People who hurt animals don’t stop with animals. There is an established link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans — regularly referred to as “The Link.” This link makes it critically important that cruelty toward animals be taken seriously by law enforcement, and by society at large. This is for the sake of the animals themselves, and for people who are also at risk.
Research Shows the Link Between Cruelty to Animals and Toward Humans
Ample research backs up the finding that there is a direct link between acts of cruelty to animals and violence toward humans. This includes child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse and other violent behavior. Here are just a handful of examples of the research supporting that conclusion:
The Law Must Protect Animals and Punish Animal Abusers
Both because animals themselves need protection, and because of the link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, violence against animals must be taken seriously under the law.
There are some ways in which the law is reflecting this seriousness. For example, all 50 states now have felony animal cruelty laws on the books. Nearly two thirds of states allow pets to be included in domestic violence protective orders. These are just among the advances we’ve seen at the state level in this area.
At the federal level, there is progress, too. As of 2016 the FBI began tracking crimes against animals in the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), in the same way it tracks other serious criminal offenses. This tracking will help paint a better picture of who is committing crimes against animals, and where these crimes are taking place — and will thus also help indicate where humans are also at risk.
But we are not yet at the point where cruelty to animals is consistently reported, investigated, prosecuted, or punished in ways that match the seriousness of the crime.
Source: Animal Legal Defense Fund