The welfare of non-human animals is inextricably impacted by choices and behaviors of human beings and there are a multitude of human behaviors that result in maltreatment of animals. Animal maltreatment encompasses a wide spectrum of behaviors ranging from a basic lack of knowledge and awareness of animal care (resulting in neglect and abuse) to patterned, premeditated and vicious acts of violence toward animals.
Not surprisingly, certain individuals that engage in human maltreatment and violence may also be more likely to maltreat animals. Accurately identifying and responding to the Link improves the welfare of both animals and humans.
The Humane Research Council (HRC) reports that the animal protection movement was rated “favorable” by 72% of respondents in HRC’s Wave 6 Animal Tracker annual survey. Additionally, the report found that “at least 75% of respondents rated the welfare and protection of animals as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ important in all situations addressed in this survey.”
Community awareness building and education about the Link alone are not adequate to stop maltreatment of animals. On a community level, primary prevention of animal maltreatment is perhaps most effectively accomplished through humane education and programming efforts directed at young children combined with early identification and intervention with at-risk individuals.
The complex nature of the Link cases often may require system interfaces and cross-reporting between multiple disciplines and resources in a community. Effective Link interventions require coordination of roles, responsibilities and resources that are made possible by the creation of community based Link collaborations and professional competency development.