A long-suspected theory is finally gaining acceptance: those who abuse animals, often progress to committing more serious crimes against people and property.
Join us February 1, when John Thompson of the National Sheriffs' Association shares:
- the misunderstood nature of animal abuse crimes
- and their link to violence against humans.
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Just in case our readers aren’t aware, tell us a bit about the connection researchers have found between those who abuse animals and then later abuse other in their lives – children, spouses, etc and why it’s so important to law enforcement and other justice professionals.
John Thompson: There have been many studies over the years that show the connection between animal abuse and human violence, but one just has to look at what’s happening in this country today.
Almost weekly there are acts of violence, school shootings, church shootings and many horrible acts of violence against humans. Many of the sick individuals who carry out this violence have had a past history of violence against animals.
Just recently, Devin Kelly carried out a horrific massacre in a Texas church. After investigating this sick individual it was learned that he had been charged with animal cruelty for beating a dog with his fist.
History is full of these types of incidents and I’m sure there’s way more than what is reported to document.
No one was teaching us nor was anyone talking about it.
And when the animal advocates would try to tell us we just brushed it off.
We were too busy fighting crime and didn’t even realize
that one of our biggest problems was sitting right in front of us.
JCH: It seems like there has been some resistance to accepting this theory. Why is that?
John: I’m not sure that it’s really resistance but more ignorance.
I found myself in this same situation until my eyes were opened several years ago. I spent my entire law-enforcement career without any knowledge of the connection between animal abuse and violence against humans. No one was teaching us nor was anyone talking about it. And when the animal advocates would try to tell us we just brushed it off. We were too busy fighting crime and didn’t even realize that one of our biggest problems was sitting right in front of us.
As I go around the country and talk to law enforcement, I find more and more that it’s not resistance it’s just they have not been told or shown the proof that exists. Once they get it it’s like a lightbulb being turned on and they see the importance.
We have the same problem with prosecutors and the judiciary, not to mention those who make laws in our country.
Many of the sick individuals who carry out this violence
have had a past history of violence against animals.
JCH: Why is this connection important for law enforcement agencies to understand?
John: Once law enforcement understands this connection it will help them solve crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Let’s look at a case in California where Alexander Hernandez was arrested for animal abuse. After running the ballistics on his gun, they found out that he was a serial killer.
But on the flip-side, officers pulled over Jason Massey in Texas with a dead cat and rope around it neck in his backseat. He was not charged for animal abuse, nor was there any investigation. He was arrested for driving under the influence and released after serving his time. When he got out he brutally murdered and two young teenagers.
There has to be more education and training in our police academy so that officers understand this connection.
In California, Alexander Hernandez was arrested for animal abuse.
After running the ballistics on his gun, they found out that he was a serial killer.
JCH: You’re a new presenter to the Justice Clearinghouse community – but are a national expert and well known to some of our members in many other arenas. Tell us a bit about you, and why this topic has become so important to you.
John: Five years ago I knew nothing about animal abuse and honestly didn’t really care. I was busy trying to wrap my arms around homeland security issues and the threats our country and communities could face. Animal abuse wasn’t even on my radar.
What changed me was a bonding with this wonderful little guy name Mr. Po. He was a small 24 pound Shih Tzu. At my daughter's suggestion, I brought him home for my wife. My first words were “he’s your dog take care of him." It wasn’t long before he kept trying to get my attention. I resisted for several months. Finally one day I took him for a walk through the woods and everything changed from that point on. He became my best friend and I understood what it was like to bond with an animal.
After this bonding, my daughter, who is an attorney, wrote an article on the connection between animal abuse and serial killers. After reading this I just couldn’t believe it and I started doing some research and, wow, it was incredible evidence and I wondered "how did I miss that?"
It was those two events that put me on a mission to make sure my colleagues in law enforcement understood this important connection.