Friday, March 19, 2010

States recognize link between animal abuse and violence against humans

Ian Urbina reports in yesterday's New York Times on the trend for states to impose stiffer penalties for animal abuse because the phenomenon is now being linked to violence against humans. The headline is "Animal Abuse as Clue to Additional Cruelties." Urbina reports that child abuse and animal abuse often go together--in 88% of the homes where child physical abuse occurred, pets were also mistreated:
A 2007 study found that women abused by their intimate partner were 10 times more likely to report that their partner had hurt or killed one or more of their pets than women who were not abused.
The story indicates that states are increasingly cross-reporting incidents of animal abuse to child protection agencies, and some states are establishing registries to track abusers. Another excerpt follows:

State lawmakers are paying especially close attention to animal hoarders — people who keep large numbers of pets without providing for their most basic needs — because these offenders are prone to recidivism and can cost counties huge sums for cleanup costs and the care of rescued animals.

At least 27 states now allow courts to bar convicted animal abusers from owning or coming into contact with pets, nearly double the number from a decade ago, and 3 other states are considering similar measures this year. Tennessee and California are considering bills to create online registries of animal abusers.

While animal abuse and hoarding clearly are not strictly a rural phenomenon, one of several illustrations that Urbina gives is from Perry County, Ohio, population 34,961, which is in the southeast quadrant of the state, in the Appalachian area. (See the photo of the trailer home accompanying the story). Indeed, Wikipedia calls it one of the poorest areas in the state. There, in 2007, animal control authorities impounded 50 dogs at one hoarder's rural home, where they also found the remains of 18 others.

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