In light of the recent mass shootings and widespread violence in our country, it’s worth reflecting on the link between animal abuse and violence against humans and the importance of reporting any suspected neglect or abuse to law enforcement.
“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]
The data says it all, and makes it apparent that we as a society should be taking animal abuse seriously if we want to make our communities safer for both animals and humans.
“The link between animal abuse and violence towards people is supported by studies, which have shown that: 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of cruelty towards animals, 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% have committed violent crimes against people, 63.3% of men who had committed crimes of aggression admitted to cruelty to animals, [and] 48% of rapists and 30% of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence.” [ii]
When animal abuse is reported, offenders can be prosecuted and intervention for abusive children is possible. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “children who abuse animals should receive immediate professional psychological intervention for both their own welfare and that of the community.” It is not safe to assume children who abuse animals will outgrow their violent tendencies, and in fact, these tendencies can become worse as the children age. [iii]
Starting on January 1, 2016, the FBI began tracking animal cruelty alongside other crimes in its criminal database known as the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Data gathered through NIBRS on a national scale can be used to help law enforcement better identify patterns of violence across city, county, and state lines, and intervene for those who are at risk of becoming victims of violence. Currently, law enforcement agencies have the option to participate in this reporting, but not all choose to do so.
“The National Sheriffs’ Association’s John Thompson urged people to shed the mindset that animal cruelty is a crime only against animals. ‘It’s a crime against society,’ he said, urging all law enforcement agencies to participate in NIBRS. ‘By paying attention to [these crimes], we are benefiting all of society.’” [iv]
Not sure who to call to report animal abuse? The National Link Coalition has a database with contact information for reporting 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. You can help save animal lives and be a voice for the voiceless, and you may be saving more lives than you know.
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 around Asia 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.