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The Devil’s in the Details

The First Strike® campaign releases findings from first national study on the connection between animal abuse and violence against humans

The First Strike® campaign releases findings from first national study on the connection between animal abuse and violence against humans

In the first national study examining the prevalence of violence toward humans in animal cruelty cases, The HSUS’s First Strike campaign found that almost a quarter of the cases involving deliberate cruelty to an animal also involved some form of family violence.

Examining 1,624 animal cruelty cases that occurred across the country last year, researchers assessed the demographics of abusers and types of abuse, as well as the demographics of abused animals in cases of deliberate cruelty. The results, while disturbing, may help serve as a guide for programs designed to combat animal neglect and cruelty.

Results showed that male perpetrators were involved in 76% of cases overall, and in 94% of the cases involving intentional abuse. By comparison, while women were involved in only 24% of overall cases, they were responsible for nearly half of severe neglect cases, including 68% of animal hoarding cases. In cases of deliberate cruelty, teenagers under the age of 18 committed 31% of the crimes.

Thirteen percent of the cases involved domestic violence; in these cases, the perpetrator abused his or her partner and/or forced the victim to witness the abuse of an animal. Another 7% involved child abuse and the perpetrator forcing a child to witness animal abuse.

Seventy-six percent of the animals involved in these cases were companion animals; the majority of the others were farm animals. In cases of deliberate cruelty, the most commonly reported abuse involved the shooting of an animal (33%), followed by the beating of an animal (14%).

While the researchers concluded that it was impossible to say exactly how many animals are affected by cruelty each year—due to the lack of a nationwide system to monitor cases of animal abuse—they did find that in the cases of deliberate abuse, an average of 3.4 animals were victimized in each instance. That number rises dramatically in cases of severe neglect: An average of 31.5 animals were victimized in each case of neglect, and in the majority of all animal abuse cases (63%), the animals were killed or had to be euthanized as a result of their injuries.

Discussing recommendations for reducing the number of animals abused, the researchers focused on prevention, noting that humane education “can be essential to instilling the knowledge and values that can help prevent children from starting a destructive path.”

 

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