Numerous researches have proven the correlation between animal cruelty and violence to humans. Cases of animal abuse were found to mostly occur in households where domestic violence happens. Minors who witness or participate in violence against animals has been identified as to be of the highest risk for future perpetration. A lot is still yet to be done on the enforcement side to address animal abuse. However, in 2014, a pivotal change transpired as the FBI categorized animal cruelty crimes under Group A of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
This course’s resource speakers are Mary Lou Randour and Dan De Sousa. Mary Lou is a psychologist and is the Senior Advisor for the Animal Cruelty Programs and Training for the Animal Welfare Institute. She dedicated her expertise in psychology to promote animal protection and human welfare working on cases dealing with family courts, domestic violence, and animal care and control. Dan DeSousa works at the Department of Animal Services since 1989, starting off as an animal control officer and is currently the Director of the agency. He is a part of various organizations that deal with animal protection – he is on the executive board of the National Council on Violence Against Animals (NCOVAA) and the Board of Directors for the State Humane Association of California.
Mary Lou and Dan talks about how the change in NIBRS categorization impacted the animal control and law enforcement field. Some of the details they covered on the webinar are:
- What NIBRs is, and the how and why animal cruelty was added into NIBRS.
- The importance of animal cruelty being added as a Group A crime against society from its previous classification where it was grouped together with petty infractions.
- Defining what constitutes an incident in NIBRs.
- Perceptions of animal cruelty based on a survey conducted on animal service agencies that revealed the shortcomings and areas for improvement when it comes to dealing with and reporting animal abuse cases.
- FBI Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of animal cruelty, and the four subclassifications of animal cruelty based on the gravity or nature of the abuse.
- The current procedure of reporting animal abuse, the challenge identified with the process, and solutions that have been developed to bridge the gap.
- A walk through on the NIBRS animal cruelty incident report form and pointers when filling out its sections.
- Steps that animal control and humane agencies participate in to be able to raise awareness on animal cruelty and NIBRS, and widen the reach of training.
- Steps to improve technology to make seamless database integration possible and utilize electronic means for resources and education.
Topics raised by the participants during the Q&A include:
- Raising awareness further on animal cruelty
- The semantics involved between the use of the words animals and pets in researches
- Law enforcement’s awareness of the capability to do FBI NIBRS reporting on animal abuse cases
- Using the NIBRS forms and its device compatibility
- Code 3 as an avenue to utilize for training
- The possibility of grants available for initiatives related to NIBRS reporting of animal abuse
- Training ACOs and HLEs as law enforcement officers
- Existing inter-agency collaboration to address the issue of animal cruelty
- Offenders’ motivations to hurt pets/animals
- Reporting capability for the ACOs and HLEs