“One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.”
—Anthropologist Margaret Mead
From the bleached pups (by an 8-year-old) to St. Louis’ “Honor” (by teens) to “Miracle” thrown off the bridge (by teens), we need to ensure the abusers don’t get away with a slap on the wrist. Hurting an animal is not funny whether it’s done by a 10 year old or a 30 year old.
Children abusing animals should never be considered “a phase.” Animal abusers will escalate; those who abuse animals rarely stop there. It is an aggressive and antisocial behavior, and a reliable predictor of violence against people after a young abuser grows up.
Here are a few articles we’ve compiled from various sources:
- “The Animal Abuse-Human Violence Connection” — a well-outlined writeup by PAWS
- “Animal Cruelty and Human Violence – A documented connection” — by HSUS
- “The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome” — a 2010 New York Times piece by Charles Siebert which takes a deeper dive into these connection:
The connection between animal abuse and other criminal behaviors was recognized, of course, long before the evolution of the social sciences and institutions with which we now address such behaviors. In his famous series of 1751 engravings, “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” William Hogarth traced the life path of the fictional Tom Nero: Stage 1 depicts Tom as a boy, torturing a dog; Stage 4 shows Tom’s body, fresh from the gallows where he was hanged for murder, being dissected in an anatomical theater. And animal cruelty has long been recognized as a signature pathology of the most serious violent offenders. As a boy, Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of cats and dogs on sticks; Theodore Bundy, implicated in the murders of some three dozen people, told of watching his grandfather torture animals; David Berkowitz, the “Son of Sam,” poisoned his mother’s parakeet.
A study by Cynthia Hodges, an attorney with animal law practice, shows link between animal abuse and violence towards people as supported by studies:
- 100% of sexual homicide offenders examined had a history of cruelty towards animals.
- 70% of all animal abusers have committed at least one other criminal offense and almost 40% have committed violent crimes against people.
- 63.3% of men who had committed crimes of aggression admitted to cruelty to animals.
- 48% of rapists and 30% of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence.
- 36% of assaultive women reported cruelty to animals while 0% of non-assaultive women did.
- 25% of violent, incarcerated men reported higher rates of “substantial cruelty to animals” in childhood than a comparison group of non-incarcerated men (0%).
- Men who abused animals were five times more likely to have been arrested for violence towards humans, four times more likely to have committed property crimes, and three times more likely to have records for drug and disorderly conduct offenses.
We need to combat violence toward animals and people. There is no excuse to be cruel. We need to ensure that the punishment fits the crime, regardless of the perpetrator’s age. This is not something that you brush off or let slide.
You can choose to be decent, compassionate human beings, or pay the consequences.
To the punks who abuse animals: Let’s see how tough you are when you’re in prison with bigger, badder punks than you.
To anonymously report suspected dogfighting, call 1-877-TIP-HSUS and 911.
Each of us can take steps against cruelty. Together, we can make a difference.
To download the high-resolution poster: