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The Disturbing Link Between Animal Cruelty and Violence Against Humans

Explore the shocking link between animal cruelty and future social dangers. Learn about its impact on domestic violence and legal changes.

Animal cruelty and social danger facts and statistics

Animal cruelty statistics. Abuse of animals in childhood, adolescence or adulthood is socially unacceptable behaviour as a source of unnecessary pain and suffering towards a living being.

Therefore, besides being a symptom of a pathological situation, this phenomenon could act as an alarm bell indicator of future social danger when carried out by minors. For this reason, if detected in time, it can be prevented to avoid repetitions of the conduct, with far worse consequences.

“Saevitia in bruta est tirocinium crudelitatis in homine” was how Ovid Publius Nasose expressed it more than 2000 years ago and translated it as “Cruelty to animals is an apprenticeship of cruelty to humans”. At that time, I perceived the social seriousness of a specific type of attitude and how this could predict the development of future violence acted upon human lives to a greater extent.

Animal cruelty is correlated with domestic violence.

They killed several animals in domestic violence cases. The Humane Society Legislative Fund supported the Pets and Women’s Safety Act in Congress in 2015 to end this violent pattern. They signed the legislation in 2015. Once fully implemented, the PAWS Act helps victims find ways to avoid abuse and keep their companions safe—many victims stay in abusive households because they are concerned about their pets.

Nowadays, this phenomenon is of interest, a dynamic in which it is the animal itself and its human “companion” who pay the price, unfortunately often being placed within events still considered second-class. But that is not all.

Mistreatment of animals in childhood, adolescence or adulthood is socially unacceptable behaviour.
Nowadays, the phenomenon involves, from a procedural point of view and in terms of legal consequences, a dynamic in which the animal itself and ‘its human companion‘ pay the price.

The phenomenon also affects today’s criminal policies and the discipline of victimology, areas that in our country have suffered for a long time from the absence of scientific studies capable of correlating the mistreatment of animals with certain anti-social, deviant, criminal or interpersonal violence behaviours.

The consequence is that specific incidents, which the national and international scientific literature identifies as serious risk factors, are opposed, even as protective factors.

“Serial killers are children who have never been taught that it is wrong to gouge out an animal’s eyes.” “Killers…many times begin by killing and torturing animals as children.”

Robert K. Ressler.

For example, it sometimes happens that women who denounce acts of violence acted in a family environment that ‘only’ took the form of aggression towards the pet by their partner or ex-partner are reassured precisely because the violence was manifested and vented on the animal and not on the person.

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the imposition of light penalties for those guilty of such offences, providing numerous mitigating circumstances, suspended sentences and probation, which imply, under a (paradoxical) attempt to rehabilitate the offender in question, the latter’s performance of voluntary service in facilities with animals.

Animal cruelty, abuse and the international scientific literature.

Cruelty to animals prepares for what may become violence against human beings or weaker subjects. This escalation of violence, which often begins in childhood, if not identified and ‘cured’, leads to the social alarm that inevitably involves, at some point, the offender himself and the whole community.

The link between animal mistreatment, deviance, and social dangerousness is based today on statistics and scientific research. It takes the name of ‘The LINK‘, which technically in criminology, psychology, psychiatry and the investigative sciences stand for the ‘close correlation that exists between the mistreatment and killing of animals interpersonal violence and any other deviant, anti-social and criminal conduct – murder, rape, stalking, domestic violence on women – minors – the elderly, robbery, dealing, theft, fraud, ritual crimes, predatory crimes, mental manipulation, etc. “.

To confirm this, it is helpful to emphasise that the approach to animal abuse is criminological (in the United States, work in this field is carried out by the Behavioral Analysis Unit – B.A.U.), psychiatric psychology and fields strictly about studying human beings. Only later has there been an extension to other areas more adequately concerned with animals, such as veterinary medicine and animal biology.

Extensive studies and research in academic, judicial and social policy circles on this subject originated from the scientific literature of the Anglo-Saxon world. However, especially since the 1960s, animal cruelty began to be correlated with interpersonal violence.

Escalation of animal cruelty

Because of this, it is considered appropriate to report the main scientific results obtained, which allow this correlation to be affirmed.

  • Escalation of animal cruelty as a form of evolution in (Lockwood 1989; Ressler, Burgess, Douglas 1988; Wright & Hensley 2003):
  • Vandalism, pyromania and acts against the property.
  • Physical and psychological assaults towards the person; domestic violence towards minor women; paedophilia, threats, stalking, intimidation of mafia extraction, etc.
  • Theft in the presence of a victim (pickpocketing, armed robbery, etc.).
  • Kidnapping, sexual violence, assault (primarily Spree Killer phenomenon), murders (mainly Serial Killer).
  • Maltreatment or killing of animals is a potential symptom of an ongoing pathogenic situation related to the family environment. If the perpetrator is minor, we refer to an environmental and intra-familial situation in which the child is, in turn, a victim of physical, psychological, sexual abuse, neglect, neglect, hyper-care or other forms of violence (Ascione et al., 1997; Ascione 2001; AAVV 2011). In these cases, he will transfer onto the animal what he suffers within the domestic walls as a sort of discharge of a burden that would otherwise be unbearable, a psychological (and physical) transfer of the predatory act suffered based on a relational model adopted within the family unit.
  • Maltreatment or killing of animals as an integral (and statistically relevant) part of other crimes, e.g. domestic violence/abuse on minors, women, the elderly, or threats, mafia-style intimidation, child pornography, drug dealing, etc.). Talking about domestic violence or the criminal underworld, the animal is often the scapegoat where it serves as an intimidating means to strike a person psychologically, thus inculcating a form of control, power and fear over him, a kind of psychological violence carried out by the perpetrator on the chosen (human) victim (Harrel and Smith,1991; Ascione, 1998; Carlisle et al., 2004)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

Significant milestones were also concretely achieved following the inclusion within the American Psychiatric Association’s (A.P.A.) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R 1987). ) and within the International Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders (ICD-10 1996) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), physical cruelty to animals among the symptoms of Conduct Disorder (C.D.), which can later lead to Anti-social Personality Disorder. Its onset is in childhood or adolescence and is defined as a ‘repetitive and persistent pattern of behaviour in which the basic rights of others or the major social norms or rules appropriate to a given age are violated’ (A.P.A. 1994).

However, a considerable step forward in the U.S. reality was taken in 2014, when the F.B.I. elevated the crime of animal mistreatment to Top Crime, classifying it as ‘Crimes Against Society‘, thus occupying a specific classification category in the national crime database. Again, inter-agency cooperation is the practice in these cases: when a veterinarian or an animal welfare worker detects the mistreatment of animals, they report to the police or social services to prevent, among others, potential abuse within the home.

The scientific literature on this subject, which encompasses all the relevant disciplines, detects the phenomenon through detailed retrospective studies within a specific circle of offenders.

Once the sample has been defined and the variable being studied that characterises the circle of offenders in question (e.g. serial killers, spree killers, stalkers, paedophiles), an attempt is made to understand whether, in childhood or adolescence, they mistreated or killed animals, whether they witnessed the mistreatment or the killing, and then to establish whether having committed or witnessed the act had a statistically significant influence (70-80% upwards) on becoming that particular type of offender (serial killers, spree killers, stalkers, paedophiles, etc.).

The maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty has been raised to five years.

The article explores the disturbing link between animal cruelty and violence against humans.
The maximum sentence is increased to five years.

England adheres to the World Health Organisation guidelines on how professionals in the judicial, psychosocial, socio-educational and health fields should not underestimate any situation and behaviour, thus trying to overcome the perception of animal abuse as a lesser offence.

Against this cultural backdrop of increased awareness of animal rights, the first steps have been taken, albeit slowly and still in a primordial stage.

In the summer of 2021, stricter sentences on animal cruelty will begin when they are formally adopted in Parliament today. From 29 June 2021, maximum prison sentences will increase by six months. The reclassified ruling will allow courts to take a stricter approach when pursuing a case of a dog fighting incident, a puppy sex attack or illegal harvesting of the ear of the animal. In addition, inmates may also be subject to unlimited fines. The stricter sentence is one of Europe’s most brutal.

Offences committed on or after 29 June 2021.

The maximum sentence for the following offences is increased from six months to five years from 29 June 2021:

  • Causing unnecessary suffering (section 4, Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • Performing non-exempt mutilation (section 5, Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • Hooking the tail of a dog except was permitted (section 6(1) and 6(2), Animal Welfare Act 2006;
  • Administering poison to an animal (section 7, Animal Welfare Act 2006);
  • Engaging in an animal fight (section 8, Animal Welfare Act 2006).

The offences listed above committed on or after 29 June 2021 will be punishable in both ways (they can be dealt with in the magistrates’ courts or the Crown Court).

Currently, offences against Section 4 (causing unnecessary suffering) and Section 8 (involvement in animal fighting) are covered by a Sentencing Council guideline.

The guideline also applies to offences against section 9 (breaching the duty of the animal’s handler to ensure welfare) – the maximum sentence for the section 9 offence remains six months of custody. Therefore, the guideline remains in place for that offence.

The Sentencing Council will develop and consult a revised guideline for offences with a maximum of five years. Until such a revised guideline is available, the courts may continue to refer to the existing policy to assist in assessing the level of seriousness of a case. However, the sentencing table will be limited in determining the sentence.

Information from the passage of the law in Parliament indicates that the increase in the maximum sentence was intended to provide higher penalties for more severe offences. It was not designed to significantly increase the number of offenders receiving custodial sentences.

If a custodial or community sentence is considered, the courts must follow the guidelines for imposition.

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Who abuses animals? Retrospective statistical analysis in English Prisons

Several studies have also been conducted in our country through a retrospective analysis of English prisons. One particularly comprehensive and significant study collected statistical data on 682 inmates, then extended to 1087 cases, including online questionnaires and data from mass media and partners.

The results were unequivocal. The following are exciting percentages, which can provide food for thought and action.

Of the 682 inmates, 89% had witnessed and abused or killed animals as juveniles, 61% of whom had committed violence. Second, 41% gave the motivation that they had to vent anger and frustration at their violent, abusive and neglectful family environment, emerging complicated relationships with their father or mother. Third, 29% did so out of revenge against an alienating existence of loneliness, emptiness, boredom, and difficulty relating to people. Finally, 62% of abusers set fires during their lives.

The average age of starting cruelty to animals is 4 or 5 years (14% of the total). 3% have committed acts of erotic zoophilia. In 35% of the cases, the violence was perpetrated as part of other deviant or criminal conduct. 19% of the cases contemplate the sadistic component. 64% continue the ill-treatment into adulthood. Furthermore, those who assisted or abused and killed animals as minors are now detained for ill-treatment within the family (in 94% of cases), sexual offences (90% of them), offences connected with organised crime (98%), and murder (87%).

Two aspects also emerge, linked and consequential to each other:

The non-spontaneous regression of the conduct. Conversely, there is an escalation in the criminal action, the anti-social practice ‘refines’, and there is a direct proportionality between the age of the abuser and the physical size of the victim animal, which will be ‘accessible’ to the aggression and sufficiently ‘appropriate’ in length to satisfy its sadistic impulse.

The quality of the environmental response to the crime committed. Only where the family, the institutions (academic, educational, judicial), and the surrounding civil society manage to correctly interpret the act by paying adequate attention to it, by punishing the show itself with harsher punishments, by grasping the existence of a pathogenic indicator as a prediction of possible future criminal acts and social dangerousness, then the conduct will have the opportunity to regress and presumably to die out.

Where on the other hand, the environmental response tends to downplay the fact, considering it a story of daily occurrence, trivialising it, going so far as to deny it or, worse still, justify it, then the violent act committed against animals can only escalate, inevitably taking the form of vandalism, aggression, robbery, extortion, pyromania, domestic abuse, rape and murder. Indifference contributes to the escalation. Therefore, the environmental response of condemnation is always fundamental and necessary to avoid repetition.

Cruelty to pets on social media has doubled in one year.

Animal Cruelty and Social Danger: A Startling Analysis and Implications for Society
In 2021, about 11 million people viewed animal cruelty online.

Reports of animal abuse seen on social media have more than doubled since last year, the RSPCA said. And a survey reveals that more than 11 million people have witnessed animal cruelty online.

The charity’s data, released today, shows 756 reports of animal abuse on social media in England and Wales last year in 2021, compared to 431 in 2020 and only 157 in 2019. The RSPCA recorded an average of 63 reports of cruelty on social media a month last year, compared to only 35 a month the previous year.

Leanne Hardy, the chief inspector for North Wales, said, “It is very worrying to see more reports of animal abuse posted on social media for likes and compliments. These videos are often accompanied by laughing emojis or silly comments; they normalise – and even mock – animal cruelty.

A survey also revealed that more than 11 million people had viewed animal cruelty online.

“It is disturbing that people who normally would not see animal cruelty are being exposed online. Not only might it encourage other people to do the same, but it also creates a society that has become insensitive to some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty, which is a step backwards for us as a nation of animal lovers.”

The RSPCA released its report in collaboration with the Scottish SPCA. The report revealed that one-fifth of people (22 per cent) witnessed cruelty to animals online in the past 12 months, which equates to a staggering 11.5 million people in the U.K.

On social media, nearly half experienced abuse on Facebook (46 per cent), followed by YouTube and Twitter (20 per cent), 11 per cent on TikTok, 10 per cent on Instagram, 5 per cent on Reddit, 4 per cent on WhatsApp, and two per cent on Snapchat. Of the reports made to the RSPCA, 62 per cent were posted on Facebook and 20 per cent on Instagram, with only 3.2 per cent on Snapchat.

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The RSPCA and the Scottish SPCA have also asked the U.K. government to include animal welfare in the Online Safety Bill, which aims to increase safety and address illegal content online. However, the U.K. government has yet to include animal cruelty content as part of the bill, despite data showing the high number of people who witness such cruelty online.

The charity’s special operations unit is working to track these videos on social media and find who is responsible for bringing them to justice.

I tracked down some perpetrators of viral videos on the web about the abuse perpetrated on pets.

  • Last month, soccer player Kurt Zouma kicked and slapped his cat, which was captured on video by his brother and uploaded to Snapchat, and the two men were convicted. The RSPCA launched an investigation after the video, posted on Snapchat in February, showed Zouma chasing a cat around the house, kicking and slapping it. Two cats were later seized by police and taken to be examined by a veterinarian before being placed in the care of the RSPCA for rehoming.
  • The RSPCA investigated after a video circulated on Twitter of a man who was seen kicking a cat he had on a leash. The incident was caught on a front-facing camera by a cyclist returning from work on a quiet bike path off Southern Distributor Road in Newport, approaching the City Bridge, in January. In the images, the cat – described by the witness as a large Bengal-type breed with striped markings – is lying on the ground and kicked by the man, wearing a dark-coloured hooded top and jeans.
  • The charity reviewed a video showing a milkman kicking a hedgehog in Long Melford, Suffolk. Someone’s doorbell camera captured the incident, posted it on Facebook, and shared it.

Managing a social media account can be rewarding and heartbreaking at the same time.

Tess Macpherson-Woods, social media manager at the RSPCA, said, “Managing the RSPCA’s social media accounts is extremely rewarding and heartbreaking. We get sent a lot of upsetting and graphic content, but only our national cruelty line can outsource jobs to inspectors, so all we can do is provide advice and encourage people to call them.

“We have been able to track down animal abusers by sharing appeals for information on social media, which is the best feeling. Even if a poor animal has suffered, knowing that you are part of a team that will do its best to rescue, rehabilitate and seek justice for it makes the upsetting part of the work worthwhile.”

The RSPCA receives about 90,000 calls to its cruelty line each month and investigates 6,000 reports of intentional animal cruelty, including animal fighting and hunting. But in the summer, rings jump to 134,000 a month, three a minute, and cruelty reports rise to 7,600 monthly.

It is more important than ever to understand the importance of predictive value that mistreatment and killing of animals have on future social implications. Moreover, this must begin to enter considerably into the culture of our country because ignoring the problem today means supporting its perpetrator, creating fertile ground for an aggressor or killer tomorrow.

A crime report that limits itself in a merely descriptive manner to an exposition of the facts without assessing the current and potential social dangerousness runs the risk of dispersing awareness and in-depth investigative activity.

Why, then, should one not think of drawing up a criminological profile from the first criminal event perpetrated on the animal, examining the offender’s experience and relating it to the seriousness of the act committed, the modus operandi, the capacity to commit crimes and the cruelty perpetrated? To profile the offender from this point of view may mean to profile a potential killer of people.

To report pet abuse or animal cruelty, contact the RSPCA at 0300 123 8018 or 0300 1234 999.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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