The Link: Animal Absuse Is Warning


American Humane should have been mentioned in this piece from the New York Times on animal abuse as a clue to additional cruelties. The Link, documented by the American Humane Association years ago, is nothing new. That’s the link between violence and abuse to animals begetting violence to people.

The good news is that even if the terminology, known as the Link, is not known – the relationship between violence to animals and then violence to people is now pretty much common knowledge. If the pets in the home are being abused, it’s no surprise that child or spousal abuse might be going on, or will be going on. And we’ve all heard mass murderers do ‘practice’ on animals first. People who are violent to animals are even more likely to be involved in felony crimes, according to various studies. Put simply, we know, violence begets violence

Law enforcement, including the FBI, now understands all this and in all sorts of ways are beginning to learn how to take advantage of this head start, knowing what animal abusers might do later. Government agencies are beginning to understand the importance of cross-reporting.

Even some who didn’t consider animal abuse important for humane reasons, now understand animal abuse in a different way.

Tennessee and California are considering bills to create online registries of animal abusers. In the last three years, four states – including  Illinois – have enacted laws that require or authorize child or spousal
abuse investigators and animal control officers to inform each other
when they find something potentially amiss in a home. Eight states now
have such laws, as well as Washington D.C.

Frank Ascione

Frank Ascione is the American Humane endowed chair at the University of Denver, and is a pioneer in the field. According to the New York Times story, Ascione said, children hinted at animal abuse to
teachers who alerted animal protection agencies. Those workers spotted
warning signs of other types of abuse, and child welfare workers
intervened only to find that the children themselves were being abused.Veterinarians are also beginning to spot potential abuse and report it. At this piont, there are now felony-level penalties for animal cruelty in nearly all states. And about half of all states now call for psychological counseling for individuals convicted of animal cruelty. And dogfighting is now a felony about everywhere, not only considered an inhumane crime, but simply a violent crime.Bottom line, humane issues aside, lots of compelling reasons for officials to take animal abuse seriously. Of course, in my mind, humane issues alone are worthy of serious penalty.