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14 May 2000 Issue
Link Between Animal Cruelty & Human Violence

* IS THERE ANY EVIDENCE OF A CONNECTION BETWEEN ANIMAL

CRUELTY AND HUMAN VIOLENCE?

Absolutely. 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 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."

* IS ANIMAL ABUSE RECOGNIZED AS A SIGN OF MENTAL DISORDER?

Yes. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Assn lists animal cruelty as one of the behaviours signaling conduct disorder. Clinical evidence indicates that animal cruelty is one of the symptoms usually seen at the earliest stages of conduct disorder, often by the age of eight. This information has only recently been included in the DSM, so some psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers are just now becoming aware of it."

* WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO STOP ANIMAL ABUSERS WHEN THEY ARE YOUNG?"

A 1994 report released by the National Research Council states that early intervention is more likely to reduce adult crime than criminal sanctions applied later in life. The report further states that childhood behaviour is more important than teenage behaviour in predicting future violence.

* WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT YOUNG ANIMAL ABUSERS FROM

DEVELOPING INTO VIOLENT ADULTS?

Crimes against animals are not isolated events. FBI experts advise all appropriate agencies to share case information with one another. A comprehensive approach with cooperation from the family, support from the school, and counseling by a psychologist or social worker is essential."

Some highly publicized case examples of the "connection" are:

May 21, 1998, Springfield, OR. Kip Kinkel, 15, allegedly walked into his high school cafeteria and opened fire on his classmates. Friends and family have indicated that Kinkel has a history of animal abuse and torture. Friends say that he often bragged about torturing and killing animals.

April 9, 1998, West Dallas, TX. Seven and 8 year-old brothers and an 11-year-old friend were arrested for kidnapping, beating and sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl. A local television station reported that the brothers had been involved in animal cruelty.

March 24, 1998, Jonesboro, AR. Mitchell Johnson - 13, and Andrew Golden -11, allegedly shot and killed four students and one teacher ambushed during a fire drill. A school friend of Golden stated that Andrew "said he shoots dogs all the time with a .22."

October 1, 1997, Pearl, MS. Luke Woodham -16, allegedly stabbed his mother to death. Woodham then allegedly went to his high school where he shot and killed two classmates and injured seven others. Woodham stated in his personal journal that he and an accomplice beat, burned, and tortured his dog, Sparkle, to death. He said it was, "true beauty."

December 1, 1997, West Paducah, KY. Michael Carneal - 14, allegedly shot and killed three classmates at school. According to another student, Carneal talked about throwing a cat into a bonfire.

November 1996, Tavares, FL. Rod Ferrell - 17, "vampire cult leader" and cult members Heather Wendorf, 16, Howard Anderson, 17, Dana Cooper, 20, and Charity Keesee, 17, were arrested in connection with the bludgeoning deaths of Wendorf's parents. Media accounts include animal torture and mutilation as part of their rituals.

December 4, 1994, SF, CA. A 17 year-old, along with two 15 year-old friends were arrested in the beating death of a 15 year-old friend. Officials reported that the older boy had a history of fire starting and animal torture, including an incident at age 11 where he is reported to have thrown a cat in the air until he broke two of its legs.

March 6, 1994, Cleveland, OH. "Jack," a 16 year-old serial sex offender in Cleveland was charged with rape and sexual battery. His other victims reportedly included infants and animals.

SOME CHILLING STATISTICS:

The U.S. Bureau of Statistics reported that in 1996 there were 9.1 million violent crimes in the United States.

A 1997 study by the MSPCA and Northeastern University found that 70% of animal abusers had committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% had committed violent crimes against people.

A 1986 study reported that 48% of convicted rapists and 30% of convicted child molesters admitted perpetrating acts of animal cruelty in their childhood or adolescence. (Tingle et al, 1986)

A history of animal abuse was found in 25% of aggressive male criminals, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of those who assaulted women, and 46% of those convicted of sexual homicide. (Petrovoski, 1997)

Every 15 seconds a woman is battered (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

In three surveys in women's shelters in WI and UT in the late 1990s an average of 74% of pet-owning women reported that a pet had been threatened, injured or killed by the abusers. (Ascione 1995 & 1997 and Quinlisk, 1995)

The Buffalo, NY police department and the SPCA of Erie County found that 1/3 of the residences with animal abuse complaints also had domestic violence complaints (1998)

A survey of women in a safehouse in UT found that 20% delayed leaving the abusive situation out of fear that their pet would be harmed. Data currently being collected in Canada found almost 50% delayed leaving. (Ascione, 1997)

The 1995 UT survey also found that children witnessed the animal abuse in over 60% of the cases and 32% of women reported that one or more of their children hurt or killed a pet.

In 1991 the US Board on Child Abuse and Neglect released a report indicating that more than 2.5 million American children are suffering from abuse and neglect.

A 1983 survey in NJ of families reported for child abuse found that in 88% of the families at least one person had abused animals. (Devine, Dickered & Lockwood, 1983)

The NJ study also found that in 2/3 of these cases, the abusive parent had injured or killed a pet and in 1/3 of the cases, children were the animal abusers.

A study by the Royal SPCA in Great Britain found that 83% of families with a history of animal abuse had also been identified by social service agencies as at-risk for child abuse or neglect. (Hutton, 1981)

A special toll-free number has been established for information regarding The HSUS's First Strike Campaign. To order a First Strike packet, or to obtain further information, call toll-free 1-888-213-0956 OR write:

The Humane Society of the United States

2100 L Street, NW

Washington, DC 20037

(202) 452-1100

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