September 16, 2005

"Thousands of cops are trained every year across our state yet they fail to receive training under the Agriculture and Markets Law that penalizes those who commit animal cruelty,"

Animal cruelty is raging throughout the U.S.
By: Eric Gross

CARMEL-Animal cruelty is rampant across America and is a valuable predictor of current and future violent individuals.

The FBI describes the triad of being abused as a child, reacting by torturing animals and becoming violent to humans so well established that animal cruelty cases are being used as a means of identifying possible suspects in violent crimes as an indicator of future offenders.

Due to the increasing incidence of animal abuse cases reported across the region, the New York State Humane Association in conjunction with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department sponsored a workshop Saturday for police officers, humane law enforcement personnel and animal control officers at the county's Emergency Operations Center in Carmel.

Dr. Harry Hovel of the New York State Humane Association talked about the connection between animal abuse and human violence.

Hovel said every year more than 4,000 teens under the age of 18 commit murder.

"Virtually all of them were abused and began abusing animals by their early teenaged years," he said.

The FBI has estimated that 500 serial killers are operating across the U.S.

"All known serial killers were abused as children and all known serial killers tortured animals," said Hovel.

Studies of violent criminals in prisons, patients in psychiatric hospitals, women in battered women's shelters, domestic violence cases including child abuse and elder abuse indicate that 46 percent of sexual homicide perpetrators abused animals, while 48 percent of convicted rapists abused animals.

The numbers are more frightening since 80 percent of spousal abuse situations also included animal cruelty while 88 percent of child abuse cases included cruelty to animals.

Hovel said, "Many lives could be saved, much human tragedy and suffering could be prevented and a great deal of money spared if police forces, prosecutors, judges, social workers and the public were able to recognize the strong connection between animal cruelty and human violence and take animal cruelty seriously."

New York State Police retired investigator Susan McDonough, chairwoman of the Legislation Committee for the New York State Humane Association, told the gathering as a state trooper for 26 years she investigated thousands of cases of animal cruelty.

"I saw everything from starvation and neglect to where dogs were chained to trees and had arrows shot through them and even cats set on fire. During my investigations, more times than not children or women living in the home had also been abused."

McDonough said a major problem found in New York dealt with a lack of training on the part of police officers dealing with animal abuse cases.

"Thousands of cops are trained every year across our state yet they fail to receive training under the Agriculture and Markets Law that penalizes those who commit animal cruelty," she said.

Holly Cheever, a veterinarian, discussed how law enforcement personnel can work with local veterinarians on animal cruelty cases while Putnam Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher York talked about writing and executing a search warrant, collecting evidence and preparing an animal cruelty case for court.

Barbara Devolve, president of the Putnam County Humane Society and a member of the Putnam Sheriff's Department, thanked the speakers for their input as well as the 45 people for attending the daylong seminar.