NSA President Makes First Official Acts, Focusing on Animal Cruelty, School Safety, and Mental Health in Jails
Alexandria, VA – In his first set of official acts as president, National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) 2018-2019 President, Marion County (Ind.) Sheriff John Layton announced the creation of two new committees within NSA for animal cruelty and school safety, and further instructed NSA’s Jail Committee to focus on developing innovative solutions to handling mental health and substance abuse in jails.
Layton announced the formation an Animal Cruelty Committee, the first and only of its kind amongst law enforcement organizations.
“With the continued problems facing law enforcement across the country in reference to animal cruelty and animal-related incidents, along with the recent publication from the Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team on the link between animal abuse and terrorism, I am appointing a committee to look into the needs and concerns of our sheriffs across the country in handling this issue,” said Layton. “Law enforcement needs a unified voice to address animal cruelty, and this committee accomplishes that. No other law enforcement organization includes animal cruelty in its wheelhouse,” he continued.
Next, Layton announced the establishment of a School Safety Committee to organize a cohesive body of the nation’s sheriffs and other subject-matter experts, tasked with serving as a collection point of resources and catalyzing relevant players into action.
“Since 2013, there have been over 330 school shootings, including at least 50 so far in 2018,” Layton commented. “Our children deserve to feel safe while learning, and our nation’s sheriffs are in the best position to provide them with a secure environment. This committee will bring a varied combination of experience from both rural and urban environments to produce the best resources and training available.”
Lastly, Layton encouraged the NSA’s current Jail Committee to continue its work in addressing the mental health and substance abuse issues facing the nation’s jails through innovative problem-solving. “As mental health facilities shutter their doors, America’s jails find themselves tasked with housing and caring for approximately 2 million individuals with mental health issues, mandated by federal law to provide care regardless of cost,” Layton said.
This is a particularly important issue to Layton, and one that he’s already tackled in his county, where an estimated 40% of inmates struggle with mental illness, higher than the national average of 15-30%. Other major county jurisdictions such as Dane County, WI., Davidson County, Tenn., and Harris County, Tex., have made news with their innovation mental health programs, and Layton hopes the collaborative effort of the Committee will help other counties create solutions tailored to their jurisdictions.
About the National Sheriffs’ Association:
The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is one of the largest associations of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and a total membership of more than 20,000. NSA is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies, and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety. Throughout its seventy-eight year history, NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for sheriffs, deputies, chiefs of police, other law enforcement professionals, state governments and the federal government.
Animal Cruelty: A Possible Warning Behavior for Terrorism and Other Premeditated Violence against Humans Which Needs Reporting and Further Vetting
El Joint Counterterrorism Assessment Team – un grupo de colaboración entre el National Counterterrorism Center, el Departmento de Homeland Security, y el FBI ha publicado hoy el informe: “Crueldad hacia los animales: un posible comportamiento de alarma para terrorismo y otras formas de violencia premeditada contra los seres humanos que requiere informes y mayor investigación.”
En este tema, estamos trabajando conjuntamente con la National Sheriffs’ Association, el Grupo Perfilación y Análisis de la Conducta Criminal y CISEG – Comunidad de Inteligencia y Seguridad Global.
The report acknowledges the connection between animal cruelty/abuse and future acts of targeted violent crimes against humans. It outlines the importance of reporting and vetting animal cruelty cases and stresses the need for multidisciplinary cooperation in investigating and prosecuting them. The report also gives some basic tips in investigating animal cruelty cases.
Check out this infographic that highlights the things John Thompson, Deputy Executive Director of the National Sheriffs Association, discussed during his webinar including the misunderstood nature of animal abuse crimes, and their link to violence against humans.
According to Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, founder and president of Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC, in Boston, Massachusetts, and adjunct professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, animal neglect is the failure to provide adequate food, water, shelter (Figure 1), and veterinary care, to the extent that a reasonable and prudent animal owner should have known the animal needed. Typically, these cases involve passive maltreatment that represents acts or crimes of omission, she said.Presenting at the 2017 American Veterinary Medical Association Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dr. Smith-Blackmore discussed the role of the veterinarian in dealing with cases of animal neglect.RELATED:
A Collaborative Effort
Dr. Smith-Blackmore emphasized that effective management of animal neglect cases requires collaboration among veterinarians, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors.
She explained that veterinarians play a key role in recognizing and reporting cases of obvious or suspected animal neglect. This may require veterinarians to participate in crime scene investigations, perform diagnostic testing (such as laboratory work and radiography), interpret findings (including those from photographs), and ultimately provide opinions on what factors either did or did not contribute to an animal’s condition.
In contrast, law enforcement officers are responsible for investigating these cases, which may involve obtaining search warrants for an owner’s home and conducting interviews with an owner. Prosecutors will also advise on what charges might be applicable.
Reporting Suspicions of Animal Neglect
In an interview with American Veterinarian®, Dr. Smith-Blackmore provided pointers for veterinarians who need to report suspicions of animal neglect to law enforcement. If the officer taking the report is less than responsive, the veterinarian should call the agency directly and ask to speak with a detective, she advised. For example, “If an animal control officer doesn’t see a problem where you do, call the sheriff’s department,” she said. “If local law enforcement is less than thorough, call the prosecutor’s office. There is always someone, somewhere, who has the ability and interest to help launch an investigation into your concerns.”
Dr. Smith-Blackmore told American Veterinarian® that “when a veterinarian suspects animal maltreatment and reports that suspicion to the appropriate authorities, he or she has contributed one important piece to the justice puzzle. The investigation and potential prosecution that follow are where criminal responsibility is decided.”
However, she also noted the uneven response across the country to allegations of animal abuse. Although “some jurisdictions are well prepared and will respond appropriately, other places may have departments or individuals who fail to respond with appropriate interest and vigor,” she said. “But as long as we veterinarians are reporting our suspicions and expecting appropriate responses, we are fulfilling our responsibility to animal health and welfare. The veterinarian who fails to advocate for his or her patient is a gatekeeper, preventing an appropriate response.”
She also discussed cases in which veterinarians might encounter “borderline care” of animals. In these instances, it is appropriate to exercise the due diligence of educating the client and giving the client the opportunity to improve an animal’s condition, she said. “Set reasonable deadlines for improvement, and document those expectations in the medical record. If the client then fails to show up for a recheck appointment, or if the animal is no better off at recheck, a report of suspected animal cruelty can be made,” she said.
The Clinical Examination
Focusing on starvation as 1 form of neglect, Dr. Smith-Blackmore stressed the need for veterinarians to perform a thorough clinical or postmortem examination
on any animal that they suspect has been abused.
When documenting their findings, veterinarians should include subjective observations (eg, the smell of the animal, the texture of its fur) and objective findings (eg, the animal’s weight, results of diagnostic tests), as well as observations about the severity and duration of any injuries (Figure 2).
Dr. Smith-Blackmore discussed some tools that veterinarians may find useful when recording their clinical examination findings. For example, body condition charts can help veterinarians document an animal’s body condition score.1,2The Tufts Animal Care and Condition Scoring System3 also provides language for assessing body condition, as well as for physical care and weather and environmental safety. Muscle condition score charts are also available from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, she said.4,5
Look for Evidence of Starvation
Hypoalbuminemia is a common finding in animals that have suffered starvation, Dr. Smith-Blackmore said. Other common findings include an elevated blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level, as a result of protein catabolism, as well as an elevated BUN:creatinine ratio. Additionally, a complete blood count may reveal findings such as anemia and low white blood cell count, she said. If the animal has demonstrated pica, the veterinarian should note this in the report because it indicates that the animal had an interest in eating, thus reducing the likelihood that inappetence led to emaciation.
Rule Out Medical Causes of Emaciation
However, Dr. Smith-Blackmore advised that when dealing with animals that are suspected to have been starved, veterinarians should nevertheless be careful to rule out underlying medical conditions that could have produced significant weight loss despite adequate nutrition. These include conditions such as cancer, protein-losing nephropathy, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and severe intestinal parasitism, she said.
Choose Language Carefully
Dr. Smith-Blackmore emphasized the need for veterinarians to think carefully about the language they use when recording clinical findings in a written report because this can have important implications during any future prosecution stage.
For example, she advised veterinarians to avoid using the term neglect when describing or interpreting any findings from a case involving an emaciated animal. Use of this term in a report could prevent prosecutors from charging a severe case of animal neglect as a felony, she explained. Instead, Dr. Smith-Blackmore suggested that veterinarians should use the termstarvation abuse in these cases (Figure 3).
Animal Abuse as a Social Issue
Dr. Smith-Blackmore discussed several cases, some of which also highlighted animal abuse as an important social issue with implications that extend beyond the effect on the animal. The veterinarian’s role in recognizing and reporting animal abuse is especially important because of the well-documented link between animal abuse and human violence and other forms of community violence.6,7
In addition to neglect resulting from an individual’s lack of empathy, she added that animal abuse sometimes results from an owner’s mental health issues, as in cases of animal hoarding, for instance. These scenarios can be extremely complex, she said, with various potential underlying issues. She discussed case examples such as the overwhelmed caregiver hoarder (who passively acquires an excessive number of animals), the rescue hoarder (who takes in abandoned, abused, and stray pets and often eventually suffers extreme compassion fatigue), and the greed-driven hoarder (who acquires animals purely for financial gain).
In these cases, as well as in other instances, when evidence may be insufficient to file charges, for example, Dr. Smith-Blackmore stressed that a restorative justice approach can often help both the people and animals involved. In contrast to more punitive approaches in which the main aim is retribution, restorative justice considers crime and wrongdoing to be an offense against an individual or community rather than the state, she said. This approach still holds offenders accountable, but the response focuses on healing rather than punishing.
Dr. Smith-Blackmore discussed using the Benchmark Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum in these cases.8 This court-ordered online course is designed to create positive change in the attitudes and actions of people who have mistreated animals and to reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend.
Because this course educates individuals about animal cruelty, animals’ basic needs, and responsible pet ownership, she noted, participation prevents individuals from claiming ignorance about these topics if they reoffend.
Advancing Efforts to Increase Reporting of Animal Abuse
Overall, Dr. Smith-Blackmore emphasized the need for veterinarians to act on cases of suspected animal neglect or abuse. “When veterinarians decide not to report their suspicions, they have acted as investigator, judge, and jury—potentially condemning that animal or scores of animals to a lifetime of suffering,” she said.
An increasing number of publications in the medical literature about childhood injuries related to abuse played an important role in bringing child abuse to national attention in the 1960s. This ultimately contributed to most states having mandatory child abuse reporting laws by the 1970s. Reflecting on this, Dr. Smith-Blackmore noted that with respect to reporting of suspicions of animal abuse, veterinarians are currently in a similar position to that of pediatricians in the 1970s who were faced with reporting suspicions of child abuse.
Nevertheless, she stressed that mandated reporting of suspicions of animal abuse, with good faith reporting immunity, is needed across the United States. “This, along with universal training in veterinary schools on recognizing signs of criminal harm to animals and how to report them, will create the same change in veterinary medicine,” she concluded.
Dr. Parry, a board-certified veterinary pathologist, graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1997. After 13 years in academia, she founded Midwest Veterinary Pathology, LLC, where she now works as a private consultant. Dr. Parry writes regularly for veterinary organizations and publications.
Tufts Animal Care and Condition (TACC) scales for assessing body condition, weather and environmental safety, and physical care in dogs. Tufts University website. vet.tufts.edu/wp-content/uploads/tacc.pdf. Accessed December 13, 2017.
In recent years, the National Sheriffs’ Association has become a prominent advocate for tracking animal-rights issues. The group’s advocacy work played a key role in convincing the FBI to add animal-cruelty crimes to a database commonly used by law enforcement.
The FBI is taking cases of animal cruelty more seriously than ever—and we have the National Sheriffs’ Association to thank for it.
For years, the association, a top advocate for adding animal-abuse data to the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), has been making its case that such crimes should be taken more seriously as a sign of future criminality. Beyond crimes such as child abuse and domestic violence, infamous serial killers, such as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, had well-documented histories of animal abuse.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” explained John Thompson, the group’s deputy executive director, in a blog post on the FBI website. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
The FBI agreed and in January officially made animal-abuse crimes part of the agency’s NIBRS database. Previously, such crimes had been lumped into an annual report called Crime in the United States—which itself was a change that had only been made in 2014. But by getting more granular, both the association and the FBI hope to better spot warning signs, before it’s too late.
According to a report by The Dodo, the incident reports will document numerous types of animal abuse, including neglect; torture; animal sexual abuse; and organized abuse, such as dog fighting.
The sheriffs’ association has taken a more serious interest in animal-cruelty issues in recent years, including launching the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse, in 2014.
“Law enforcement plays a unique role in the prevention of, and response to, animal abuse,” the association’s Thompson said in a news release [PDF]. “As a result, steps are currently being taken by law enforcement to better protect communities from animal cruelty offenders.”
“We formalized our work to prevent animal fighting and animal cruelty because we wanted state agencies and local law enforcement to know where they could turn for these kinds of cases, and based on the response we’ve gotten this year it’s clear there was a real need,” said Attorney General Herring. “Laws related to animal welfare and animal fighting should be strictly enforced for the sake of animals themselves and for the strength and safety of our communities since animal fighting often reveals other associated crimes like illegal gambling, illegal drugs or alcohol, or even things like assaults, domestic abuse, or illegal weapons.”
The ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week is held annually to raise awareness about animal abuse, recognize outstanding work by law enforcement and public safety officials, and encourage continued work to protect animals and communities from abusers. This year’s Week will highlight many of the areas that Attorney General Herring’s Animal Law Unit has been working on, including animal fighting, hoarding, and the link between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.
“Animal cruelty cases are very complex and resource-intensive and do not always get the time and attention they deserve,” said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director. “We applaud Attorney General Mark Herring for taking the very important step of creating the nation’s first-ever attorney general’s animal law unit, led by esteemed veteran prosecutor Michelle Welch. We’re hopeful that this tremendous team will pave the way for future animal units in attorney general’s offices nationwide!”
In January 2015, Attorney General Herring announced the designation of the nation’s first Attorney General’s “Animal Law Unit,” a small group of current staff attorneys led by Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch, herself a previous ALDF honoree, who spend a portion of their time serving as a resource for local law enforcement and state agencies on issues involving animal welfare and animal fighting or abuse. Because of the specialized and relatively infrequent nature of cases involving animal welfare, many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies seek assistance from the Unit in effectively investigating and prosecuting these cases. The power to initiate an investigation or prosecution remains with local agencies, but the Animal Law Unit provides assistance or handles cases by request from a commonwealth’s attorney or law enforcement agency.
“This year has been really gratifying. We have helped so many local law enforcement and animal control officers as well as prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth. The sheer number of calls has really shown that the Unit is a cutting edge law enforcement tool,” said Animal Law Unit Chief Michelle Welch. “We made a real difference in alleviating the suffering of animals and built awareness about how to combat animal cruelty in all its forms. In combating animal cruelty, we have prevented further violence against humans. This next year, we hope to do even more good work providing aid to localities and trainings on the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, animal fighting and hoarding issues.”
The Unit has also worked on multiple animal cruelty, animal fighting and animal hoarding cases and provided additional training on topics including police/animal encounters, the connection between animal abuse and domestic abuse, and even held the Attorney General’s first statewide conference on prosecuting animal fighting.
A first look at the FBI’s animal cruelty statistics will be available next year, but it will take three to five years for the data to begin showing helpful patterns.
Tracking Animal Cruelty
FBI Collecting Data on Crimes Against Animals
Acts of cruelty against animals are now counted alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI’s expansive criminal database.
On January 1, the Bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) began collecting detailed data from participating law enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty, including gross neglect, torture, organized abuse, and sexual abuse. Before this year, crimes that involved animals were lumped into an “All Other Offenses” category in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s annualCrime in the United States report, a survey of crime data provided by about 18,000 city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies.
By adding animal cruelty offenses to NIBRS, law enforcement agencies and the advocacy groups that pushed for the inclusion in the FBI database are hoping the results will reveal a more complete picture of the nature of cruelty to animals.
“Some studies say that cruelty to animals is a precursor to larger crime,” said Nelson Ferry, who works in the Bureau’s Criminal Statistics Management Unit, which manages NIBRS. “That’s one of the items that we’re looking at.”
The National Sheriffs’ Association was a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a data set in the Bureau’s collection of crime statistics. The association for years has cited studies linking animal abuse and other types of crimes—most famously, murders committed by serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz. The organization also points out the overlap animal abuse has with domestic violence and child abuse.
“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” said John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.”
A first look at NIBRS animal cruelty statistics will be available next year, but it will take at least three to five years for the data to begin showing helpful patterns. Groups that advocated for the new animal cruelty data hope that by adding it to NIBRS—rather than the summary-based statistics agencies provide the Bureau each year—they will get a much richer data set from which to mine. That’s because NIBRS requires participating agencies to not only report crimes but also all the circumstances of a crime. Additionally, the Bureau plans to phase out summary-based UCR statistics—which have been collected roughly the same way since 1930—in favor of NIBRS by 2021.
“With summary data, all I can tell you is a crime occurred,” said Amy Blasher, who is leading the broader transition to NIBRS at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, keeper of the Bureau’s various crime data stores. “With the incident-based, it’s more granular. It tells the story.”
The move to collect more granular data requires agencies to adjust how they track and disseminate crime statistics. Only about 31 percent of the country is represented in NIBRS today—a fraction of the overall UCR participants; however, Blasher anticipates the figure to grow larger as law enforcement agencies opt in, including police departments in Washington, D.C. and Chicago over the next two years. The FBI is aggressively pushing for the transition to NIBRS. In a speech last March in Atlanta, FBI Director James Comey said it was his personal mission to get better data “that we can all use to have informed conversations about the most important issues we face.”
Those who lobbied for better animal abuse data would agree. “With this information, law enforcement and victim services would be able to better target their intervention efforts with respect to both animal cruelty and those crimes for which animal cruelty serves as a marker,” said Dr. Mary Lou Randour of the Animal Welfare Institute, which worked closely with the National Sheriffs’ Association to advance their cause. “Identifying and analyzing animal cruelty crimes would provide an important tool for law enforcement.”
The National Sheriffs’ Association’s John Thompson urged people to shed the mindset that animal cruelty is a crime only against animals. “It’s a crime against society,” he said, urging all law enforcement agencies to participate in NIBRS. “By paying attention to [these crimes], we are benefiting all of society.”
Our Spanish Link affiliate, GEVHA (Grupo para el Estudio de la Violencia hacia Humanos y Animales) had an extremely active October and November. GEVHA founder Dr. Núria Querol reports that she and other GEVHA members participated and presented at five different conferences and that she is busily giving presentations about a book.
Querol spoke about The Link at the 1st National Animal Welfare Conference organized by PAES (Protección Animales España). This historic conference brought three associations together with a goal of building closer cooperation over animal welfare issues. The II Seminar on Criminology, organized by the Spanish Society of Criminology (Sociedad Española de Criminología), included The Link in a special panel on Green Criminology where the linkages of crimes against nature and animals were explained.
The I International Congress of Profiling & Criminal Analysis in Violent Crimes gathered important speakers in criminology including a former FBI agent. Querol gave a plenary conference on animal CSI and risk assessment in animal crimes.
The Police School of Catalonia organized a second training on The Link for police candidates. David Carrasco, Police Officer from Mossos d’Esquadra, spoke about SAF-T (Sheltering Animals and Families Together) and its Spanish chapter, the Freedom Paws Link Project. Querol spoke about indicators of intimate partner violence and risk assessment, giving special emphasis to animal abuse.
The Conference on Bullfighting in the XXIst Century, organized by Plataforma La Tortura no Es Cultura, invited Querol to speak about the effects of exposure to violence in society and the UN’s recommendations to keep children away from bullfighting.
Querol also tells The LINK-Letter that she is collaborating on the presentation of a book “Beatriz y la Loba” (Beatriz and the Wolf) by Concha López Llamas. This is an ecofeminist novel that connects family violence to animal abuse and the cruel treatment that wolves suffer worldwide. The presentations are being done all over Spain and have the support of rangers, wolf and domestic violence experts.
Three of the many GEVHA presentations in October and November included (from left) the Spanish Society on Criminology, the Police School of Catalonia, and the Conference on Bullfighting in the 21st Century.
It was more than 10 years ago that Mary Lou Randour realized she couldn’t answer what should have been a simple question: Was cruelty against animals on the rise or in decline?
Randour, a psychologist who switched careers to devote herself full time to animal rights advocacy, found there was no one keeping track of animal-abuse crimes. Even the most egregious cases, like dogfighting, fell under the category of “other” when local police agencies reported their statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’ National Incident Based Reporting System.
She began a concerted push for the FBI to elevate animal cruelty to its own separate offense category. After a years-long lobbying effort, in 2014, the FBI agreed. And this year will be the first time it collects data on animal crimes the way it does for other serious crimes like homicide.
The FBI defines cruelty to animals as: “Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment.”
There will be four categories of crimes: simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse — like dog fighting and cock fighting — and animal sexual abuse.
“These are creatures that suffer and we know their capacity to suffer,” said Randour, now the senior adviser for animal cruelty programs and training at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute. “In most societies it’s recognized that creatures that are dependent on others, whether the elderly or children or animals, need to be protected.”
Over the weekend, a YouTube video of an abused dog in Romania reacting to his first time being petted was viewed more than 4 million times. The dog cowers and yelps at the sight of a woman’s hand. When he realizes she’s showing him affection, he nuzzles close and allows her to stroke him.
It’s a devastating reminder of the realities of animal cruelty.
Like these distressing images, advocates hope the statistics on the volume and extent of crimes against animals will evoke similar emotions of outrage and heartbreak.
The FBI now counting animal abuse as a serious crime and backing it up with hard data is a “huge policy shift and significant step forward,” said Scott Heiser, an attorney with the Animal Defense League.
“I think there is truth to the notion they will be a lot more interested when they recognize how much volume there really is,” he said.
In 13 states and Washington, D.C., neglecting an animal is considered a felony. In all but two states, so-called affirmative acts of abuse are a felony on the first offense, though that can be subjective.
Vandhana Bala, an attorney for Mercy for Animals, which advocates for humane treatment of farmed animals, called the FBI’s move a “step in the right direction.” But she said there is inequity in how cruelty to dogs and cats is punished compared to other animals, like pigs, cows, and chickens.
On Tuesday, the group scored a victory when a farm worker in North Carolina was convicted for kicking chickens and stomping them to death.
“As practical matter, it’s heartening that the FBI is beginning to understand the seriousness of animal cruelty,” Bala said, but added that she hopes the agency will crackdown on crimes against all animals.
The National Sheriffs Association was also a strong backer of the FBI’s policy change. But the group’s motivation wasn’t animal welfare.
When Randour first brought the idea of tracking animal abuse data to the FBI a decade ago, John Thompson sat on the agency’s policy advisory board. It was dismissed as trivial. But several years ago, Thompson, now deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, was presented research that many serial killers, like Son of Sam, foreshadowed their penchant for violence at an early age through abusing animals.
Research has backed up that animal abuse can be a precursor to future violent crimes. In the popular Netflix true crime series, “Making a Murderer,” the principal character burned his cat alive.
“I’m on a mission because all these years I’ve missed it and it was sitting right in front of me,” Thompson said.
Some police agencies are already on it. Baltimore and Fairfax counties, for instance, have officers dedicated to investigating animal cruelty complaints.
The goal, he said, is that after several years of collecting the statistics other agencies will be able to see trends that will allow them to better allocate their resources to catching animal abusers.
For Randour the mission now is convincing local law enforcement to report the statistics, since the FBI’s data collection is voluntary. Part of that is appealing both emotionally — animal abuse is inhumane — and pragmatically — it can help understand other crimes.
“There is overwhelming evidence that [animal abuse] is linked to crimes against people, including violent crimes and domestic violence,” she said. “It’s not about protecting people or animals, it’s protecting them both.”
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today the creation of an Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, which will work closely with the newly formed New York City Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Investigations Squad (which assumed the ASPCA’s law enforcement function in July 2014) in pursing allegations of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect in Queens County. “Acts of animal cruelty can range from neglect and abandonment to serious physical injury and even death and include such organized blood sports as dog and gamecock fighting which are inhumanly staged for the entertainment and gambling purposes of their spectators and in which the animals are encouraged to fight to the death,” said District AttorneyBrown. “Such atrocities, which studies have shown can be a precursor to crimes against people, constitute criminal activity against innocent and abused animal victims in our communities and warrant prosecution.”
“The Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad has an extraordinary working relationship with the Queens District Attorney’s Office in regards to Animal Cruelty Investigations,” said Sergeant Michael Murphy, Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. “With the new Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit created by District AttorneyBrown we are looking forward to an even stronger collaboration to stop animal cruelty.”
The mandate of the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit – the first of its kind in a District Attorney’s Office in New York City – will be to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty crimes and to educate the public about how to prevent and detect abuse of animals.
In creating the Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, District Attorney Brown also announced that he has appointed veteran Queens prosecutor Nicoletta J. Caferri as its inaugural chief. Ms. Caferri is a career prosecutor who has been with the Queens District Attorney’s Office since 1992. Most notably, she handled the appeal of People v. Curtis Basile, in which the New York State Court of Appeals recently affirmed the 2007 animal mistreatment conviction of Mr. Basile who showed a complete disregard for the life of a helpless animal by failing to furnish the basic necessities required to maintain the dog’s health. Since then she has been invited to speak at various prosecutorial forums acrossthe countryand has been asked to do law enforcement training nationally and to work on amicus curiae briefs for other prosecutors.
Other animal cruelty cases that Ms. Caferri has assisted in prosecuting include that of a Ridgewood resident who pleaded guilty to a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals last month for failing to properly care for or feed his dog that was emaciated, severely malnourished and (MORE) – 2 – did not have the energy to walk when brought to an animal shelter. The defendant was sentenced to a conditional discharge, with the conditions including that he be banned from owning an animal for three years and that he be required to register with the New York City Department of Health as an animal abuser.
Dr Nuria Querol i Vinas spoke at the PAES conference on the subject of Animal Abuse and Interpersonal Violence and often it can also be linked with psychological problems too – abusers will maltreat those weaker than themselves. Abusers may use animals as a lever in situations where a woman (and children) have escaped him (it’s usually a man in Spain) and they are threatened – if you don’t return, I will kill your dog/cat.
The US is leading the way in building refuges where women can safely take their children AND their dog/cat when escaping domestic violence. Dr iVinas has visited some of these shelters and is working towards the creation of some in Spain.
NB It is common knowledge that many hunters will abuse their wives as well as their dogs.
BIO on Dr Nuria Querol i Vinas
Dr. Núria Querol Viñas is a Cell & Genetics Biologist and a Medical Doctor specialized in Family Medicine, Primary Care Pediatrics and Family Violence, working at the Catalan Institute of Health in Martorell (Barcelona). She has also followed training in criminology and criminal profiling (including training with the FBI, The New Scotland Yard and the NSA) with special interest in animal abuse, psychopathy and interpersonal violence.
She took part in the first research projects in Spain (2003) in animal abuse and psychopathy and animal abuse and family violence led by fellow expert in psychopathy Dr Cuquerella and world renowned expert Dr Frank Ascione. She is the representative of the Council of Medical Associations at the National Comission Against Gender Violence of the Catalonian Government and the Municipal Comission of Martorell.
She is a representative of the National Link Coalition, the Director of GEVHA, The Observatory of Violence Against Animals and the IberoAmerican Link Coalition. She serves as Advisory Board Member at the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse of the National Sheriff’s Association and in the Board of Directors of NCOVAA (The National Coalition On Violence Against Animals, USA) as well as the FBI- UCR/NBRIS Animal Abuse Working Group.
She is a member of the American Society of Criminology, Div. Critical Criminology and serves at the board of directors of the Global Forensic Alliance and The International Academy of Forensic Investigators (Academia Internacional de Investigadores Forenses). Dr. Querol is an honorary member of the Fundación Altarriba and APDA, Policías por los Animales.
Dr. Querol is also an associate professor at Autonomous University of Barcelona (she teaches The Link at the Antrozoology Diploma at the Medical School) and University of Barcelona (she teaches at the Master on Criminal Investigation at Law School).
She has been interview as a matter expert for the upcoming documentary filmed in the US on the link “THE DEADLY LINK”
“In a violent family, anyone can be a victim, including the family dog or cat. Violent acts are not separate or distinct – they develop in similar patterns and have similar characteristics.”