Cruelty Connections

In a perfect world there would be no abuse of any kind – child abuse, domestic abuse, animal abuse, etc.  Unfortunately our world is far from perfect and abuse has become more prevalent than ever before.  What’s even more unfortunate is that we often hear only about high-profile cases which leads people to think that most cases of abuse are isolated.  The ”smaller” every-day incidences get swept under the rug and forgotten about.  No abuse should be tolerated.  No one deserves to be mistreated.  All creatures, human and non-human, deserve to live their lives free from anxiety, fear, and suffering.  

 An abundance of research shows that there is a strong link between violent behavior toward animals  and violent behavior toward people.  According to a 1997 study performed by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Northeastern University, animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people  and four times more likely to commit property crimes than are individuals without a history of animal abuse. 


In fact, many studies during the last 25 years have demonstrated that violent offenders often have childhood and adolescent histories of  serious and repeated animal cruelty.

Examples of Serial Killers with Animal Abuse Backgrounds:

Albert DeSalvo, who killed 13 women, trapped dogs and cats and shot them through boxes in his youth.  Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer from my hometown, Milwaukee, WI, impaled frogs, cats, and dogs’ heads on sticks.  Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 classmates, spoke openly about mutilating animals.  Denis Rader (aka “BTK killer”) wrote about hanging a cat and dog in his childhood. 

These are just a few examples.  Acts of animal abuse are not mere indications of a minor personality flaw; they symptomatic of a deep mental disturbance.  Children who abuse animals are reacting to anger and frustration with violence.  So how do we put an end to this?  By educating our children the importance of respecting all life forms including animals.  Ignoring an act of animal abuse is like ignoring a ticking time bomb.  Animal abuse can not be tolerated because in most cases it will escalate.  Make sure your children are aware that animal cruelty is unacceptable and endangers everyone.

More scary statistics:

  • In Wisconsin, battered women revealed that in four out of five cases, abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock.
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence conducted its own study in which 85.4 percent of women and 63.0 percent of children reported incidents of pet abuse after arriving at domestic violence shelters.
  • The Chicago Police Department’s Domestic Violence Program took a look at the criminal histories of animal fighting/animal abuse arrestees for 2000-2001 and found that approximately 30 percent had domestic violence charges on their records.

So you see, all abuse is interconnected.  People abuse other living beings because they find joy/fulfillment/power through the torture of a victim  that they know cannot defend itself.  The line separating an animal abuser to someone capable of committing human abuse is much finer than most people care to consider.  Too often people shrug off animal abuse as being “minor offenses”.  Too often we ignore or stand passively on the side and pretend these incidents don’t occur.  We need to work together and educate others so we can stop this horrific cycle.

“Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”
 - Albert Schweitzer

Related Resources:

  1. The Animal Cruelty Syndrome” ~ New York Times
  2. End Animal Cruelty & Fighting ~ the Humane Society of the U.S.
  3. Fight Animal Cruelty ~ ASPCA
  4. First Strike: The Connection Between Animal Cruelty & Human Violence ~ The Humane Society of the U.S.

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