RED LODGE - Advocates against domestic abuse have long overlooked an
important connection between family violence and animal cruelty, said
speakers at a conference in Red Lodge this week.
The connection is vital in two ways: Animal abuse can be a sign that
people in the home are also being abused, and the fear of what will
happen to animals left behind can prevent victims from leaving violent
"This concept is not theory," said Dave Pauli, director of the Humane
Society of the United States Northern Rockies Region. "There is a
direct connection between animal cruelty and human violence."
In many instances, abusers use the threat of harm or actual harm to
pets as a way to control or intimidate other people in the household,
said Mitzi Vorachek, executive director of Domestic and Sexual
Violence Services of Carbon County.
Animal abuse is almost always indicative of other criminal activity,
said Annie Reintsma, an animal control officer in Columbus.
"Ninety percent of the time, it has something to do with other types
of crime," Reintsma said.
According to a Humane Society analysis of almost 1,400 animal cruelty
reports in 2003, family violence was present in 15 percent of the
It's important that animal-control officers be trained to recognize
evidence of other crimes, including domestic violence, Reintsma said.