Animal sadists to lose jobs

PEOPLE convicted of cruelty to animals in WA will not be allowed to work with children.

In what is believed to be an Australian first, WA's Working with Children checks will screen people for offences prosecuted by the RSPCA.

And in a WA first, convictions for animal cruelty will, from next month, be recorded by police on CrimTac, making them available to authorities running checks.

The move follows a report obtained by The Sunday Times which says there is a strong link between animal cruelty and violence towards people.

The report, prepared by the RSPCA, Office of Crime Prevention and the Department for Community Development's Family and Domestic Violence Unit, included overseas and national research which demonstrated the link.

Titled The Cruelty Connection, the report says some of the US's worst mass murderers, such as Albert De Salvo (the Boston strangler), Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, had all committed acts of animal abuse as children that were often noticed by neighbours, but went unreported to police.

In Australia, serial killer Ivan Milat, Frankston murderer Paul Denyer and John Travis ringleader of the gang that tortured, raped and murdered Anita Cobby all had histories of animal cruelty during childhood, the report said.

"Some of the horrific crimes against animals do turn your stomach," Community Development Minister Sheila McHale told The Sunday Times.

"If they can tolerate violence against an animal what does that say about their capacity to manage their anger on adults and children?"

Ms McHale said research showed homes with serious animal cruelty were more likely to suffer other family violence. And violence against pets could be used to coerce, control and intimidate adults and children.

Children who were cruel to animals might be experiencing abuse or family violence, she said.

Last year, the RSPCA prosecuted 23 people for animal cruelty in WA.

Among the most serious cases in the past two years, a kitten was chopped in half with an axe in Collie in April and its broken body dumped in a river. And a South-West farmer was ordered to pay a record $80,000 fine after leaving his cows to starve in 2004.

From January 1, volunteers working with children up to age seven, coaches, tutors, self-employed people including babysitters, and ministers of religion were required to have a criminal record check.