).
Anecdotally, we also know that animals have been abused by perpetrators to frighten their
partners, as a threat of potential interpersonal attacks, as a form of retaliation or punishment,
and abuse has been implicated in forced bestiality. That children are often witness to such
displays of cruelty has received scant research scrutiny.

Child Witnesses of Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse


"...the Custom of [children] Tormenting and Killing ... Beasts, will, by Degrees, harden their
Minds even towards Men; and they who delight in the Suffering and Destruction of inferiour
Creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate, or benign to those of their own kind."
(Locke, 1705, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Section #1 16, italics added; Axtell,
1968)
Recently, Jouriles, Norwood, McDonald, Vincent, and Mahoney (1996) reported on the results
of a study of two samples in which domestic violence was present, one including couples
seeking marital therapy and the other women seeking shelter from battering. They found that
physical violence and other forms of marital aggression were associated with externalizing
(acting out) problems in the 5-12 year old children in these families. It is important to note that
cruelty to animals is often included as a component of externalizing problems.
This is one example of the increased research attention being paid to the effects of witnessing
family violence on the psychological adjustment of children, a group sometimes referred to as
the "forgotten victims" of partner abuse (Jaffe & Sudermann, 1995; Osofsky, 1995). However,
there has been virtually no research on circumstances in which children may witness not only
the battering of their parent (most often mother) but also the abuse of their beloved pets, a

combination that may compound these children's trauma and contribute to their psychological
maltreatment. It should be noted that children in such homes are at heightened risk for being
abused themselves. Witnessing parent and pet abuse may compromise children's psychological
adjustment, increase their propensity for interpersonal violence (via observational learning
and/or identification with the aggressor), and make children's cruelty to animals more likely to
emerge as a symptom of their distress.

Women Who Seek Shelter from Battering


To our knowledge, there are only three reports, two of which are unpublished, on the
experience of women, in shelters for women who are battered, with threatened and actual
abuse of animals. Arkow (1996) cited two studies, one of which was conducted at the Center
for Prevention of Domestic Violence in Colorado Springs, Colorado and found that 24% of
women (N=122) seeking safehouse refuge reported that their abusers had abused animals in
the women's presence. The other study was conducted by the La Crosse, Wisconsin
Community Coalition against Violence with 72 women using domestic violence prevention
services. Eighty-six percent of these women reported having pets and, of these women, 80%
had experienced their partners' maltreatment of pets.
Ascione (in press), in collaboration with a shelter in northern Utah for women who are
battered, surveyed 38 women entering the shelter for in-house services. Using a form of the
Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS) - Pet Maltreatment Assessment (Ascione & Weber,
1995), he found that 74% of the women reported having a pet currently or in the past twelve
months. Of these women, 71% indicated that their boyfriend or husband had either threatened
harm to their animals or had engaged in actual maltreatment and/or killing of an animal. The
prevalence of pet abuse by children in these families was also disturbingly common. Thirty-two
percent of the 22 women with children gave examples of children hurting or killing animals.
This level of cruelty is comparable to what has been found in samples of mental health clinic
child clients (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1981; Achenbach, Howell, Quay, & Conners, 1991) and
in a sample of sexually abused children (William Friedrich, April, 1992, personal
communication). In this sample of women with pets, nearly one in five (18%) reported that
they had delayed entering the shelter because of concerns about their pets' safety.
Given the small and regionally narrow sample of women recruited for these studies, we
thought it would be valuable to derive some sense of the national scope of this problem. As
Ascione (in press) noted:
"Although this study [of the 38 shelter women] did not include comparison samples of nonbattered women or women who are not currently in shelters, the substantial rate of partner
cruelty to animals is clearly a cause for concern. Caution must be exercised in generalizing
from this study's sample to state and national samples; however, extrapolation of this study's
findings may help estimate the scope of the potential problem. For example, 2 million is a
conservative estimate of the number of U. S. women assaulted by their male partners each year
(see Browne, 1993). If half of these women have pets (again, a conservative estimate [Ascione,
1992]), 71% partner cruelty to animals represents hundreds of thousands of families where pet
victimization, actual or threatened, is part of the landscape of terror to which some women are
exposed."
Since systematic data collection about the prevalence of cruelty to animals reported by women
who enter safehouses or shelters is uncommon at the state level, we decided to conduct a
national survey, selecting one shelter per state and from the District of Columbia. We excluded
Utah shelters from our sampling because of an ongoing study that specifically addresses cruelty
to animals (Ascione, Weber, Thompson, & Wood, in preparation). Our purposes were to
survey shelter personnel about their perceptions regarding the overlap between domestic

violence and animal maltreatment, whether women and children coming to shelters mention pet
abuse, and whether shelters routinely collect information about the abuse of pets in their intake
protocol. If shelters collected such information, we asked about the type of information
gathered.

Method
Sampling Procedure
We obtained the most recent edition (1994) of the National Directory of Domestic Violence
Programs compiled by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence (NCADV). The
directory contains state-by-state information as well as information from Washington, D.C.,
Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands, derived from a survey conducted by the Coalition.
The number of programs listed for each state ranged from 4 (Delaware) to 120 (New York).
We elected not to include Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in our sampling.
The directory lists 16 potential service categories for each program, three of which were
relevant for the current study. These were: "SHELTER - Residential facility for battered
women and their children . .. CHILDREN'S COUNSELING/PROGRAMS - One or more of
the various services provided for children of battered women ranging from counseling, to
advocacy, recreational activities, and a structured children's program ... SHELTER CAPACITY
- The number of women and children who can be sheltered at any one time" (NCADV, 1994,
Directory definitions, unpaginated).
We selected one shelter from each state (excluding Utah) and the District of Columbia using
the following criteria: the facility had to provide overnight (residential) accommodations,
indicate that children's counseling or programs were available, and be the largest shelter in the
state based on "shelter capacity" as defined above. In most cases, we selected the shelter
located in a major, well-known city.

Instrument
We developed a simple, one-page questionnaire with seven items and space for open-ended
comments since we were aware of the premium on time for most shelter personnel. The exact
wording of each item will be provided in the results section but, briefly, the questionnaire asked
about the number of clients served in a six-month period, whether women or children coming
to the shelter mentioned pet abuse, and whether the respondents had noted the coexistence of
domestic violence and pet abuse and, if so, their estimate of the extent of overlap between
these forms of violence. We also asked whether a question about pet abuse was included in the
shelter's intake interview.
A cover letter describing the project as a study of the "relation between domestic violence
toward women and children and abuse of pets" was attached to the questionnaire together with
a stamped, addressed return envelope. The study protocol, letter, and questionnaire were
approved by Utah State University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Human Subjects
Research and a copy of the IRB approval was included in the mailing.

Survey Procedure
After an initial mailing, a second mailing was made to sites that had not responded. Following
two mailings, shelters were contacted by phone and the questionnaire was administered as an
interview (for those sites that agreed to participate). Respondents primarily were shelter
directors and front line staff having direct contact with clients.

Results
Our survey of 50 shelter programs yielded responses from 48, representing a 96% response
rate. One program did not respond despite repeated phone calls and one declined participation
due to time constraints.
We asked shelters to indicate the number of women who stayed in their facility at least one
night during the period November 1, 1995 to May 1, 1996. Estimates were provided by 87.5%
of the shelters with 12.5% either unable to provide an estimate or leaving this item blank. For
the 42 shelters completing this item, the number of women staying overnight during the sixmonth period ranged from 34 to 600 with a mean of 186.
One of the questions we asked (see Table I for a summary of results) was, "Do women who
come into your shelter talk about incidents of pet abuse?" An affirmative response was given by
85.4% of the shelters. In response to the question, "Do children who come in to your shelter
talk about incidents of pet abuse?" 63% of the 46 shelters that completed this item said "Yes."

Percent Respondents Answering "Yes" to Each Question


Questions

"Yes"

Do women who come into your shelter talk about incidents of pet abuse?

85.4%

Do children who come into your shelter talk about incidents of pet abuse?

63.0%

In your experience with shelters, have you observed the coexistence of


domestic violence and pet abuse?

83.3%

Do you have any questions in your intake interview concerning pets?

27.1%

We also asked respondents, "In your experience with shelters, have you observed the
coexistence of domestic violence and pet abuse?" 83.3% percent of the shelters responded
affirmatively. When asked, "What is your best estimate of the percentage of homes where
domestic violence and pet abuse coexist?" 50% of the shelters provided estimates (the
remaining shelters either entered a question mark or left this item blank). Estimates ranged
from less than 1% to 85% with a mean estimate of 44% coexistence of domestic violence and
pet abuse. In response to the question, "Do you have any questions in your intake interview
concerning pets?", 27.1 % responded "Yes." (Estimates of percent coexistence were unrelated
to whether shelters had a question about pets in their intake interview.) Of the 13 shelters
responding affirmatively, 12 responded to a follow-up question about the type of questions
asked during intakes. A sampling of responses included:

"Has he threatened to hurt you, your family, your pets or favorite belongings of yours?"

"Has abuser threatened to harm or ever harmed pet in the household?"

"In a section called 'History of Abuse' we ask if they've experienced pet abuse."

"Do you have animals home? Are they safe?"

"Has there been physical destruction of property/pets? Where are pets? Do you have a
safe place to keep them?"

Finally, we asked respondents if they wished to receive a brief summary of the study when it
was completed. This item was left blank by 46%, 42% requested a copy, and 12% said "No."

Discussion
Before discussing the results of this study, a few caveats are in order. There are hundreds of
domestic-violence programs throughout the United Stateswe sampled only 50 of these
which met our selection criteria. Therefore, caution should be exercised in generalizing our
results to all shelters. Since we selected the shelter with the largest capacity in each state, we
probably excluded shelters serving primarily rural communities where farm and wild animal
abuse may occur, another factor limiting generalization. Finally, a survey of nonresidential
domestic violence programs and shelters that do not provide children's services would be
valuable as a comparison for the data we obtained.
The overwhelming majority of shelters we surveyed indicated that women seeking shelter
mention experiences of pet abuse. A smaller but still substantial majority also reported that
children have shared instances when pets have been abused in their homes. If in fact, shelters
reporting that children talked about pet abuse always reported that women discussed pet abuse
as well. Despite the fact that 40 of the 48 shelters believed that domestic violence and pet
abuse coexist, only 13 shelters specifically assess this issue in their intake interview. Some
factors that may account for the discrepancy between awareness of the link between animal
maltreatment and domestic violence and the apparent failure to explore the link with shelter
clients include the limited time that shelter staff can devote to intake processes and uncertainty
about how to deal with animal welfare issues that might arise. In the remainder of this
discussion, we explore issues that may be valuable to consider as collaborative programs
between domestic violence services and animal welfare organizations continue to evolve.

Implications for Domestic Violence Programs


As noted by Ascione (in press), we have not given sufficient attention to cruelty to animals as
an indicator of partner dangerousness or lethality. A brief question or two about animal
maltreatment in intake interviews and crisis call interview protocols could provide information
about a partner's capacity for physical violence. We also must be alert to animal cruelty as an
indication that violence may be escalating. Although it has not been explored systematically,
this information could also enhance prosecution efforts by helping establish patterns of physical
violence.
We know that there may be repeated visits to shelters and numerous crisis calls before a
woman leaves a batterer. If pets are present in these cases, incorporating information about
animal welfare in safety planning for women who continue to live with their batterer is
essential. Concern for pet welfare may actually delay women's seeking shelter and this is an
obstacle that could be removed. Domestic violence victim advocates who arrive at a scene
after police have "secured" the location should also be trained to ask about pet welfare to assist
women in their decision about remaining at home or seeking shelter. Information about a
batterer's history of animal abuse could also be considered in requesting protective orders.
The Utah legislature is currently (February, 1997) considering a bill that would increase
penalties in domestic violence cases where children witness family violence. It might be
advisable to include witnessing the abuse and killing of pets as a further traumatizing
experience for children in whose homes partner battering occurs.
One final consideration is our need for a better understanding of the dynamics of animal abuse
in families where there is domestic violence. We know that cruelty to animals may be a

battering partner's attempt at control, coercion, intimidation, retaliation, and an element of


forced bestiality. However, we know little about battering victims' reactions to and
interpretations of such events. If a woman has experienced animal maltreatment by her partner,
under what circumstances does this further immobilize her, heightening her fear of leaving
(especially when weapons have been used) and when does it prompt her to escape an abusive
situation?

Implications for Animal Welfare Organizations


In many instances, animal welfare organizations have taken the lead in promoting collaborative
programs to reduce violence to all vulnerable victims, human and nonhuman. Yet, coordinated
efforts are in the infancy or, at best, toddler stage of development. In reviewing the comments
offered by respondents in this study, we found that only 6 shelters of the 48 responding (8%)
mentioned collaborative arrangements with animal welfare organizations or veterinary clinics to
provide temporary shelter for pets while a woman resided at a shelter or safehouse. Some
respondents said that they allowed pets in their shelter (no doubt a challenge given space and
safety issues), others noted arrangements for housing pets with a pet advocacy program,
humane society, animal shelter, and/or veterinary clinic. What are factors that animal welfare
organizations need to contemplate to increase such cooperative efforts? Are there obstacles to
implementing programs to keep pets safe while women and children take up temporary
residence at shelters?
Let us assume that an animal welfare organization that has facilities for sheltering animals
enters into a cooperative agreement with a shelter for women who are battered to board pets
during a woman's shelter stay. A number of questions arise.

If animal shelter records are open to public access, could a perpetrator locate his
partner by asking to see these records?

If a pet is jointly owned by a perpetrator and his partner, how would the shelter
respond to the perpetrator's request (demand?) to claim "his" pet?

Women's stays at shelters are sometimes lengthywho bears the cost of animal
caretaking during this period?

If a woman chooses to return home to her partner after a shelter stay and wants to
reclaim her pet, what steps could be taken to enhance the pet's welfare in such a
potentially violent environment?

Perpetrators may at times give their partners pets as gifts (e.g., during the forgiveness
phase of the cycle of domestic violence). If a pet is sought from an animal shelter, could
the adopter's background regarding domestic violence be checked?

Would an animal shelter allow visitations with a boarded pet by a woman and her
children while they lived away from home? Would this aid or interfere with the pet's
adjustment to separation?

If a woman elects to place a pet up for adoption because she can no longer care for it
or fears for the pet's safety if brought home, must she obtain her partner's permission?

If a pet's injuries stemming from abuse necessitate euthanasia, what steps can be taken
to minimize the trauma of losing the pet for women and children?

Are shelters equipped to deal with a woman's concern for the welfare of farm animals,
who can be targets of abuse in domestic violence situations in rural communities, while
she is away from home?

Effective collaboration between domestic violence services and animal welfare programs will
require grappling with issues like these and no doubt other legal and ethical dilemmas arising
from attempts to keep women and their pets safe.

Implications for Children's Services


Although the issue of children being traumatized by witnessing domestic violence compounded
by witnessing animal abuse warrants more research, we end our discussion by again raising
questions about the therapeutic use of animals with child victims of domestic violence and
other child-animal relations.

Animals can help children learn empathy, nonabusive touch, facilitate disclosure about
frightening family events, and even be a source of support during court testimony.
However, if a symptom of a child's trauma is the child's own abuse of animals, how
does one effectively intervene? How would one tailor interventions to children's and
adolescents' developmental levels?

If a child has encountered abusive caretaking and discipline of pets by parents, do we


know how to counteract such a learning history?

What are the most effective ways of dealing with the separation, grief, and loss issues
for children who have lost contact with their pets or seen them destroyed? Both women
and children may identify the abuse and killing of pets with their own vulnerability.

Do clinicians see increased phobic behavior toward animals in children, especially in


cases where the perpetrator has used an animal as a weapon or sexual "partner" in
domestic violence assaults?

Would understanding a child's history of witnessing and/or engaging in cruelty toward


animals facilitate interpretation of the child's responses to projective tests using animal
characters (e.g., the Children's Apperception Test, the Blacky Pictures)?

Are clinicians alert to the possibility that child witnesses of violence and child victims of
physical and sexual abuse may display behavioral disorders that include sexual acting
out with animals or the use of animals as "instruments" for engaging in self-injurious
behavior (e.g., agitating a cat to the point where it scratches the child's limbs)?

Collaborative approaches, between domestic violence and animal welfare programs, to


intervene in cases of family violence clearly open new horizons in the area of understanding
and reducing aggression toward humans and animals. Reaching these common goals remains a
challenging and daunting task.
We thank each of the respondents for cooperating in completing our survey and Karen Ranson
for her professional services in preparing this manuscript.
You can get more information on this subject from our Resources section Animal Abuse and
Domestic Violence.

Are battered women in domestic violence shelters forced to chose between their personal
safety and that of the pets they left behind when they fled? What policies and procedures do
enlightened shelters employ to deal with the issue of pet abuse by batterers as a means of
manipulation? What assistance can be provided? What are the psychological ramifications of
pet abuse in a domestic violence context? Dr. Frank Ascione provides the answers in Safe
Havens for Pets: Guidelines for Programs Sheltering Pets for Women Who Are Battered. This
vital work is available FREE thanks to funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Click here for all the details. This book is must reading for every domestic violence worker,
advocate, student, and supporter.

References
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normal and disturbed children aged four through sixteen. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child
Development, 46(l, Serial No. 18 8).
Achenbach, T. M., Howell, C. T., Quay, H. C., & Conners, C. K. (1991). National survey of problems and
competencies among four to sixteen-year-olds. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development,
56(Serial No. 225).
American Psychiatric Association. (I 987). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed. rev.).
Washington, DC: Author.
American Psychiatric Association. (I 994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.).
Washington, DC: Author.
Arkow, P. (I 996). The relationship between animal abuse and other forms of family violence. Family Violence
& Sexual Assault Bulletin, 12(1-2), 29-34.
Ascione, F. R. (in press). Battered women's reports of their partners' and their children's cruelty to animals.
Journal of emotional Abuse.
Ascione, F. R. (I 993). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for
developmental psychopathology. Anthrozods, 5(4), 226-247.
Ascione, F. R. (I 992). Enhancing children's attitudes about the humane treatment of animals: Generalization to
human-directed empathy. Anthrozo6s, 5, 176-19 1.
Ascione, F. R., Thompson, T. M., & Black, T. (in press). Childhood cruelty to animals: Assessing cruelty
dimensions and motivations. Anthrozo6s.
Ascione, F. R., & Weber, C. (1995). Battered partner shelter survey (BPSS). Logan: Utah State University.
Ascione, F. R., Weber, C., Thompson, T. M., & Wood, D. (in preparation). Pet abuse experiences: Women who
are battered and a comparison sample of women without battering experience.
Axtell, J. L. (1968). The educational writings of John Locke. Cambridge: University Press.
Berrios, G. E. (I 996). The history of mental symptoms. Cambridge, UK: University Press.
Boat, B. (I 995). The relationship between violence to children and violence to animals: An ignored link?
Journal of interpersonal Violence, 10(4), 229-235.
Browne, A. (I 993). Violence against women by male partners: Prevalence, outcomes, and policy implications.
American Psychologist, 48, 1077-1087.
Jaffe, P. G., & Sudermann, M. (I 995). Child witnesses of woman abuse: Research and community responses. In
S. A. Stith & M. A. Straus (Eds.), Families in Focus Series, Vol. II. Understanding Partner Violence:
Prevalence, causes, consequences, and solutions (pp. 213-222). Minneapolis, MN: National Council on Family
Relations.

Jouriles, E. N., Norwood, W. D., McDonald, R., Vincent, J. P., & Mahoney, A. (I 996). Physical violence and
other forms of marital aggression: Links with children's behavior problems. Journal of Family Psychology,
10(2),223-234.
McNulty, F. (1989). The Burning Bed, New York: Avon Books.
Munro, H. (I 996). Battered pets. Irish Veterinary Journal, 49, 712-713.
Osofsky, J. D. (1995). Children who witness domestic violence: The invisible victims. Social Policy Report:
Society for Research in Child Development, 9(3), 1-16.
Pinel, P. (1 809). Traiti Midico-Philosophique de la Alijnation Mentale (2nd ed.). Paris: Brosson.
Shesgreen, S. (Ed.) (I 973). Engravings by Hogarth (Plates 77-79). New York: Dover Publications.

Andrew Vachss and The Zero would like to congratulate Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D., on his receipt of the 2001
Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations
and the International Society for Anthrozoology. We have been honored to feature Dr. Ascione's work
regarding the links between personal violence and animal cruelty on the website, and add our respect to that
of the Society's.

Battered Women's Reports of Their Partners'


and Their Children's Cruelty to Animals
By Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D,
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Originally published in Journal of Emotional Abuse, Vol. 1(1) 1998
ABSTRACT. Anecdotal reports of cruelty to pet animals in families where partner battering occurs are common
but there exist few empirical data on this issue. Determining the forms and prevalence of such cruelty is
important since abuse of pets may be a method batterers use to control their partners, may be related to
batterers' lethality, and may result in children in such families being exposed to multiple forms of violence, a
significant risk for mental health problems. Thirty-eight women seeking shelter at a safe house for battered
partners voluntarily completed surveys about pet ownership and violence to pets. Of the women reporting
current or past pet ownership, 71% reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one
or more of their pets. Actual (as distinct from threatened) harm to pets represented the majority (57%) of
reports. Fifty-eight percent of the full sample of women had children and 32% of these women reported that
one or more of their children had hurt or killed pet animals; in 71% of these cases, the women had also
reported animal abuse (threatened or actual) by their partner. This study represents one of the first empirical
analyses of the prevalence of animal maltreatment in a sample of battered women. The high prevalence rate of
batterers' threatened or actual harm of animals and the relatively high rate of animal abuse reported for the
children in this sample are relevant for future research and policy analyses. [Article copies available for a fee
from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: getinfo@haworth.com]

Pets were terribly important to her; they were her only source of comfort and affection. One
afternoon, Billy said he had had it with her damn cats and started screaming that he was going
to kill them. Kim didn't take it too seriously. (Browne, 1987, p. 154)
. . . Aubrey got angry with the family dog for straying outside their yard. He loaded one of his
nine guns, then shot and killed it. The kids began to sob, devastated. He grabbed (one child's)
hair . . . slapped another of the kids, then began crying himself. Joyce tried to comfort them all.
But her feelings of anger were mixed with genuine terror: in a moment of rage, she knew,
Aubrey could kill any one of them and cry about it afterward. (Walker, 1989, pp. 20-21)

These examples associating partner abuse with cruelty to animals and, in one case, child
maltreatment are but two of the many anecdotal references to the abuse of animals in the
literature on domestic violence (Adams, 1994). Following an analysis of existing research and
policy issues relevant for understanding the relation between domestic violence and animal
maltreatment, the results of a small-scale descriptive study of the prevalence of animal cruelty
experiences in a shelter sample of battered women are reported. Implications for future
research and for the well-being of women and children experiencing family violence are then
discussed.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND


In an earlier paper (Ascione, 1993), existing research on childhood cruelty to animals, its
relation to various forms of family and community violence, and its significance as a symptom
of Conduct Disorder are reviewed. The clearest evidence of this relationship is found in studies
of the effects of physical and sexual abuse on children. Relatively less information is available
on the effects of exposure to domestic violence on children's relations with pets and other
animals. Adult partner cruelty to animals has been described anecdotally (e.g., Dutton, 1992;
Gelles & Straus, 1988; Walker, 1979), and includes references to partners torturing or killing
animals and forcing women to engage in bestiality. In one of the rare empirical studies
including examination of the domestic violence/animal maltreatment relation, Renzetti (1992)
found that 38% of women with pets in abusive lesbian relationships reported maltreatment of
pets by their partners. The effects of partner animal abuse on the women whose animals are
hurt or killed and the effects of witnessing both parent and pet abuse on children's mental
health warrant more focused research attention.
Partners' Abuse of Animals
Information about the forms and prevalence of cruelty to animals in families experiencing
domestic violence is not easily culled from existing research One reason is the inconsistency,
across studies, in whether questions about animal maltreatment are included in assessments. In
some cases, data about animal abuse may be incorporated, explicitly or implicitly, under more
general categories of abuse. For example, in Walker's (1984) interviews with battered women,
bestiality was mentioned as an example of "unusual sex acts" the women were asked to
perform by their partners. In the group of women who had experienced relationships with
battering and non-battering partners, this experience was reported by 41% and 5%,
respectively. Walker also reported that, when with a batterer, 16% of the women reported
directing their own anger at their "children or pets"; when with a non-batterer, the figure was
3%. In a similar vein, cruelty to animals may be implicit in measures of psychological
maltreatment. Brassard, Hart, and Hardy's (1993) categories of "Terrorizing" (including ". . .
threats directed toward loved ones or objects . . .") and "Exploiting / Corrupting" (including
". . modeling antisocial acts . . . ") are examples.
Occasionally, specific items related to animal maltreatment appear in domestic violence
questionnaires or checklists. Renzetti's (1992) study is one example. Another is Dutton's
(1992) "Abusive Behavior Observation Checklist" in which being "required to be involved with
an animal in a sexual way" is an item under the "unwanted sexual behavior" category (p. 160)
and "abused your/his/her family pets" is listed under "Psychological Abuse-Intimidation" (p.
161).
Domestic violence and cruelty to animals are, at times, examined together in discussions of
assessing partner dangerousness or lethality (Campbell, 1995). One assessment, proposed by
Straus (1993) to facilitate identification of "high risk violence," includes the item, "threats or

actual killing or injuring a pet." However, another dangerousness assessment inventory does
not mention animal maltreatment in any form (Stuart & Campbell, 1989).
Children's Abuse of Animals
The literature on the effects of exposure to domestic violence on children's mental health has
been recently reviewed by Jaffe and Sudermann (1995) who note the complexity and variability
of such effects from one study to another. Cruelty to animals as a childhood reaction to
exposure to domestic violence has not been directly explored. Suggestive information,
however, can be derived from studies of children of battered women in which externalizing
problems and/or conduct disorder symptoms are examined [since the 1987 revision, both the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edition revised) and the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) (American Psychiatric
Association 1987, 1994) include physical cruelty to animals as a symptom of Conduct
Disorder].
One recent study that included a sample of both sheltered and community battered women and
their 6-12 year old children found that domestic violence was related to ". . . children's general
psychopathology . . ." (McCloskey, Figueredo, & Koss, 1995). The authors report that
women's partners' hurting or killing pets did load (albeit, at a low level) on a factor labeled,
"escalated aggression," a factor that included other severe forms of threatened or actual
interpersonal aggression. Other studies have also found a relationship between observing
domestic violence and externalizing psychological symptoms both in preschool-age children at
a shelter or residing at home (Fantuzzo et al., 1991) and in an older (8-12 year old) sample of
Israeli children living at home (Sternberg et al., 1993). However, it is unclear how often
externalizing symptomatology manifests itself in the form of cruelty to animals since reports
rarely describe, understandably, results for individual items on assessment inventories. It should
also be noted that in Sternberg et al.'s study, and in a similar study with a shelter sample
(O'Keefe, 1995), child outcomes may vary depending on whether the child was physically
abused in addition to being exposed to partner abuse.
Given the recent upsurge in concern with the deleterious effects of community or
neighborhood violence on children (e.g. Taylor, Zuckerman, Harik, and Groves, 1994), it is
appropriate that greater attention be given to violence that is perhaps even less escapable for
children: violence among family members in one's home. This issue is receiving cross-cultural
and international attention (Levinson, 1989; Patrignani & Belle, 1995). However, examination
of the confluence of partner abuse, child abuse, and the maltreatment of animals is in its
infancy. Greater attention is being given, at a national policy level, to the overlap between
partner abuse of women and child maltreatment (Ascione, 1995; Dykstra, 1995; Koss et al.,
1994; Schecter & Edelson, 1995), and between the abuse of children and violence toward
animals (American Humane Association, 1995; Deviney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). The
associations among all three types of domestic violence (which may also include sibling abuse:
Suh & Abel, 1990; Wiehe, 1990; and elder abuse: Rosen, 1995) are only beginning to be
explored (e.g., Arkow, 1995). For example, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse have been
noted by Wiehe and Herring (19913 as components of sibling abuse. In the area of emotional
abuse, these authors explicitly include the torture or destruction of a pet as one form of
psychological maltreatment. One can only speculate if siblings, in some cases, may abuse
animals as a result of observing similar abuse performed by batterers.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The objectives of the present study included determining: (1) the prevalence of pet ownership
in a sample of women entering a shelter for battered partners in northern Utah, (2) the

prevalence of threatened and/or actual harm to pets by the women's partners, and (3) evidence
for animal maltreatment by the women's children. In addition to quantitative information,
qualitative information on the types of animal maltreatment described were examined. Ways
that information about cruelty to animals could assist professionals who serve families
experiencing domestic violence and who address animal welfare are also examined.

METHOD
Sample
Thirty-eight women seeking in-house services (as distinct from crisis telephone services) at a
shelter for battered partners in northern Utah agreed to be interviewed by shelter staff about
their experiences with maltreatment of pets (in a 1990 report, Rollins and Oheneba-Sakyi
found Utah spouse abuse prevalence to be comparable to national estimates). The women
ranged in age from 20 to 51 years (mean age = 30.2) and reported the following marital status:
married-57%, separated-3%, divorced-8% and single-32%. This was the first visit to the
shelter for 54% of the women; the remaining women reported an average of 1.9 prior visits
(range 1-6). For the 58% of women with children, the mean number of children was 2.8 (range
1-8) and their ages ranged from 8 months to 20 years.
Procedures
Women were interviewed by shelter personnel within a few days of their entry into the shelter
and after the initial crisis circumstances had subsided. It was stressed that participation was
confidential (only shelter staff would know participants' identities) and voluntary, and that
decisions to agree to or refuse participation would not affect shelter services. None of the
women approached declined participation.
The interview used an early version of the Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS - Pet
Maltreatment Assessment (Ascione & Weber, 1995). Given the stress associated with entering
a shelter, the number of questions was kept to a minimum. Interviewers did report, however,
that many of the women were appreciative that someone had finally asked them about concerns
they had for their pets.
The BPSS included the following questions:

Do you now have a pet animal or animals? If yes, what kinds?

Have you had a pet animal or animals in the past 12 months? If yes, what kinds?

Has your partner ever hurt or killed one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Has your partner ever threatened to hurt or kill one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Have you ever hurt or killed one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Have any of your children ever hurt or killed one of your pets (if client has children)? If
yes, describe.

Did concern over your pet's welfare keep you from coming to this shelter sooner than
now? If yes, explain.

Completed BPSS forms were coded by shelter staff and then provided to the author for
tabulation and analysis. Shelter staff also provided aggregate information on participants'

marital status, presence and number of children, and women's reports of prior visits to the
shelter.

RESULTS
Seventy-four percent of the women reported current pet ownership or pet ownership in the 12
months prior to the women's entry into the shelter. Of these women, 68% owned more than
one pet. Dogs and cats were most common; one woman reported horses as pets, and fish,
birds, chickens, rabbits, and a goat were also mentioned.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the women with pets reported that their male partner had
threatened to hurt or kill and/or had actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets. Examples
of the former included threats to put a kitten in a blender, bury a cat up to its head and "mow"
it, starve a dog, and shoot and kill a cat. Actual harm or killing of animals was reported by 57%
of the women with pets and included acts of omission (e.g., neglecting to feed or allow
veterinary care) but most often acts of violence. Examples reported included slapping, shaking,
throwing, or shooting dogs and cats, drowning a cat in a bathtub, and pouring lighter fluid on a
kitten and igniting it.
Of the women with pets, two (7%) reported that they had hurt or killed one of their own pets.
Both incidents were described as accidental (stepping on a kitten and running over a dog
chasing the woman's car). In one case, there was also partner cruelty to animals, in the other
there was none.
Twenty-two women had children and 32% (N = 7) of these women reported that one of their
children (three girls and four boys) had hurt or killed a pet or pets. Behaviors ranged from
sitting on a kitten and throwing a kitten against the wall to cutting a dog's fur and tail, pulling a
kitten's head out of its socket, and sodomizing a cat. For 5 of these 7 cases (71%), the mother
had also reported that her partner had threatened to or actually hurt or killed pets.
Eighteen percent of the women with pets reported that concern for their animals' welfare had
prevented them from coming to the shelter sooner. Their concerns included worries for the
animals' safety, fear of relinquishing pets to find affordable housing, placing pets with
neighbors, and abandoning a pet to keep it away from the partner.

DISCUSSION
Although this study did not include comparison samples of non-battered women or battered
women who are not currently in shelters, the substantial rate of partner cruelty to animals is
clearly a cause for concern. Caution must be exercised in generalizing from this study's small
sample to state and national samples; however, extrapolation of this study's findings may help
estimate the scope of the potential problem. For example, 3 million is a conservative estimate
of the number of U.S. women assaulted by their male partners each year (see Browne, 1993).
If half of these women have pets (again, a conservative estimate [Ascione, 1992]), 71% partner
cruelty to animals represents hundreds of thousands of families where pet victimization, actual
or threatened, is part of the landscape of terror to which some women are exposed. Using the
most recent Utah state statistics, over a thousand women in Utah alone may experience partner
abuse of their pets. Abuse may include either threats or actual harm or both. Threats may be
considered a less significant problem; however, Edleson and Brygger (1986) note that
interventions for male batterers may reduce the frequency of abusive acts to a greater degree
than threats of abuse. The latter may be more disturbing to some women.
There is some evidence that the results obtained in the present study are not unique to this
particular sample of women. Arkow (1996) recently noted two surveys, one conducted in

Colorado and the other in Wisconsin, in which 24% and 80%, respectively, of women seeking
domestic violence assistance reported animal abuse by their partner.
Two women in the present sample admitted to hurting or killing their own pets, both described
as accidental incidents. As noted earlier, Walker (1984) reported that some battered women
admit to directing their anger at their children or pets and the fact that some batterers may hold
women's pets hostage (Walker, 1989) may lead women to abandon their animals rather than
leave them home as prey for batterers. These abandonments are understandable since shelters
for battered women may not accept pets and alternative animal care may be financially difficult
for a woman to arrange if she is seeking shelter for herself and her children. Programs to
address this need are beginning to emerge, such as a collaborative effort in Loudoun County,
Virginia among Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter, Loudoun County Animal Care and Control,
the Humane Society of Loudoun County, and privately owned boarding kennels. In cases
where an animal has already been hurt or killed, women (and their children) may be
experiencing unresolved grief about pet loss that may need to be acknowledged and addressed
by shelter staff or counselors.
A number of practical and policy issues are raised when implementing programs to board
animals of women who enter shelters (health, space, and animal / child management issues
usually preclude allowing pets in such facilities). First, domestic violence shelter staff need to
be trained about the potential significance of separation from pets and animal cruelty as
additional emotional stressors for their clients, both women and children. Intake forms should
include items related to women's experience of animal abuse and these items should also be
added to the list of questions asked by crisis telephone line workers. Second, information about
animal abuse may be valuable in developing safety plans for women who remain at home with
their abusers and for those women planning to return home after a shelter stay. Third, if a
woman places her pet for boarding, animal shelters need to develop policies ensuring the
confidentiality of such placements and methods to deal with a batterer who attempts to claim a
pet (in some cases, as a method of further coercing or intimidating his partner).
The reported prevalence of cruelty to animals by children in this sample is further cause for
concern and is comparable to levels reported for mental health clinic samples of children,
assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and its variants (Achenbach & Edelbrock,
1981; Achenbach, Howell, Quay, & Conners, 1991), and to data from a sample of children who
had been sexually abused (William Friedrich, April, 1992, personal communication). Friedrich
noted that in a sample of 2-12 year olds who were substantiated victims of sexual abuse, 35%
of the boys and 27% of the girls were reported to be cruel to animals on the CBCL (figures for
a comparison group of nonabused boys and girls were 5% and 3%, respectively). In another
report (Deviney et al., 1983), 26% of children who were physically or sexually abused and/or
neglected displayed animal maltreatment. Although causal relations cannot be determined given
the present study's descriptive strategy, children observing their parents' abuse of animals
(along with other forms of violent and destructive behavior) may foster imitative cruelty.
Educating battered women about the significance of children's cruelty to animals as a potential
symptom of psychological distress may be warranted since some women may believe such
behavior is cathartic. As one of our participants said, "We were all concerned about the cat and
the dog but I figured it was better that the animals were dealing with his hostility instead of the
kids or myself, the spouse."

IMPLICATIONS
Information about children's cruelty to animals may be relevant for interventions for children
exposed to domestic violence. In some cases (e.g., Peled & Davis, 1995), therapy may involve
asking children to identify with an animal to assist children in expressing emotions. Some

children may also identify with animals as symbols of vengeance against a battering parent
(e.g., Silvern & Kaersvang, 1989). Children may also identify themselves or their battered
parent with a pet the children themselves have harmed. Therapists may be advised to routinely
obtain information about cruelty to animals prior to using animal-related exercises.
Furthermore, information about children's positive relations with and concern for their pets and
other animals was not assessed in the present study but could also serve therapeutic ends (see
Figure 1 where a 9 year old child has drawn himself cowering behind a couch as his mother
and beloved pet bird are threatened by an abusive stepfather).

Figure1:drawingby9yearoldboy.(Courtesyof
theCenterforWomenandChildreninCrisis,Inc.,
Provo,Utah)

Legal Implications
The potential for cruelty to animals to be an indicator of the capacity for interpersonal violence
has, in part, led to some states increasing their criminal penalties for severe animal
maltreatment (one recent example is the State of Washington's 1994 revised cruelty-to-animals
law). Increased penalties, including incarceration, for such cruelty can help remove violent
individuals from the family and community and place them in settings where there is the
potential for receiving therapy. In 1995, an Everett, Washington man received a one-year
sentence (in addition to four years for intimidating a witness) after pleading guilty to firstdegree animal cruelty for burning his partner's kitten in a kitchen oven ("Man gets 5 years in
cat-torture case," 1995). He had also been charged with raping his partner (the witness he
intimidated) but these charges were dropped in a plea bargain (the rape charge was dropped

because the woman refused to press charges). As noted by one prosecutor, "We must, as
prosecutors, recognize that it is unacceptable to excuse and ignore acts of cruelty toward
animals. Anyone who can commit such cruelty is in desperate need of incarceration, counseling
or other immediate attention. We cannot afford to accept such violence, nor will the public let
us" (Ritter, 1996, p. 33).
Case Example
A vivid example of the confluence of spouse battering, child abuse (emotional and physical),
and cruelty to animals is provided in recent reports of a murder trial in Salt Lake City. "Peggy
Sue Brown was acquitted Thursday of fatally shooting her husbandthe first time a defendant
has used battered women's syndrome as a defense in a Utah murder case" (Hunt, 1996b, p.
B1). "Brown testified she killed her husband after he beat, raped and locked her in a closet for
days without food or water during their seven-year marriage. She said Bradley Brown, 23, had
made her a virtual prisoner in their home. He also beat and terrorized their young children" (p.
B8). One of Ms. Brown's children testified that Mr. Brown had on one occasion kicked her one
year old brother into a wall.
The level of terror Mr. Brown apparently instilled in his family members is illustrated by
another incident noted during the trial. "(He) hung a pet rabbit in the garage and summoned his
wife. When she came with the baby on her shoulder, her husband began skinning the animal
alive. Then he held the boy next to the screaming rabbit. 'See how easy it would be?' Bradley
said" (Hunt, 1996a, p. B3).
Recommendations
In addition to the relatively small and volunteer sample, this study has a number of limitations
that should be addressed in future research. First, we relied solely on women's reports of their
partners', own, and children's behavior regarding the treatment of animals. Sternberg et al.
(1993) have cautioned that interreporter agreement about child problems, for example,
between family members experiencing domestic violence, may be low. Edleson and Brygger
(1986) found that partners in battering relationships may not agree on levels of different forms
of violence a batterer perpetrates. In their sample of battered men who had undergone
intervention, women's and men's exact agreement, at intake, on the men's actions or threats
against pets was 24%. Clearly, multisource assessments are needed in this area.
Second, sample size precluded examination of differential effects based on children's gender
and age, issues Jaffe and Sudermann (1995) urged more thorough study. The present study also
did not assess the levels of violence these women experienced and to which their children may
have been exposed.
Third, there was no attempt to rate severity of partner cruelty to animals. More empirical
information is needed about the forms, severity, and chronicity of partner cruelty to animals
and its value for risk assessment (Straus, 1993), and the development of topologies of batterers
(Holtzworth-Munroe & Stuart, 1994). We have developed a protocol for assessing the animal
cruelty performed by children and adolescents (Ascione, Thompson, & Black, in press) which
may be applicable to adults who abuse animals.
Finally, we do not yet understand how the dimensions of partner and/or child cruelty to animals
differ for families where the mother seeks shelter or decides to remain at home. Do children's
relations with pets differ in these circumstances? For example, Fantuzzo et al. (1991) note how
the shelter experience often entails separating children from buffers in their home environment
(e.g., toys, peers). Separation from beloved pets, who may be significant sources of

psychological support and attachment, may be an unaddressed issue for both the child and the
battered parent.

NOTES
1. In 1992, Utah state agencies provided shelter for 1,634 women and 2,047 children
(Utah Domestic Violence Advisory Council, 1994). In 1995, the figures were 1,974 and
2,722, respectively (Diane Stuart, personal communication, January 25, 1996).
2. For information on this program, contact the Director, Loudoun County Department of
Animal Care and Control, Rt. 1, Box 985, Waterford, VA 221901TEL 703 777-0406.
Are battered women in domestic violence shelters forced to chose between their personal
safety and that of the pets they left behind when they fled? What policies and procedures do
enlightened shelters employ to deal with the issue of pet abuse by batterers as a means of
manipulation? What assistance can be provided? What are the psychological ramifications of
pet abuse in a domestic violence context? Dr. Frank Ascione provides the answers in Safe
Havens for Pets: Guidelines for Programs Sheltering Pets for Women Who Are Battered. This
vital work is available FREE thanks to funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Click here for all the details. This book is must reading for every domestic violence worker,
advocate, student, and supporter.
You can get more information on this subject from our Resources section Animal Abuse and
Domestic Violence.

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SUBMITTED: 07/12/96 ACCEPTED: 12/16/96

Andrew Vachss and The Zero would like to congratulate Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D., on his receipt of the 2001
Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations
and the International Society for Anthrozoology. We have been honored to feature Dr. Ascione's work
regarding the links between personal violence and animal cruelty on the website, and add our respect to that
of the Society's.

Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty


by Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D.

FOREWORD BY ANDREW VACHSS


For those of us who have spent our lives on
its front lines, the protection of children is
the only "holy war" worthy of the name. To
us, the great mystery of life is not why some
abused children grow up to become abusive
adults, but why so many don't.
A cop's world view might vary radically from
a caseworker's; a prosecutor's "solution"
could be distinctly different than a therapist's;
the academic's data might be contradicted by
the anecdotal experience of the field
Purdue University Press; ISBN 1557533776
for online purchase
investigator. But we all share this core belief:
abusiveness is not genetically encoded. It has
a genesis, a discoverable taproot. And we all agree that if "prevention" is ever to exist as
anything more than a grant writer's buzzword, we have to keep digging.
But, while it is universally agreed that interpersonal violence is the greatest single threat to
human civilization, there is nothing resembling a consensus on its etiology. Part of the problem
is that people tend to superimpose their personal belief systems over any information presented
to them. For example, announcement of a decline in the number of reports of child sexual
abuse cases guarantees an instant onslaught of dueling interpretations.
Depending on the expert being consulted, such data "proves" that:
a. the "tidal wave of false allegations" is finally ebbing; or
b. "prevention" efforts are finally bearing fruit; or
c. viewing child abuse as a crime (rather than a "family dysfunction") and prosecuting it
accordingly has deterred some perpetrators; or
d. reduced funding for child protective services has resulted in fewer existing cases being
discovered; or
e. something else.
For the abused child, none of this agenda-driven interpretation matters. And, for the society
into which that abused child will eventually be absorbedor, in some cases, disgorgednone
of it helps. But every few decades, a seminal work emerges. A dispatch from the front lines that
combines innovative research, critical thought, and penetrating analysis so compellingly that it
causes a cultural shift. C. Henry Kempe's The Battered Child Syndrome is a classic example.
A legitimate descendant of that groundbreaking line is Frank Ascione's Children and Animals:
Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty. Its message will reverberate through politics,
policy, and practice for generations to come.
To understand the significance of Ascione's work, we need to take a looka hard lookat the
predators who walk among us. Whom do we fear the most? The serial killer? The sadistic
rapist? The arsonist who giggles at the flames he created? The pedophile who tortures children
for pleasure, and markets the memorialization of his unspeakable acts for profit? Their crimes
may vary radically, but the perpetrators are all members of the same tribe, one we now call
"sociopaths." And what is the foundational characteristic of every sociopath? A profound,

pervasive, fundamental lack of empathy. The sociopath attends to only his own needs, and
feels only his own pain. If the pain of others interferes with his needs, it is casually ignored.
And if the pain of others becomes his need, it is relentlessly pursued.
Despite enormous (and sometimes almost worshipful) media attention, we know very little
about such creatures. We "profile" them endlessly, but we have never been able to predict
them.
Few believe we can "treat" such predators. All agree we must incapacitate them. But what if
we were granted the opportunity to interdict them? To actually alter the course of their
development so that, when they reach full bloom, they are not toxic to others?
This stunning new workthe crown jewel in a career Frank Ascione has devoted to
demonstrating the importance of understanding animal abuse in a developmental contextnow
offers us just such an unprecedented opportunity.
This book reveals what interactions between children and animals tell us about ourselves. Its
premise is brilliantly direct: we have a window of opportunitychildhoodwithin which to
redirect the production of sociopaths. The antidote is the development of empathy. And
observation and analysis of children's interaction with animals is the key to that door.
Ascione persuasively argues that a society which carefully records acts of vandalism by youth
and considers such to have both symptomatic probity and predictive valueshould do no
less with acts of cruelty to animals. The correlations between animal abuse in the household
and domestic violence are inescapable. And the link between animal abuse by children and the
concurrent abuse of those same children by their "caretakers" is indisputable. Ascione's
evidence is so overwhelming that I believe this book conclusively makes the case for sharing of
reports between child protective and animal protective agencies.
As a lawyer, I am confident I now have the evidence to argue successfully that any report of
animal abuse is sufficient probable cause to trigger a child protective investigation of the home
in which it occurred. As a citizen, I intend to lobby for such changes in the law to be enacted.
But while those changes would enable detection of ongoing cases of child abuse, they would
not prevent any child from initially being abused. Ascione's work is unique in that it does offer
the opportunity to engage in true "primary prevention."
He points out that empathy isn't administered as an injection; it is learned over time. The young
child who throws a rock at a flock of pigeons isn't so much endangering a bird as he is giving
us the chance to intervene at the crossroads: We can teach empathy, or we can encourage
cruelty. The classic "triad" known to all criminal investigatorsenuresis, fire-setting, and
animal abusehas never been especially convincing to me. My own experience is that it is the
caregiver's reaction to the bed-wetting that determines the outcome. A loving, supportive
environment takes the child right out of the "triad." But a punitive, humiliating response impels
him toward the other path.
The abuse of animals, especially chronic, escalating abuse, is a "gateway" indicator. Whether
committed in the home environment of a child, or committed directly by the child, it never
occurs in a vacuum. It never fails to tell us it is time to act. But, first, we must to learn to
listen.
The sociopath may lack empathy, but he (or she) is an expert at exploiting it in others. Any
domestic violence professional knows of women who remained with abusers because of threats
to harm a beloved pet. Any CPS caseworker can tell you about cases in which a child abuser

also hurtor killedthe victim's pet. Any sex crimes detective can tell you that child
molesters know a puppy or a kitten is a far more effective lure than candy.
I've had protection dogs all my adult life. This doesn't mean vicious dogs, it means trained
dogs. Professional trainers have a disparaging term for so-called "guard dogs" that mindlessly
attack anything that approaches: "fear-biters." Typically, such animals have been "trained" by
repeated beatings and other forms of maltreatment. It's time that we reached that same
understanding about children.
Animal abuse is now one of the diagnostic criteria for Conduct Disorder in children. That's a
beginning, but it barely scratches the surface. Pets reside in the households of the
overwhelming majority of Americans. As Ascione so clearly illustrates, they offer not only the
opportunity to teach empathy, they serve as early warning systems for the child protective
profession, if only we learn to recognize the signposts.
The abuse of animals should be a mandatory portion of all interviewing and data-collection
concerning "at-risk" children, because, as this book demonstrates with such striking clarity, it
has the potential to tell us so much.
Animal abuse and childrenas perpetrators or as witnessesmay be the Rosetta stone to
predatory psychopathology. All of us concerned with public safety have been sailors on a vast,
uncharted sea. Now, Frank Ascione has given us a new, and extraordinarily promising,
navigational instrument.
Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty should be required
reading for everyone involved in child protection and law enforcement. It should be part of the
training curriculum in schools of social work and in police academies. And it will be
appreciated by every citizen who is willing to invest the time and trouble it takes to make our
policymakers do the right thing.
I don't write well enough to adequately express the importance of this book. Fortunately, I
don't have to: it speaks for itself. And it will inform and empower everyone who gives it the
chance to do so.
2004 Andrew Vachss. All rights reserved.

To purchase Children and Animals: Exploring the Roots of Kindness and Cruelty by Frank R.
Ascione, Ph.D., click here.

Battered Women's Reports of Their Partners'


and Their Children's Cruelty to Animals
By Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D,
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Originally published in Journal of Emotional Abuse, Vol. 1(1) 1998
ABSTRACT. Anecdotal reports of cruelty to pet animals in families where partner battering occurs are common
but there exist few empirical data on this issue. Determining the forms and prevalence of such cruelty is
important since abuse of pets may be a method batterers use to control their partners, may be related to
batterers' lethality, and may result in children in such families being exposed to multiple forms of violence, a
significant risk for mental health problems. Thirty-eight women seeking shelter at a safe house for battered
partners voluntarily completed surveys about pet ownership and violence to pets. Of the women reporting

current or past pet ownership, 71% reported that their partner had threatened and/or actually hurt or killed one
or more of their pets. Actual (as distinct from threatened) harm to pets represented the majority (57%) of
reports. Fifty-eight percent of the full sample of women had children and 32% of these women reported that
one or more of their children had hurt or killed pet animals; in 71% of these cases, the women had also
reported animal abuse (threatened or actual) by their partner. This study represents one of the first empirical
analyses of the prevalence of animal maltreatment in a sample of battered women. The high prevalence rate of
batterers' threatened or actual harm of animals and the relatively high rate of animal abuse reported for the
children in this sample are relevant for future research and policy analyses. [Article copies available for a fee
from The Haworth Document Delivery Service: 1-800-342-9678. E-mail address: getinfo@haworth.com]

Pets were terribly important to her; they were her only source of comfort and affection. One
afternoon, Billy said he had had it with her damn cats and started screaming that he was going
to kill them. Kim didn't take it too seriously. (Browne, 1987, p. 154)
. . . Aubrey got angry with the family dog for straying outside their yard. He loaded one of his
nine guns, then shot and killed it. The kids began to sob, devastated. He grabbed (one child's)
hair . . . slapped another of the kids, then began crying himself. Joyce tried to comfort them all.
But her feelings of anger were mixed with genuine terror: in a moment of rage, she knew,
Aubrey could kill any one of them and cry about it afterward. (Walker, 1989, pp. 20-21)
These examples associating partner abuse with cruelty to animals and, in one case, child
maltreatment are but two of the many anecdotal references to the abuse of animals in the
literature on domestic violence (Adams, 1994). Following an analysis of existing research and
policy issues relevant for understanding the relation between domestic violence and animal
maltreatment, the results of a small-scale descriptive study of the prevalence of animal cruelty
experiences in a shelter sample of battered women are reported. Implications for future
research and for the well-being of women and children experiencing family violence are then
discussed.

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND


In an earlier paper (Ascione, 1993), existing research on childhood cruelty to animals, its
relation to various forms of family and community violence, and its significance as a symptom
of Conduct Disorder are reviewed. The clearest evidence of this relationship is found in studies
of the effects of physical and sexual abuse on children. Relatively less information is available
on the effects of exposure to domestic violence on children's relations with pets and other
animals. Adult partner cruelty to animals has been described anecdotally (e.g., Dutton, 1992;
Gelles & Straus, 1988; Walker, 1979), and includes references to partners torturing or killing
animals and forcing women to engage in bestiality. In one of the rare empirical studies
including examination of the domestic violence/animal maltreatment relation, Renzetti (1992)
found that 38% of women with pets in abusive lesbian relationships reported maltreatment of
pets by their partners. The effects of partner animal abuse on the women whose animals are
hurt or killed and the effects of witnessing both parent and pet abuse on children's mental
health warrant more focused research attention.
Partners' Abuse of Animals
Information about the forms and prevalence of cruelty to animals in families experiencing
domestic violence is not easily culled from existing research One reason is the inconsistency,
across studies, in whether questions about animal maltreatment are included in assessments. In
some cases, data about animal abuse may be incorporated, explicitly or implicitly, under more
general categories of abuse. For example, in Walker's (1984) interviews with battered women,
bestiality was mentioned as an example of "unusual sex acts" the women were asked to
perform by their partners. In the group of women who had experienced relationships with
battering and non-battering partners, this experience was reported by 41% and 5%,

respectively. Walker also reported that, when with a batterer, 16% of the women reported
directing their own anger at their "children or pets"; when with a non-batterer, the figure was
3%. In a similar vein, cruelty to animals may be implicit in measures of psychological
maltreatment. Brassard, Hart, and Hardy's (1993) categories of "Terrorizing" (including ". . .
threats directed toward loved ones or objects . . .") and "Exploiting / Corrupting" (including
". . modeling antisocial acts . . . ") are examples.
Occasionally, specific items related to animal maltreatment appear in domestic violence
questionnaires or checklists. Renzetti's (1992) study is one example. Another is Dutton's
(1992) "Abusive Behavior Observation Checklist" in which being "required to be involved with
an animal in a sexual way" is an item under the "unwanted sexual behavior" category (p. 160)
and "abused your/his/her family pets" is listed under "Psychological Abuse-Intimidation" (p.
161).
Domestic violence and cruelty to animals are, at times, examined together in discussions of
assessing partner dangerousness or lethality (Campbell, 1995). One assessment, proposed by
Straus (1993) to facilitate identification of "high risk violence," includes the item, "threats or
actual killing or injuring a pet." However, another dangerousness assessment inventory does
not mention animal maltreatment in any form (Stuart & Campbell, 1989).
Children's Abuse of Animals
The literature on the effects of exposure to domestic violence on children's mental health has
been recently reviewed by Jaffe and Sudermann (1995) who note the complexity and variability
of such effects from one study to another. Cruelty to animals as a childhood reaction to
exposure to domestic violence has not been directly explored. Suggestive information,
however, can be derived from studies of children of battered women in which externalizing
problems and/or conduct disorder symptoms are examined [since the 1987 revision, both the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edition revised) and the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) (American Psychiatric
Association 1987, 1994) include physical cruelty to animals as a symptom of Conduct
Disorder].
One recent study that included a sample of both sheltered and community battered women and
their 6-12 year old children found that domestic violence was related to ". . . children's general
psychopathology . . ." (McCloskey, Figueredo, & Koss, 1995). The authors report that
women's partners' hurting or killing pets did load (albeit, at a low level) on a factor labeled,
"escalated aggression," a factor that included other severe forms of threatened or actual
interpersonal aggression. Other studies have also found a relationship between observing
domestic violence and externalizing psychological symptoms both in preschool-age children at
a shelter or residing at home (Fantuzzo et al., 1991) and in an older (8-12 year old) sample of
Israeli children living at home (Sternberg et al., 1993). However, it is unclear how often
externalizing symptomatology manifests itself in the form of cruelty to animals since reports
rarely describe, understandably, results for individual items on assessment inventories. It should
also be noted that in Sternberg et al.'s study, and in a similar study with a shelter sample
(O'Keefe, 1995), child outcomes may vary depending on whether the child was physically
abused in addition to being exposed to partner abuse.
Given the recent upsurge in concern with the deleterious effects of community or
neighborhood violence on children (e.g. Taylor, Zuckerman, Harik, and Groves, 1994), it is
appropriate that greater attention be given to violence that is perhaps even less escapable for
children: violence among family members in one's home. This issue is receiving cross-cultural
and international attention (Levinson, 1989; Patrignani & Belle, 1995). However, examination

of the confluence of partner abuse, child abuse, and the maltreatment of animals is in its
infancy. Greater attention is being given, at a national policy level, to the overlap between
partner abuse of women and child maltreatment (Ascione, 1995; Dykstra, 1995; Koss et al.,
1994; Schecter & Edelson, 1995), and between the abuse of children and violence toward
animals (American Humane Association, 1995; Deviney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). The
associations among all three types of domestic violence (which may also include sibling abuse:
Suh & Abel, 1990; Wiehe, 1990; and elder abuse: Rosen, 1995) are only beginning to be
explored (e.g., Arkow, 1995). For example, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse have been
noted by Wiehe and Herring (19913 as components of sibling abuse. In the area of emotional
abuse, these authors explicitly include the torture or destruction of a pet as one form of
psychological maltreatment. One can only speculate if siblings, in some cases, may abuse
animals as a result of observing similar abuse performed by batterers.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The objectives of the present study included determining: (1) the prevalence of pet ownership
in a sample of women entering a shelter for battered partners in northern Utah, (2) the
prevalence of threatened and/or actual harm to pets by the women's partners, and (3) evidence
for animal maltreatment by the women's children. In addition to quantitative information,
qualitative information on the types of animal maltreatment described were examined. Ways
that information about cruelty to animals could assist professionals who serve families
experiencing domestic violence and who address animal welfare are also examined.

METHOD
Sample
Thirty-eight women seeking in-house services (as distinct from crisis telephone services) at a
shelter for battered partners in northern Utah agreed to be interviewed by shelter staff about
their experiences with maltreatment of pets (in a 1990 report, Rollins and Oheneba-Sakyi
found Utah spouse abuse prevalence to be comparable to national estimates). The women
ranged in age from 20 to 51 years (mean age = 30.2) and reported the following marital status:
married-57%, separated-3%, divorced-8% and single-32%. This was the first visit to the
shelter for 54% of the women; the remaining women reported an average of 1.9 prior visits
(range 1-6). For the 58% of women with children, the mean number of children was 2.8 (range
1-8) and their ages ranged from 8 months to 20 years.
Procedures
Women were interviewed by shelter personnel within a few days of their entry into the shelter
and after the initial crisis circumstances had subsided. It was stressed that participation was
confidential (only shelter staff would know participants' identities) and voluntary, and that
decisions to agree to or refuse participation would not affect shelter services. None of the
women approached declined participation.
The interview used an early version of the Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS - Pet
Maltreatment Assessment (Ascione & Weber, 1995). Given the stress associated with entering
a shelter, the number of questions was kept to a minimum. Interviewers did report, however,
that many of the women were appreciative that someone had finally asked them about concerns
they had for their pets.
The BPSS included the following questions:

Do you now have a pet animal or animals? If yes, what kinds?

Have you had a pet animal or animals in the past 12 months? If yes, what kinds?

Has your partner ever hurt or killed one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Has your partner ever threatened to hurt or kill one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Have you ever hurt or killed one of your pets? If yes, describe.

Have any of your children ever hurt or killed one of your pets (if client has children)? If
yes, describe.

Did concern over your pet's welfare keep you from coming to this shelter sooner than
now? If yes, explain.

Completed BPSS forms were coded by shelter staff and then provided to the author for
tabulation and analysis. Shelter staff also provided aggregate information on participants'
marital status, presence and number of children, and women's reports of prior visits to the
shelter.

RESULTS
Seventy-four percent of the women reported current pet ownership or pet ownership in the 12
months prior to the women's entry into the shelter. Of these women, 68% owned more than
one pet. Dogs and cats were most common; one woman reported horses as pets, and fish,
birds, chickens, rabbits, and a goat were also mentioned.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the women with pets reported that their male partner had
threatened to hurt or kill and/or had actually hurt or killed one or more of their pets. Examples
of the former included threats to put a kitten in a blender, bury a cat up to its head and "mow"
it, starve a dog, and shoot and kill a cat. Actual harm or killing of animals was reported by 57%
of the women with pets and included acts of omission (e.g., neglecting to feed or allow
veterinary care) but most often acts of violence. Examples reported included slapping, shaking,
throwing, or shooting dogs and cats, drowning a cat in a bathtub, and pouring lighter fluid on a
kitten and igniting it.
Of the women with pets, two (7%) reported that they had hurt or killed one of their own pets.
Both incidents were described as accidental (stepping on a kitten and running over a dog
chasing the woman's car). In one case, there was also partner cruelty to animals, in the other
there was none.
Twenty-two women had children and 32% (N = 7) of these women reported that one of their
children (three girls and four boys) had hurt or killed a pet or pets. Behaviors ranged from
sitting on a kitten and throwing a kitten against the wall to cutting a dog's fur and tail, pulling a
kitten's head out of its socket, and sodomizing a cat. For 5 of these 7 cases (71%), the mother
had also reported that her partner had threatened to or actually hurt or killed pets.
Eighteen percent of the women with pets reported that concern for their animals' welfare had
prevented them from coming to the shelter sooner. Their concerns included worries for the
animals' safety, fear of relinquishing pets to find affordable housing, placing pets with
neighbors, and abandoning a pet to keep it away from the partner.

DISCUSSION
Although this study did not include comparison samples of non-battered women or battered
women who are not currently in shelters, the substantial rate of partner cruelty to animals is

clearly a cause for concern. Caution must be exercised in generalizing from this study's small
sample to state and national samples; however, extrapolation of this study's findings may help
estimate the scope of the potential problem. For example, 3 million is a conservative estimate
of the number of U.S. women assaulted by their male partners each year (see Browne, 1993).
If half of these women have pets (again, a conservative estimate [Ascione, 1992]), 71% partner
cruelty to animals represents hundreds of thousands of families where pet victimization, actual
or threatened, is part of the landscape of terror to which some women are exposed. Using the
most recent Utah state statistics, over a thousand women in Utah alone may experience partner
abuse of their pets. Abuse may include either threats or actual harm or both. Threats may be
considered a less significant problem; however, Edleson and Brygger (1986) note that
interventions for male batterers may reduce the frequency of abusive acts to a greater degree
than threats of abuse. The latter may be more disturbing to some women.
There is some evidence that the results obtained in the present study are not unique to this
particular sample of women. Arkow (1996) recently noted two surveys, one conducted in
Colorado and the other in Wisconsin, in which 24% and 80%, respectively, of women seeking
domestic violence assistance reported animal abuse by their partner.
Two women in the present sample admitted to hurting or killing their own pets, both described
as accidental incidents. As noted earlier, Walker (1984) reported that some battered women
admit to directing their anger at their children or pets and the fact that some batterers may hold
women's pets hostage (Walker, 1989) may lead women to abandon their animals rather than
leave them home as prey for batterers. These abandonments are understandable since shelters
for battered women may not accept pets and alternative animal care may be financially difficult
for a woman to arrange if she is seeking shelter for herself and her children. Programs to
address this need are beginning to emerge, such as a collaborative effort in Loudoun County,
Virginia among Loudoun Abused Women's Shelter, Loudoun County Animal Care and Control,
the Humane Society of Loudoun County, and privately owned boarding kennels. In cases
where an animal has already been hurt or killed, women (and their children) may be
experiencing unresolved grief about pet loss that may need to be acknowledged and addressed
by shelter staff or counselors.
A number of practical and policy issues are raised when implementing programs to board
animals of women who enter shelters (health, space, and animal / child management issues
usually preclude allowing pets in such facilities). First, domestic violence shelter staff need to
be trained about the potential significance of separation from pets and animal cruelty as
additional emotional stressors for their clients, both women and children. Intake forms should
include items related to women's experience of animal abuse and these items should also be
added to the list of questions asked by crisis telephone line workers. Second, information about
animal abuse may be valuable in developing safety plans for women who remain at home with
their abusers and for those women planning to return home after a shelter stay. Third, if a
woman places her pet for boarding, animal shelters need to develop policies ensuring the
confidentiality of such placements and methods to deal with a batterer who attempts to claim a
pet (in some cases, as a method of further coercing or intimidating his partner).
The reported prevalence of cruelty to animals by children in this sample is further cause for
concern and is comparable to levels reported for mental health clinic samples of children,
assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and its variants (Achenbach & Edelbrock,
1981; Achenbach, Howell, Quay, & Conners, 1991), and to data from a sample of children who
had been sexually abused (William Friedrich, April, 1992, personal communication). Friedrich
noted that in a sample of 2-12 year olds who were substantiated victims of sexual abuse, 35%
of the boys and 27% of the girls were reported to be cruel to animals on the CBCL (figures for
a comparison group of nonabused boys and girls were 5% and 3%, respectively). In another

report (Deviney et al., 1983), 26% of children who were physically or sexually abused and/or
neglected displayed animal maltreatment. Although causal relations cannot be determined given
the present study's descriptive strategy, children observing their parents' abuse of animals
(along with other forms of violent and destructive behavior) may foster imitative cruelty.
Educating battered women about the significance of children's cruelty to animals as a potential
symptom of psychological distress may be warranted since some women may believe such
behavior is cathartic. As one of our participants said, "We were all concerned about the cat and
the dog but I figured it was better that the animals were dealing with his hostility instead of the
kids or myself, the spouse."

IMPLICATIONS
Information about children's cruelty to animals may be relevant for interventions for children
exposed to domestic violence. In some cases (e.g., Peled & Davis, 1995), therapy may involve
asking children to identify with an animal to assist children in expressing emotions. Some
children may also identify with animals as symbols of vengeance against a battering parent
(e.g., Silvern & Kaersvang, 1989). Children may also identify themselves or their battered
parent with a pet the children themselves have harmed. Therapists may be advised to routinely
obtain information about cruelty to animals prior to using animal-related exercises.
Furthermore, information about children's positive relations with and concern for their pets and
other animals was not assessed in the present study but could also serve therapeutic ends (see
Figure 1 where a 9 year old child has drawn himself cowering behind a couch as his mother
and beloved pet bird are threatened by an abusive stepfather).

Figure1:drawingby9yearoldboy.(Courtesyof
theCenterforWomenandChildreninCrisis,Inc.,
Provo,Utah)

Legal Implications
The potential for cruelty to animals to be an indicator of the capacity for interpersonal violence
has, in part, led to some states increasing their criminal penalties for severe animal
maltreatment (one recent example is the State of Washington's 1994 revised cruelty-to-animals
law). Increased penalties, including incarceration, for such cruelty can help remove violent
individuals from the family and community and place them in settings where there is the
potential for receiving therapy. In 1995, an Everett, Washington man received a one-year
sentence (in addition to four years for intimidating a witness) after pleading guilty to firstdegree animal cruelty for burning his partner's kitten in a kitchen oven ("Man gets 5 years in
cat-torture case," 1995). He had also been charged with raping his partner (the witness he
intimidated) but these charges were dropped in a plea bargain (the rape charge was dropped
because the woman refused to press charges). As noted by one prosecutor, "We must, as
prosecutors, recognize that it is unacceptable to excuse and ignore acts of cruelty toward
animals. Anyone who can commit such cruelty is in desperate need of incarceration, counseling
or other immediate attention. We cannot afford to accept such violence, nor will the public let
us" (Ritter, 1996, p. 33).
Case Example
A vivid example of the confluence of spouse battering, child abuse (emotional and physical),
and cruelty to animals is provided in recent reports of a murder trial in Salt Lake City. "Peggy
Sue Brown was acquitted Thursday of fatally shooting her husbandthe first time a defendant
has used battered women's syndrome as a defense in a Utah murder case" (Hunt, 1996b, p.
B1). "Brown testified she killed her husband after he beat, raped and locked her in a closet for
days without food or water during their seven-year marriage. She said Bradley Brown, 23, had
made her a virtual prisoner in their home. He also beat and terrorized their young children" (p.
B8). One of Ms. Brown's children testified that Mr. Brown had on one occasion kicked her one
year old brother into a wall.
The level of terror Mr. Brown apparently instilled in his family members is illustrated by
another incident noted during the trial. "(He) hung a pet rabbit in the garage and summoned his
wife. When she came with the baby on her shoulder, her husband began skinning the animal
alive. Then he held the boy next to the screaming rabbit. 'See how easy it would be?' Bradley
said" (Hunt, 1996a, p. B3).
Recommendations
In addition to the relatively small and volunteer sample, this study has a number of limitations
that should be addressed in future research. First, we relied solely on women's reports of their
partners', own, and children's behavior regarding the treatment of animals. Sternberg et al.
(1993) have cautioned that interreporter agreement about child problems, for example,
between family members experiencing domestic violence, may be low. Edleson and Brygger
(1986) found that partners in battering relationships may not agree on levels of different forms
of violence a batterer perpetrates. In their sample of battered men who had undergone
intervention, women's and men's exact agreement, at intake, on the men's actions or threats
against pets was 24%. Clearly, multisource assessments are needed in this area.
Second, sample size precluded examination of differential effects based on children's gender
and age, issues Jaffe and Sudermann (1995) urged more thorough study. The present study also

did not assess the levels of violence these women experienced and to which their children may
have been exposed.
Third, there was no attempt to rate severity of partner cruelty to animals. More empirical
information is needed about the forms, severity, and chronicity of partner cruelty to animals
and its value for risk assessment (Straus, 1993), and the development of topologies of batterers
(Holtzworth-Munroe & Stuart, 1994). We have developed a protocol for assessing the animal
cruelty performed by children and adolescents (Ascione, Thompson, & Black, in press) which
may be applicable to adults who abuse animals.
Finally, we do not yet understand how the dimensions of partner and/or child cruelty to animals
differ for families where the mother seeks shelter or decides to remain at home. Do children's
relations with pets differ in these circumstances? For example, Fantuzzo et al. (1991) note how
the shelter experience often entails separating children from buffers in their home environment
(e.g., toys, peers). Separation from beloved pets, who may be significant sources of
psychological support and attachment, may be an unaddressed issue for both the child and the
battered parent.

NOTES
1. In 1992, Utah state agencies provided shelter for 1,634 women and 2,047 children
(Utah Domestic Violence Advisory Council, 1994). In 1995, the figures were 1,974 and
2,722, respectively (Diane Stuart, personal communication, January 25, 1996).
2. For information on this program, contact the Director, Loudoun County Department of
Animal Care and Control, Rt. 1, Box 985, Waterford, VA 221901TEL 703 777-0406.
Are battered women in domestic violence shelters forced to chose between their personal
safety and that of the pets they left behind when they fled? What policies and procedures do
enlightened shelters employ to deal with the issue of pet abuse by batterers as a means of
manipulation? What assistance can be provided? What are the psychological ramifications of
pet abuse in a domestic violence context? Dr. Frank Ascione provides the answers in Safe
Havens for Pets: Guidelines for Programs Sheltering Pets for Women Who Are Battered. This
vital work is available FREE thanks to funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Click here for all the details. This book is must reading for every domestic violence worker,
advocate, student, and supporter.
You can get more information on this subject from our Resources section Animal Abuse and
Domestic Violence.

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SUBMITTED: 07/12/96 ACCEPTED: 12/16/96

Andrew Vachss and The Zero would like to congratulate Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D., on his receipt of the 2001
Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations
and the International Society for Anthrozoology. We have been honored to feature Dr. Ascione's work
regarding the links between personal violence and animal cruelty on the website, and add our respect to that
of the Society's.

Final Report on the project entitled:

Animal Welfare and Domestic Violence


By Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D, Claudia V. Weber, M.S., and David S. Wood,
Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Originally submitted to The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, April 25, 1997
"I have spoken with the most vulnerable and seen how poisoned they have become... They
show us that committing acts of violence is traumatic. They show us that witnessing acts of
violence is traumatic. And they show us that inside most of the adolescent and adult
perpetrators of violence are traumatized children, untreated children, frightened children."
James Garbarino (1995)
Raising children in a socially toxic environment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. (p.86)

OVERVIEW
This study represents the first attempt to assess animal maltreatment in samples of women
seeking safety at shelters for women who are battered (101 women) and community samples of
women who were not battered (60 women). We developed instruments to measure pet abuse
from women and children's reports and assessed levels of family violence (not including pet
abuse) using the well known Conflict Tactics Scale. Current and past pet ownership (in the past
12 months) was high for all samples (ranging from 64.1% to 96.6%) but the shelter sample
reported lower current pet ownership than the community sample. There were also lower
levels of regular and emergency veterinary care and pet vaccination rates in the shelter sample.
Pet "turnover" over the past 5 years was higher in the shelter group. Partners (e.g., husbands,
boyfriends) of shelter women were less likely to help care for animals than partners of
community sample women.
Shelter women were more likely to report that their partners had threatened to hurt their pets
(52%) than community sample women (16.7%). The severity of these threats was also higher
in the shelter sample. Actual hurting or killing of pets was reported by 54% of the shelter
women but only 3.5% of the community women. In the majority of cases, shelter women
reported that multiple incidents of hurting or killing pets had occurred. In the shelter group,
nearly one in four women reported that concern for their pets had kept them from coming in to
the shelter sooner.
Approximately half of the shelter women reported that their children had witnessed pet abuse
in contrast to less than four percent of the community sample women. One in four shelter
group women and one in five community group women reported that one of their children had

hurt or killed pets. The severity of hurting pets was lower, however, for the community group
children. Shelter group children also displayed higher behavior problem scores on a
standardized measure than community group children.
Shelter group children (N=39) were also interviewed directly and two-thirds reported
witnessing pet abuse (including the strangling, poisoning, or shooting of a pet). Nearly half
(46.4%) of the incidents involved the father, stepfather, or woman's boyfriend as the
perpetrator. The severity of the abuse was rated as involving pain or discomfort to the animal
or rated as torturing or killing of the animal by 88.5% of the children reporting witnessing of
pet abuse, with 92.6% of the children indicating they were "sort of upset " or "very upset" by
the incidents. Although 92.1% of the children said they helped take care of pets, l 3.2%
admitted to hurting pets and 7.9% reported hurting or killing other animals. Nevertheless,
51.4% of these children said they had protected pets, in some cases by directly intervening to
keep pets from being harmed.
Over two-thirds of the children (67.6%) said they would like to see pets in their home treated
"better than they are now treated".
Use of the Conflict Tactics Scale verified that the levels of minor and severe physical
aggression were substantially higher in the shelter than in the community groups. The highest
levels of severe physical aggression (e.g., beating, burning, threatening with a gun or knife)
occurred in the shelter groups when either threats to or hurting/killing of pets was present in
these households.
The results of this study illustrate the landscape of terror in which many women, children, and
their pets reside and should prompt renewed attention to the confluence of family violence and
animal maltreatment.

PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT


As I noted in the original proposal, increasing attention to the issue of animal maltreatment has
led to examination of the contexts in which such maltreatment takes place. The limited research
that does exist has concentrated on the associations between animal abuse and either child
physical abuse or sexual abuse. Pet abuse in families where domestic violence (adult partner
battering) is present has received significantly less research scrutiny.
With many animal welfare organizations beginning to collaborate with human welfare programs
to address violence (its origins, prevention, and reduction), data are needed to document the
coexistence of interpersonal aggression and the maltreatment of animals, especially pets which
enter into significant relationships with their human caretakers. Such data would highlight the
scope of the problem and suggest areas for effective cooperation between animal and human
welfare agencies (e.g., boarding pets when a woman must flee her home for protection). These
data could also be used to facilitate legislative changes regarding the seriousness of violence
toward animals. Finally, children's exposure to the maltreatment or killing of their beloved pets
can be considered a form of terrorizing or psychological abuse. It is of interest to note that the
Utah legislature recently passed a bill making domestic violence offenses more serious when a
child has witnessed partner battering. Witnessing a pet being abused or tortured may be no less
distressing to children.
Only one published study (Ascione, 1997) has specifically addressed the presence of animal
maltreatment in a sample of women who were battered. The sample was small (38 women) and
the study lacked a comparison group of women who were not battered by their partners. In
addition, only the women were interviewed so children's perspectives on pet abuse were not
examined. This study also failed to measure the frequency and intensity of domestic violence.

The current research was designed to correct these research flaws and limitations on
generalizations from the earlier results.

METHOD
Samples
We collaborated with five Utah crisis shelters for women who are battered to enlist
participation by women who had experienced domestic violence. We also sought participation
by women, in the community, who did not have a history of domestic violence. The main
criteria were that women currently have pets or had pets in the past year and, for part of the
sample, that they had a child between 5 and 18 years of age who would be willing to
participate. The Appendix contains the protocol used for selecting participants as well as
samples of the informed consent documents used with participants. These materials as well as
the overall project protocol had been approved by Utah State University's Institutional Review
Board for research with human participants and the state agency overseeing shelter operations.
It should be emphasized that all participants were volunteers.
Shelter participants were invited to take part in the project by shelter staff and community
participants were enlisted through newspaper ads and posters placed throughout the
community. Our initial plan was to secure the shelter sample and then match its demographic
characteristics with the community sample. However, the prolongation of securing the shelter
participants (due to director and staff turnover at shelters) required us to begin testing
community volunteers before the majority of shelter participants were tested. The generous
time extensions granted by the Dodge Foundation did allow us to meet the target sample size
and, with assistance from Utah State University's Vice President for Research, we were able to
increase the community sample's size beyond that specified in the original proposal.
To facilitate reporting sample characteristics and results, I will use the following abbreviations
throughout the remainder of this report. Participants were categorized into these four groups:
S-C This group included women entering shelters for women who are battered and
who agreed to allow interviewing of one of their children. The number (N) who were
assessed was 39.
S-NC This group included sheltered women who did not have children, had children
whose ages did not meet our selection criteria, or who elected to not include their
children in the project. N=62.
NS-C This group included community women without a history of domestic violence
who agreed to report on one of their children (community children were not
interviewed due to the potentially disturbing nature of some of the assessment
questions). N=30.
NS-NC This group included community women without a history of domestic violence.
None of these women had children. N=30.
Since the Ns varied between groups, when sample characteristics or results are reported, they
will be reported as percentages. This also facilitates reporting in cases where one or two
respondents either failed to complete an item in the assessment or did not provide a scorable
response.
The age range of participants was 17 to 57 years with the following breakout for groups' mean
age: S-C 34.05 yrs; S-NC 30.23 yrs; NS-C 40.33 yrs; NS-NC 25.67 yrs. Although the mean
age of the S-C group was lower than the NS-C group and higher for the S-NC than NS-NC

group, the overall mean age of the shelter women (31.7 yrs) was comparable to that of the
community women (33 yrs.).
Reported marital status for the entire sample was: married - 64%, divorced - 9.9%, single 24.8%, and widowed -1.2%. There was greater diversity of marital status in the shelter samples
with more women falling into the divorced, single, and widowed categories.
Ethnic status was also more varied in the shelter samples but closely matched demographics
from a state-wide study of women who had been battered (Thompson, 1994). For the S-C
group, 71.8% were European American, 17.9% Hispanic, 2.6% Native American, 5.1 %
African American, and 2.6% "other" (e.g., mixed, Samoan). The corresponding figures for the
S-NC group were 66.1%, 9.7%, 9.7%, 9.7%, and 4.8%. The community samples were
overwhelmingly European American but the NS-C group included 6.7% Native Americans.
The number of years of education women reported for themselves and their partners was
lower, by two or three years, for shelter than community group women. The mean years of
partners' education for the S-C, S-NC, NS-C, and NS-NC groups were 11.83, 11.80, 15.5, and
14.4, respectively. Corresponding figures for women were 12.61, 12, 14.57, and 15,
respectively.
We used information about education and type of employment in computing Hollingshead
ratings of social status. In general, the shelter group scored lower than the community group
on this index. However, the results varied depending on whether both a woman and her partner
were employed, only the woman was employed, or only the partner was employed. The group
scores fell primarily in the semiskilled worker to minor professional / technical worker
categories. Specific Hollingshead scores are listed in the Appendix and will be reported when
this research is prepared for submission to an academic journal.

Assessments
Shelter women and children were interviewed by shelter staff once the initial crisis of entering
the shelter had subsided. Community women were interviewed by a psychology graduate
assistant. Women were informed about the nature of the project, the type of assessments,
methods for insuring the confidentiality of data, and the payment they would receive. Informed
consent forms and payment receipts were kept at the shelters to maintain the confidentiality of
shelter participants. Community participant forms and receipts were kept in locked university
files.
The primary assessments were the 30-item Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS)/Pet
Maltreatment Survey (Ascione & Weber, 1996 revised) and a similar Families and Pets Survey
(PAPS; Ascione & Weber, 1996) for use with community women, the 17-item Children's
Observation and Experience with Their Pets (COEP) Survey (Ascione & Weber, 1995) used
only with the S-C group, and the 19-item Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS; Straus, 1993) used with
all adult participants. Copies of these instruments are included in the Appendix. In addition, SC and NS-C women completed the 113-item Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach, 1991) on
"the child who has the most contact (positive or negative) with pets" in their families. The
content of these instruments will be elaborated in the Results section of this report.
Completed assessments were transformed into computer-ready data using a 24-page
codebook. In addition, open-ended comments and other qualitative information were
transcribed and used for descriptive purposes (e.g., other pet-related issues women chose to
share with the interviewers).

RESULTS

Information about demographics, history of pet ownership, pet care, and violence toward pets
was assessed with the BPSS and the PAPS.

Pet Ownership
We found that virtually all the women had pets in the past 12 months (SC 92.1%; S-NC
90.3%; NS-C 96.6%; NS-NC 100%), but shelter women were less likely to currently own a
pet (S-C 64.1%; S-NC 70.5%; NS-C 90%; NS-NC 83.3%). When women were asked about
the number of pets they had over the past five years, the mean number of pets was generally
higher for the two shelter groups (S-C 9.19 pets; S-NC 6.15; NS-C 5.6; NS-NC 5.4)
suggesting a higher rate of pet "turnover" in the shelter groups. If one deletes the highest
outlier figure for number of pets owned in a five-year period, the ranges for the four groups
differ remarkably: S-C 1-40 pets; S-NC 1-30; NS-C 1-16; NS-NC 1-13.

Pet Care
Reports of veterinary care for pets also differed for the shelter and community groups. Pets
were reported to receive regular veterinary care by 55.4% of the shelter women, but by 85% of
the community women. Emergency veterinary care was reported by 31.7% of shelter and
48.3% of community women. Pets were reported to have received their vaccinations by 73%
of shelter and 93.1 % of community women. These data suggest generally lower levels of
veterinary care for pets in families where there is domestic violence.
When asked whether their partners (e.g., husbands, boyfriends) helped to care for pets in their
homes, shelter women were less likely to respond positively. The percentage "Yes" responses
to this question for the four groups were: S-C 51.3%; S-NC 69.4%; NS-C 86.7%; NS-NC
86.7%.
A number of items asked about the variety of care for pets provided by partners. When asked if
the only care their partner provided was to feed pets, "Yes" responses were as follows: S-C
50%; S-NC 46.7%; NS-C 11.5%; NS-NC 3.8%. Partners of community women were clearly
more involved in a variety of pet-related activities beyond feeding, including walking,
grooming, and playing with pets. Partners' caring for pets by taking them to the veterinarian
was also more common in the community samples: S-C 0%; S-NC 4.4%; NS-C 15.4%; NSNC 19.2%.

Threats Toward Pets


When women were asked whether their partners had ever threatened to hurt their pets, more
shelter women (52%) than community women (16.7%) responded affirmatively. The percent
responding "Yes" for each group was: S-C 52.6%; S-NC 51.7%; NS-C 20%; NS-NC 13.3%.
Although there was a difference between groups in the presence of threats, differences in the
severity of threats (the majority were threats to seriously abuse or kill a pet) and their
frequency was comparable across groups (e.g., 50 to 55% of women in each group who had
reported threats indicated that threats were repeated "multiple times").
Women who had mentioned threats were asked to report their judgments about what the
threats were related to. Shelter women were less likely to say that threats were related to the
pets' actions or behaviors (S-C 15.8% and S-NC 25%) than community women (NS-C 83.3%
and NS-NC 50%). None of the community women indicated that threats were related to their
partners' attempts at coercion; however, 21.1% of S-C and 15.6% of S-NC women reported
that this was the case.

Actual Harm to or Killing of Pets

Here again, there was a substantial difference between the reports of shelter and community
women. When asked if their partners had ever actually hurt or killed one of their pets, 69.2%
of S-C, 44.3% of S-NC, 7.1% of NS-C, and 0% of NS-NC group women said "Yes."
Regardless of group membership, some women indicated that pets had been hit or kicked, or
had been shot. The more horrific instances seemed to be restricted to the reports of shelter
women who reported the following examples (among many others): pet was drowned, pet was
nailed to the woman's bedroom door, pet was given alcohol and poison, pet's entire fur coat
was shaved during the winter, and pet was thrown out of a moving car. Most of the incidents
involved cats or dogs, but in the shelter groups, birds, gerbils, and rabbits were also mentioned
as victims of abuse or killing. Although community women indicated that actual harm or killing
only occurred once, 70% of S-C and 52.6% of S-NC group women indicated such incidents
occurred "multiple times." Of the women reporting, 83.3% of S-C and 88.9% of S-NC groups
noted that they were "very close" to the pet that was harmed.
Although community women cited the pet's biting or "discipline" as the reason pets were
harmed, most of the shelter women (70.4% for S-C and 60.7% for S-NC) could not give a
reason why pet abuse occurred. Those in the shelter groups who did provide a reason often
mentioned either the animal's behavior, the partner's attempt at coercion, or both.
Four of the shelter group women and two community group women indicated that they
themselves had hurt a pet. Except for one NS-NC group woman who said she once killed an
animal ("At a time in my life when I was sick"), the other women described the incidents as
accidents, mainly involving vehicles.

Women's Ratings of Their Emotional Responses


When asked to rate how they felt after their pets were threatened, shelter women were more
likely to respond that they felt "numb" or "terrible" (90% for S-C and 87.6% for S-NC) than
community women (33.3% for NS-C and 75% for NS-NC). Similar ratings were provided
when women were asked about their feelings when a pet was actually hurt or killed (percent
responding that they were "numb" or felt "terrible"S-C 85.7%; S-NC 92.8%; NS-C 50%;
NS-NC no instances of abuse/killing were reported).
Although none of the community women said that they were relieved that their pet had been
threatened instead of themselves, 5% of S-C and 15.6% of S-NC women said they were
relieved. Similarly, none of the community (NS-C) women said they were relieved that their pet
had been hurt instead of themselves, but 10.7% of S-C and 3.4% of S-NC women said they
were relieved.

Concern For Pet Welfare


Only shelter women were asked the following question: "Did concern for your pet keep you
from coming in to the shelter sooner?" Nearly one in four shelter women (23.1% for S-C and
22.6% for S-NC) responded "Yes" to this item. We also examined responses to this question in
relation to whether or not women had reported threats or harm to pets and found even higher
percentages. For the S-C group, if pets had been threatened or if they had been hurt, 35% and
25.9%, respectively, of the women said they had delayed entering the shelter. The figures for SNC women were 25.8% and 29.6%.
Women were also asked whether their partners' willingness to use violence toward the women,
their children, and their pets had changed during the time they were with their partners. For SC women, 59% and for S-NC women, 69.4% indicated that their partners' violence toward

them and their children had increased. Increases in willingness to use violence toward pets was
reported by 30.8% of S-C and 29% of S-NC women.
The next section describes results from women's reports on their children's behavior with pets.
Recall that S-C and NS-C groups were asked to select a child who had the most contact
(positive or negative) with pets (herein referred to as "target children"). Shelter women (both
SC and S-NC) were also asked to report on children who were not targeted for additional
assessment in this research or, for the S-NC group, children women did not want included in
the study. Also, recall that none of the women in the NS-NC group had any children.

Children's Caring For Pets


The overwhelming majority of target children were reported to take care of pets (94.9% for SC and 96.7% for NS-C). Caring for pets was somewhat lower for non-target children in the
shelter groups (87.9% for S-C and 78.9% for S-NC). These data and data to be reported
below suggest that S-C women may have selected target children who had better relations with
pets than other children in the family.

Children's Observation of Pet Abuse


When asked whether their target children had ever observed pet abuse in their homes, 61.5%
of S-C mothers in contrast with 3.3% of NS-C mothers responded "Yes." For non-target
children, 51.5% of S-C and 34.2% of S-NC were reported to have witnessed pet abuse.

Children's Abuse of Pets


When asked whether target children had ever hurt a family pet, 10.5% of S-C and 20% of NSC women said that they had. Most of the NS-C mothers (60%) rated the severity of the harm
done as "minor teasing;" most of the S-C mothers (66.7%) rated the severity as "caused painful
discomfort" or "killed." Examples included restraining a pet, breaking a pet's leg, and
suffocating a pet.
When asked about non-target children's abuse of pets, 27.3% of S-C and 34.2% of S-NC
mothers indicated that these other children had hurt pets. These data, along with data cited
earlier, suggest that S-C mothers may have selected target children who had fewer problems in
their relations with family pets.

Children's Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) Scores


Maternal reports on children's behavior problems using the CBCL indicated higher Total
Behavior Problems, Internalizing (e.g., anxiety-related items), and Externalizing (e.g.,
aggressive, acting out items) Scores for the S-C than the NS-C group (mean scores for these
three scales were 61.9 vs 52.3, 62.1 vs 52.4, and 59.7 vs 51.4 for the S-C and NS-C groups,
respectively).
We also examined the percentage of children in the S-C and NS-C groups whose CBCL scores
fell into the clinically significant range for behavior problems. The data for the Total Behavior
Problems, Internalizing, and Externalizing Scores, respectively, were: S-C 38.5%, 48.7%, and
38.5%; NS-C 13.3%, 13.3%, and 10%. Thus, more shelter children's CBCL scores fell into the
clinical range on this assessment.
The next section of the results reports on S-C group target children's own responses to the
interview using the COEP. Thirty-nine children were interviewed whose ages ranged from 5 to
18 years (the mean age was 9.9 years). Forty-three point six percent were girls and the children

reported either no siblings or up to seven siblings. Current pet ownership was acknowledged
by 52.6% of the children and pet ownership in the past 12 months by 92.3% of children, which
corresponds well with maternal reports.

Observation of Pets Being Threatened or Hurt


Children were asked if anyone had ever said they would hurt or kill one of their pets, and 40%
of the children acknowledged hearing such threats. The severity of the threats included ratings
of serious abuse, torture, or killing for 78.5% of these children. When asked whether they had
ever seen or heard their pets being hurt, 66.7% of the children said "Yes." they described
witnessing poisoning, strangling, leaving a pet out in the cold, and the shooting of a pet.
With regard to the severity of the observed pet abuse, 11.5% of the children described it as
"annoying or frightening" the pet, but 88.5% said the abuse entailed pain, discomfort,
torturing, or killing the pet. Although 28.6% of the children could not identify who had hurt
their pets, 46.4% identified either their fathers, their stepfathers, or their mothers' boyfriends as
the perpetrator of the abuse. When asked, "How did you feel after the pet was hurt?" 92.6% of
the children said they were either sort of upset (33.3%) or very upset (59.3%).

Children Hurting Pets


When asked if they had ever hurt a pet, 13.2% of the children said that they had and then
described incidents of throwing, hitting, or stepping on a pet. Of these five children, three
indicated that the severity of harm involved annoying or frightening a pet; the other two
children said that the pet had been killed. When asked about animals other than pets that they
had hurt or killed, 7.9% of the children admitted to such acts.

Children Caring For Pets


Children were asked if they had ever taken care of a pet, and 92.1 % said that they had (which
corresponds to maternal reports). All of the children said that they had a favorite pet with 79%
mentioning dogs and/or cats; birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and reptiles were also mentioned as
favorites by the remaining children.
We also asked children if they had ever protected a pet and 51.4% said they had. The
interventions that children described were varied and included keeping the pet in their room
(5.9%), moving the pet to a different location, presumably in their home (47.1%), and blocking
the animal from a perpetrator's assault (29.4%).
The final question asked of children was how they would like to see pets treated in their
homes. Over two-thirds (67.6%) of the children said they would like to see pets treated "better
than they are now treated."
The final component of this results section describes data we derived from the Conflict Tactics
Scale (CTS). The CTS is a widely used measure of family violence and we incorporated it in
this study to verify that the shelter groups' experience of domestic violence was different from
the community groups'. We also wanted to examine the relation between CTS scores and pet
abuse.

Measure of Family Violence


The CTS is a 8-item rating scale introduced with the following question: "When you and your
partner have a problem, what sort of things have you done to solve it?" All women in the study
completed the CTS twice, first rating their own tactics and then rating their partners' tactics.

The items range from VERBAL TECHNIQUES (e.g., "discussed an issue calmly"), VERBAL
AGGRESSION (e.g., insults, swearing), MINOR PHYSICAL AGGRESSION (e.g., pushing,
grabbing, shoving), to SEVERE PHYSICAL AGGRESSION (e.g., burned, scalded, used a
knife, fired a gun). These four subscales yield different levels of mean scores since the number
of items in each subscale differ and some subscales, for example Severe Physical Aggression,
use a weighting procedure. Each item is scored as to the tactic's presence and its frequency of
use. Except for the Verbal Techniques subscale, higher scores reflect higher levels of
problematic verbal or physical aggression.
The following table lists the mean CTS subscale scores for women's self-ratings and ratings on
their partners for each of the four groups.
S-C S-NC NS-C NS-NC

Verbal Techniques
Women's reports on self
31.4 26.6 23.6 27.9
Women's reports on partners 12.2 12.2 23.1 21.8

Verbal Aggression
Women's reports on self
78.7 78.9 21.8 23.6
Women's reports on partners 102.1 100.1 15.8 18.5

Minor Physical Aggression


Women's reports on self
10.6 11.1 .5
Women's reports on partners 35.6 34.1 .5

.5
1.3

Severe Physical Aggression


Women's reports on self
6.6 8.1 .13
Women's reports on partners 148.7 142.7 .2

.1
.83

These data suggest that shelter women and community women were similar in their use of
Verbal Techniques during problem solving, but that partners of shelter women used these
techniques at a lower rate. The remainder of the table verifies that the shelter groups scored
higher on Verbal Aggression, Minor Physical Aggression, and Severe Physical Aggression than
the community groups. This was true for both the women's self ratings and their ratings of their
partners. The reported levels of minor and severe physical aggression in the homes of shelter
women are in sharp contrast with the levels in the homes of community women, supporting the
effectiveness of our selection procedures for securing samples of women with and without
violence in their homes. The most severe tactics (beating, burning, using a gun) were virtually
absent in the non-shelter comparison groups.
We examined Severe Physical Violence subscale scores for women's partners in relation to the
presence or absence of threats to or actual harm and killing of pets. For both shelter groups (SC and S-NC), we found the highest scores on partners' Severe Physical Violence in cases
where these men had either threatened pets or had threatened and actually hurt or killed a pet.
We also correlated the severity of threats to pets and the severity of actual harm to pets with
CTS subscale scores. For S-C women's self ratings on the CTS, we found the following
significant correlations (there were no significant correlations in the S-NC, NS-C, and NS-NC
groups):
Verbal Techniques
Verbal Aggression
Minor Physical Aggression
Severe Physical Aggression

Threat Severity
not significant
-.52 (p=.03)
-.41 (p=.09)
-.71 (p=.002)

Severity of Harm
not significant
-.50 (p=.02)
-.57 (p=.004)
-.45 (p=.03)

These correlations suggest that lower levels of aggression performed by S-C women were
associated with higher levels of threat and harm severity toward pets by partners.
A similar analysis for women's CTS reports on their partners yielded significant correlations
only for the NS-C group and only for threat severity (harming was too infrequent for analysis):
Threat Severity
Verbal Techniques
not significant
Verbal Aggression
-.85 (p=.03)
Minor Physical Aggression -.75 (p=.09)
Severe Physical Aggression not significant
These data suggest that, in the community sample with children, a partner's lower use of verbal
and minor physical aggression was associated with more severe threats toward pets. These
results suggest the existence of different dynamics in the relation between partner violence and
pet abuse for the shelter and community groups.
Finally, women were asked, "Are there any other pet or animal-related issues you'd like to
discuss?" The shelter women invariably mentioned a litany of pet abuse including a partner
prompting a dog fight, trying to hit a pet with a car, forcing his wife to have sex with a dog,
threatening to drop an animal from the fourth floor of a building, and starving an animal to
death. The community women, in contrast, mentioned positive features of pet ownership,
including the role of pets in relieving stress, grief over a lost pet, a pet's role in helping a child
overcome her fear of animals, and the calming effect of riding a horse.

IMPLICATIONS
The results of this study replicate and extend the results of an earlier study (Ascione, 1997) of
38 women who were battered and their reports of their partners' and children's maltreatment of
pets. In the earlier study, 71% of the women with pets reported that their partner had either
threatened or had actually hurt or killed one of their pets, and actual pet abuse was reported by
57% of the women. In the present study, 70.3 % of women in the shelter group reported either
threats to or actual harm of pets with 54% reporting actual harm. Threats to pets were
reported by 16.7% of non-shelter women and only 3.5% of these women reported actual harm
of pets, a sharp contrast to the shelter group data. The advantages of the current study include
the larger sample of shelter women (101 vs. 38), the inclusion of women from five different
shelters instead of only one, and a comparison group of community women who did not report
backgrounds of domestic violence. We now have more evidence that the results of the earlier
study were not idiosyncratic and that families with domestic violence may experience
significant levels of threats to and abuse of their pets.
Our incorporation of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) in this study also serves to tie this
research to the broader literature on family violence. We found that partners' use of extreme
physical aggression toward their wives or female companions in the shelter sample was
associated with the presence or absence of threats and harm to pets. However, it should be
recalled that the severity of these threats and harm was inversely related, only in the shelter
sample with children, to women's own use of more aggressive conflict tactics. One possible
interpretation is that when women are themselves less violent, this may make a partner more
prone to threaten or harm pets in a more serious manner, at least in families where children are
present. Conversely, women who are more violent may have partners who are less prone to
seriously threaten or hurt pets. For the community sample with children, we found that severity
of threats (but not harm since the N was too small) was inversely related to partners' use of
verbal and minor physical aggression (but not related to severe physical aggression). Thus, in

generally nonviolent homes with children, partners' greater use of verbal and minor physical
aggression is related to less severe threats toward pets. These potentially different dynamics, in
the shelter and community samples, between CTS scores and threat/harm severity deserve
further research attention.
Shelter women's emotional responses to their pets' victimization has not been explored in
previous research. The intensely negative emotional responses these women had to threats to
or harm of their pets suggests this is another form of trauma with which these women must
cope. Both the women and their children acknowledged that young people in these families had
witnessed pet abuse and the shelter children's emotional reactions to pets being hurt were also
negative. One can speculate that the abuse of pets (and seeing how this affects their children)
may prompt some women to decide to leave their violent partner yet, in a substantial minority
of cases, women in our shelter sample said that concern for their pets' welfare actually delayed
their leaving the home environment to seek shelter. This finding reinforces the importance of
programs that provide women who are battered with a method of placing their pets in a safe
haven when women decide to seek shelter. Other considerations for such programs are the
generally lower level of veterinary care we found in our shelter sample (e.g., fewer animals
having their vaccinations) and the apparently higher rate of pet "turnover" in these families as
suggested by the number of pets owned in the past five years.
To further extend the findings from earlier research (Ascione, 1997), we documented higher
rates and more severe levels of animal abuse by the children of shelter women. Although only
one in ten of the S-C group women identified a target child as abusive of pets, 27.3% of S-C
and 34.2% of S-NC women identified other children in their families who had abused pets (the
rate found in Ascione [1997] was 32%). These rates of child-perpetrated cruelty to animals are
comparable to other studies of psychologically compromised children. The fact that more
shelter than community group children scored in the clinical range on the checklist of child
behavior problems also suggests that the symptoms of these children's psychological
disturbance are not limited to animal abuse. Exposure to domestic violence is clearly a risk
factor for children and it might be useful to consider exposure to pet abuse as a further
compounding of risk.
And yet, despite the less than optimal rearing environments experienced by shelter group
children, the vast majority of these children also provided care for pets and over half of the
children reported that they had protected their pets from harm, often through active
intervention that could have been dangerous to the children themselves. We know that children
will sometimes try to intervene in altercations between their parents - we now know that they
may also intervene to rescue their pets from harm. Future research should attend to the
admixture of caring and cruelty present in children reared in violent homes. A better
understanding of the factors that lead some children to vent their pain on those less vulnerable
than themselves (for example, younger siblings or pets) and other children to cope with their
pain by becoming more nurturing could inform prevention and intervention efforts. Given the
discouraging national statistics on domestic violence, it is clear that many children and their
pets would benefit from the application of this knowledge and understanding.

LIMITATIONS
Although the samples of women we recruited for this study were comparable in age and in
their volunteer status, we were discouraged by our failure to match the shelter and community
samples more closely on demographic variables such as education and social status, ethnic
diversity, and marital status. The unanticipated difficulty in recruiting and testing shelter women
within our original time frame required us to begin testing community women before the
demographics of the shelter sample became available. To address this limitation, we were

fortunate to receive supplementary funding from Utah State University's Vice President for
Research and will attempt to recruit additional samples of community women who do match
the demographics we now have available. If we are successful, we will forward the results for
these women to the Dodge Foundation as an addendum to the project report. It should be
noted, however, that the demographics of our shelter sample did correspond well to the
demographics of a state-wide population of spouse abuse victims studied in Utah (Thompson,
1994).
Future research should also include direct assessment (through interviews and use of the Child
Behavior Checklist) of children from homes without domestic violence. We are currently
examining the ethical issues involved in such research (since children would be asked about
potentially disturbing incidents). We are doing this, in part, by becoming more familiar with the
ethics of research on children's reports of community violence.
A final area of inquiry that should be noted is the need to interview domestic violence
perpetrators about animal maltreatment. Partners may differ in their perceptions about the
significance of cruelty to animals, especially its effects on children who witness it. Addressing
animal abuse might also be a critical component of intervention programs for those who direct
their violence toward intimate partners, their children, and their pets.

FUTURE PLANS
One of our primary goals is to prepare a report of this research suitable for submission to a
scholarly journal in the area of interpersonal violence. We continue to review existing and
newly published research in this area and monographs that deal with childhood and adolescent
psychopathology. We are subjecting the data to appropriate statistical analyses and, once these
are completed, will prepare a manuscript for submission to a journal. We will forward the
Dodge Foundation a draft version of this document.
We will also prepare graphic representations of some of the results of this study for use in
national presentations to animal welfare, child welfare, and domestic violence prevention
programs. These will include a presentation in October at Michigan's annual state-wide
conference for domestic violence specialists and submission for a proposed workshop at the
12th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998.
The sponsorship of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation will be acknowledged in each of these
efforts at dissemination.

BUDGET
The attached listing of budget expenditures, provided by the Department of Psychology's
administrative assistant, includes buyouts for the principal investigator and research assistants
(Weber and Thompson). "Participants" refers to the women and children included in the
samples and payments listed for Ctr. For Women - Provo, YCC of Ogden, Brigham YWCA,
YWCA (Salt Lake City), and CAPSA (Logan) refer to the five cooperating shelters for women
who are battered.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I thank Claudia Weber for her coordination and training efforts, often challenging to say the
least, Teresa Thompson for her sensitive and professional assessment work, David Wood for
his collaboration, and the directors and staff at each of the five shelters, without whose
cooperation, there would have been little on which to report. Karen Ranson responded to the

many phone inquiries we had about this project and facilitated the preparation of printed
materials. Her professional secretarial contributions were invaluable.
A final and heartfelt thanks to the women and children who allowed us glimpses into their lives,
their fears, their distresses, and their hopes to reside in landscapes of peace.
Are battered women in domestic violence shelters forced to chose between their personal
safety and that of the pets they left behind when they fled? What policies and procedures do
enlightened shelters employ to deal with the issue of pet abuse by batterers as a means of
manipulation? What assistance can be provided? What are the psychological ramifications of
pet abuse in a domestic violence context? Dr. Frank Ascione provides the answers in Safe
Havens for Pets: Guidelines for Programs Sheltering Pets for Women Who Are Battered. This
vital work is available FREE thanks to funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Click here for all the details. This book is must reading for every domestic violence worker,
advocate, student, and supporter.
You can get more information on this subject from our Resources section Animal Abuse and
Domestic Violence.

REFERENCES
Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Child Behavior Checklist for Ages 4-8. University of Vermont, Burlington.
Ascione, F. R. (1997). Battered women's reports of their partners' and their children's cruelty to animals.
Journal of Emotional Abuse.
Ascione, F. R., & Weber, C. (1995). Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS!/Pet Maltreatment Survey. Logan:
Department of Psychology, Utah State University.
Ascione, F. R., & Weber, C. (1995). Battered Partner Shelter Survey (BPSS!/Pet Maltreatment Survey
(Mother/child version!. Logan: Department of Psychology, Utah State University.
Ascione, F. R., & Weber, C. (1995). Children's Observation and Experience with Their Pets (COEP!. Logan:
Department of Psychology, Utah State University.
Ascione, F. R., & Weber, C. (1996). Families and Pets Survey 1996. Logan: Department of Psychology, Utah
State University.
Straus, M. A. (1993). Conflict Tactics Scales forms. Durham: Family Research Laboratory, University of New
Hampshire.
Thompson, K. D. (1994). Officially reported characteristics of spouse abuse victims seeking assistance in Utah.
1992. Unpublished master's thesis, Utah State University, Logan.

Andrew Vachss and The Zero would like to congratulate Frank R. Ascione, Ph.D., on his receipt of the 2001
Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations
and the International Society for Anthrozoology. We have been honored to feature Dr. Ascione's work
regarding the links between personal violence and animal cruelty on the website, and add our respect to that
of the Society's.

Animal Abuse And Human Abuse: Partners In Crime


A reprint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Violent acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a violent
psychopathology that does not confine itself to animals. "Anyone who has accustomed himself

to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives," wrote humanitarian Albert Schweitzer. "Murderers...very often start
out by killing and torturing animals as kids," according to Robert K. Resler, who developed
profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Studies have now
convinced sociologists, lawmakers, and the courts that acts of cruelty toward animals deserve
our attention. They can be the first sign of a violent pathology that includes humans.
A Long Road of Violence Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the
abuser, but a symptom of a deep disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows
that people who commit acts of cruelty against animals don't stop there; many of them move
on to their fellow humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears
in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and
treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic
criterion for conduct disorders.(1)
Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused
animals as children than criminals considered non-aggressive.(2) A survey of psychiatric
patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them had high levels of
aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a boy.(3) To
researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the lives of serial rapists and
killers.(4)

Notorious Killers
History is replete with notorious examples: Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post
office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to
attack and mutilate them.(5) Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-yearold boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs'
rectums and strung up cats.(6) Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing
two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting
their tails on fire.(7) Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler" who killed 13 women, trapped
dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth.(8) Carroll
Edward Cole, executed for five of 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of
violence as a child was to strangle a puppy.(9) In 1987, three Missouri high school students
were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of
animal mutilation starting several years earlier. One confessed he had killed so many cats he'd
lost count.(10) Two brothers who murdered their parents had previously told classmates they
had decapitated a cat.(11) Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs' heads, frogs, and cats
on sticks.(12)
Sadly, many of these criminals' childhood violence went unexamineduntil it was directed
toward humans. As anthropologist Margaret Mead noted, "One of the most dangerous things
that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it."

Animal Cruelty and Family Violence


Because domestic abuse is directed toward the powerless, animal abuse and child abuse often
go hand in hand. Parents who neglect an animal's need for proper care or who abuse animals
may also abuse or neglect their children. Some abusive adults who know better than to abuse a
child in public have no such qualms about abusing an animal publicly.

In 88 percent of 57 New Jersey families being treated for child abuse, animals in the home had
been abused.(13) Of 23 British families with a history of animal neglect, 83 percent had been
identified by experts as having children at risk of abuse or neglect.(14)
While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isn't always the one harming
the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home; like their
parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the
only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal. One expert says,
"Children in violent homes are characterized by...frequently participating in pecking-order
battering," in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, domestic violence is the most
common background for childhood cruelty to animals.(15)

Stopping the Cycle of Abuse


There is "a consensus of belief among psychologists...that cruelty to animals is one of the best
examples of the continuity of psychological disturbances from childhood to adulthood. In
short, a case for the prognostic value of childhood animal cruelty has been well documented,"
according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.(16)
Schools, parents, communities, and courts who shrug off animal abuse as a "minor" crime are
ignoring a timebomb. Instead, communities should be aggressively penalizing animal abusers,
examining families for other signs of violence, and requiring intensive counseling for
perpetrators. Communities must recognize that abuse to ANY living individual is unacceptable
and endangers everyone.
Additionally, children should be taught to care for and respect animals in their own right. After
extensive study of the links between animal abuse and human abuse, two experts concluded,
"The evolution of a more gentle and benign relationship in human society might, thus, be
enhanced by our promotion of a more positive and nurturing ethic between children and
animals."(17)

What You Can Do:


Urge your local school and judicial systems to take cruelty to animals seriously. Laws must
send a strong message that violence against any feeling creaturehuman or other-than-human
is unacceptable.
Be aware of signs of neglect or abuse in children and animals. Take children seriously if they
report animals being neglected or mistreated. Some children won't talk about their own
suffering but will talk about an animal's.
Don't ignore even minor acts of cruelty to animals by children. Talk to the child and the child's
parents. If necessary, call a social worker.

References
1.Goleman, Daniel, "Child's Love of Cruelty May Hint at the Future Killer, "The New York
Times, Aug. 7, 1991.
2."Animal Abuse Forecast of Violence," New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jan. 1, 1987.
3.Felthous, Alan R., "Aggression Against Cats, Dogs, and People," Child Psychiatry and
Human Development, 1980, 10: 169-177.
4.Goleman.
5.International Association of Chiefs of Police, "The Training Key," #392, 1989.

6.The Animals' Voice, Fall 1990.


7.The Humane Society News, Summer 1986.
8.International Association of Chiefs of Police.
9.Ibid.
10.Ibid.
11.Adams, Lorraine, "Too Close for Comfort," The Washington Post, Apr. 4, 1995.
12.Goleman.
13.DeViney, Elizabeth, Jeffrey Dickert, and Randall Lockwood, "The Care of Pets Within
Child-Abusing Families,"
International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 1983, 4:321-329.
14."Child Abuse and Cruelty to Animals," Washington Humane Society.
15.Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Health Newsletter, Nov. 1994.
16.Ibid.
17.Kellert, Stephen R., Ph.D., and Alan R. Felthous, M.D., "Childhood Cruelty Toward
Animals Among Criminals and Noncriminals," Nov. 1983.

Animal Abuse & Human Abuse: Partners in


Crime
Violent acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous
psychopathy that does not confine itself to animals. Anyone who has accustomed himself to
regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives, wrote humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Murderers very often
start out by killing and torturing animals as kids, according to Robert K. Ressler, who
developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Studies have
now convinced sociologists, lawmakers, and the courts that acts of cruelty toward animals
deserve our attention. They can be the first sign of a violent pathology that includes human
victims.
A Long Road of Violence
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser, but a symptom of a
deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who
commit acts of cruelty against animals dont stop there; many of them move on to their fellow
humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear
in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and
treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic
criterion for conduct disorders. (1)
Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused
animals as children than criminals considered non-aggressive. (2) A survey of psychiatric
patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of
aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a boy. (3) To
researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the lives of serial rapists and
killers. (4)

Says Robert Ressler, founder of the FBIs behavioral sciences unit, These are the kids who
never learned its wrong to poke out a puppys eyes. (5)
Notorious Killers
History is replete with notorious examples: Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14 coworkers at a post
office and then shot himself, had a history of stealing local pets and allowing his own dog to
attack and mutilate them.(6) Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped, stabbed, and mutilated a 7-yearold boy, had been widely known in his neighborhood as the man who put firecrackers in dogs
rectums and strung up cats.(7) Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a San Diego school, killing
two children and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often by setting
their tails on fire.(8) Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler who killed 13 women, trapped
dogs and cats in orange crates and shot arrows through the boxes in his youth.(9) Carroll
Edward Cole, executed for five of the 35 murders of which he was accused, said his first act of
violence as a child was to strangle a puppy.(10) In 1987, three Missouri high school students
were charged with the beating death of a classmate. They had histories of repeated acts of
animal mutilation starting several years earlier. One confessed that he had killed so many cats
hed lost count. (11) Two brothers who murdered their parents had previously told classmates
that they had decapitated a cat.(12) Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer had impaled dogs heads,
frogs, and cats on sticks.(13)
More recently, high school killers such as 15-year-old Kip Kinkel in Springfield, Ore., and
Luke Woodham, 16, in Pearl, Miss., tortured animals before embarking on shooting sprees.(14)
Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed 12
classmates before turning their guns on themselves, bragged about mutilating animals to their
friends.(15)
There is a common theme to all of the shootings of recent years, says Dr. Harold S.
Koplewicz, director of the Child Study Center at New York University. You have a child who
has symptoms of aggression toward his peers, an interest in fire, cruelty to animals, social
isolation, and many warning signs that the school has ignored.(16)
Sadly, many of these criminals childhood violence went unexamineduntil it was directed
toward humans. As anthropologist Margaret Mead noted, One of the most dangerous things
that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.(17)
Animal Cruelty and Family Violence
Because domestic abuse is directed toward the powerless, animal abuse and child abuse often
go hand in hand. Parents who neglect an animals need for proper care or abuse animals may
also abuse or neglect their own children. Some abusive adults who know better than to abuse a
child in public have no such qualms about abusing an animal publicly.
In 88 percent of 57 New Jersey families being treated for child abuse, animals in the home had
been abused.(18) Of 23 British families with a history of animal neglect, 83 percent had been
identified by experts as having children at risk of abuse or neglect.(19) In one study of battered
women, 57 percent of those with pets said their partners had harmed or killed the animals. One
in four said that she stayed with the batterer because she feared leaving the pet behind.(20)
While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isnt always the one harming
the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home; like their
parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the
only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal. One expert says,
Children in violent homes are characterized by frequently participating in pecking-order

battering, in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, domestic violence is the most
common background for childhood cruelty to animals.(21)
Stopping the Cycle of Abuse
There is a consensus of belief among psychologists that cruelty to animals is one of the
best examples of the continuity of psychological disturbances from childhood to adulthood. In
short, a case for the prognostic value of childhood animal cruelty has been well documented,
according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.(22)
Schools, parents, communities, and courts who shrug off animal abuse as a minor crime are
ignoring a time bomb. Instead, communities should be aggressively penalizing animal abusers,
examining families for other signs of violence, and requiring intensive counseling for
perpetrators. Communities must recognize that abuse to ANY living individual is unacceptable
and endangers everyone.
In 1993, California became the first state to pass a law requiring animal control officers to
report child abuse. Voluntary abuse-reporting measures are also on the books in Ohio,
Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. Similar legislation has been introduced in Florida. Pet
abuse is a warning sign of abuse to the two-legged members of the family, says the bills
sponsor, Representative Steve Effman. We cant afford to ignore the connection any
longer.(23)
Additionally, children should be taught to care for and respect animals in their own right. After
extensive study of the links between animal abuse and human abuse, two experts concluded,
The evolution of a more gentle and benign relationship in human society might, thus, be
enhanced by our promotion of a more positive and nurturing ethic between children and
animals.(24)
What You Can Do:
Urge your local school and judicial systems to take cruelty to animals seriously. Laws must
send a strong message that violence against any feeling creaturehuman or other-than-human
is unacceptable.
Be aware of signs of neglect or abuse in children and animals. Take children seriously if they
report animals being neglected or mistreated. Some children wont talk about their own
suffering but will talk about an animals.
Dont ignore even minor acts of cruelty to animals by children. Talk to the child and the childs
parents. If necessary, call a social worker.
References
1. Daniel Goleman, Childs Love of Cruelty May Hint at the Future Killer, The New York
Times, 7 Aug. 1991.
2. Animal Abuse Forecast of Violence, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 1 Jan. 1987.
3. Alan R. Felthous, Aggression Against Cats, Dogs, and People, Child Psychiatry and
Human
Development, 10 (1980), 169-177.
4. Goleman.
5. Robert Ressler, quoted in Animal Cruelty May Be a Warning, Washington Times, 23 June
1998.
6. International Association of Chiefs of Police, The Training Key, No. 392, 1989.

7. The Animals Voice, Fall 1990.


8. The Humane Society News, Summer 1986.
9. International Association of Chiefs of Police.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Lorraine Adams, Too Close for Comfort, The Washington Post, 4 Apr. 1995.
13. Goleman.
14. Deborah Sharp, Animal Abuse Will Often Cross Species Lines, USA Today, 28 Apr.
2000.
15. Mitchell Zuckoff, Loners Drew Little Notice, Boston Globe, 22 Apr. 1999.
16. Ethan Bronner, Experts Urge Swift Action to Fight Depression and Aggression, The
New York Times, p. A21.
17. Margaret Mead, Ph.D, Cultural Factors in the Cause and Prevention of Pathological
Homicide, Bulletin in the Menninger Clinic, No. 28 (1964),
pp. 11-22.
18. Elizabeth DeViney, Jeffrey Dickert, and Randall Lockwood, The Care of Pets Within
Child-Abusing Families, International Journal for the Study of
Animal Problems, 4 (1983) 321-329.
19. Child Abuse and Cruelty to Animals, Washington Humane Society.
20. Sharp.
21. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Health Newsletter, Nov. 1994.
22. Ibid.
23. Sharp.
24. Stephen R. Kellert, Ph.D., and Alan R. Felthous, M.D., Childhood Cruelty Toward
Animals Among Criminals and Noncriminals, Archives of General Psychiatry, Nov. 1983.

The Animal Abuse-Human Violence


Connection
"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an
animal and get away with it." -Anthropologist Margaret Mead
Until the past 20 years, the connection between violence against animals and violence against
humans went unrecognized. Now a growing body of research has shown that people who
abuse animals rarely stop there.
Increasingly, child protection and social service agencies, mental health professionals, and
educators recognize that animal abuse is aggressive and antisocial behavior. It is also a reliable
predictor of violence against people after a young abuser grows up.
Children learn about abuse by being its victim. They often fail to develop empathy, and without
this key quality they cannot recognize their victims' pain. When they begin to "act out" their
abuse trauma, children first target animals. As adults, they find new victims among the most
vulnerable--children, partners, and the elderly.
Consider the following facts:

The FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people and considers
past animal abuse when profiling serial killers.

National and state studies have established that from 54 to 71 percent of women
seeking shelter from abuse reported that their partners had threatened, injured or killed
one or more family pets (Anicare Model workshop, Tacoma, 2004. Created in 1999,
the AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse treats people over 17 by bringing
abusers and animals together. A companion program treats children.)

In assessing youth at risk of becoming violent, the U.S. Department of Justice stresses
a history of animal abuse.

More than 80 percent of family members being treated for child abuse also had abused
animals. In two-thirds of these cases, an abusive parent had killed or injured a pet. In
one-third of the cases, a child victim continued the cycle of violence by abusing a pet.

A 1997 study by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and
Northeastern University found that 70 percent of animal abusers had committed at least one
other crime. Almost 40 percent had committed violent crimes against people.
The researchers also compared matched groups of abusers and non-abusers over a 20-year
period. They found the abusers were five times more likely to commit violent crimes than the
non-abusers.

Responding to and reporting animal abuse


Many adults, including teachers, camp counselors, family friends and parents have a bond of
trust with children. If you are a trusted adult, you may hear children talk about animal abuse
they have seen or even committed. When children reveal violence against animals, rely on the
trusting relationship to talk to them and learn more.
By getting as much information from the child as possible and reporting the suspected animal
cruelty, you can help break the cycle of violence in your community. You may also need to seek
guidance from other professionals or agencies if you learn of other kinds of abuse, such as
domestic violence. In cases where a report of animal abuse would put the complainant at risk,
contact a social services agency first. Animal control officers are also trained to look for signs
of other kinds of violence and are required to report what they've seen to social service
agencies.
Get tips on identifying and reporting animal cruelty and neglect.
At PAWS, we work to combat violence toward animals and people through our Humane
Education Program by nurturing the compassion in every child.

Information and resources


Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Their First Strike campaign offers investigative support, rewards, expert testimony, and
information on the animal-human cruelty connection to law enforcement and prosecutors in
high-profile animal cruelty cases. HSUS also conducts an annual study of animal cruelty cases.
Contact:
2100 L St NW, Washington D.C. 20037
202.452.1100, fax: 301.258.3081

The Latham Foundation


This organization offers "Breaking the Cycles of Violence: A Practical Guide," a 26-minute
video and 64-page training manual developed to help human service and animal care
professionals recognize, report, investigate, and treat their interrelated forms of family
violence.
Contact:
Latham Plaza Building, 1826 Clement Ave, Alameda, CA 95401
510.521.0920
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
A national non-profit of attorneys, law students, professors, and other legal professionals who
work to ensure enforcement of state and federal animal protection laws.
Contact:
Anti-Cruelty Division: 919 SW Taylor St, Fourth Floor, Portland, OR 97205-2542
503.231.1602
action@aldf.org
National Office: 127 Fourth St, Petaluma, CA 94952-3005
707.769.7771
info@aldf.org
American Humane Association
American Humane works to protect children and animals through public education, advocacy,
and training for animal control officers and humane professionals.
Contact:
63 Inverness Dr, East, Englewood, CO 80112-5117
866.242.1877
Animals and Society Institute
ASI is an independent research and educational organization that advances the status of
animals in public policy and promotes the study of human-animal relationships.
Contact:
2512 Carpenter Rd, Suite 201-A2 Ann Arbor, MI 48108-1188
734. 677.9240

Articles and books


"Animal Abuse and Youth Violence"
Juvenile Justice Bulletin. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Program. September,
2001. Frank R. Ascione.
"Another Weapon for Combating Family Violence: Prevention of Animal Abuse." Animal Law.
Volume 4, 1998, pp. 1-31.
Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for
Prevention and Intervention, Frank R. Ascione and Phil Arkow

Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application, Frank
R. Ascione, author and Randall Lockwood, editor
AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse, Animals and Society Institute

Human Abuse Linked to Cruelty to Animals

More Sharing Services

Violent acts toward animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that does
not confine itself to animal abuse. "Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living
creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives," wrote humanitarian
Dr. Albert Schweitzer. And according to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the
FBI, "Murderers very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids."
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuserit is a symptom of a deep
mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty
toward animals rarely stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer
records of serial rapists and murderers. The standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and
emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.
A study conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse

animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. The majority of inmates who are
scheduled to be executed for murder at California's San Quentin penitentiary "practiced" their crimes on
animals, according to the warden.

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Whenever an animal is abused, a chain reaction begins in our community. Not onl
innocent animal get injured, but the person who commits the offense often falls in
could ultimately result in violence against other people. Often, cruelty to animals
aspect of a social environment marked by violence.

Watch dogs speak out


themselves against dog
fighting.

Battle Against Dogfighting educates targeted communities about


why they should take dogfighting and animal abuse seriously to
protect our communities and children from violence. BAD
emphasize the compelling connection between violence towards
animals and violence toward people, and the importance of
reporting all animal abuse, including dogfighting, to law
enforcement.

People wh
animals ar
more likely
violent crim
huma

Animal abuse, like many other forms of abuse, is about power and control over a
victim. It is intolerable. By taking action against animal cruelty, we not only preve
suffering, but also uncover and perhaps prevent additional crimes. Understand the
animal abuse seriously. Hurting an animal hurts us all.

Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners in Crime

The link between animal abuse and more violent conduct has clearly been establis
dismembered remains of dogs and cats today could well be that of children tomor
often suffer alongside human dependents in neglectful homes. Such disregard for
recognize species lines and may turn into violence.

Violent acts against animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangero
psychopathy that does not confine itself to animals. Many studies in psychology, s
criminology during the last 25 years have demonstrated that violent offenders star
cruelty toward animals, and dont stop there; many of them move on to humans.

A study conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA foun


who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against hu
FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly
computer records of serial rapists and murderers. Other research has shown cons
of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, includi
abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse.

The Cruel Household: Animal Abuse and Family Violence

While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isnt always the
the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at hom
parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is d

only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal.

One expert says, Children in violent homes are characterized by ... frequently pa
pecking-order battering, in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, dom
is the most common background for childhood cruelty to animals.
Researchers have found that a batterers first target is often an
animal living in the home, the second a spouse or child. Often,
batterers are able to control their victims, such as a spouse, by
threatening, torturing, and/or killing the victims animal
companions. A 1997 survey found that out of the 50 largest
shelters for battered women in the United States, 85% of the
women and 63% of the children entering shelters discussed
incidents of pet abuse in their family.

The neglect
exploitation
promote vio
neighborh
fami

Three separate studies have documented that from 18% to 40% of women seekin
crisis center reported that concern for the welfare of their pet prevented them fro
shelter, in some cases for more than two months. If you need help, the Sheltering
Abuse Victims (SAAV) Program is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that pr
temporary, and confidential shelter for the pets of domestic abuse victims fleeing
www.saavprogram.org for more information.

Childhood Cruelty to Animals: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and


Saving our Children from Repeated Patterns of Violence

In 2001, HSUS published a national study of high-profile animal cruelty cases in


study found that 92% of intentional animal cruelty cases were committed by male
those cases were committed by people under the age of 18.

Many animal abusers have a history of other antisocial or criminal activities, inclu
vandalism, assault, and arson, and many are the victims of physical or sexual abus
cruelty is often associated with children who do poorly in school and have low se
few friends.

Animal cruelty, like any other form of violence, is often committed by a person w
powerless, unnoticed, and under the control of others. The motive may be to sho
intimidate, or offend others or to demonstrate rejection of societys rules. Some w
to animals copy things they have seen or that have been done to them. Others see
animal as a safe way to get revenge on someone who cares about that animal.

Animal Cruelty: Gateway to Violent Crime?


Jun 11, 2012
Military.com
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The recent arrest of Interpol fugitive Luka Magnotta served as a rude reminder that animal
cruelty is not a crime to be taken lightly. Magnotta was arrested in Germany for murdering,
mutilating and cannibalizing a young man in Montreal, Canada. Magnotta recorded video of
the murder, then posted it on the Internet.
For two years prior, animal activists had been searching for a young man who had posted
videos of himself online, torturing and killing cats. Montreal law enforcement has since
identified the animal abuser as Magnotta.
The Link between Animal Cruelty and Violent Crime
Analyses by sociologists, psychologists and criminologists during the past 25 years show that
perpetrators of animal cruelty frequently do not stop with animal victims. Many will move on
to commit acts of violence against humans. A 1997 study by Northeastern University and the
Massachusetts SPCA reported that nearly 40% of animal abusers had committed violent crimes
against people.
A FBI survey of convicted serial killers found that most serial killers tortured or killed animals
as children or teens, before moving on to human victims. Among them were Jeffrey Dahmer,
who had impaled dogs' heads, frogs and cats on sticks as a teen, as well as Columbine High
School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who bragged about mutilating animals to their
friends, before shooting and killing 12 classmates and taking their own lives.
Studies also show a strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. National
surveys have found that among battered women who owned companion pets, as many as 71%
reported that their male partners had threatened to harm their pets, or had in fact injured or
killed their pets. Survey results also show a detrimental effect on children who witness animal
abuse in their families: among the same group of battered women, 32% reported that one of
their own children had also engaged in animal cruelty.

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that nearly 1 million animals a year are
abused or killed in connection with domestic violence. Acknowledging the significance and
severity of this problem, 22 states have passed laws empowering courts to specifically include
pets in domestic violence protection orders.
Felony Animal Cruelty
Today all 50 states have enacted laws prohibiting animal cruelty. The statutes criminalize two
types of actions: (1) intentional acts, such as killing, torturing, or deliberately injuring an
animal; and (2) the failure to act, as in the failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter, or in
some states, reasonable veterinary care, for an animal.
Recognizing that animal abusers are likely to commit acts of violence against humans as well,
state legislatures are strengthening animal protection laws. Before 1986, only 4 states had
felony animal anti-cruelty laws. Today, all but 3 states have enacted felony animal cruelty
provisions. (The three states currently with no felony provisions are Idaho, North Dakota and
South Dakota.) Of the 47 states with felony provisions, 43 allow first-time offenders to be
charged with a felony in cases of intentional and aggravated cruelty. Many states have enacted
felony provisions for repeat offenses, even if the first offense was only a misdemeanor.
Saving Animals, Saving Ourselves
Repeat offenses by animal abusers are not uncommon. Recidivism among animal hoarders is
estimated to be 100%. Once the initial case is resolved, the hoarder will set up shop again in a
different -- or even the same -- jurisdiction in which their first case was prosecuted.
To prevent recurrences of animal abuse, animal welfare advocates nationwide are rallying state
and local legislators to establish animal abuser registries. The proposed registries are patterned
after the child molester registries established by Megan's Law. With the the names and
locations of convicted animal abusers made public, animal shelters, rescues, breeders, pet
shops, groomers and veterinarians could help ensure that no additional animals are placed into
the hands of convicted abusers.
Suffolk County in New York was the first jurisdiction to establish an animal abuser registry
requirement in 2010. Today, 25 states, including New York and California, are considering
legislation to establish animal abuser registries.

The registries may help save more than just animals' lives."We know there is a very strong
correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence," says Jon Cooper, the sponsor of the
Suffolk County animal abuser registry bill. "Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing
animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people."
***

About Pets for Patriots


Pets for Patriots, Inc., is a registered 501(c)(3) charity that helps service and veteran members
of the United States military honorably adopt adult and at-risk shelter pets. Its mission is to
consistently give the gifts of fidelity, joy and companionship to both pet and person. Pets for
Patriots is one of the only organizations in the country dedicated to both homeless pets and
military personnel at any stage of their careers and from all armed forces. The charity is a
proud member of the Army AW2 Wounded Warrior Program national community support
network, a national partner of the Real Warriors Campaign and is listed by the National
Resource Directory for ill and wounded veterans. Visit Pets for Patriots online today and Be A
Pet's Hero
2012 Pets for Patriots, Inc. All rights reserved.
Copyright 2012 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cruel to animals one day, serial killer the next


Paw justice stands for their beliefs that offenders should receive hasher penalty fines, longer
prison sentences for inhumane acts and be placed on watch lists.
Statistics show that people who commit violent acts against animals go on to re-offend
against people and commit violent crimes including rape & murder.
Taffy Hotene went from strangling kittens to killing Kylie Jones in August 2000. New Zealand
born Taffy started out strangling kittens, moving on to theft, aggravated robbery, rape and
finally murder.
Our mission is to stop this from happening any further. Not only for the safeties of other
peoples pets, but also for the safety of people within the community.
Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Andrew Cunanan, David 'Son of Sam' Berkowitz, and Albert
'Boston Strangler' DeSalvo were ALL cruel to animals before they started hurting people
Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys most of whom were of African or Asian
descent. His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, torture, dismemberment,
necrophilia and cannibalism.
Ted Bundy murdered 36 people that authorities know about, Bundy would bludgeon his
victims, then strangle them to death. He also engaged in rape and necrophilia

Albert 'Boston Strangler' DeSalvo was responsible for killing 13 women after a sexual
assault they were strangled with their own clothing.
Killer teenagers Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold from (Columbine High School), and Kip
Kinkel were also known for their past history of animal cruelty, and would gloat about
what they had done to stray cats, only weeks before they embarked on a massacre killing 12
students and a teacher as well as wounding 23 others,

What is animal cruelty?


Animal cruelty defines a range of different behaviors that are harmful to animals from neglect
to malicious killing. Most cruelty reports have been investigated by humane officers who can
educate owners about unintentional neglect. Intentional cruelty or abuse is knowingly
depriving an animal of food, water, shelter, socialisation and/or veterinary care or maliciously
torturing, maiming, mutilating, or killing an animal.

Why is it a concern?
Animal cruelty can be one of the earliest and most dramatic indicators that an individual is
developing a pattern of seeking power and control by inflicting suffering on others.

Is there an evidence of a connection between animal cruelty and human


violence?
Precisely, many studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years have
demonstrated that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of
serious and repeated animal cruelty. The FBI has recognised this connection since l970s, when
bureau analysis of the life histories of imprisoned serial killers suggested that most, as children,
had killed or tortured animals. Other research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty
among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, including child abuse, spouse abuse,
and elder abuse.

Who abuses animals?


Most animal abusers are adolescent or young adult males, although children as young as four
have been known to harm animals. Many animal abusers have a history of other antisocial or
criminal activities, including vandalism, assault, and arson, and many are the victims of physical
or sexual abuse. Animal cruelty is often associated with children who do poorly in school and
have low self-esteem and few friends.

Why would anyone abuse animals?


There can be many reasons. Animal cruelty, like any other form of violence, is often committed
by a person who feels powerless, unnoticed, and under the control of others. The motive may
be to shock, threaten, intimidate, or offend others or to demonstrate rejection of societys
rules. Some who are cruel to animals copy things they have seen or that have been done to
them. Others see harming an animal as a safe way to get revenge on someone who cares about
that animal. In some cases, animal abuse is associated with deviant arousal.

Men In Prison Have Been Found To Seldom Have Had A


Pet They Loved As A Child

Source

Childhood Animal Cruelty A Common Link Among


Violent Criminals
Research has shown that a strong correlation exists between
substantial animal abuse in childhood and later violence to
humans. Most criminals who have been violent toward
people share a common history of cruelty to animals.
Here is a sample of some of the research the American
Humane Association has gathered on the correlation
between child abuse and animal cruelty. This data should
alert researchers, prosecutors, judges, and other societal
leaders to the importance of animal cruelty as a potential
indicator of disturbed family relationships and future antisocial and aggressive behavior towards humans.
Research of Alan Felthous and Stephen Kellert
The research of Felthous and Kellert focused on the possible
associations of childhood cruelty toward animals and
aggressive behavior toward humans among criminals in
adolescence and adulthood.
Felthous and Kellert studied 152 aggressive and
nonaggressive criminals, most of whom came from violent
homes. They discovered that the majority of criminals had
shown severe, repetitive cruelty toward animals as children,
and that the subjects reported 373 acts involving some
degree of undue harm, violence, or cruelty toward animals.
Felthous and Kellert suggest:

Violence against pets may be an indicator of other


forms of family violence.

Physical abuse of a child may result in the child


abusing animals and exhibiting other aggressive
behavior against people which may persist into
adulthood.

A child who learns aggression against living creatures


is more likely to rape, abuse, and kill other humans as
an adult.

Aggression among adult criminals may be strongly


correlated with a history of family abuse and childhood
cruelty toward animals.

Research of Daniel S. Hellman, M.D. and Nathan Blackman,


M.D.
Researchers Hellman and Blackman noted the frequent
association between criminal violence in adulthood and a
triad of symptoms (excessive bed-wetting, fire-setting, and
animal abuse) during childhood. In a study of 84 prisoners,
75 percent of the 31 prisoners charged with aggressive
crimes had the symptom triad whereas only 15 percent of the
53 involved in non-aggressive crimes had the triad or even a
part of the triad.
Research of Elizabeth Deviney, Jeffrey Dickert, and Randall
Lockwood
In a study of 57 families being treated by New Jersey's
Division of Youth and Family Service for incidents of child
abuse, researchers Deviney, Dickert, and Lockwood found
animal cruelty was "the sign of a deeply disturbed family."

In 88 percent of these families where physical abuse to


children had occurred, animals in the home had also
been abused.

In about two-thirds of those cases, it was the abusive


parent who had killed or injured the animal to discipline
the child.

In one-third of those cases, it was the children who


were the abusers, using animals as scapegoats for
their anger.

Research of Michael Robin, Robert W. ten Bensel, Quigley,


and Anderson
Since many family members have close bonds to their pets,
these animals can become the targets of abuse intended to
hurt a person. In a study of abused children, researchers
found that a high proportion of delinquent adolescents had
owned pets to which they were closely attached, but which
had been killed by a parent or guardian.
Their studies found:

34 percent of abused children had their special pet


killed by a parent versus only 12 percent of nondelinquent youths.

20 percent of the abused children's pets had been


killed intentionally versus 10 percent of non-delinquent
youths.

17 percent of abused children said they had abused


their animals themselves versus 10 percent of the
regular population.

Other studies have shown:

Adult sexual homicide perpetrators who report being


sexually abused as children reported higher rates of
childhood animal cruelty (58%) than perpetrators not
reporting sexual abuse (15%).

In 60 to 80 percent of families where the male hits the


female, there will also be abuse of children and
probably companion animals as well.

A study of 37 adult clients diagnosed with


disassociation disorders noted that all of the clients
reported witnessing animal mutilations or killing as
part of their own childhood abuse experiences.

Source

Human/Animal Abuse Connection

A recent Newsweek article titled "Why the Young Kill," reports juvenile
homicide is twice as common today as it was in the mid-1980s. Bad
parenting, media and societal violence, and America's gun culture are
the chief culprits.

People who abuse animals rarely stop there. As reported by


Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, animals are abused
in 88 percent of families in which children are abused.

Tragically, the link between animal abuse and human violence is well
established. Serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, "Son of Sam"

David Berkowitz, the "Boston Strangler" Albert DeSalvo, and other


notorious criminals began their murderous careers by abusing animals.

Childhood animal abuse has become an accurate predictor of future


violence against humans. Consider this: It has been confirmed that the
young men responsible for the recent epidemic of high-profile school
shootings Mississippi's Luke Woodham, 16; Kentucky's Michael
Carneal, 14; Arkansas' Mitchell Johnson, 13 and Andrew Golden, 11;
Oregon's Kip Kinkel, 15; and Colorado's Eric Harris, 18 and Dylan
Klebold, 17 -- all abused animals before turning their guns on fellow
students.

As further reported in "The Violence Connection," a 1985 study of


aggressive and nonaggressive criminals incarcerated at federal
penitentiaries found that 25 percent of non-aggressive criminals
reported at least five incidents of childhood cruelty to animals, while less
than 6 percent of nonaggressive criminals did so. None of the
noncriminals interviewed for the study reported any acts of childhood
cruelty to animals

In a 1970's study conducted by the FBI of 36 convicted multiple


murderers, 46% admitted to acts of animal torture as adolescents.
Recognition of the link between cruelty toward animal and more general
violence is now incorporated into FBI routine procedures.

A 1994 report from the FBI stated that cruelty to animals is one of the
traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and
killers: "The future killer's childhood concentration on violence will
lead to an adulthood violence focus."

A 1995 paper presented at the Fourth International Conference on


Family Violence held in Durham, New Hampshire, reported that 71% of
women seeking shelter in northern Utah reported that their male
abusers had threatened, harmed, or killed their pets. Further, of the
women with children, 32% reported that one of their children had also
committed acts of animal cruelty.

An analysis of animal cruelty cases in Massachusetts from 1975 to 1996


revealed that 70% of the animal abusers in the study also had criminal
records, and of these, 40% had been convicted of violent crimes.

The FBI's Supervising Special Agent Allan Brantley of the Bureau's


Investigative Support Unit explained, speaking before a 1998
congressional hearing, "Taking animal cruelty seriously offers an
opportunity to intervene in violent households and with violent
individuals." He continued, "Violence against animals is synonymous
with a history of violence. In many cases we have examples whereby
violence against animals is a prelude to violence against humans. You
can look at cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans as a continuum."

Source

A Program For Giving A Pet To A Prisoner


At this time, 100 percent of the inmates involved in the program who
have been released have found employment, and the recidivism rate
has been zero.

Pen Pals
by Jacquelyn Gibbons
A Rodale Press contribution

When people think of the bond between animals and humans, the first relationship that springs to mind usually isn't pri
pets. Sister Pauline Quinn, founder of the Prison Pet Partnership Program, is changing all that.

The program, which teaches prisoners to train, groom, and board dogs within prison walls, was started as a collaborativ
in 1981 by Sister Pauline, a Dominican nun, and the late Dr. Leo Bustad, former chair of Washington State University's
veterinary program.

Their belief was that inmate rehabilitation could be facilitated by the animal-human bond. With that thought in mind, inm

the Washington State Corrections Center for Women began to reach out to the community by training special dogs tha
assist disabled people. (Since then, other programs have been initiated in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Maine.)

All inmates have to do a three-month apprenticeship prior to getting a dog and have two or more years remaining in th
confinement, as it takes about 8 to 12 months to train the service dogs.

Those dogs involved in the program who lack the necessary temperament to be trained as service dogs are trained in
obedience skills and placed in the community as "Paroled Pets." Many of the animals in the program are taken from an
rescue organizations.

Since the program's inception, more than 700 dogs have been placed as service, seizure, and therapy dogs for childre
adults with disabilities and as pets in families.

In addition to saving the lives of dogs on "death row" at local shelters, the program also positively affects the lives of in
who learn valuable and marketable job skills they can use when they resume life outside prison walls. Prisoners work t
care technician certification or companion animal hygienist certification.

Most importantly, however, inmates are given the chance to give love and be loved in return. "The prisoners feel really
about themselves when they train a dog to help someone," says Sister Pauline. "There is no greater feeling than knowi
helped people change their life."

At this time, 100 percent of the inmates involved in the program who have been released have found employm
the recidivism rate has been zero.

17th Aug, 2011


Categories Animal Cruelty, The LINK
Tags dogs, Interaction
8 Comments

Can a Virtual Dogfighting App Lead to Real


Violence Against Animals?
by Steve Dale, CABC, Board Member and National Ambassador
As a country, we value freedom of speech and take it seriously as one of our rights. Thats why
movies, TV shows, video games and even mobile applications sometimes contain material that
we may disagree with or find to be against what we stand for morally.

However, there is a difference between simply displaying a


certain type of unacceptable behavior and engaging or encouraging others to practice it, even
virtually. Reinforcing any type of harmful behavior through repetition and virtual rewards blurs
the boundaries of what is right and what is wrong especially for children, who are in their
formative years. And while there are plenty of high-tech shooter games available, lets face it
most kids cant get their hands on an automatic weapon or a grenade launcher. But most
kids have easy access to the family dog or a neighborhood pet. All it takes sometimes is the
wrong idea about what is acceptable, an opportunity, and a lack of responsible adult guidance,
and a kid could be on a path of harming actual living creatures.
Recently, Kage Games released a second version of a mobile app through which participants
can learn to train dogs to fight one another. The way one wins in this app is to have their dog
rip the other dog to shreds. The tagline on the game, called KG Dogfighting, is Raise your
dog to be the best.
Unlike earlier versions of this game, which were loudly spoken out against by animal welfare
organizations, the newest version is rated as a high maturity app, suitable only for players
over 13. Despite this rating, there is really nothing stopping anyone under 13 from
downloading the app or playing the game.
Im concerned about children or young adults who download this app. As a board member and
national ambassador for American Humane Association, a pioneering organization that studies
The Link between violence against animals and violence against people, I find it disturbing
that this type of app might desensitize children to harming animals. Do children understand that
this game is just a fantasy? Do they understand the real harm that comes from dogfighting?
Dogfighting involves more than horrific violence we force dogs to inflict upon themselves (and
upon the unfortunate bait animals used in training them), often to the death. Police say where
there are dogfights, other crimes are almost always being committed. At dogfights, children are
exposed to the worst of what people can do, and are taught to do it themselves. They learn
that cruelty to animals and, often, to people as well is not unthinkable.
Thats a lesson that we dont believe should ever be learned.

PDF | Print | E-mail

There is an alarming trend of young people committing


shocking acts of violence and killing in our society. Many of those who commit violent acts
have a history of abusing animals. Lynda Stoner, Australian actor and animal activist,
examines...

The Cycle of Violence

Animal Cruelty Linked to Violence Against Humans

Why do children harm animals?

Neglected Animals, Neglected Children...

What can we do?

Billboard from USA

One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill and torture an animal
and get away with it.
Margaret Mead
Human beings' treatment of animals has been acknowledged for centuries to reflect an
individual's attitude to fellow human beings. We are not born with a cruel gene, it develops as a
consequence of environment and society. In 1905 Freud suggested that clinicians pay special
attention to children who are cruel to animals.
Today there is growing evidence that childhood violence toward animals is often a sign
something is terribly wrong, and acts as a warning of future violence against humans. With
guidance from adults children can be taught to empathise with the sentience of other creatures.
Without intervention and/or positive mentoring they may become locked into a lifetime of
perpetuating cruelty. Violence - whether the victim has two or four legs, wings, or fins - is
violence.
In the last decade social scientists and law enforcement agencies have begun to study in detail
the roots of violence connecting child maltreatment, spouse and partner abuse and aggression
in our neighbourhoods. Law enforcement officials, prosecutors, victim service providers,

physicians, mental health providers, and child/adult protective service officials are teaming with
animal control officers and veterinarians to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

Animal Cruelty Linked to Violence Against Humans


Researchers, the FBI and other agencies in the USA, have linked animal cruelty to domestic
violence, child abuse, serial killings and the recent rash of killings by school-age children.
Among the most notorious of those have been Albert DeSalvo (The Boston Strangler),
Theodore Bundy, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), Jeffrey Dahmer, Marc Lepine, Carroll
Edward Coleis and Martin Bryant - all with a history of animal torture and killing in their
childhood. Five of six students in the USA who went on shooting rampages in 1999 had
histories of animal cruelty in their childhoods.
Kip Kinkel, 15, allegedly walked into his high school cafeteria and opened fire on his
classmates. Two were killed and 22 others injured, four critically. Later that day police found
his parents shot to death in their home. It was reported by family and friends Kinkel had a
history of animal abuse. He often bragged about torturing and killing animals.
Mitchell Johnson, 13 and Andrew Golden, 11, allegedly shot and killed four students and a
teacher at their school. A friend of Andrew's said he shot dogs "all the time with a .22". Luke
Woodham, 16, stabbed his mother to death then went to his high school where he shot and
killed two classmates and injured seven others. Prior to the killings Woodham stated in his
personal journal that he and an accomplice beat, burned and tortured his dog Sparkle to death.
There is a gruesome litany of case histories of killers, rapists, batterers and child abusers who
"practised" on animals when they were children.

Why do children harm animals?


Most professionals agree that animal abuse is not just the result of a personality flaw in the
abuser, but a symptom of a deeply disturbed family. Perpetrators of violent acts against animals
are predominantly adolescent males who come from all ethnic and socio-economic
backgrounds. Many are reflecting the violence they experience at home. Compelling studies
show children who abuse animals have been victims of child abuse themselves. Children who
witness their parents reacting to anger or frustration with violence often participate in peckingorder battering with the next vulnerable member of the family, usually the companion animal.

Neglected Animals, Neglected Children...


It is estimated that 88% of animals living in households with domestic violence are either
abused or killed. Of all the women in America who enter shelters to escape abuse, 57% have
had companion animals killed by the batterer. Neglect of companion animals can be indicative
of neglect to children in the family. Officials in the UK and the USA are now trained to observe
animals' food and water bowls and other signs of neglect. Veterinarians are learning to look for
warning signs of abuse in animals. The American Veterinary Medical Association's position
statement is: "The AVMA recognises that veterinarians have occasion to observe cases of
cruelty to animals, animal abuse or animal neglect as defined by state law or local ordinances.
When these observations occur, the AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to
report such cases to the appropriate authorities. Such disclosures may be necessary to protect
the health and welfare of animals and people." Cruelty to animals is a crime and must be
treated as such. It is also a symptom of disturbed individuals and families and a predictor of
other problems in the making. Court action in Australia and around the world against those
who harm animals has been minimal but increasing numbers of overseas courts are recognising
that early intervention may be very effective in preventing on-going crime. Cases of severe or

repeated violence against animals demands criminal punishment as well as psychiatric


treatment. Ideally such treatment should reach the entire family not just the abuser.

Above is a reproduction of a billboard created in the USA for the Washington Humane Society.
The text reads:
People who abuse animals rarely stop there
Studies show that people who abuse their pets are also likely to abuse their kids. So if you see
an animal mistreated or neglected, please report it. Because the parent who comes home and
kicks the cat is probably just warming up.

What can we do?

Make it our business to get involved.

Early intervention can help break the cycle of violence.

It is foolish and dangerous to dismiss childhood cruelty with "kids will be kids".

If a child is a bully or is cruel to animals, that child is warning the community he or she
needs help.

Community education is imperative. To hear a child or an animal being beaten next


door and do nothing is to condone and participate in that abuse.

Animal Abuse leads to Human


Abuse
By Mary Lou Randour Ph.d

Reasons include:
Lack of family involvement as a child Pets
who are not part of the family and locked
outside Children who are exposed to
spousal abuse even spousal dating of
many Children who are unfamiliar with
proper disciplinary actions Because of the
success of many animal advocacy groups,
including the twothat I represent
Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals and
the Doris Day Animal Foundation many
professionals from a variety of disciplines

They identified 153 men who had been


prosecuted for animal cruelty and
compared their criminal records to a group
of "next door neighbors" men who were
similar in age, ethnic background,
neighborhood, and economic status. Their
findings were convincing: men who abused
animals were five times more likely to have
been arrested for violence against humans,
four times more likely to have committed
property crimes, and three times more
likely to have records for drug and
disorderly conduct offenses.
Another group of research studies explored
the childhood of individuals who were
incarcerated or committed to psychiatric
hospitals for criminal offenses, comparing

as well as the general public have become


aware of the link between animal abuse
and human violence. The FBIs
investigation into the childhood of serial
killers, and their discovery of juvenile
animal abuse in most of these cases, drew
the publics attention to this link initially.
When I make presentations to various
audiences whether educators, mental
health professionals, police, prosecutors,
domestic violence advocates, child
protection workers, or animal control
officers most know that serials killers
started their grisly careers by torturing and
killing animals.
Less well known is the fact that many of
the recent school shooters also engaged in
animal cruelty before turning their
aggression against their classmates,
teachers, and parents. Kip Kinkel was
reported to have blown up cows and
decapitated cats; Luke Woodham tortured
Sparkle, his own dog, to death, describing
her dying howls as a "thing of beauty"; and
Andrew Golden reputedly shot dogs with a .
22 caliber rifle. Goldens own dog
"mysteriously" suffered a wound from a .22
just days before he assaulted his
classmates. Serial killers and school
shooters supply dramatic
currency to the link between animal abuse
and human violence. Their lurid nature
attracts the attention of individuals and the
media and, in this way, can furnish an
opening for a serious discussion of the
many permutations and implications of this
important link. I think it is a tactical and
strategic mistake, however, for animal
advocates to focus on this part of the link;
it is good for an opener, but we should
quickly move on to the more substantive
evidence, which will have more farreaching implications. While many of us
can be momentarily drawn to the macabre
very few, if any of us, think that our sons,
daughters, nieces and nephews, or next
door neighbors are budding serial killers or
school shooters. Lets face it: The odds of a
child becoming a serial killer or school
gunman are quite remote. Very few people
can identify with that prospect and, I
believe, that leads to the possibility of them
dismissing, or overlooking, evidence of
animal cruelty that they might otherwise
notice. Sure, their nephew has been known
to throw rocks at neighborhood cats, but
they know he is a "good kid" who goes to
church, does well at school, and has won
badges in his Cub Scout troop. Whats to
worry about? Hes definitely not serial killer

them to "normal" men. Would the


childhood of the men in prison and
psychiatric hospitals for criminal behavior
reveal more juvenile animal cruelty when
compared to a group of "normal" men?
After conducting a number of their own
studies, and reviewing the research of their
colleagues, Kellert and Felthous arrived at
a definitive result. They stated that there
was a significant association between acts
of cruelty to animals in childhood and
serious, recurrent aggression against
people as an adult.
As further corroboration, in one study these
researchers determined that the most
aggressive criminals had committed the
most severe acts of animal cruelty in
childhood. One could conclude from these
studies that animal abuse is associated
with other types of criminal and anti-social
behavior and that childhood animal abuse
is an important warning sign; not all
children who abuse animals become
juvenile offenders or adult criminals, but
they are more likely than their counterparts
who do not abuse animals to do so. Being
physically cruel to animals as one of the
criterion for a diagnosis of conduct disorder
in childhood was added to the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
in 1987. Substantial proportions of children
diagnosed with conduct disorder continue
to show behaviors in adulthood that meet
criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder.
The earlier the diagnosis of conduct
disorder the greater the risk for being
diagnosed with Antisocial Personality
Disorder and Substance-Related in
adulthood.
We also know that animal abuse is closely
associated with family violence, and
knowledge of this link has assisted
professionals in offering more effective
services to people and animals. In a
number of studies one national and the
others statewide 71 to 83% of the
women entering domestic violence shelters
reported that their partners also abused or
killed the family pet. This stems heavily
from a difference in how they were raised
as children. Those who had inside pets
learned much quicker and a much more
compassionate means of caring for their
pets as well as family members and
friends. Just as animal abuse is related to
domestic violence, so it is also related to
child abuse, another form of family
violence. A New Jersey study of 53 families
under the jurisdiction of the child welfare
agency looked at the co-occurrence of

or school shooter material. If we should


emphasize the empirical basis for the link
instead of the more dramatic examples,
what exactly do we know? What does the
research say about animal abuse? Who
commits it? How do they turn out? What
should we be looking for? One body of
well-established research links animal
abuse with criminal behavior. For example,
one well-designed study conducted by
Arnold Arluke and Jack Levin, two
sociologists, and Carter Luke of the
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), examined
the records of that agency for the years
1975 to 1996.

child abuse and animal abuse.


Researchers observed animal abuse in
88% of those families in which there was
physical abuse of children. Another study
arrived at similar findings. Awareness of
the link between animal abuse and family
violence has produced a number of
innovative programs and procedural
changes. For example, intake questions for
womeions for women seeking shelter now
include one about the need for a safe place for
the family pets. For full version of this please
see http://www.21stcenturycares.org/links.htm

What We Know
About the Link Between
Animal

Abuse
Violence

And Human

By Mary Lou Randour Ph.d


Reasons include:

Lack of family involvement as a child

Pets who are not part of the family and locked outside

Children who are exposed to spousal abuse even spousal dating of many

Children who are unfamiliar with proper disciplinary actions

Because of the success of many animal advocacy groups, including the two that I
represent Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Doris Day
Animal Foundation many professionals from a variety of disciplines as well as the
general public have become aware of the link between animal abuse and human
violence. The FBIs investigation into the childhood of serial killers, and their
discovery of juvenile animal abuse in most of these cases, drew the publics attention
to this link initially. When I make presentations to various audiences whether
educators, mental health professionals, police, prosecutors, domestic violence
advocates, child protection workers, or animal control officers most know that
serials killers started their grisly careers by torturing and killing animals.

Less well known is the fact that many of the recent


school shooters also engaged in animal cruelty before
turning their aggression against their classmates,
teachers, and parents. Kip Kinkel was reported to have
blown up cows and decapitated cats; Luke Woodham
tortured Sparkle, his own dog, to death, describing her
dying howls as a "thing of beauty"; and Andrew Golden
reputedly shot dogs with a .22 caliber rifle. Goldens
own dog "mysteriously" suffered a wound from a .22
just days before he assaulted his classmates. Serial
killers and school shooters supply dramatic currency to
the link between animal abuse and human violence. Their lurid nature attracts the
attention of individuals and the media and, in this way, can furnish an opening for a
serious discussion of the many permutations and implications of this important link. I
think it is a tactical and strategic mistake, however, for animal advocates to focus on
this part of the link; it is good for an opener, but we should quickly move on to the
more substantive evidence, which will have more far-reaching implications. While
many of us can be momentarily drawn to the macabre very few, if any of us, think
that our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews, or next door neighbors are budding
serial killers or school shooters. Lets face it: The odds of a child becoming a serial
killer or school gunman are quite remote. Very few people can identify with that
prospect and, I believe, that leads to the possibility of them dismissing, or
overlooking, evidence of animal cruelty that they might otherwise notice. Sure, their
nephew has been known to throw rocks at neighborhood cats, but they know he is a
"good kid" who goes to church, does well at school, and has won badges in his Cub
Scout troop. Whats to worry about? Hes definitely not serial killer or school shooter
material. If we should emphasize the empirical basis for the link instead of the more
dramatic examples, what exactly do we know? What does the research say about
animal abuse? Who commits it? How do they turn out? What should we be looking
for? One body of well-established research links animal abuse with criminal behavior.
For example, one well-designed study conducted by Arnold Arluke and Jack Levin,
two sociologists, and Carter Luke of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), examined the records of that agency for the years
1975 to 1996. They identified 153 men who had been prosecuted for animal cruelty
and compared their criminal records to a group of "next door neighbors" men who
were similar in age, ethnic background, neighborhood, and economic status. Their
findings were convincing: men who abused animals were five times more likely to
have been arrested for violence against humans, four times more likely to have
committed property crimes, and three times more likely to have records for drug and
disorderly conduct offenses.
Another group of research studies explored the childhood of individuals who were
incarcerated or committed to psychiatric hospitals for criminal offenses, comparing
them to "normal" men. Would the childhood of the men in prison and psychiatric
hospitals for criminal behavior reveal more juvenile animal cruelty when compared to
a group of "normal" men? After conducting a number of their own studies, and
reviewing the research of their colleagues, Kellert and Felthous arrived at a definitive
result. They
stated that there was a significant association between acts of cruelty to animals in
childhood and serious, recurrent aggression against people as an adult. As further
corroboration, in one study these researchers determined that the most aggressive

criminals had committed the most severe acts of animal cruelty


in childhood. One could conclude from these studies that animal
abuse is associated with other types of criminal and anti-social
behavior and that childhood animal abuse is an important
warning sign; not all children who abuse animals become
juvenile offenders or adult criminals, but they are more likely
than their counterparts who do not abuse animals to do so.
Being physically cruel to animals as one of the criterion for a
diagnosis of conduct disorder in childhood was added to the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987. Substantial
proportions of children diagnosed with conduct disorder continue to show behaviors
in adulthood that meet criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder. The earlier the
diagnosis of conduct disorder the greater the risk for being diagnosed with Antisocial
Personality Disorder and Substance-Related in adulthood.
We also know that animal abuse is closely associated with family violence, and
knowledge of this link has assisted professionals in offering more effective services to
people and animals. In a number of studies one national and the others statewide
71 to 83% of the women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their
partners also abused or killed the family pet. This stems heavily from a difference in
how they were raised as children. Those who had inside pets learned much quicker
and a much more compassionate means of caring for their pets as well as family
members and friends. Just as animal abuse is related to domestic violence, so it is also
related to child abuse, another form of family violence. A New Jersey study of 53
families under the jurisdiction of the child welfare agency looked at the co-occurrence
of child abuse and animal abuse. Researchers observed animal abuse in 88% of those
families in which there was physical abuse of children. Another study arrived at
similar findings. Awareness of the link between animal abuse and family violence has
produced a number of innovative programs and procedural changes. For example,
intake questions for women seeking shelter now include one about the need for a safe
place for the family pets. Cooperative arrangements between domestic violence
shelters and animal shelters, humane societies, and sometimes veterinary associations
provide "safe pet" programs. Animal control officers are being trained to look for
signs of child abuse and domestic violence when making their investigations, and to
report their suspicions to the proper agencies.
While animal abuse often appears in the context of family violence, and is associated
with juvenile delinquency and adult criminality, it is important to remember that many
other times the animal abuse offender does not have a juvenile or adult criminal
record, does not come from a dysfunctional, violent family; and may appear to be
"normal" or "typical." The sad truth is that animal abuse is all too common; the
prevalence rates for childhood animal cruelty are shockingly high. There are now
three studies of prevalence: one is from a military sample and the other two used
college students as subjects. In the military sample 10% of the males acknowledged
committing juvenile animal cruelty and 16% reported that they had witnessed it. In
the two college samples, 34.5% of the males admitted to animal abuse in childhood
and 48% said they had witnessed it. We dont know, of course, whether any of the
subjects in these three samples had criminal records, although it is doubtful that many
had very serious records since they were either in the military or in college. And we
dont know how many came from situations of family violence, but it is doubtful that
all could have. Good portions of animal abusers enter adulthood without any marks
on their record, although they do appear to have psychological marks. In one of the

studies, the researcher asked his college subjects if they


thought it was o.k. to "slap your wife" or to "physically punish
your children." Those students who had abused animals as
children were much more likely to endorse these forms of
interpersonal violence.
We need a lot more information about the extent of animal
abuse, the motivation for it, and how to intervene effectively.
And we need to accurately convey what the research tells us to
date and not to emphasize one category of animal abuse findings over another. We
need to continue to warn students, parents, teachers, counselors, and other
community groups that childhood animal abuse is a definite danger sign that should
be heeded with a thorough assessment and effective intervention. We also need to
alert these same groups that animal abuse often is associated with child abuse and
domestic violence, and to enlarge our investigations to include all members of the
family human and non-human. Finally, we need to acknowledge that some
childhood animal abusers appear to be "typical kids," so no parent, or teacher, or
other professional should be complacent.

Mary Lou Randour is the Program Director of Psychologists for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals.
RESOURCES
Beyond Violence: The Human-Animal Connection is a kit that contains both a video
and a Discussion Guide. Available from Pscyhologists for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals.
Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application
by Randall Lockwood (Editor), Frank R. Ascione (Editor); paperback, 424 pages,
Purdue Univ Press; ISBN: 1557531064
Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of
Compassion for Prevention and Intervention by Frank Ascione (Editor), Phil Arkow
(Editor), paperback, 480 pages, 1999, Purdue University Press, ISBN: 1557531439.
[TOP]
For a thorough search of the subject on the Internet, visit Google and use the
keywords "animal abuse and human violence."

Abuse toward animals may predict violent


behavior toward humans
Editor's note: Diane Girardot is sending dispatches from the American Psychological
Association conference in Orlando, Fla. from August 2-5.

By Diane Russell Girardot, L.P.C.


It is very likely that the individuals who set fire to dogs and cats in the Philadelphia area this
summer would turn their attention to humans, as predicted by FBI and University of Florida
data gathered in separate studies of animal cruelty.
The FBIs Behavioral Analysis Units study, begun in 2008, is not complete, but so far, violent
offenders already jailed for crimes against humans have a history as children of acts of cruelty
toward animals. The acts themselves are showing to be important as risk factors for future
interpersonal violence, according to the research presented this week at the American
Psychological Associations Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. Was the act part of an
emotional event or deliberate? How consistent has it been? Was there emotion and remorse or
was it predatory behavior?
Ongoing BAU research and consultation with law enforcement is hopefully going to help
predict and prevent animal abuse cross over to humans.
Data from the University of Florida suggests that if the abused animal was a pet rather than a
stray, farm or wild animal, then the seriousness of the pathology increases and so does risk.
Offenders in this study were already in a maximum-security prison for a variety of violent and
non-violent crimes, including murder, assault, drug related offenses, theft, DUI, burglary and
disorderly conduct.
People who kill their own pets are nihilistic, said Kathleen Heide, Ph.D., a professor of
criminology at the University of South Florida, whose study explored the relationship between
animal abuse and violent vs. non-violent crimes within society. They will kill again and enjoy
acts of destruction.
But non-violent criminals may have abused animals for perceived misbehavior or have a
practical motive. Heide said one man jailed for vehicular homicide had chopped up and gutted
several stray cats on one occasion because he feared fleas were biting his son. He had no
earlier history of animal abuse, but some obvious mental health issues.
The data presented is a clear warning that witnesses of suspicious behavior by a neighbor or
family member regarding animal mistreatment who dont report it are putting themselves and
others at risk.
Pennsylvanias anti-cruelty hotline is 866-601-7722. Call to protect the animal and possible
yourself.
For additional information about children and violent crime, Heide, has authored two
books, Why Kids Kill Parents (1992) and Young Killers (1999).
Diane Russell Girardot is a Chester County-based licensed mental health professional, who is
a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter now merging both careers with her coverage of the
APA convention.
Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthcare/Abuse-toward-animals-may-predictviolent-behavior-toward-humans.html#ixzz26p8b9apr
Watch sports videos you won't find anywhere else

Senate Bill Asks FBI to Track Animal Cruelty Crimes

Humane Groups Applaud Menendez Bill to Make Animal Cruelty a Separate Category in
Crime Data Reporting System

(December 10, 2007)The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane
Society Legislative Fund today welcomed the introduction of new legislation in the
U.S. Senate, introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), directing the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to include animal cruelty crimes as a separate category in the
agencys crime data reporting system.
"Having the ability to track animal cruelty cases anywhere in the country is a long
overdue step that would not only help animals, but would also give law enforcement
agencies the tools they need to prevent violent offenders from escalating their
terrible behavior," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Humane
Society of the United States, and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
"We are grateful to Senator Menendez for introducing this important anti-crime bill,
for the sake of animals, and for public safety and security in our communities."
The Tracking Animal Cruelty Crimes Act of 2007 directs the U.S. Attorney General
to modify the FBIs crime data reporting systems, which include the Uniform Crime
Reporting Program, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, and the yet-tobe released Law Enforcement National Data Exchange (N-DEx), to list cruelty to
animals as a separate offense category.
"Clearly, giving police and policymakers accurate information about animal cruelty
crimes would help attack the persistent problems of family violence, combat the
increasingly lucrative industry of dogfighting, and help stop violent criminals and
gangs before they commit even worse crimes," said Sen. Menendez.
Although all states have anti-cruelty laws and 43 states provide felony-level
penalties, local police agencies do not have a place in their reporting forms to enter
these crimes. The result is that animal cruelty crimes are assigned to miscellaneous
categories that provide no further guidance to law enforcement agents or
policymakers. Without accurate tracking, there is no way to access important
information such as trends or the relationship to demographic and geographic data,
on which to base policy development and resource allocation.
Research clearly demonstrates that there is a close association between animal abuse
and family violence, as well as other crimes. In addition, animal abuse frequently is
one of the first signals of a child, and family, at risk. For example:

Pet abuse was identified as one of the four predictors for intimate partner
violence in a recent study conducted by a nationally-recognized team of
domestic violence researchers;

Multiple studies found that from 48.8 percent to 71 percent of battered


women reported that their pets had been threatened, harmed, and or killed by
their partners;

Among children, pet abuse is an early indicator of anti-social behavior. All the
experts agree that early identification and intervention is the key to helping
children at risk;

Department of Justice longitudinal studies found that pet abuse in childhood

is associated with persistence in anti-social behavior;

Adults who engage in animal cruelty are more likely to participate in other
criminal activities, including violence against people, drug and substance
abuse, and property offenses;

During the 1980s, in developing profiles of serial killers, the FBIs Behavioral
Crime Unit discovered that all serial killers had engaged in repeated acts of
animal cruelty;

Animal fighting, often an economic-driven form of animal cruelty, is


associated with gambling, selling and possession of drugs, illegal firearms,
gang activity, and other violent behavior;

"We know that early identification and intervention is a key to solving the problem of
violence in our communities," said Mary Lou Randour, Ph.D., director of
human/animal relations for The Humane Society of the United States. "The addition
of animal cruelty to the FBI crime database would provide an important tool for
those efforts."
Sen. Menendez was joined in introducing the bill today by co-sponsors Sen.
Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Carl Levin (DMich.). In the House of Representatives, Judiciary Committee Chairman John
Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) have been leading the effort
to add animal cruelty to the FBIs crime data reporting system.
--30-Media contact: Jordan Crump: 301-548-7793, jcrump@humanesociety.org
The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated
under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a
separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF
works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the
public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office.
On the web at www.hslf.org.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection
organization backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a
half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through
advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting
cruelty On the Web at humanesociety.org

Violence Towards Animals


Saturday, 30 October 2010 21:09 Maneka Gandhi
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Serial killer Moninder Singh has probably killed more than 30 children and young women over
the last two years. His servant says he brought them in and Moninder Singh raped and killed

them. We do not know how many he has killed before. He could not have just started his
killing spree in middle age. It has to have been a continuous thing for Moninder Singh is a
sociopath a man without emotions who kills purely for pleasure. A man from a rich family,
educated in the best schools and colleges , married with a son , lots of friends , the man led a
carefully
calculated
double
life.
If our police forces used modern techniques they would have recognized the symptoms ages
ago. The man went hunting from the age of six, he killed animals continuously, his parents
encouraged him with guns and even had all his killings framed . His houses have pictures of
him as a child , standing with dead animals. He went hunting long after the laws came in 1972
banning it. He couldnt be bothered about the law , the pleasure of the kill was far too
irresistible. For him a small child, specially a village child, is the equivalent of an animal : see
how he lures them in , how meticulous the chase and its preparation, the house is made ready,
the child is watched for weeks , then enticed with sweets or the offer of work. Once in, the
child is raped by this sociopath , not for the sexual pleasure but because it is the ultimate
subjugation of a wild animal.Then killed and efficiently disposed off. He and his servant even
eat
some of the organs that
is what you do with animals.
Moninder Singh fits into the pattern of all psychopathic killers. As children they start with
killing small animals and their parents applaud them for their daring. Most children can be cruel
to animals, such as pulling the legs off of spiders, but future serial killers often kill larger
animals, like dogs and cats, and frequently for their solitary enjoyment rather than to impress
peers.
Studies done of serial killers all over the world , and of deliberate killers who are wantonly
violent have only one thing in common they were all cruel to animals first. As a child, serial
killer and rapist Ted Bundy who murdered more than 40 women witnessed his fathers violence
toward animals, and he himself subsequently tortured animals.Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped
and stabbed boys, was known in his neighborhood for hanging cats and torturing dogs.David
Berkowitz ( Son of Sam), who pleaded guilty to 13 murder charges, shot a neighbors
Labrador retriever.Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a California school, killing two children
and injuring nine others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often setting their tails on
fire.Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs and cats on sticks.
I
n 1999 in Colorado Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot to death 12 fellow students and a
teacher and injured more than 20 others. Both teens boasted about mutilating animals. In 1998,
Oregon, Kip Kinkel, 15, killed his parents and opened fire in his high school cafeteria, killing
two and injuring 22 others. He had a history of animal abuse and torture, having boasted about
blowing up a cow and killing cats and squirrels by putting lit firecrackers in their mouths. In
1998, Arkansaw Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11 shot and killed four classmates
and a teacher. Golden used to shoot dogsall the time with a .22. In 1997, Kentucky Michael
Carneal, 14, shot and killed three students. Carneal had thrown a cat into a bonfire. In 1997,
Mississippi. Luke Woodham, 16, shot and killed two of his classmates and injured seven others
after stabbing his mother to death. Woodhams journal revealed that, in a moment of true
beauty, he and a friend had beaten, burned, and tortured his own dog to death.
Violent acts toward animals have now been recognized as indicators of a dangerous
psychopathy that does not confine itself to animals. Anyone who has accustomed himself to
regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives, wrote Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Murderers very often start out by killing
and torturing animals as kids, according to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of
serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Studies have now convinced
sociologists, lawmakers, and the courts that acts of cruelty toward animals can be the first sign

of violence that includes human victims. The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals
is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers,.
From 1987 the standard medical book for psychiatric and emotional disorders, the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists cruelty to animals as a criterion . A study
conducted by Northeastern University found that people who abuse animals are five times
more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. The majority of inmates scheduled to be
executed for murder at Californias San Quentin penitentiary practiced their crimes on
animals,
according
to
the
warden.
All too often, animal cruelty is viewed as a childhood prank. None of us, think that our
children or next door neighbors are budding serial killers. Therefore most dismiss or overlook
evidence of animal cruelty that they might otherwise notice. But it is foolhardy to ignore
statistics that show that kids who hurt animals may be on a dangerous path that will only get
worse if not corrected. A 1999 Canadian study of 63 suspects who were charged with animal
crueltyranging from severe animal neglect to intentional killingfound that 78 percent of
them had also been charged with offenses involving violence against people. A 1997 study
revealed that 46 percent of criminals convicted of sexual homicide had previously committed
acts of cruelty toward animals. A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured
dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well.
Studies in psychology, sociology, and criminology during the last 25 years have demonstrated
that violent offenders frequently have childhood and adolescent histories of serious and
repeated animal cruelty. The FBI has recognized the connection since the 1970s, when its
analysis of the lives of serial killers suggested that most had killed or tortured animals as
children. Research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of child
abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers
animal cruelty one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder.
A a study done in Massachusetts from 1975-1996 by sociologists identified 153 men who had
been prosecuted for animal cruelty and compared their criminal records to a group of men
similar in age, ethnic background, neighborhood, and economic status. Their findings were
convincing: men who abused animals were five times more likely to have been arrested for
violence against humans, four times more likely to have committed property crimes, and three
times more likely to have records for drug and disorderly conduct offenses.
Violence towards animals is a very serious issue, and it needs to be taken seriously by not only
animal advocates like myself, but by those who are concerned about violence in our society. I
would suggest that all hunters be examined for human brutality Salman Khan kills animals
and people with the same insouciance. So does another filmstar currently wanted on a gun
charge for helping blow up Mumbai. Peerzada who photographed himself with dead animals
everyday in and around Chandigarh was also involved in the General Vaidya murder. Pataudi
will turn up with quite a few skeletons in his cupboard.
Maneka Gandhi

Zoosadism
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This article may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims
made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be
removed. (November 2007)
Zoosadism is a term coined by Ernest Borneman referring to pleasure (sometimes sexual
pleasure) derived from cruelty to animals. Zoosadism is part of the Macdonald triad, a set of
three behaviors that are a precursor to sociopathic behavior.[1]

Contents

1 Research

2 Legal status

3 Insects

4 Notable zoosadists

5 See also

6 References

7 External links

Research
Schedel-Stupperich (2001) state that some horse-ripping incidences have a sexual connection,
and in general, the link between sadistic sexual acts with animals and sadistic practices with
humans or lust murders has been heavily researched. Some murderers tortured animals in their
childhood, with some of them also practicing bestiality. Ressler et al. (1988) found that 36% of
sexual murderers described themselves as having abused animals during childhood, with 46%
of them reporting that they had abused animals during adolescence, and (1986) that eight of
their sample of thirty-six sexual murderers showed an interest in zoosexual acts.
In 1971, American researchers profiled the typical animal harmer as being a nine-and-a-halfyear-old boy, with an I.Q. of 91 and a history of gross parental abuse. The UK "Young Abusers
Project" sees children as young as five who have a record of sexual offences or "extremely"
violent behavior. Of such people, child psychiatrist Dr Eileen Vizard, commented:
"They stomp on small hamsters or mice. Squeeze them or burst them, set fire to their fur.
Gratuitous cruelty for which there can be no justification."[2]
Dr Vizard commented:
"cruelty to animals, if accompanied by a sexual interest in animals, is a high-risk indicator of
a future sex offender."[2]
Studies have shown that individuals who enjoy or are willing to inflict harm on animals are
more likely to do so to humans. One of the known warning signs of certain psychopathologies,
including antisocial personality disorder, is a history of torturing pets and small animals.
According to the New York Times:
"the FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears
in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and
treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic
criterion for conduct disorders."[3]

Alan R. Felthous reported in his paper "Aggression Against Cats, Dogs, and People" (1980)
that
"A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them
had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a
boy."[4]
This is a commonly reproduced finding, and for this reason, violence (including sexually
oriented violence) toward animals is considered a serious warning sign of potential serious
violence towards humans.
Over the past fifty years, modern research has confirmed that not all sexual activity with
animals is violent nor dangerous. This preconception has been criticized by researchers, for the
bias that can result within bona fide research into zoosadism and abuse. Older research often
focused on known abusers such as violent juvenile offenders, and generalizations from such
studies have often been criticized post-publication as being tainted by circular reasoning,
arguments from incredulity, and other fallacies:
"There are different people who engage in sex with animals and not the kind of interaction but
first and foremost the quality of the relationship seems to distinguish between them. This
emotional relation or at least the respect they show towards the will of the involved animal
should be more closely investigated, when conducting research that includes bestiality. Because
[it is] this, the quality of the interaction and the relationship that may be loving, neutral, or
violent and not the fact of a sexual interaction [which] is important, and provides information
for a better understanding of bestiality and zoophilia and their significance in relation to other
phenomena."
Andrea Beetz, [5]
Kidd and Kidd (1987) identified that
"most of these older research and models rarely took the variety of possible interactions and
relations into account, studying the physical acts in isolation."[6]
Andrea Beetz comments that, perhaps because of this,
"In most [popular] references to bestiality, violence towards the animal is automatically
implied. That sexual approaches to animals may not need force or violence but rather,
sensitivity, or knowledge of animal behavior, is rarely taken into consideration."[5]
In the same manner, Dr. Stephanie Lafarge, an assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the
New Jersey Medical School and sex therapist, who is the Director of Counseling at the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and works with the New York
correctional system, is quoted in a 1999 newspaper article as saying that "It's important to
make the distinction [between animal sexual abuse and zoophilia]" and that
"There is no evidence yet that zoophilia leads to sexual deviation, but that's not to say that's
not the case. We do make the link between other forms of physical violence against animals as
being a predicator of physical violence against women and children. I would go on to say that
someone who is sexually violent with an animal ... is a predator and might very well do that
toward people." [7]
Professors Martin Weinberg & Colin J. Williams of the Kinsey Institute stated in testimony to
the Missouri House in 1999:
"No one can argue about the objective harm resulting from a behavior like rape. Such harm
arises from the absence of consent and the trauma that accompanies and follows from the
act ... Our research suggests that forcing sex on an unwilling animal is rare among adult
zoophiles ... The question of consent is usually conflated with the question of harm, which we
believe to be the better question. Zoophiles appear to be extremely caring and concerned for

their animal(s) and people who know them would be hard put to claim abuse. Implicit in [the
bill] is that sex with an animal in itself constitutes abuse."
Beetz states categorically:
"Former, as well as the here presented research, suggests that zoophilia itself does not
represent a clinically significant problem and is not necessarily combined with other clinically
significant problems and disorders, even if it may be difficult for some professionals to accept
this."[5]

Legal status
In the United States, since 2010, it has been a federal offense to create or distribute "obscene"
depictions of "living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians ... subjected to serious
bodily injury".[8] This statute replaced an overly broad 1999 statute [9] which was found
unconstitutional in United States v. Stevens.

Insects
Zoosadism towards insects is also exhibited by some. The classic example of this subvariety of
"schoolyard viciousness" is the child who pulls off a fly's wings. The Roman writer Plutarch, in
his Parallel Lives, claims that the Emperor Domitian amused himself by catching flies and
impaling them with needles.

Notable zoosadists

Dennis Rader

Jun Matsubara

Kenny Glenn

Jim Jones

Henry Lee Lucas

Otis Toole

Rostislav Bogoslevsky[10]

John Duffy and David Mulcahy[11]

Richard Chase[12]

See also

Animal abuse

Bearbaiting

Bloodsport

Cat-burning

Crush film

Zoophilia

References
1.
2.

^ J. M. MacDonald (1963). "The Threat to Kill". American Journal of


Psychiatry 120 (2): 125130.
^ a b "The chain of cruelty". BBC News. 9 May 2000.

3.

^ Goleman, Daniel (7 August 1991). "Child's Love of Cruelty May Hint at the
Future Killer". New York Times

4.

^ Felthous, Alan R. (1980). "Aggression Against Cats, Dogs, and People".


Child Psychiatry and Human Development (10): 169177

5.

^ a b c Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships


between Humans and Animals. Shaker Verlag GmbH. ISBN 3-8322-0020-7.

6.

^ Kidd, A.H.; Kidd, R.M. (1987). "Seeking a theory of the human/companion


animal bond". Anthrozoos (1): 140157

7.

^ Roth, Melinda (15 December 1999). ALL OPPOSED, SAY "NEIGH".


Riverfront Times

8.

^ Robson, Ruthann (2010-12-14) Animal Porn - Criminalized by Federal Law


Again, Constitutional Law Prof Blog

9.

^ US Code TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 3 > 48

10.

^ Police arrest suspected serial killer | Jerusalem Post

11.

^ Cowan, Rosie (11 August 2005). "Childhood cruelty to animals may signal
violence in future". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 April 2010.

12.

^ CrimeLibrary.com/Serial Killers/Truly Weird & Shocking/Richard Trenton


Chase: The Vampire of Sacramento

The chain of cruelty

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BBC RADIO NEWS

Why do children torture, maim and even kill animals?


The question has vexed adults sickened by acts of animal
cruelty carried out by those we generally regard to be
society's most innocent members.
The RSPCA is launching a study to quiz young people

BBC ONE TV NEWS

WORLD NEWS SUMMARY

responsible for attacks ranging


from kicking hedgehogs to placing
cats in microwave ovens.

BBC NEWS 24 BULLETIN

The wellbeing of the nation's


animals is not the only thing at
stake.

PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:

09 May 00 | UK
Animal abusers investigated
10 Jan 00 | UK
Man jailed for cooking cat
11 Mar 00 | UK
Are Britons still animal
Cruelty to animals is a "sign
things are going wrong"
crackers?
The Scottish Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believes there is a strong 23 Mar 00 | UK
Crufts judge admits animal
connection between harming animals and wider criminal
cruelty
behaviour.
12 Oct 98 | UK
Charities join forces to fight
"Every serial killer in the UK this century started as an
abuse
animal abuser and we ignore that fact at our own peril,"
16 Jul 98 | Health
said a spokeswomen.
When the abused turns
In 1998, the organisation launched the First Strike
abuser
awareness project, drawing heavily on research into
Internet links:
animal cruelty carried out in the United States.
RSPCA
Step forward
Scottish SPCA
NSPCC
The SSPCA's Libby Anderson welcomes the new survey
being carried out by the RSPCA south of the border as a
The BBC is not responsible
"great step forward".
for the content of external
By understanding what motivates
such shocking cruelty, experts
may also explore the link between
these acts and the progression to
violence against other humans.

"When you point the link out to people they say: 'It's
obvious that violent people are going to be violent to
animals."
Ms Anderson says spotting
evidence of animal cruelty in a
household can be valuable in
exposing a range of other
problems.
The men who attack animals, for
the bulk of offenders are male,
often also perpetrate domestic
assaults and child abuse,
according to a New Jersey study in
1983.

Kelvin's 7,000 spines fell out


after being painted by a
schoolboy

Children preyed on by these abusive adults are also prone


to harming the animals they encounter.
"We should react to animal abuse for two reasons: A)
because it is wrong in itself and, B) because it can be a
sign that things are going wrong," says Ms Anderson.
The place of animal cruelty in the so-called "chain" of

internet sites
Links to other UK stories are
at the foot of the page.

child abuse is by no means a new discovery.


Worrying profile
In 1971, American researchers profiled the typical animal
harmer as being a nine-and-a-half-year-old boy, with an IQ
of 91 and a history of gross parental abuse.
Dr Eileen Vizard, a child psychiatrist from the NSPCC
Young Abusers Project, says a
"significant minority" of children
referred to her have engaged in
They stamp on small
cruel or sexual behaviour with
hamsters or mice.
animals.

Squeeze them or burst


them, set fire to their
Set up in 1992, and with a national fur.
caseload, the Young Abusers
Project sees children as young as
five who have a record of sexual
offences or "extremely" violent
behaviour.

Dr Eileen Vizard,
child psychiatrist

"The average age of the children is twelve-and-a-half. A


high proportion have a learning disability and many are
interested in sex with animals or are cruel to animals,"
says Dr Vizard.
"These are very disturbed childen in any event, with
many having been sexually and physically abused."
Soft target
Dr Vizard says those children who abuse animals tend to
opt for ones unable to put up much resistance.
"They stamp on small hamsters or mice. Squeeze them or
burst them, set fire to their fur.
Gratuitous cruelty for which there
can be no justification."
The Young Abusers Project already
attempts to identify what
motivates such behaviour.
"They tell us they get a feeling of
power, a feeling they lack in other
parts of their lives."
Jeffery Dahmer harmed
Some evidence links such high
before going on to kill
profile killers as Ian Brady, Jeffery animals
17 people
Dahmer and "Boston Strangler"
Albert DeSalvo to childhood acts of animal cruelty.

Dr Vizard says bestiality and zoophilia can also be


signposts in a child's progression to other sexual crimes.
"It's pretty revolting and no one really wants to talk about
it; but cruelty to animals, if accompanied by a sexual

interest in animals, is a high-risk indicator of a future sex


offender."

Animal Porn - Criminalized by Federal Law Again


Without much fanfare, President Obama signed into law the Animal Crush Video Prohibition
Act of 2010, intended to cure the defects of the previous law, held unconstitutional last April in
United States v. Stevens. In Stevens, the Court affirmed the Third Circuit opinion with only
Alito in dissent. The Court was particularly concerned about the overbreadth of the statute,
which could potentially criminalize hunting and similar videos. The Court declined the
invitation to carve out an "animal cruelty" exception to the First Amendment's obscenity
doctrine, similar to the "child pornography" exception.

In the 2010 statute (above), Congress reasserts its findings that there are "certain extreme acts
of animal cruelty that appeal to a specific sexual fetish. These acts of extreme animal cruelty
are videotaped, and the resulting video tapes are commonly referred to as 'animal crush
videos. " The statute defines 'animal crush video' as "any photograph, motion-picture film,
video or digital recording, or electronic image that
(1) depicts actual conduct in which 1 or more living nonhuman mammals, birds, reptiles, or
amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise
subjected to serious bodily injury . . . . and
(2) is obscene.
Note that the definition does not include insects.
The statute specifically exempts any visual depiction of
(A) customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices;

(B) the slaughter of animals for food; or


(C) hunting, trapping, or fishing.
The statute also asserts its extraterroritorial application.
Recall that Stevens was prosecuted for distributing videos of pit bulls engaging in dogfights
through his business, "Dogs of Velvet and Steel." Does the Congressional stress on "obscene"
(requiring the "prurient interest in sex") in the 2010 statute mean that Stevens could not
prosecuted? Does this necessarily guarantee the law's constitutionality?
RR
[image: cover of Spicy Adventure Stories magazine, December 1936, via]

December 14, 2010 in Congressional Authority, Current Affairs, First Amendment, Sexuality,
Speech | Permalink

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Comments
So the SEXUAL interest here is key. Videos appealing to sadism or other psychological states
that are NOT sexual are not criminalized?
And who defines whether a psychological state is sexual? Erotic interest is so broad, from the
sensuality of fine linen to the fragrance of flowers.
Is non-masturbation "proof" of a non-sexual motivation?
Posted by: marty klein | Dec 20, 2010 3:33:15 PM
thanks admin
Posted by: lax | Dec 22, 2010 9:33:50 PM
I noticed that in the new law, Congress' explanation of the "Miller Test" seems to be lacking,
namely in the fact that they forget that the first prong of MILLER applies to an "average
person", and not just one individual or group of individuals. Also, they cleverly omit the part
about "sexual conduct or excretory functions" from the second prong.
The average person applying contemporary community standards is not going to find crush
videos or dog-fighting videos to appeal to sexual interests. Simply because somewhere
someone does, doesn't satisfy the MILLER test. Somewhere there's at least someone who finds
the state of the union address to appeal to the sexual interest, but that still doesn't satisfy the
MILLER test.

Childhood cruelty to animals may signal


violence in future

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Rosie Cowan, crime correspondent

The Guardian, Thursday 11 August 2005 02.53 BST

Childhood cruelty to animals can be an early warning of a propensity for violence against other
people, a report published yesterday said.
The research wing of animal rights charity, Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals),
has compiled a study of the links between severe animal abuse by children who later committed
acts of extreme violence - in some cases, murder.
Several cases have been well documented. Thomas Hamilton, the Dunblane killer, enjoyed
shooting animals and squashing rabbits' heads beneath car wheels as a youth. Robert
Thompson, who was 10 years old when he and John Venables killed two-year-old Jamie
Bulger, pulled the heads off live birds.
David Mulcahy and John Duffy, the so-called Railway Rapists, who raped and murdered three
women and raped or assaulted 12 more in the 70s and 80s, shared a teenage fascination with
tormenting animals.
Peta, which has sent its report to the Crown Prosecution Service, MPs and all UK police
forces, believes there should be closer cooperation between police and social services and
organisations such as the RSPCA, so that those at risk of becoming dangerous criminals can be
spotted, and perhaps helped, as early as possible.
The FBI, which already uses reports of animal abuse to analyse criminal threat potential, has
found a childhood history of cruelty to animals is prevalent among many serial rapists and
murderers.
Robert Ressler, founder of the FBI's behavioural sciences unit, said: "These are the kids who
never learned that it was wrong to poke a puppy's eyes out." Alan Bradley, an FBI special
agent, said: "Some offenders kill animals as a rehearsal for targeting human victims and may
kill or torture animals because, to them, animals symbolically represent people."
The Peta study found abuse of pets in the home was often linked to domestic violence, with
adult perpetrators tormenting family pets, as well as children and partners.
Peta's research found that some children in abusive homes copy the abusers' behaviour.
"Children in violent homes are characterised by frequently participating in pecking-order
battering, in which they maim or kill an animal. Domestic violence is the most common
background for childhood cruelty to animals."

Scotland Yard's homicide prevention unit, set up last year to examine the psychological profile
of violent offenders in an effort to thwart future crime, is also interested in the links between
various patterns of cruelty.
Laura Richards, a senior behavioural consultant with the unit, said there was a definite link
between domestic violence and stranger rape.

Do children who kill animals turn out to be


violent?
It is widely claimed that children who injure or kill animals as children are more
likely to exhibit violent behavior as adults, committing domestic violence or
murder. A site dedicated to discussing "killer kids" describes "cruelty to animals &
smaller children" as one of the "warning signs of kids who kill".
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who actually cite some
sources, states that this goes both ways:
Acts of cruelty to animals are not mere indications of a minor personality flaw in
the abuser; they are symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance. Research in
psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to
animals dont stop theremany of them move on to their fellow humans.
Murderers ... very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids, says
Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (FBI).
up vote 26
down vote
favorite
3

Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have
abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. A
survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found
that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well. According to
a New South Wales newspaper, a police study in Australia revealed that 100
percent of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of animal cruelty.
To researchers, a fascination with cruelty to animals is a red flag in the
backgrounds of serial killers and rapists. According to the FBIs Ressler, These
are the kids who never learned its wrong to poke out a puppys eyes.
Apparently, even as adults such individuals are still violent toward animals.
I know I learned to hunt and fish when I was young, and lots of other kids do too.
It seems unlikely that all of us will turn out violent someday. Perhaps there's
something about the demographic that learns to do such things at a young age
that predisposes them toward violence, or maybe individuals making this claim
have a narrower definition of violence than I.
At any rate, is there any evidence of a correlation between childhood violence
toward animals and violent behavior as an adult (or vice versa)?

People Who Are Violent to Animals Rarely


Stop There
Violent acts towards animals have long been recognised as indicators of a dangerous
psychopathology that does not confine itself to animals. Anyone who has accustomed himself
to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives, wrote humanitarian Dr Albert Schweitzer. Murderers ... very often
start out by killing and torturing animals as kids, according to Robert K. Ressler, who
developed profiles of serial killers for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Studies
have now convinced sociologists, lawmakers and the courts that acts of cruelty towards
animals deserve our attention. They can be the first sign of a violent pathology that includes
human victims.
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser but rather a
symptom of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that
people who commit acts of cruelty towards animals dont stop there; many of them move on to
their fellow humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear
in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and
treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic
criterion for conduct disorders.
A study conducted by US Northeastern University and an American SPCA in Massachusetts
found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes
against humans. The majority of inmates scheduled to be executed for murder at Californias
San Quentin penitentiary practiced their crimes on animals, according to the warden.

Notorious Killers
As a child, serial killer and rapist Ted Bundyultimately convicted of two killings but
suspected of murdering more than 40 womenwitnessed his fathers violence towards
animals, and he himself subsequently tortured animals.
Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped and stabbed a 7-year-old boy, was known in his
neighbourhood for hanging cats and torturing dogs.
David Berkowitz (a.k.a. Son of Sam), who pleaded guilty to 13 murder and attempted
murder charges, shot a neighbours Labrador retriever.
Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a California school, killing two children and injuring nine
others, had repeatedly abused cats and dogs, often setting their tails on fire.
Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs and cats on sticks.

What You Can Do


Write to the minister of environment and forests to encourage him to increase the currently
meagre and ineffective penalties for animal cruelty. When the penalties are increased, the

police, animal protection groups and citizens will have more power to stop the senseless abuse
of animals that could lead to cruelty to humans:
The Honourable Shri T.R. Baalu
Union Cabinet Minister
Government of India
Ministry of Environment & Forests
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003
Encourage your local police to take animal cruelty cases seriously. PETA has prepared an
instructional video for police on the unlawful manner in which animals are transported and
slaughtered to motivate them to take strong action against unlawful cruelty in these cases.
Write to PETA for a copy to share with your local police: PETAIndia@petaindia.org.
Urge your local school and state government to take cruelty to animals seriously. Laws must
send a strong message that violence against any feeling creaturehuman or non-humanis
unacceptable.
Be aware of signs of neglect or abuse in children and animals. Take children seriously if they
report animals being neglected or mistreated. Some children wont talk about their own
suffering but will talk about an animals.
Dont ignore even minor acts of cruelty to animals by children. Talk to the child and the
childs parents. If necessary, call a social worker.

Animal Abuse Indicates High Risk Of


Psychopathic Disorder

animal abuse

April 14, 2012

By: Jeffrey Nemeth

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Violent acts against animals are considered recognized as indicators of a disease of the
psyche that is not limited to animals. "anyone who has once accustomed to the life of
any living being as unworthy of life, there is a risk that one day he also comes to the
conclusion that human life is worthless, "wrote humanitarian Albert Schweitzer.
"Murderers ... their dubious careers often start as children to kill or torture animals," said
Robert K. Ressler, the profiles of serial killers created for the FBI.
Studies have convinced sociologists, lawmakers and the courts that acts of cruelty against
animals deserve our attention. It can be the first sign of a mental disease that does not stop
from violence against humans too.
A long history of violence and animal abuse is not solely the result of a slight split personality
of Tierqulers, but a symptom of a profound disturbance. The research in the field of
psychology and criminology shows that people who commit violent acts against animals, do
not stop there.
Many of them are expanding their deeds to affect humans.
The FBI has found that repeated acts of violence against animals is one of the features that are
usually stored in their computers, accounts of serial rapist and murderers appear. And guidance
for diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a
diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.
(1)Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to abuse animals
and children as criminals those who are classified as non-aggressive. (2) A study of psychiatric
patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats, has shown that all of them also had high
levels of aggression towards people, including one patient who had actually killed a boy. (3)
For scientists, the outgoing of animal cruelty fascination draws a thread through the lives of
serial rapists and killers. (4)
Notorious murderers: History books are full of examples: Patrick Sherrill, who killed 14
employees where he previously worked and then shot himself, was already known to have
abused and killed, pets' and then release his own dog on them to to mutilate them. (5) Earl
Kenneth Shriner, who raped a 7-year-old boy stabbed and mutilated, and was well known for
having putting firecrackers in the anus of stray dogs. (6) Brenda Spencer, who killed a school
teacher in San Diego with a semi-automatic rifle with a shot to the head of a teacher and the
janitor and then injured nine others, had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats, in many cases by
lighting their tails on fire. (7) Albert DeSalvo, the "Boston Strangler" who killed 13 women,
began in his youth torturing and killing dogs and cats in crates and shot them with arrows. (8)
Carroll Edward Cole, who for five of the 35 murders of which he was indicted, was executed,
said that the first violent act was passed as a child was to strangle a puppy. (9) In 1987, three
high school - students indicted in Missouri, killed a classmate. They were well known for the
repeated cases of animal mutilations, they had begun years earlier. One of them admitted that
he had already killed so many cats that he no longer could count them. (10) Two brothers who
murdered their parents had previously told classmates they had decapitated a cat. (11) Serial
killer Jeffrey Dahmer the list is endless. Young people are sometimes sentenced to prison terms
without parole.

Animal cruelty and family violence: Domestic abuse is directed more against the weaker animal
and child abuse go hand in hand usually. Parents who ignore the needs of an animal or abused
animals tend also to transfer this to their children.
In 88 percent of 57 families in New Jersey who were in treatment for child abuse, were also
pets' had been abused. (12) Of 23 British families with cases of animal abuse, 83 percent of
them were convicted of child abuse expert or at risk for neglect. (13) While animal abuse is an
important sign of child abuse, it is not always a parent who is tormented by the animals.
Children who abuse animals to repeat so often, what they have learned at home. Like their
parents, they react with violence to anger and frustration. Their violence is directed against the
only member of their family, which is even weaker than himself: a 'pet'. One expert said:
"Children with a violent family background characterized by the fact that they often ..... participate in battles against the weak - like a pecking order of chickens," during which they
also mutilate animals or kill. It is a fact that is just family violence as a breeding ground for
childhood cruelty to animals. interrupt the cycle of violence , it is "among psychologists
consensus view is .... that animal cruelty is one of the clearest examples of the persistence of
mental disorders from childhood to adulthood. This means that the significance of predictions
of childhood animal cruelty is extensively documented, "says the Institute of Veterinary
Medicine at Cornell University. (14) to dismiss schools, parents, local authorities and the
courts, the animal cruelty as "minor" offenses, thus ignoring a time bomb. Instead, authorities
and courts to punish society representative of the animal cruelty sharply to investigate the
underlying families for further signs of violence and require intensive counseling for offenders.
The authorities must recognize that abuse towards ANY living being is unacceptable and
constitutes a danger to anyone. In addition, children should be taught to respect animals and to
take care of them, in their own interest. After extensive studies of the link between animal and
child abuse, two other experts concluded that: "The development of relationships in human
society, marked by emotion and goodness, could be accelerated if we have a positive and
lasting ethic between children and animals. "
(15)What you can do: - Apply pressure on your local school and judicial authorities to take
cases of animal abuse seriously. The laws must speak for themselves, so that each is clear that
violence against any sentient beings - whether human or animal - is not acceptable. - Keep eyes
and ears open when it comes to neglect or abuse of animals or children.
Do you accept the testimony of children seriously if they report such cases?
Some children may not talk about their own abuse, but do so in relation to animals. - Do not
ignore less important cases of cruelty to animals by children. Talk to the children and their
parents. And if necessary, make contact with a social agency.