The Close Link Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse, by Ginger Kadlec


Child protection professionals have long recognized the close link between animal abuse and child abuse, as well as domestic violence.

That connection is so strong in fact, that as of January 1, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers animal maltreatment to be a crime against society and now charges it as aClass A Felony.

Michigan State University College of Law published an article about this abuse connection and saysmore than 80% of families being treated for child abuse were also involved in animal abuse.

Sadly, animals are often a perpetrator’s first victims, as animal abuse is often an entry into violence against people. “It is a matter of escalation: people who want to victimize start with something they can easily control, then they work their way up. A person who only feels powerful and in control while inflicting pain or death must continually sustain that ‘high’ by committing acts that are more heinous or morbid.” (Source: Michigan State University College of Law)

The report also cites some alarming statistics:

  • 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of cruelty towards animals
  • 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one (1) other criminal offense
  • Nearly 40% of animal abusers have committed violent crimes against people

Vulnerable Victims

When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.

The Michigan State University College of Law report goes on to state, “When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.” This article further states that, regarding domestic violence or abuse, the batterer/abuser often targets pets in the home first, then goes after other potential victims in the household (i.e., children, spouses, elderly parents, etc.).

This happens time and time again in cases of child abuse and domestic violence. Perpetrators often threaten to harm, injure or even kill pets in the home as a way of controlling their child or adult victims. The Michigan State University report cites, “In cases of child abuse, perpetrators often abuse animals to exert their power and control over children and other vulnerable family members. In some cases, abusers will force children to sexually abuse, hurt, or kill a pet. Threats of animal abuse may also be used to intimidate children to keep silent about being victims of abuse.” For more, see “10 Reasons Children Don’t Disclose Abuse”.

Read more at the following link…


Note from Editor, Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

For those in Aotearoa New Zealand (as no resources were listed in the article for NZ), follow these links for information about the following:

SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) NZ:

Domestic Violence/ Women’s Refuge:

Child Abuse Issues:

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