The ASPCA and the National Link Coalition have joined forces to address the connections between violence against humans and violence against animals.
A toolkit to help communities tackle this issue developed by Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, and Phil Arkow, coordinator for the National Link Coalition.
The free 34-page, illustrated manual helps communities form coalitions by connecting officials in child welfare, animal welfare, domestic violence response and adult protective services to identify and respond to incidents of animal abuse and interpersonal violence.
“Animal abuse doesn’t happen in isolation,” says Lockwood. “Research has revealed that where the family pet is being abused, it is likely that a family member is also a victim of abuse. By helping communities form coalitions, we are creating a more effective approach in breaking the cycles of violence and protecting vulnerable members of our society.”
“The challenges of all forms of family violence are too great for any one agency to handle alone,” says Arkow. “By taking a multidisciplinary approach, and getting agencies that work with children, animals, domestic violence and elder abuse to coordinate their efforts, communities will see greater response and more lives will be saved.”
Law enforcement, social services and animal welfare professionals often deal with the same offenders and victims. In a past study, the ASPCA found that 78 percent of law enforcement officers surveyed believe that animal abusers are more likely to be involved in interpersonal violence or other violent crimes.*
Already there are about 30 coalitions in the U.S., including in California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Maine, Massachusetts, and Ohio.
For additional information about the Toolkit for Starting a Link Coalition in Your Community, and to view a list of existing coalitions that the public can get involved in, please visit www.nationallinkcoalition.org. Click here to read one of the National Link Coalition’s newsletters.
*Figure taken from a 2010 ASPCA study, entitled “Public and Professional Perspectives on Animal Cruelty,” conducted by Southeastern Institute of Research, Inc. The research highlighted the critical role that animal services and animal cruelty investigations play in communities nationwide while pointing out the obstacles that law enforcement face in responding to animal abuse.