Over the last two decades, researches have spent a lot of time evaluating the link between animal abuse and domestic violence. Pet abuse was identified as one of the four significant predictors for domestic violence in a study conducted by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell and colleagues in three metropolitan areas over seven years.
By understanding the link between pet abuse and domestic violence, people are in a better position to protect their community. The collaborative efforts made by law enforcement officials has helped combat family violence and domestic abuse.
What are the warning signs of animal abuse?
Signs of pet abuse or neglect are often physical and can include any of the following:
- Head wounds that may have healed
- A tight-fitting collar around the animal’s neck
- Open sores on head or body
- Any physical ailment that hasn’t been treated adequately
- Poor skin conditions, such as patches of hair loss, extremely matted fur, scaly skin, rashes, bumps, or a filthy coat
- Flea infested fur, parasites or ticks
- Emaciation or extreme thinness (weight loss can occur naturally in senior animals, so this is not always a sign of neglect)
- Physical weakness such as limping or difficulty standing/walking
What is the link between animal abuse and domestic abuse?
According to research from The National District Attorneys Association, the link between animal abuse and domestic violence “consists of the coexistence of two or more of these intra-familial crimes: child abuse (including physical and sexual abuse) or neglect, domestic violence (including stalking and rape), elder abuse or neglect (including financial exploitation), and pet abuse or neglect (including sexual assault, animal fighting, and hoarding).”
Animal abuse also can be linked to other forms of violence, including homicide weapons offenses, drug offenses, sexual assault, arson, assault, or other violent crimes.
Is an animal abuse charge considered a serious offense?
All fifty states now have felony animal abuse laws in place. Animal protection laws are also crucial because they can help officials monitor abuse patterns and behaviors of criminals. Taking pet abuse as a serious crime can also help protect other people or animals against future abuse.
At the federal level, the FBI has been tracking crimes against animals in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). This system also is used to track serious criminal offenses.
The benefits of tracking these occurrences of pet abuse can help law enforcement paint a better picture of where these types of crimes are taking place and who is committing them. This can also help local authorities better understand what areas of their community may be at a higher risk for violence and assault.
What are cross-reporting laws?
Many states have implemented cross reporting laws as a result of the link between animal neglect and domestic violence. According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, cross reporting laws are “adopted bills which mandate the cross-reporting of animal and child abuse between animal health care providers, animal control agencies, child health care providers, and child protection agencies.”
At least 28 states have also implemented counseling requirements in their animal cruelty laws for convicted abusers. Four of these states require psychological counseling for anyone convicted of animal cruelty and six mandate counseling for juveniles convicted of animal cruelty.
Community efforts can make an impact
Encouraging local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to understand the dangers of animal abuse is the key to creating safer communities.
Individuals who commit abuse to animals are far more likely to become violent to their partners or children. If you suspect or witness your partner being abusive to an animal, it may be time to rethink your relationship.
Alana Redmond is a graduate in Media and Business from the University of California San Diego. She is also a consumer safety writer for safer-america.com and an avid dog lover. You can reach her by email at [email protected].