has clearly been established. The dismembered remains of
dogs and cats today could well be that of children tomorrow.
Humbolt County District Attorney Terry Farmer
Animal Abuse and Human Abuse:
Partners in Crime
Violent acts against animals have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animals.
Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in
danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.
Murderers ... very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.
Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Acts of cruelty toward animals they can be the first sign of a violent pathology that includes human victims.
Animal abuse is not just the result of a minor personality flaw in the abuser but a symptom of a deep mental disturbance. Research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty toward animals dont stop there; many of them move on to their fellow humans.
The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appear in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals as a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders.
Five times more likely
A study conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.
The majority of inmates scheduled tobe executed for murder at
The Happy Face Killer:
Crossing Species Lines
How can we expect an individual with such disregard for the life of an animal to respect human life?
13th Judicial Circuit Court of
Serial killer Keith Jesperson is serving consecutive life sentences in
women in the early 1990s.
Jesperson got his first taste of killing at the age of 6 by bludgeoning gophers. When he was 20, he
reportedly graduated to larger animals, killing stray cats and dogs by beating them with a shovel and
shooting them with a BB gun. Jesperson admitted enjoying strangling the animals as well.
Its the same feeling, he explained to a reporter when comparing choking humans and animals. Youve already felt the pressure on the throat of them trying to grab air. Youre actually squeezing the life out of these animals and there isnt much difference, Jesperson answered. Theyre [going to] fight for their lives just as much as a human being will.
Eventually, the Happy Face Killer, as he would come to be known, moved on to human victims. No longer did I search for animals to mistreat, Jesperson stated. I now looked for people to kill. And I did. I killed over and over until I was caught.
Writing from his cell in the Oregon State Penitentiary,
Jesperson recognized, Abusive behavior towards animals
is one of the symptoms on the road to being a murderer.
He wrote that we should stop cruelty before it
develops into a bigger problem, like me.
The Cruel Household:
Animal Abuse and Family Violence
Researchers have found that a batterers first target is often an animal living in the home, the second a spouse or child. Often, batterers are able to control their victims, such as a spouse, by threatening, torturing, and/or killing the victims
animal companions. Here are a few examples:
Wisconsins Leonard Kritz received time served for chopping the heads off three cockatiels, a conure, a chinchilla, a python, a boa constrictor, and another snake, after his wife told him that she had had an
abortion. Kritz used a World War II bayonet to decapitate the animals and claimed that he did so in order to teach his wife about the sanctity of life.
For 13 years, the husband of Sandra Ruotolo of
battered her. The last time, he took a break from beating her with a vacuum cleaner cord and punched
Ruotolos dog in the face, warning her that if she left him, he would find her and slit her four dogs throats in front of her. After contemplating suicide, Ruotolo looked at her dog and thought, If I die, Duchess, whats going to happen to you? and shot her husband to death instead.
Stephen Williams, of
After Melissa Davis of
John Witham of Randolph, Maine, in an apparent attempt to intimidate a woman he was previously accused of assaulting, allegedly took a pregnant cat to the womans home and told her to choose between him and the animal. Later, he reportedly backed over the cat with his truck, crushing
her and her newborn kittens to death.
As a young prosecutor, I witnessed the direct correlation between animal cruelty and
violence perpetrated against others. The abuse of a family pet was often the first indicator
of domestic violence. A criminal who abuses animals exhibits disdain for life and a
willingness to target and abuse the most defenseless of creatures.
Jeanine Pirro, District Attorney,
Because domestic abuse is directed toward the powerless, animal abuse and child abuse often go hand in
Guillermo Lerma of Edinburg, Texas, who is serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriends 2-year-old daughter, decapitated a live puppy in front of a different girlfriends children, warning that he would decapitate them as well if they told their mother.
Scot Maust of Lemont Furnace, Pa., was charged with corruption of minors, making terroristic threats, and
cruelty to animals after allegedly shooting his familys dog with a .22- caliber firearm, ordering his four children to clean up the bloody scene, and threatening to kill them if they told
[Animal abuse] is symbolic homicide. Theyre practicing
a murder in their head. When you see that, you realize
that this is a dangerous situation.
Michael Lindsey, Domestic Violence Administrator,
While animal abuse is an important sign of child abuse, the parent isnt always the one harming the animal. Children who abuse animals may be repeating a lesson learned at home; like their parents, they are reacting to anger or frustration with violence. Their violence is directed at the only individual in the family more vulnerable than themselves: an animal. One expert says,
Children in violent homes are characterized by ... frequently participating in pecking-order battering, in which they may maim or kill an animal. Indeed, domestic violence is the most common background for childhood cruelty to animals.
A study published in Violence Against Women found that of 111 battered women with companion animals in shelters in
In 88 percent of 57
been abused. An unpublished study by Frank Ascione of
A study comparing 101 women who had been living with animals in five Utah shelters to 120 women who lived with animals and who were not experiencing domestic violence revealed an almost 50 percent difference in the incidence of domestic animal abuse reported. Workers in 85 percent of the largest womens shelters in 48 states had heard reports from women about animal abuse incidents.
There is some sense that this is the child modeling what is being played out at home, that the child is seeing what Daddy is doing to Mommy or that someone is being abused.
Joan Zorza, editor of
Domestic Violence Report, on
juvenile animal abuse
Battered womens reports of their partners
cruelty to animals
Nearly three-quarters of women studied reported
that their male partners have killed or have
threatened to kill or injure their pets, according
to a 1998 study by Frank Ascione, Ph.D.
Animals become another tool
for the batterer to reinforce power.
Roberta Hacker of Women in Transition,
Cruel Kids: Future Problems
case in point
At age 13, Gary Long Jr. of
Of course, not all youthful animal abusers go on to
become serial killers, but a great many go on to
perpetrate a broad range of aggressive and abusive
threats and actions.
Dr. Neal D. Barnard, President, Physicians Committee for
These are the kids who never learned its wrong to poke out a puppys eyes.
Founder of the FBIs
behavioral sciences unit
One of the most
dangerous things that can
happen to a child is to kill
or torture an animal and
get away with it.
As a child, serial killer and rapist Ted Bundyultimately convicted of two killings but suspected of murdering more than 40 womenwitnessed his fathers violence towardanimals, and he himself subsequently tortured animals.Earl Kenneth Shriner, who raped and stabbed a 7-yearold boy, was known in his neighborhood for hanging cats and torturing dogs. Brenda Spencer, who opened fire at a
Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer impaled the heads of dogs and cats on sticks.
David Berkowitz (a.k.a. Son of Sam), who pleaded guilty to 13 murder and attempted murder charges, shot a neighbors Labrador retriever.
Lee Boyd Malvo, convicted in connection with the 2002
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot to death 12 fellow students and a teacher and injured more than 20 others. Both had reportedly boasted about mutilating animals.
Kip Kinkel, 15, killed his parents and opened fire in his school cafeteria, killing two and injuring 22 others. He had a history of animal abuse and torture, having boasted about killing animals by putting lit firecrackers in their mouths.
Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, pulled their schools fire alarm and then shot and killed four classmates and a teacher. Golden reportedly used to shoot dogs all the time with a .22.
Michael Carneal, 14, shot and killed three classmates during a prayer meeting. Carneal had been heard talking about throwing a cat into a bonfire.
October 1997/Pearl, Miss.
Luke Woodham, 16, shot and killed two classmates and injured seven others after stabbing his mother to death. Woodhams journal revealed that he had beaten, burned, and tortured his own dog, Sparkle, to death.
Crimes of Omission and the Link
Animals often suffer alongside human dependents in neglectful homes. Such
disregard for life does not recognize species lines and may turn into violence.
stemming from authorities alleged discovery and rescue of three childrenone of whom reeked of urineand 21 wound-covered and parasite-ridden dogs from their fecesstrewn residence.
New Jerseys Charles Cullen, who purportedly killed up to 40 patients in his care as a nurse, was said to leave his dogeventually confiscated by humane officers chained outside in bitterly cold weather.
Before Rev. Javan M. McBurrows of Pennsylvania was charged with beating to death a 4-year-old boy, he had been found guilty of two counts of cruelty to animals for mistreating two dogs and convicted of choking his wife, who testified that McBurrows had beaten all eight children living in their house. In the
back of the house, police found a neglected dog who was confined to a pen, malnourished, and covered
Rebecca M. Byrd of Brunswick, Maine, was charged with beating her two children, breaking nine bones in her 4-month-old daughters body, and punching her sons head. Shortly before her arrest for these crimes, Byrds dog was found dead at the end of a chain tied to an oil tank, left to starve to death with no protection from the elements.
Bestiality and the Sexual Abuse
A recent study by Jory, Fleming,and
Joseph Bateson, of Northern Irelandwho allegedly engaged in sex acts with farmed animalswas found guilty of 17 counts of gross indecency with a child and indecent assault after he sexually abused a 6-year-old boy (whom he continued to abuse for
reportedly found pictures of her sexually abusing a child. Photographs of the suspect engaging in sex acts with a dog were also allegedly found in her possession.
Jerry Cook, of Norman, Okla., was convicted of cruelty to animals and assault and battery following a 2000 incident in which he raped a dog fatally injuring her in the processand attacked the owner of a home he was burglarizing. Cooks history of violence began nearly two decades earlier when
he was convicted of first-degree rape.
Stopping the Cycle of Abuse
Cross-Reporting: a Multiagency Approach
Animal abuse is often discovered earlier than child or domestic abuse because it
so often occurs in plain view.
While hiding their own abuse, human victims may talk openly of animal abuse or neglect occurring in the family. Since laws governing animal abuse and child abuse investigation and intervention differ, animal control agents can often enter homes when social service workers cannot. Working together through cross-reporting, these agencies can help one another gain
information about possible neglect and abuse.
The New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women works with animal control to identify signs of domestic violence.
Studies that have found that up to 40 percent of women have delayed seeking safety from their batterers for as long as two months because of concern for their companion animals have led to collaboration among social service and government agencies to develop programs to provide foster care for these animals. There are at least 116 of these programs planned or in existence in the
The oldest program is
The humane society may shelter the animals involved.
A national public opinion survey by the Humane Society of the
More than four out of five Americans support having teachers, social workers, animal welfare officers, and law-enforcement officials share information on juveniles who abuse animals. Four out of five American adults support requiring social workers, animal welfare workers, and lawenforcement
officials to share information on cases of animal abuse to help identify potential situations of child abuse. Seventy-seven percent favor establishing a system to track adult animal-cruelty offenders to identify other kinds of likely violent offenses.
In addition to local veterinarians becoming involved in cross-reporting, many provide foster care for the animal companions of the victims of domestic violence.
The Communitys Safety at Stake:
Law-enforcement officials are in a position to seek or impose safeguards against future violent crime. Imposing a ban on keeping animals, requiring psychological assessments and counseling (to include anger management, if applicable), and pushing for or ordering incarceration for abusers can prevent future violence.
Repeat crimes among those who abuse and neglect animals are the rule rather than the exception. Recidivism is likely if convicted abusers are permitted to own or harbor any animals. It is imperative that all animal abusers be barred from personal and, if applicable, professional contact with animals for the maximum period allowable by
law. Animals already in their custody should be confiscated. Furthermore, abusers must never be ordered to perform community service, which inevitably consists of dirty work, at animal shelters.
Animal abusers forced into such work are more likely to develop resentment than to recognize the implications of their crimes. Risks posed to animals are substantial, and shelter employees overworked and overwhelmed as
it iscannot properly supervise the convicted.
A life-long ban on contact with animals:
Five years in prison:
Michael Singleton of
Four years in prison followed by five years of extended supervision:
Two years in prison:
Twenty-one months in prison and anger-management counseling:
Joseph Mullozzi of
Ten months in prison:
Five months in prison followed by four years of probation:
Twelve years in prison:
Ten years of hard labor without parole:
Seven years in prison:
Two years in prison, three years on probation and psychological counseling, and a ban on owning companion animals while on probation:
17-year-old Victor James Goodman set a dog on fire.
We plan to aggressively prosecute these two as adults aggressively.
These kids need to be locked up and the key thrown away
the citizens of
Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett, regarding 18-year-old Robert Pettyjohn and 17-year-old Brandon Eldreds felony animal cruelty charges
Some offenders kill animals as a rehearsal for targeting human victims and may kill or torture animals because, to them, the animals symbolically represent people.
FBI Special Agent Alan C. Brantley
No animal should be in your care. I will say to you, and anyone else who may appear before me in the future, I wont hesitate to give you another jail sentence again.
Holland District Judge Hannes Meyers Jr., sentencing Tina Timm to 30 days in jail after she locked her dog in a cage without food or water
I am pleased to say that prosecutors in our office are well aware that people with a history of animal abuse are especially at risk for violence [toward] other people.
Portland Deputy District Attorney Megan L.
People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA)
501 Front St.
Norfolk, VA 23510
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)
Attorney members can help
prosecutors with legal research,
drafting friend-of-the-court briefs,
locating expert witnesses, and
Psychologists for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PSYETA)
Created the first professionally
intervention program for animal
abusers (AniCare Model of
Treatment for Animal Abuse) and
offers referrals to mental health
professionals using this approach.
P.O. Box 2995
Del Mar, CA 92014
An extensive database of animal
abusers, their cases, and
resources on the link between
cruelty to animals and
The Humane Society of the
2100 L St. N.W.
Operates the First Strike®
campaign to raise awareness
about the connection between
cruelty to animals and human
violence. Provides investigative
support, expert testimony,
and information on the animalhuman
cruelty connection to law
enforcement and prosecutors.