Something has gone terribly wrong in America. The media is full of bad news every single day but it seems like nowadays there are increasingly more cases of people who commit horrendous acts of animal cruelty. Sadly, many of these cases are never solved and the perpetrators are never caught.
According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 'acts of cruelty to animals are not mere indications of a minor personality flaw in the abuser; they are symptomatic to a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals don't stop there--many of them move on to their fellow humans.' According to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), 'Murderers... very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.'
'Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well.'
'It has also been found that children who are cruel to animals have often witnessed or been victims of abuse themselves. In two separate studies cited by the Humane Society of the United States, roughly one-third of families suffering from domestic abuse indicated that at least one child had hurt or killed a pet'.
There is a website (http://www.pet-abuse.com/) which is full of all kinds of information regarding animal cruelty, including an 'abuse database' with at least 19,167 cases listed and includes the crimes, the dates, the locations, the sentences given to criminals and, in some cases, the names of the alleged perpetrators. Many descriptions of these cases are rather graphic so it takes a lot of 'internal fortitude' to browse and/or read through them. Another disturbing fact is that the website is not up-to-date. That statement is in no way intended as a criticism but reaffirms the fact that there is such an overwhelming number of animal cruelty cases that it is practically impossible to keep any kind of animal abuse database up-to-date. The following information came from the above-mentioned website.
After many studies in psychology, sociology and criminology during a period of over 25 years, the FBI has recognized since the 1970s that most serial killers had killed or tortured animals as children. In addition, research has shown that perpetrators of other types of violent crimes such as child abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse, also have a history of animal cruelty.
According to Dr. Randall Lockwood of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 'A kid who is abusive to a pet is quite often acting out violence directly experienced or witnessed in the home... about one-third of children who are exposed to family violence will act out this violence, often against their own pets... When women abuse animals, they almost always have a history of victimization themselves. That's where a lot of rage comes from... Those who abuse animals for no obvious reason are budding psychopaths.' Others abuse pets as a way to control or get even with an individual.
Animal abuse/cruelty is a felony in only 31 states but Oklahoma is one of them.
Another very informative website is http://www.paws.org/ which actually contains a section entitled 'The Animal Abuse-Human Violence Connection'. This section begins with a quote by Anthropologist Margaret Mead: 'One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.'
Mental health professionals, law enforcement agencies, child protection and social services agencies, and educators recognize that animal abuse is aggressive and antisocial behavior as well as a reliable predictor of violence against people after a young abuser grows up. Most animal abusers are adolescent or young adult males, many of whom have a history of antisocial or criminal activities, such as vandalism, assault, and arson. Many of them are themselves the victims of physical or sexual abuse. Those who commit acts of animal cruelty often feel powerless, unnoticed and under the control of others. Their motive may be to shock, threaten, intimidate or to demonstrate rebellion against society's rules.
According to the PAWS website, 'Children learn about abuse by being its victim. They often fail to develop empathy and, without this key quality, they cannot recognize their victims' pain. When they begin to act out their abuse trauma, children first target animals. As adults, they find new victims among the most vulnerable--children, partners and the elderly.
In addition, the same website points out the following facts:
- 'The FBI sees animal cruelty as a predictor of violence against people and considers past animal abuse when profiling serial killers.
- National and state studies have established that from 54% to 71% of women seeking shelter from abuse reported that their partners had threatened, injured or killed one or more family pets...
- In assessing youth at risk of becoming violent, the U.S. Department of Justice stresses a history of animal abuse.
- More than 80% of family members being treated for child abuse also had abused animals. In two-thirds of these cases, an abusive parent had killed or injured a pet. In one-third of the cases, a child victim continued the cycle of violence by abusing a pet.'
Mahatma Gandi said, 'The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.' If this is true, then American society is in serious trouble.
According to the 'Community Policing Dispatch', the e-newsletter of the COPS Office dated March 2010, 'animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people, four times more likely to commit property crimes, and three times more likely to have a record for drug or disorderly conduct offenses. Approximately 70% of domestic violence abusers have records of other crimes and 60% had a household pet.'
'The idea that animal abuse, child abuse, wife beating, gay bashing, or elderly abuses are issues unto themselves is no longer a viable stance. Violence is violence and it has gotten out of hand.'
'Animal abuse should be considered as an indicator of other problems in dysfunctional and violent households. Animals are abused in 88% of the families in which children are abused.'
According to the Diagnostic and Statistiical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), animal cruelty is one of the behaviors signaling conduct disorder, often seen as early as the age of eight. According to a report released by the National Research Council, childhood behavior is more important than teenage behavior in predicting future violence. Therefore, early intervention is more likely to reduce adult crime than criminal sanctions imposed later in life.
NOTE: This article was written in follow-up to the article about 'Rookie', the German Shepherd who was thrown off a bridge onto a highway below (at approximately 59th Street and I-40 in Oklahoma City. To date, the person who committed this HORRIFIC ACT has not been identified or caught. The local news media periodically reruns the story and asks that the woman who first dialed 911 to report what she saw please call back and report as many details as she possibly can. Also, the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who threw 'Rookie' off that bridge has been raised to $7,500. If you are a true animal lover, you should be willing to turn in the perpetrator with or without the receipt of a reward.