Animals Are Victims of Domestic Violence
Anyone who reads a newspaper or who watches the news certainly must find current events quite troubling, to say the least. Whether on a local, national, or global level, man’s treatment of his fellow human beings is appalling. This, of course, is only what we read, see, or hear about. Beneath the surface, it’s unbearable to think about what happens to animals, but we must force ourselves to confront it.
In conjunction with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Humane Society of the United States recently distributed a striking poster, emphasizing that “in a violent family, everyone could be a victim.” The photograph of a frightened dog supports what social workers and animal protection advocates have been saying for years – “animal cruelty is family violence.” The HSUS campaign promotes the creation of a Safe Haven for Animals program in every community, insuring that when victims of domestic abuse are placed in alternate situations, their pets are also removed and cared for. Does your community have such a system? (For more information, go to hsus.org and click on First Strike.)
For years, one of NYSHA’s main objectives has been to educate and assist police and other law enforcement personnel to understand and enforce NYS’s anti-cruelty laws. We hold several workshops annually, where Harry Hovel, Ph.D., NYSHA board member and a well-known speaker in this field, holds participants in awe while he explains the connection between domestic abuse and violence towards animals.
Harry distributes an information sheet of astonishing, disturbing facts highlighting what far too often has been ignored – that violence toward animals is almost inevitably a sign of violence toward humans, and vice versa. Harry explains that “Studies of violent criminals in prisons, patients in psychiatric hospitals, women in battered women´s shelters, domestic violence cases including child abuse and elder abuse, and national crime statistics indicate that a high percentage of criminals – from aggravated assaulters to convicted serial killers to convicted rapists – abused animals.”
For a copy of NYSHA’s fact sheet, “The Connection Between Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence,” please call NYSHA or make a note on the enclosed reply card (see note below). When you see an animal being abused and someone says, “it´s just an animal,” educate them about the correlation. If you think your local officials would be interested in attending or co-sponsoring a workshop with NYSHA, please contact us.
To quote Harry Hovel, Animal cruelty is a valuable predictor of present and future violent individuals. Many human lives could be saved, much human tragedy and suffering could be prevented, and a great deal of money would be saved, if police forces, prosecutors, judges, social workers, and the public were to recognize the strong connection between animal cruelty and human violence and take animal cruelty seriously.
As always, for the animals,
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XIX, No.1, Spring 2004.