The Relevance of the Link to Criminal Justice Professional
Significant research has underscored the relations between animal maltreatment, the maltreatment of humans, interpersonal violence and crime which strongly supports the value of criminal justice professionals viewing and responding to certain cases of animal maltreatment from a public safety perspective .
- Individuals that maltreat and harm animals may pose significant potential public safety risks.
- Violence directed towards animals may be a sentinel of violence towards humans.
- Early childhood violence towards animals is factor in conduct disorders in children.
- When the victims of violence are companion animals in a home it is often a component of family violence.
- Early identification of animal cruelty offenders combined with effective interventions is a resource for violence prevention.
The Link is a Public Safety Issue
Some examples of why animal cruelty is a public safety issue:
- 70% of animal abuses had criminal records including crimes involving violence, property, drugs or disorderly behavior (Arluke & Luke, 1997).
- 60% of individuals who witnessed or perpetrated animal abuse also experienced family violence (DeGrue & DiLillo, 2009).
- The FBI uses reports of animal cruelty in analyzing the threat potential of suspected and known criminals (Lockwood & Church, 1996).
- Half of school shooters have histories of animal cruelty (Verlinden, Herson, & Thomas, 2000).
- Batterers who also abuse their pets are both more controlling and use more dangerous forms of violence [sexual violence, marital rape, emotional violence and stalking] than batters who do not (Simmons & Lehmann, 2007).
- Animal cruelty cases often necessitate that multiple agencies and organizations support each other through sharing roles, resources and expertise.
- Accurate identification of animal cruelty and associated Link issues is necessary for determining which matters require more intensive and focused investigation.
- Charging animal cruelty cases congruent to relevant statutes strengthens the ability of the criminal justice system to mandate appropriate evaluations, sanctions and treatment interventions.
- Individualized animal cruelty specific evaluations may be necessary to identify public safety risks.
- Intervention responses fall along a continuum based on the types and levels of harm as well as offender typologies and characteristics.