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Pets and Children in Violence 2002 In-service

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  1. Pets and Children in Violence2002 In-service Marie Suthers McCabe, DVM Extension Specialist, Human-Companion Animal Interaction Center for Animal Human Relationships VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

  2. “Anyone who has accustomed himself (or herself) to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also to the idea of worthless human lives.”Albert Schweitzer, humanitarian

  3. ASSUMPTION Freedom from terror is an essential component of a healthy state and a fundamental right in a free society.

  4. ASSUMPTION • Pets are members of the family.

  5. Links Between • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE • CHILD ABUSE • CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

  6. Compelling evidence links people with homicidal tendencies to acts of severe animal abuse.

  7. “While not everyone who abuses animals will become a serial killer, virtually every serial killer first abused animals…”Dr. Randall Lockwood, Vice President, The HSUS

  8. Jeffrey L. Dahmer

  9. Kip Kinkle

  10. Luke Woodham

  11. Eric Harris & • Dylan Klebold

  12. Physical cruelty to animalsis listed as one of the earliest symptoms indicative of Conduct Disorder. • DMS IV, American Psychiatric Association

  13. “One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.”Anthropologist Margaret Mead

  14. Curiosity or exploration Peer pressure Mood enhancement Forced abuse Attachment to an animal Animal phobias Identification with the child’s abuser Posttraumatic play Imitation Self-injury Rehearsal Vehicle for emotional abuse Child and adolescent motivations for animal abuse

  15. Animal Cruelty is one of a cluster of juvenile behaviors associated with increasingly violent behavior • FBI

  16. “Animal cruelty is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual: this is a warning sign…” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Allen Brantley

  17. Anti-Violence Study • 1997 • 153 subjects - committed intentional abuse against animals • 70 % - criminal records • 40% - violent crimes against people • cf 22% - control group

  18. Someone who severely mistreats an animal is likely to Abuse a child Beat a partner

  19. POWER & CONTROL Preying on the vulnerable

  20. Children & Pets • Totally dependant on parents/owners • Cannot speak for themselves

  21. Children & Pets in Families • In U.S. Households, Pets are found in: • 67.4% of households in which the youngest child is < 6 years old • In 78.7% of households in which the youngest child is > 6 years old JAVMA 1994

  22. “The good news about human experience is that we can cope with almost anything. The bad news is that we will tolerate almost anything” James Garbarino

  23. PETS IN CRISIS animals suffer domestic violence too

  24. Saving Grace

  25. The day Grace was found

  26. At VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

  27. After surgery

  28. Healed and at peace

  29. Helping Others Now

  30. Reporting • Because a family pet may be the sentinel for other violence occurring within a home, are veterinarians morally obligated to recognize and report animal abuse?

  31. Veterinarians do see the pets of families involved with child abuse In one study of 53 NJ pet-owning families involved with child abuse or neglect, researchers found that the use of veterinary services did not differ noticeably from acceptable standards.

  32. Veterinarians do see the pets of families involved with child abuse In 60% of these families, pets were also abused or neglected. The percentage (88%) was even higher when physical child abuse took place (in contrast to sexual abuse or neglect). Of 23 British families who abused animals, 83% endangered their children also.

  33. Ways a Veterinarian Might Learn of Potential Abuse: • Suspicious behavior or physical injuries • Comments by family members • Confiding • Witness

  34. Diagnostic Features of Abuse • History • vague • implausible • the account of the incident does not fit the injury

  35. Diagnostic Features of Abuse • Physical Signs • Fractures • Bruising • Ocular Injuries • Burns and scalds

  36. Difficulties with Diagnosing Abuse • No published comprehensive account of the clinical signs and pathology of the “battered pet” • Emotional block • Lack of information (or misinformation) about animal cruelty • Diagnostic criteria not well established

  37. Why Veterinarians Do Not Want to Get Involved • Afraid of being on the witness stand • Resent time in court for which they are not properly compensated (loss of income) • Offend client or lose business • Unwanted publicity

  38. Why Veterinarians Do Not Want to Get Involved • Danger to practice • Lose contact with animal • Concerned about liability • Breaching veterinarian-client confidentiality • Ability to advocate on behalf of animal or fear animal may be euthanized as a result of report

  39. STATE LAWS Minnesota, California, West Virginia, and Idaho are the only states that require veterinarians to report cases of animal cruelty. West Virginia and Idaho grant veterinarians immunity from liability and criminal prosecution. In Colorado and California, veterinarians are mandated reporters of child abuse, but not for animal abuse.

  40. Taking the Issue to Court • VA - Class 1 Misdemeanor • first time offense • $1000 • up to one year in jail • second offense • if first offense resulted in death • $2500 • up to five years in jail

  41. Keep an eye out for the most visible victims - Pets • They can lead to the hidden victims • Children • Elders • They can serve as sentinels for unhealthy home environments.

  42. Red Light Malnourished animal may lead to malnourished children or elders. Warning sign of household that is not nurturing - or maybe that doesn’t have the resources to care for dependents.

  43. “Social welfare officials and animal officials sometimes are working on the same case and don’t even know it.” Randall Lockwood

  44. Many feel that animals are not as important as people and therefore do not want to spend time and resources on animal welfare issues, but it is important to realize that abused animals may lead you to abused people.

  45. Recommendation’s Become aware of the significance of the Human-Animal Bond. Clarify and articulate your personal responsibility to both patients and clients. Take reports of cruelty to animals seriously. Do not be afraid to become involved. Participate and take leadership in community coalitions against violence.

  46. Community BasedMultidisciplinaryCollaborative Effort

  47. SAFE PETS PROGRAMfor victims of domestic violence

  48. Problem: Woman’s shelter does not allow animals

  49. Therefore: • Some women will not leave the abuser because they fear for the pet who would be left behind • Some pets are indeed abused and even tortured, maimed and murdered by the abuser in attempt to further hurt the victim