The New York Times has an article up about the connections between animal abuse and other forms of violence:
Responding to growing evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans, states are increasing the penalties for animal cruelty and developing better methods for tracking convicted offenders.
…“It’s not that animal abuse is more prevalent,” said Stephan Otto, director of legislative affairs with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “What has changed over the past few years is the recognition that animal abuse is often a warning sign for other types of violence and neglect.”
…“Animal abuse is one of the four indicators that the F.B.I. profilers use to asses future violent behavior, so I don’t see why we should not use it too,” said Diana S. Urban, a Democratic state representative in Connecticut who sponsored a bill mandating that animal control workers and child welfare workers cross-report suspected animal, child or domestic abuse.
…One study found that in 88 percent of homes where children were physically abused, pets were mistreated too. A 2007 study found that women abused by their intimate partner were 10 times more likely to report that their partner had hurt or killed one or more of their pets than women who were not abused.
While this is old news to advocates for women, children, and animals, it’s great news that legislation is beginning to catch up to what we’ve long known.
I’ve written about this before on this blog ( “Animal abuse and violence against women and children” ), but I’ll put some links to further reading on the subject – and a description of some recent model legislation – below the fold:
Just recently, a bill was introduced in Massachusetts to include animals in protective orders (‘restraining orders’) against batterers:
MA HB 1499—Animals in Protective Orders
Sponsor: Rep. Katherine Clark
ASPCA Position: Support
Massachusetts House Bill 1499, “An Act to Include Animals in Abuse Prevention Orders,” would allow judges to include companion animals in temporary restraining orders and thereby require a defendant to stay away from and/or not abuse an animal. The bill is pending in the state legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee, which only has until March 17 to pass HB 1499 and allow this important humane bill to advance in the legislative process.
HB 1499 would help protect both animals and people. Sadly, pets are often used as pawns in domestic disputes. A study of women seeking temporary “safe haven” shelter showed that 71% of those having companion animals reported that their partners had threatened, hurt, or killed their animals. Studies have also repeatedly shown that the threat of animals being killed or harmed deters battered women from leaving abusive situations.
Importantly, HB 1499 would not cost the state any money; it is a straightforward measure that would simply allow a court to direct the defendant not to have contact with and/or harm an animal. Comparable bills have been enacted into law in Maine, New York and Vermont (2006); California, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada and Tennessee (2007); the District of Columbia, Louisiana and Puerto Rico (2008); and Washington, North Carolina and Hawaii (2009). Massachusetts should be next!
Hopefully this law will pass. Including animals in restraining orders may or may not make anyone safer in the moment, but it will assist in better prosecution and prevention of repeat abuse.