Animal abusers also perpetrate violence against humans

Almost a quarter of all high-profile cases of intentional animal cruelty in 2000 also involved some form of family violence, says a new report from the Humane Society of the United States. The report corroborates earlier research on the connection between animal cruelty and human violence.

The HSUS's study, conducted from January through December of 2000, assessed the demographics of animal abusers, the types of animals abused, and the incidence of family violence in 1,624 high profile animal cruelty cases throughout the country.

Among the results:

  • An extremely high number – 31 percent – of intentional cruelty cases were committed by male teenagers under the age of 18.

  • A large number of cases of intentional animal cruelty – 21 percent – also involved some form of family violence, either domestic violence, child abuse or elder abuse.

  • Male perpetrators were involved in 76 percent of cases overall and 94 percent of the cases involving intentional abuse.

  • While women were involved in only 24 percent of cases overall, they were responsible for 45 percent of severe neglect cases, including 68 percent of animal hoarding cases.

    Perpetrators of family violence abuse pets to silence, coerce and further intimidate other vulnerable family members. In 1995, researchers interviewed a small sample of domestic violence victims seeking shelter in Utah and found that 71 percent of pet-owning victims reported their batterers had threatened, hurt or killed family pets. Larger studies in 1997 and 2000 in the U.S. and Canada found that over 20 percent of domestic violence victims reported delaying leaving the abusive relationship out of fear for their pets' safety.

    Source: First Strike(r) Campaign 2000 Report Of Animal Cruelty Cases, April 13, 2001, Humane Society of the United States.

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