Let’s all imagine, just for a moment, that an animal court exists where dogs and cats have the oppotunity to present evidence against their abusers. What would the Great Dane judge and mostly dachshund and corgi jury hear about the defendants? That Jeffery Dahmer got pleasure by using sticks to impale and showcase the decapitated heads of dogs, cats, and even frogs.
Would a German Shepherd prosecutor describe Lee Boyd Malvo’s use of a slingshot and glass marbles to brutally pelt defenseless cats? Maybe a televised trial would show an Ocicat defense attorney pleading for leniency for her client because, as a small child, he was forced to watch his father kill and dismember the family cat on the kitchen table. Would the German Shepherd present evidence indicating the abuse, torture, and murder of humans could be next?
We already know that Ted Bundy, Dahmer, and David Berkowitz each confessed to brutally abusing and/or killing animals during their childhood. There are studies that show a disturbing trend of children who grow up in homes where animals were abused, often continue on to become animal abusers themselves. After all, kids do indeed like to “do as mommy and daddy do.”
Studies also report a number of abused women whose battering spouses also injured or killed family pets. In addition, abuser(s) often use violence toward family pets as a means to control their victim(s) – “I’ll hurt the cat if you don’t do as I say.”
According to a study reported in “DA’s Link Pet Abuse, Domestic Violence,” it is estimated that 40% of women elected to remain in the abusive household/relationship due to a very real fear of what would/could happen to the family pet, if they left.
Another trend we see occurring is that 43% of school shooters abused animals at some point during their childhoods. And that animal abusers between 6-12 years of age are at more than double the risk of committing a violent crime during their juvenile years.
In 2019, the County of San Diego’s District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit prosecuted 55 animal abuse cases. Of those nearly five dozen cases, 17 also involved domestic violence, child and/or elder abuse.
“Often, animal abuse crimes also have a nexus to mental illness.” ~ San Diego County DA’s Office: DA Reports Increase in Animal Cruelty Cases Linked to Domestic Violence (2019)
Jeffrey Dahmer – high school years
Are there steps that could be taken to prevent child animal abusers from growing up to be the next school shooter, or a Jeffery Dahmer copycat? Well, there are no certainties, but a good place to start is:
a) Sit down with the children in the household to discuss unexplained animal injuries or unexpected pet deaths.
b) Urge local law enforcement and prosecutors to take all cases of animal abuse seriously, and to charge those who break the law. Elected officials, such as sheriffs, mayors, council members, prosecutors, and judges, will often go the extra mile to satisfy the voting public.
c) Listen to your kids. If they’re telling you they’ve seen “Little Jeffrey” down the street shooting cats with his pellet gun, well, they’re probably telling you something that’s very important and very real. Don’t ignore them and hope the act doesn’t happen again. If necessary, call the police, approach the child’s parents, or perhaps even notify a social worker or child protective services.
d) Alert your local Neighborhood Watch volunteers to be on the lookout for animal abuse and suspected animal abusers.
e) Alert the police officers who patrol your neighborhood. Also, call your local animal control officer(s). You may not see immediate results/arrests, but the officers will then know what to look for and who to watch.
f) A talk with your veterinarian about the suspected animal abuse may produce positive results. After all, she may be familiar with the animal(s) in question, and your input could be the deciding factor that prompts a call to police.
g) If possible, and without placing yourself in harm’s way, take photos of the abused animal so you’ll have something to present to the authorities.
h) Talk to your children about all the positive aspects of pet ownerships. Demonstrate love for the animal(s) in your home. Remember, kids like to imitate mommy and daddy, and it’s just as easy to grow up as a lover of animals as it is to become an animal abuser.
Finally, if you are considering adding an animal to your family, please do consider adoption. There are hundreds upon hundreds of dogs and cats in shelters that are desperately in need of a home. They’re also desperately in need of love and attention. So go ahead, make their day.