If you See Something, Say Something
When you report animal abuse or neglect, you may be saving more lives than you know.
“Over the past 30 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of violence. Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored: it is often an indicator or predictor crime and a “red flag” warning sign that other family members in the household may not be safe,” states the National Link Coalition website. [i]
With increasing evidence that links animal abuse to violence against humans, we have an obligation to report animal abuse and neglect for the well-being of animals and to create safer communities for all. While animal abuse does not always lead to interpersonal violence, it is a warning sign that should not be ignored.
According to an article in New York Times, the shooter in the recent Florida school shooting, Nikolas Cruz, had enjoyed “bragging about killing animals.” [ii] This is not uncommon. A 2000 study published in the Clinical Psychology Review found that 43% of school shooters have a history of animal cruelty. [iii]
Reporting suspected abuse has not always been as easy as it is today. In the past, it was difficult to determine the appropriate authority to contact to make a report. In some cities these cases are handled by Animal Control. In others they are handled by the Sheriff’s Department or Public Safety Department.
The National Link Coalition is an organization dedicated to gathering information and resources about the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence. The organization has also created a database with contact information for reporting animal neglect and abuse anywhere in the country. To learn the names and phone numbers of all the authorities who deal with animal neglect and abuse reports in your state visit nationallinkcoalition.org and click your state on the map.
Below is a list of contact numbers for the local area:
City of Aiken: Department of Public Safety Animal Control Division (803) 642-7620
Aiken County: Aiken County Code Enforcement Animal Enforcement Division (803) 642-1537
North Augusta: Animal Control Humane Investigation Division (803) 441-4298
Saluda: Saluda County Sheriff’s Office (864) 445-2112
Augusta: City of Augusta Animal Services (706) 790-6836
Barnwell County: Barnwell County Sheriff (803) 541-1078
Edgefield County: Edgefield County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Division (803) 637-5337
We all respond to adversity differently, and sometimes it can be easier to turn a blind eye when we witness suffering. Let the knowledge of this link be a reminder of how important it is to report animal neglect and abuse. In addition to saving an animal’s life, investigators may uncover other violent activity and be able to intervene for people who are at risk.
[i] National Link Coalition: nationallinkcoalition.org
[ii] Haag, M. & Kovaleski, S. (2018, February 14). Nikolas Cruz, Florida Shooting Suspect, Described as a ‘Troubled Kid’. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
[iii] Verlinden, S., Herson, M., & Thomas, J. (2000). Risk factors in school shootings. Clinical Psychology Review, 20(1), 3-56.
Jessica Gladkowski is the Director of Community Relations at the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare. Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts in Japanese from The University of Vermont in 2013, and over the next several years she traveled to Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines where she taught English and immersed herself in different cultures. Jessica is inspired to combine her passion for helping animals, teaching, and serving a diverse community through a career in animal welfare. Jessica lives in Aiken with her husband David and their rescue dogs Django and Ollie.