Dan Linh Nguyen
6 June 2018
The link between animal abuse and human violence
Earth, the only planet in the whole solar system that is occupied with a great variety of creatures. From under the sea to above the air, to those that live by land, life takes forms in a majestic way. However, there is no denying to the fact that once a society or a community is formed, a distribution of classes will soon or later take place. Thus, we humans figure out the differences between other species and distinguish ourselves from them. Setting their levels below us as if we are a more superior being. Each and everyone of us has our own perspectives of comprehending the value of animals just like the way we treat them. Those who love animals may wonder how would others be able to abuse animals while many of these creatures are trying to survive just like us, some wouldn’t even lay a finger on us. Notably, there are several scientific and psychological factors that lead people to behave animal in a cruel and unethical way, such as curiosity and temptation. Acts of violence or cruelty to animals aren’t the indications of a minor personality flaw in the offender, but they are basically the symptomatic of a deep or hidden mental disturbance. Numerous research show that people who commit cruelty acts to animals will not stop and tend to carry on. Significantly, even murders and family abusers confess that their childhoods are filled up with the actions of harming and killing countless of innocent animals. Thus, it builds up a bridge of connection between human violence and animal abuse. As the connection is more commonly recognized by the professions, images, studies, and even protests are out spreading and exploded on the social media, hoping to reduce the amount of violence put upon other animals and our own kind as well. Though there has been a great progression in implementing the animal rights in the recent years, animal abuse still appears to be viral in our daily lives, showing that the effects which create the developmental link between animal cruelty and human violence need to be spread even further throughout countries.
First of all, the term animal cruelty should be defined adequately and precisely. According to Gullone, animal cruelty causes by deliberateness or without ignorance, also known as intentional behaviors and unintentional behaviors. Unintentional acts started from the disregard of one’s responsibility, and standards care for his/her pets. No constitutional law strongly demands someone to take care of animals, but when as we own one, our ethical duties are to take care of them in as best as we could. Prime examples are the adequate feedings and water supply; another standard of the neglect statutes is sheltering, they are required to be clean, consist of solid surface, and have a resting floor (Welch 2009). Although these seem to be simple requirements, many of us still failed to do; some may not notice that they are abusing their pets since most common animals-cruelty cases have neglected to the point of cruelty involved. Unintentional acts are way more brutal than visibly killing or torturing animals since the lack of knowledge or experience will slowly kill the animals from the insides as they will experience starvation, dehydration, suffocation, and diseases. People who are not able to provide the standard care for their family pet is more closely to neglect other demand of household; it is also a threat to the living condition of children who live in the family’s neglect pets. According to a document, namely Animal Cruelty and Human Violence, says that children whose parents show the neglect to the pets have the high capacity are taken into the foster care. Unintentional behaviors can happen with animals but it does not stop there, the children are might be affected too. Moving forward to the second type, intentional cruelty, it occurs when someone purposely harms, injuries or brings death to animals just for the “imaginary pleasure”. “Unnecessary beating, maiming, or slaughtering animals are intentional actions” (Welch 2009). These types of cruelty are more accessible to recognize since they are way more inhuman, pretty more apparent and seem to only exist with those who have mental breakdowns or physical issues in their pasts.
Speaking of the reasons why human have always abused animals, our minds tend to lead to the lust of profit we can make from animals trading, entertainment, or even worse, just for our satisfaction, but there are way more persuasive to listen to the researchers explain an actual strong link of risk factors that motivates human to act unethically on animals based on scientific and surveys. Temperamental predisposition, sex differences, age differences, witnessing of violence and animal cruelty, family and parenting experiences, and knowledge structures are the most potential factors that affect the attitudes and behaviors of those who have committed animal cruelty (Gullone 2014). The essential factor is the temperamental predisposition that refers to a callous-unemotional trait. Individuals characterized by the callous-unemotional trait is unfortunately lack of emotional and empathic arousal, they show very limited concern for others and have destructive antisocial attitudes (McDonald 2007). The symptoms of callous-trait can be explained by the socialization soon affect the process of forming this trait. The second important factor is sex differences, as researchers have shown that males are more likely to be cruel to animals and this is considered to be true for all of the human developmental stages, including childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood (Gullone 64). However, when it comes to the age differences that cause the largest numbers of animal cruelty cases, the result shows only a quarter of abusers were adolescents, and the majority is under the age of 30. The children and adolescents possibly behave animals because of the curiosity, demand for exploring or mood enhancement. In the contrary, with the adults who apprehend the morality well, the primary motivation they abuse animals is to express the aggression (e.g., shocking others, experiences, or pure satisfaction). In 2005, Brady showed in her research that those who have eyewitnessed animal acts of violence are more into brutality than the virgin peers who have not gained any experience with the ratio 3 to 1. Parenting experience and family life is also an underestimated aspect of negative behaviors to animals. Children are rose up by unsupportive, aggressive parents, or live in a conflicted home can create the symptom that would later lead to all types of domestic violence, including animals’. Besides, children who experience child abuse and other abnormal effects in their family lives can lead to the development of the callous-unemotional trait, back to the riskiest factor of animal abuse which leads to other domestic violence. This explains why family education is usually mentioned when it comes to the subject “animal abuse".
The link connects animal abuse and human violence has starting factors; thus, it indeed will have ending results. People who have experienced animal cruelty are predicted to move onto human violence. There is a real event about two prisons whose surveys were studied. They were asked to rate their assigned prisoners on a scale of aggressiveness from 1-10 when the aggressive behaviors are ranged from threatening speech to violent acts. The interview items were pertained to antisocial behaviors, environmental background, and various aspects of animal involvement such as owning family pets, raising livestock, training animals, hunting, and attending organized fights (e.g., dog fights). The results came out that 25% of the aggressive criminals had abused animals 5 or more times in childhood, in contrast to 5.8% of the non-aggressive criminals, and 0% for non-criminals (Dadds 2002). A large number of statistic surveys from the animal abusers can answer for this concern of the future criminal acts. A significant correlation exists between the actions of cruelty to animals as those who are children and recurrent aggression towards those who are adults. In fact, one of the most reliable fortune tellers as an adult is reported to have a past of committing animal abuses. Both pieces of research in criminology and psychology indicate that people who tend to harm or kill innocent animals do not stop there, as many of them would later turn their targets to humans (Hodges 2008). Whether it is psychology, sociology, or even criminology, all of the studies conducted from these branches have shown that a considerable amount of offenders had committed numerous acts of severe animal cruelty and abuse during their childhoods. Those who have intentionally abused pets during the young age are more likely to commit murder and tend to harm others when grew up. To make it even more precise, a further correlation which also proves the most aggressive criminals known to humankind were filled up with a childhood of abusing animals and treating them as toys that have no emotions at all.
Exploring deeply about the correlation of animal cruelty to human violence, there are hundreds of surveys that prove the link of animal cruelty to human abuse in the family, school, and the community as well. According to a piece of news tells that the officials first discover a tethered dog was struggling with starvation and thirst outside a couple’s residence, entering into the house, investigators found a 3-month boy lying near the trash and decayed food (“Animal Abuse and Human Abuse”). The neglect to animals can easily continue on the other living creatures, children, since the abusers aim to the powerless, weak targets so that the victims are mainly children, women, or elderly, they also are animals. A research shows that the majority of killers possibly have animal abuse in their background. Albert DeSalvo, the “Boston Strangler,” who have committed murder to 13 women, had the roughest history of trapping dogs and cats, shoving them in boxes and eventually shot arrows through them (Mahoney 2014). Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer, pierced cats, and dogs’ heads on sticks (“Animal Abuse and Human Abuse”). Besides, the mass shootings have been a speechless issue recently in the US, most of the cases, the shooters started from the violence to animals before moving to attack classmates, teachers or even family. Luke Woodham, another murderer who managed to take his own mother’s life and two other schoolmates’, also killed his pet dog beforehand. High-school killers Kip Kinkel in Springfield, tortured animals before the shooting (“Juvenile Justice Bulletin 2001”). The path from animal abuse to later violence is answered very clearly via the real-life stories, but somehow, people nowadays still have not seen the act of animal cruelty as a risk which we should stop it immediately or else it would massively affect to not only our overall mental health but also our children and upcoming generations.
Animal abuse has existed for centuries, in the contrary, the animal lovers side have always been fighting for animal rights for centuries as well. As I said above, none of us is forced to take care of animals, it is simply our understandings, responsibilities and empathies to act morally to these precious creatures. Thus, animals welfare and animal rights are spreading both in Europe and in the United States. According to National Animal Interest Alliance, animal welfare consists of five freedoms, one of which is the freedom from hunger and thirst, the others are the freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury, and disease; also the freedom to express normal behavior, and from fear and distress. Learning these five freedom is a helpful deduction of the risk of animal cruelty. For instance, animal abuse can be caused by the neglect of the owners not recognizing the veterinary needs of their pet. If we can supply animals with fresh water, maintain a standard diet for them, caring about their living conditions, freely let the animals express their own facilities, and ensure their necessary treatment to avoid symptoms and diseases, then these animal welfares will be a sooner solution before their pets are considered abused. Lately, there has been many arguments about the differences between animal welfare and animal rights. Animal welfare is used as a formal base to form the animal rights. Basically, animal welfare is argued to be accepted as the minimize need of animals. Then it extends wider to the animals rights where many organizations have been established to protect animals from the pervasive and variety forms of animal cruelty nowadays. In the total of the 35 major animal protection groups in Britain, at least 18 groups have been formed since 1960, and most groups have seen a significant increase in membership (Garner 2008). Animal protection organizations present as an encouragement human to act morally to the non-human species. While human is considered themselves superior to animals and takes control of behaving on animals, these organizations exist as a strong voice from human itself against the immoral of human beings. Unfortunately, there is an obvious limitation holds the organizations from protecting animals, since human possess characteristics that differ themselves from animals, there is no correct explanation why human beings is superior to animals, but Garner provides an appropriate word “personhood; which defines humans are persons and animals are not. Ironically, this auto recognition builds a huge wall separate person level from the non-person ones. It is impossible for any organizations, laws, or knowledge to replace this wall immediately. So what could be the solution for the two opposing lanes – abusing animals and animal rights? Human superiority means that the only way to protect animals can be continued with regard to animal welfare programs that focus on unnecessary suffering, reform, in other words, animal treatment does not affect human vital benefits. But this is not as negative as it may sound. Because there has been a significant change in the perception of what is considered unnecessary suffering. The primary point is that what is deemed to be useless is not static, and can be changed by subjective political debate. There is a tremendous potential for animal advocates to expand what is considered unnecessary.
Because of the potential consequences of abusing animals link to the future violence, as well as protecting animals rights, the court and the laws should be enriched to penalize animal abusers actively. Phil Arkow, a humane educator and chair of the Latham Foundation Child and Family Violence Prevention Project states that animal abuse must be redefined as a crime of violence…” and “it must be perceived and documented as a human welfare issue.” (“Expanding Domestic Violence Protective;). Judy Priess of the SASA Crisis Center also agrees and claims that a similar connection must be established between hurting an animal and hurting a person. She believes that if one is able to avoid hurting an animal as an adolescent, he or she can be stopped from abusing human as an adult (Price 2008). In March 2006, Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed an entirely new kind of law in the US which authorizes the judges to involve and allows animal-related judges to take protective measures against domestic violence (Mack 2006). After that, many states have complied with that particular law, such as California, Colorado, Vermont, and New York, the abuser denounces a court order on the cruelty of animals that can face imprisonment and punishment. In fact, the court now is paying more attention to animal cruelty cases. As an illustration, from the article titled, A case of pet care and politics, Peter Applebome provides the details of two cases that involve animal cruelty and seizure. One is reported with a dishonorable act of raising fines related to animals for the personal purpose of increasing the coffers of an organization. While the other is arrested for bringing in dogs whose conditions are dreadful and severe. The two arrests contributed to a series of legal proceedings which were found to be charged with crimes like grand larceny, perjury, etc. Peter gives feedback at the end of the article about these two cases that an accusation of animal abuse can be as significant and damaging as child abuse.
The laws and organization have been working on the movement of heightening animals rights and protecting these non-human creatures, but what would change so much more if each of individuals gains knowledge about the value of animals, understand their contribution to our life, the serious consequences of harming animals on abusers afterward? Small things can totally prevent or minimize the number of animal cruelty cases such as being aware of the neglect to animals since this is a warning sign of animal abuse, reporting any action even the smallest detail that injuries animals to the agency, and organization, Importantly, carefully paying attention to the development of child, teaching them the precious value of animals to respect animals and hurting even human or non-human feelings is unacceptable. The progress growing up of children is especially significant since it decides how a person is formed, the essential characteristics and all the future behaviors, thus, the family education needs to be emphasized. The parents should notice the family atmosphere, enrich the connection between kids and parents. We never expect to build a family with the aggressiveness, lack of care, or too independent among family members. Neglect the children can’t be seen as a providing the own space, it can endanger a kid to act brutally with animals and other.
From the explored link between cruelty to animals and violence to human, animal abuse should have seen as a ticking bomb but not all of us have been acknowledged about this risk. We hope for the security of our families, the school we are going to, the whole community we are living in, and all the precious animal species, but we carelessly ignore the underground factor that endangers people around us, maybe ourselves. Starting to recognize all the forms of animal cruelty to provide our pets and the animals the most appropriate care is a further step in the prevention of animal abuse. Next, understand heartfully that hurting or injuring any creatures is unacceptable, either humans or animals. The gap of “personhood" has created the conflict between animal abuse and animal rights for too long, it is time to put a dot and look further to the point shows what would be more admirable to act morally and adequately on animals. Animals deserve to have liberty, and they are created to fill out the imperfection of the planet, they contribute the dedication, their endowed facilities to our lives, how would human beings – the highest animals – who have the highest ability of perception treat animals so poorly, then there must be unpredictable consequences on ourselves. A wrong decision or behavior has the unexpecting results; instead of respecting animals, taking care of them, we have chosen to abandon, torture and kill them, then we again, unfortunately, harm our mental health, being anxiety for our family, or even being a fear to the community. People are unknowingly putting themselves into a wrong human development path, facing with psychology, sociology, or criminology issues. Therefore, the link between animal abuse and human violence, which is usually seen as a cause and effect, is inevitable and significant. It’s alerting to us that we should pay more attention and respect to these animals for they are affecting our lives big time.
“Animal Cruelty and Human Violence.” The Humane Society of the United States, www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/qa/cruelty_violence_connection_faq.html?credit=web_id235304807. Web. 14 April. 2018.
“Animal Abuse and Human Abuse: Partners in Crime.” PETA, www.peta.org/issues/animal-companion-issues/animal-companion-factsheets/animal-abuse-human-abuse-partners-crime/. Web. 1 May. 2018.
Applebome, Peter. “A Case of Pet Care and Politics.” The New York Times, 7 Oct. 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/nyregion/08towns.html. Web. May 3. 2018.
Dadds, Mark R., et al. ;Developmental Links between Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence.; Australian ; New Zealand Journal of Criminology (Australian Academic Press), vol. 35, no. 3, Dec. 2002, pp. 363-382. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true;db=aph;AN=31734570;site=ehost-live. Web. 20 May. 2018.
“Expanding Domestic Violence Protective Ordersto Include Companion Animals.” An Overview of the Elements of a Copyright Infringement Cause of Action – Part I: Introduction and Copying, American Bar Association, Vol. 8, 2007, www.americanbar.org/newsletter/publications/cdv_enewsletter_home/expertArkow.html. Web. 23 May. 2018.
Garner, Robert. ;The Politics of Animal Rights.; British Politics 3.1 (2008): 110-9. ProQuest, https://search-proquest-com.edmonds.idm.oclc.org/docview/232423178/1A6AFEC793B8431EPQ/1?accountid=1626, Web. 3 June 2018. Web. 19 May. 2018.
Gullone, Eleonora. “Risk Factors for The Development of Animal Cruelty.” Journal of Animal Ethics, vol. 4, no. 2, 2014, pp. 61–79. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/janimalethics.4.2.0061. Web. 15 May. 2018.
“Juvenile Justice Bulletin — September 2001 — Animal Abuse and Youth Violence.” 1999 National Report Series, Juvenile Justice Bulletin: Minorities in the Juvenile Justice System — The Juvenile Justice System Was Founded on the Concept of Rehabilitation through Individualized Justice, www.ncjrs.gov/html/ojjdp/jjbul2001_9_2/page6.html. Web. 22 May. 2018.
Mack, Sharon Kiley. “Law Protects Pets of Abuse Victims Maine Legislation to Curb Cycle of Violence against Animals 1st in Nation.” HighBeam Research – Newspaper Archives and Journal Articles, The Washington Post, 1 Apr. 2006, www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-11805167.html. Web. 21 May. 2018.
McDonald, Shelby Elaine, et al. ;The Role of callous/unemotional Traits in Mediating the Association between Animal Abuse Exposure and Behavior Problems among Children Exposed to Intimate Partner Violence.; Child abuse ; neglect 72 (2017): 421. ProQuest. https://search-proquest-com.edmonds.idm.oclc.org/docview/1970948749/F4ED2CA6BFF64518PQ/1?accountid=1626, Web. 25 April. 2018.
Price, Robert. “Cruelty to Animals May Lead to Child Abuse An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org.” Henry Stephens Salt and the Argument for Animal Rights: Animals: Tradition – Philosophy – Religion – All-Creatures.org Articles Archive, July 2008, www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-crueltytoanimals.html. Web. 19 May. 2018.
“What Is Animal Welfare and Why Is It Important? | National Animal Interest Alliance.” Animal Welfare – National Animal Interest Alliance, www.naiaonline.org/articles/article/what-is-animal-welfare-and-why-is-it-important#sthash.kEmQ02eb.8EttAHMH.dpbs. Web. 5 May. 2018.
Welch, K. Michelle. ;Animal Cruelty Cases.; Gpsolo, vol. 26, no. 5, July 2009, pp. 64-67. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true;db=aph;AN=43672440;site=ehost-live. Web. 28 Apr. 2018.