Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence

The belief that one’s treatment of animals is closely related to the treatment of humans has a long history, but despite popular acceptance of the concept, until recently there were few attempts to systematically study the relationship between treating animals and humans. In the early 1900s, case studies by Kraft Ebbing and Frenzy began to explore sadistic behavior toward animals associated with other forms of cruelty. However, the history of individual cases does not provide much insight into the origins of animal abuse and its relationship to other violent behavior. In 1966, Hillman and Blackman published one of the first official studies on animal cruelty and violence. 

Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence

Their analysis of the life history of 84 prisoners showed that 75 percent of those accused of violent crimes had an early history of animal cruelty, setting fire, and constant bed-wetting. Several subsequent studies looked at this triad of symptoms in other violent criminals, and the results were mixed. Later research has found that these three behaviors by themselves do not necessarily predict future violence, unless animal abuse is particularly aggressive and includes some or all of the following features:

Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence
This concept has become widely appreciated within law enforcement circles after a number of studies on criminals. FBI interviews with serial killers and other sexual homicide criminals initiated by Ressler and colleagues in the 1970s found that 36 percent of these violent criminals described cases of engaging in animal mutilation and torture as children, and 46 percent described such activities in their teens. Early animal cruelty prevalence rates of 25-50 percent have been described in several detailed retrospective studies of aggressive prison inmates, convicted assault offenders, convicted rapists, and child molesters. Questions about animal abuse are now standardized in many investigations into violent crime and juvenile fires. A major study by the Massachusetts SPCA examined the criminal records of a large sample of 153 animal harassers and a matching control sample of non-abusers over a 20-year period, and found that animal abusers were significantly more likely to participate in a variety of crimes including violent crime, theft, and drugs. The study supported the idea of ​​generalizing deviation in populations that abuse animals, rather than escalation from crimes against animals to crimes against people.

In the 1980s, additional attention began to be given to cases of animal cruelty as part of the dynamics of child abuse and domestic violence. A review in one community in England of 23 families with a history of animal abuse indicated that 83 percent were also identified by human social service agencies as having children at risk of abuse or neglect. A report of 53 families with pets in New Jersey being treated for child abuse or neglect indicated that at least one person had abused animals in 88 percent of families who had been physically abused. In two-thirds of these cases, the pet addict was the abusive parent. More recently, several studies have examined the incidence of animal cruelty in families of women who seek protection in battered partners' shelters. In one such survey in Utah, Ascione found that 71 percent of women who had pets who sought shelter reported that their male partner had threatened to kill or actually kill one or more of their pets. Similar results were obtained from other surveys across the United States and Canada.

Realizing the importance of the interconnectedness between violence against animals and violence against people has led to a number of important changes. A growing number of countries are escalating extreme forms of intentional cruelty to animals from misdemeanor to criminal offenses. Higher fines, longer prison terms, and / or required counseling are becoming more and more common in cases of animal cruelty. Many areas have begun training and monitoring animal welfare officials to recognize and report child abuse, and some animal shelters have begun working closely with women's shelters to provide emergency housing for pets of at-risk women and children.

The concept of the link between animal cruelty and other forms of violence was not without its detractors. For example, Piper and Myers urge a cautious and critical approach to reviewing the literature before it is applied to public policy, particularly in child protection.

Many animal advocates and others hope that a better understanding of how animal cruelty relates to other forms of violence may help develop tools for prevention and intervention.


Enforcement of Anti-Cruelty laws

Special police departments devoted to enforcing animal cruelty laws collide with many as a very modern concept, but their origins date back to the 19th century. The creation of the Animal Police Forces followed the development of human societies in Boston and New York. After George Angel founded the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and Henry Berg the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 1866, they both successfully lobbied for anti-cruelty laws.

Enforcement of Anti-Cruelty laws


Passed in 1868 and revised in 1909, the Massachusetts Animal Protection Act focused primarily on horse abuse. Although the code is somewhat outdated today, it still stands to enforce this law, and parallel to it in New York, the MSPCA and the ASPCA created small police departments within their organizations. Little is known about the nature of early animal police work other than what has been recorded in the annual reports of humanitarian societies having such departments. For the most part, these summary records only refer to the numbers and types of cases brought by officers. Humanitarian agents, empowered as police officers, investigated the cruelty of horses in the first place, because urban infrastructure requires these animals to be concerned with good health. One model entry indexed the work of the ASPCA in New York, saying that agents carried out 768 trials, of which 446 involved horse abuse, with crimes such as beatings, desertion, starvation, overloading, driving to death, and working ill lame or worn horses. Other trials

These included dog and cockfighting, feeding rats, feeding cows and litter, keeping cows in filthy conditions, refusing to rest cows with bulging udders, cruelty to cattle, dogs, cats, and poultry, and killing, maiming and wounding animals with knives and other tools. The only other information is the rare comment about the work of humanitarian law enforcement agents. In one case, the ASPCA report indicated how frustrated clients were with being criticized for being overzealous.

By the mid-twentieth century, the formation and organization of humanitarian law enforcement departments in cities such as Boston and New York resembled their current form. The MSPCA division consists of 16 employees, including 11 investigation officers, a consultant veterinarian, messengers, a manager, and an assistant director. With the exception of missionaries, they are all appointed as special police officers by the state of Massachusetts, although they are limited to enforcing animal protection laws and regulations. Nevertheless, they conduct investigations, obtain and enforce search warrants, make arrests, sign complaints and pursue her case. Officers are assigned across the state to investigate whether individuals and organizations are, too often, cruel or neglectful. The bulk of their cases concern everyday animals - strays, pets, insects and small farm animals - that are sometimes deliberately ignored or abused by individuals. These officers also visit and inspect cattle sheds, slaughterhouses, race tracks, pet stores, guard dog companies, ear dogs, horse stables or horse stables, and US Department of Agriculture licensed animal dealers. During a typical

Per year, MSPCA officers conducted nearly 5,000 investigations and 1,000 searches involving more than 150,000 animals. Because such complaints are also filed with other organizations in the state, estimates of complaints of abuse easily exceed 10,000 annually in Massachusetts, and show evidence of a steady rise over time. Of course, this increase may be the result of the public's increased sensitivity to animal welfare, greater visibility of humanitarian law enforcement departments, or simply improved record keeping. According to the MSPCA's official job description, the primary purpose of officers' work is to:

Enforcement of Anti-Cruelty laws


To do this work, potential employees are expected to possess a number of skills, the first of which is "human sensitivity, with affinity and the ability to empathize with animals and respond with compassion and objectivity."

When investigating complaints of cruelty, junior officers view themselves as brute force, as they believe they have legitimate authority to represent the interests of animals that have been abused. They see themselves as a force for the weak, and a voice for the dumb, acting out and talking about animals when their well-being or life is in danger. With more time at work, that offer changes. Although they are expected to represent the animal's side when investigating complaints of cruelty, officers face a number of issues that make this difficult to do. For a newly trained rookie, these problems can be overwhelming and frustrating. They are employed in part due to their human sensitivity; This intense interest in animals combined with recent police training creates a number of expectations in them. Junior expects to deal with complaints against animals that violate the legal definition of cruelty as well as their own standards, to monitor animals to ascertain the nature and extent of cruelty, to advise participants or perpetrators when necessary to improve the treatment of their animals, to prosecute those who commit atrocious acts of cruelty or do not comply with advice, and must be understood. Respect for them as police officers and humanitarian officers These expectations were quickly shattered as rookies began investigating complaints.

First, professional identity is a problem. Junior officers face a contrast between how they see themselves and how others see them. On the one hand, officers see themselves as professional law enforcers and animal protectors. As one officer said of the department's civil service expectations: "They want you to be a humanitarian officer, but you have the authority or presence of a police officer. It's hard to do both." On the one hand, one of the reasons for the "hard to do both" is that friends, family, strangers, and other professionals are often confused with this group, and either they have no idea what the humanitarian officers are doing, or they lower them to the level of the dogcatcher.

Second, officers must enforce a problematic law. Massachusetts, like other states, has an anti-cruelty law that specifies that animals should not be deliberately mistreated. The law prohibits many types of abuse and neglect that threaten the safety and welfare of animals, including but not limited to beating, maiming, or killing, as well as not providing them with adequate food and drink and protection from the weather. Those convicted of breaking this law can be fined up to $ 1,000 and imprisonment of up to one year, or both. Newer animal protection laws classified cruelty as a felony, increasing the maximum prison sentence to up to five years.

Officers find it difficult to enforce the law, due to ambiguous use of terms such as neglect, abuse, appropriate care, necessary veterinary care, and suffering. Nor can officers retreat from more general cultural notions of suffering, as they are also vague and contradictory by various groups. This problem forces officers to interpret the meaning of the law and apply it on a case-by-case basis, a point raised by Walter Kilroy, former director of the Humanitarian Law Enforcement division at MSPCA, who noted “the continuing absence of a widely accepted definition of animal cruelty. Threatens animal welfare ... must be challenged and overcome on a largely individual basis.

Enforcement of Anti-Cruelty laws


Third, there is a problem with the evidence. The best witness to human abuse is the victim. Their testimony certainly facilitates, although it does not guarantee, a successful trial. However, it is clear that animals cannot report or express harm. Beginners must learn to know if an animal has been abused, and rely on indirect evidence to tell a story of an act of abuse. Beginners are discovering that a large part of this indirect evidence comes from investigating humans. In fact, this human aspect of animal cruelty often becomes the deciding factor in handling and resolving complaints.

Finally, there is a problem with enforcement and litigation. Young adults face very few clear cases of animal cruelty that lead to prosecution and punishment. Instead, they confront respondents whose behavior toward their animals does not violate the law, but falls short of what the officers would prefer to see. Without a technical violation of the cruelty law, officers feel they have little, if any, power to compel respondents to improve their treatment of animals. When they meet with defendants whose actions violate the law, officers see their advice being ignored. Instead of giving up entirely in these times, novices must learn how to get their message across to respondents and, if necessary, take them to court. This last option can also be particularly frustrating, especially for beginners, as they are faced with a court system that appears indifferent or hostile to animal fears.

Most officers learn to deal with these problems by developing an attitude of human realism. With less legitimate authority to enforce the law, officers become humane teachers trying to turn abusers, or others they meet on the job, into responsible animal owners. With few victories in court, they discover alternative ways to be effective in their fight against cruelty, and in the face of public confusion or ridicule over the role of humanitarian law enforcement, they assert the police side in their work without forgetting their commitment to animal protection.


Prosecuting Anti-Cruelty Laws

Animal cruelty trials have become daily events attracting widespread public and professional interest. Several trends show the increasing focus on enforcement of anti-cruelty laws:

Prosecuting Anti-Cruelty Laws


The systematic prosecution of animal cruelty cases did not begin until there were well-defined animal protection laws in place, as well as agencies with the power to enforce these laws. In England, the first comprehensive animal protection law was the Cruel and Inappropriate Treatment of Cattle Act in 1822, which also protected horses, sheep, cows and mules, and provided for fines of up to five pounds and up to three months in prison for mistreating these livestock. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was established in England in 1824 to ensure that this legislation was enforced. She funded her policeman and eventually secured the Queen's support, becoming the Royal SPCA in 1840.

Inspired by the success of the RSPCA in England, Henry Berg and his companions established the American SPCA in 1866 to promote enforcement of new laws in New York similar to those in England. The Animal Cruelty Act was amended in 1867 to apply to any living creature, a major departure from concern for animals with only commercial value and the first step in protecting pets and wildlife from cruelty. The law was enforced regardless of animal ownership, recognizing that people are capable of cruelty to their animals. The list of illegal acts has been expanded, much like most of the state's anti-cruelty laws today. It also made all forms of animal fights illegal for the first time, including bull, bear, dog and cockfights. The law comprehensively addressed neglect, imposed the obligation to provide "adequate quality of good and healthy food and water," and enabled anyone to enter buildings to meet these needs. Most importantly, the act granted the ASPCA's arresting authority to enforce these provisions. Berg himself served as a private prosecutor, and was successful in taking several cases to court.

In the United States, it has been difficult to assess the impact of a rapid increase in the number of stronger laws on the actual number of trials, as there is no central tracking of arrests of animals harshly. In some states where data was available, higher arrest rates were primarily linked to stronger animal control laws. As of 2008, Dogfighting is now a felony in every state in the United States. 


Prosecuting Anti-Cruelty Laws

Successful prosecution of animal crimes often requires specialized knowledge of not only relevant laws, but also veterinary medicine, veterinary forensics, animal welfare, and practices used against animals in organized crime, such as dog and cockfighting. Animal welfare and control agencies, humanitarian societies, SPCAs, and veterinary societies are important allies of prosecutors in successfully investigating and pursuing animal cruelty cases. These cases are subject to an unusually high degree of scrutiny by the general public. Prosecutors often receive tens of thousands of letters to support prosecution of animal cruelty crimes.

Effective prosecution of animal abuse has many benefits. It can provide an early and timely response to those who pose, or are at risk of becoming, a threat to the safety of others. It can provide an additional tool to protect victims of domestic violence. Finally, it can provide an opportunity for prosecutors to develop new, powerful and useful allies in protecting their communities and in helping to build a truly compassionate society.

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