Numerous evidence and research points to the correlation between animal cruelty cases to other serious crimes including gambling, drugs, gangs, elder abuse, domestic violence, bestiality, as well as child pornography and abuse. When a location was raided for reports of animal cruelty, there is bound to be evidence of the occurrence of any of these Link Crimes at the same time. With this in mind, it is critical for law enforcement and social services to pay attention as well to the conditions of the pets on top of the individuals involved in Link Crime cases.
Jessica Rock is the esteemed guest for this Justice Clearinghouse webinar. Jessica is a national expert when it comes to animal law and animal abuse. Jessica has roughly 15 years of experience prosecuting various cases including homicides, domestic violence, elder and child abuse, and animal cruelty and training various agencies on the link between animal abuse and other collateral crimes.
Jessica discusses on today’s course the different Link Crimes, reference laws and resources surrounding the subject. Some of the specifics she unpacks include:
- An explanation of what the Link is and why animal cruelty is no longer viewed as an isolated incident but seen a red flag for other possible crimes.
- The four types of animal abuse stipulated by the FBI and amended in the National Incident-Based Reporting Systems (NIBRS).
- The prevalence of pet ownership in the US and what makes pets vulnerable to abuse and violence.
- Statistics supporting the Link between animal abuse and domestic violence (spousal, child and elder abuse) where animals are threatened, harmed and/or killed.
- The shortage of shelters that accepts pets which further endangers the animal's life being left with the abuser.
- The cycle of domestic violence demonstrated by the Duluth Power and Control Wheel.
- The various methods that abusers take to remain in power and in control as using threats, emotional, economic and legal abuse, and isolation
- Various case studies portraying the Link between animal abuse and domestic violence.
- The role of animals in children’s well-being, in cognitive and physical development, fostering social skills, self-esteem and empathy, and as a source of stress relief and support.
Statistics, facts, and case studies that demonstrate how children are affected by animal cruelty that results in children being:
- Scared, affecting their emotional and psychological stability
- Desensitized and grow up with violent tendencies themselves
- How the elderly usually keep pets as companions in old age, and how people directly surrounding them threat to harm these animals to intimidate, retaliate or control elders.
- How elderly people are likely to perpetrate animal abuse through neglect and animal hoarding.
- Case studies illustrating the types of elder abuse where animal cruelty is involved including physical violence and financial exploitation.
Bestiality as one of the Link Crimes to animal abuse
- How it serves as a high-risk factor and predictor of committing child sexual abuse
- Case studies where bestiality is linked to other types of crime.
- Online forums like the Beast Forum and Craigslist where bestiality-related content may be found.
- Animal hoarding and neglect that is linked to child neglect, or is committed by the elderly.
- Dog- and cockfighting where children are often employed as bet runners and even participate in the fights by throwing the animals into the ring.
- The conditions that dogs are subjected to when they're being trained for dogfighting.
- How a community is affected by incidences of dogfight where residences are terrorized fearing for themselves and their pets.
- Case studies of other crimes linked to dog- and cockfighting which includes gambling, money laundering, illegal drugs and firearms, and child endangerment.
- What the law stipulated in at least 50 states relating to animal cruelty, and grounds from which a misdemeanor or felony case can be built upon.
- Corroborating animal cruelty by proving starvation on dead animals through bone marrow fat analysis and some providers that render this service.
- Recognize signs of abuse of animals by looking at both the owner and the animals' actions, going through expert testimonies, and history.
- Statistics showing the growing awareness of the Link between animal abuse and other crimes.
- What can be done in one’s role in the criminal justice/social service system/medical profession to ensure that the Link of animal abuse to other crimes is addressed.
- Sample questions to ask a pet owner, a victim, or a child in probable cases of animal cruelty.
- Points to consider in sentencing perpetrators who have the likelihood of committing animal abuse.
- Local resources to reach out to and the significance of coordinated community response for such cases.
- Poll questions looked into the audience’s perception on the Link between animal abuse and domestic violence, their familiarity with their local animal cruelty law, and a post-course assessment of their understanding of the issue
Jessica addressed the attendees’ concern during the Q&A related to:
- Areas of improvement when it comes to law enforcement acknowledging the Link
- Patterns and correlations on the prevalence of animal cruelty cases
- The difference and similarity in the investigative process in crimes involving animals
- The role of social media when it comes to animal abuse cases
- Things to look into with highly likely animal abusers
- Raising awareness on the topic with other players in the criminal justice system