We too often focus on the species of the victim. We should instead focus on the abusive nature of the perpetrator. When we fail to act upon seeing a neglected or abused dog outside of a house and say, “It is just a dog” then we may be missing an opportunity to save not only that dog, but the children or senior citizen being neglected or abused inside of the house.
The link between animal abuse and violence against humans, particularly interpersonal violence has been proven over the past thirty-five years through innumerable studies. In 2018, the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit published a study which found three main contentions: Children who abuse animals were more likely to become violent toward humans; adults who abuse animals were more likely to commit interpersonal violence, and animal cruelty in the home typically indicates there is concurrent interpersonal violence (Hoffer, et. al. 2018). Why? Because lack of empathy is closely linked to all forms of abuse as is power, control and preying on the vulnerable.
Also, in 2018, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center issued a joint Toolbox for First Responders recognizing the link between animal abuse and violence against humans and urging everyone including first responders, animal control, animal shelters, social services, and veterinarians to report animal abuse. These Federal agencies contend that together we can act as a force multiplier to help reduce violence. Further, the Federal Drug Administration Commissioner issued a statement in August 2018 urging veterinarians to develop safety plans in regard to the opioid crisis (Gottlieb). There have been instances of burglaries to gain opioids and intentional injuring of animals as well. All safety plans include calling the police as part of the procedures.
However, despite four Federal agencies urging veterinarians to report animal abuse, Kentucky is saying no. Kentucky is the only state in the US that prohibits veterinarians from reporting animal abuse even though they are the most qualified to recognize abuse. And in doing so, Kentucky is closing an avenue of discovering abuse against the most vulnerable members of our society, domestic violence, child and elder abuse victims.
National Great Pyr Rescue sees the consequences of human violence against animals and works tirelessly to provide the medical care and loving foster homes in which these dogs can bloom into the dogs they were always meant to be. We urge everyone to reach out to police or animal control and learn the animal cruelty laws in your state so you can be part of a force multiplier to help reduce violence and protect the most vulnerable among us.
Joye Estes is a former NGPR Board Member and Kentucky State Coordinator. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.
DHS, FBI, NCTC. (July 2018). Animal Cruelty: A Possible Warning Behavior for Terrorism and Other Premeditated Violence Against Humans Which Needs Reporting and Further Vetting. First Responder’s Toolkit. Retrieved from http://nationallinkcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Terrorism-DHS-FBI-NCTC-Toolbox.pdf
Gottlieb, S. (Aug 2018). Statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the FDA’s new resource guide to support responsible opioid prescribing for pain management in animals. Read the full FDA statement here.
Hoffer, T., Hargreaves-Cormany, H., Muirhead, Y., Meloy, J. (2018). Violence in animal cruelty offenders. Springer International Publishing: Switzerland, Cham.