A correlation between animal cruelty, family violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence has been established through diligent research. By this research, we have studied not only the relationship between these social problems, but also the numerous affects that this relationship has on children, individuals, families, society, the criminal justice and health care systems, and more. Family and animal protection professionals, law enforcement, and prosecutors have recognized The Link® in their work, noting that abuse of both people and animals is connected in a self-perpetuating cycle of violence. When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe. It is with this knowledge we can help to break the cycle of violence in households and in communities.
How serious is this problem? A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present (DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). A study of women seeking shelter at a safe house showed that 71 percent of those having pets affirmed that their partner had threatened, hurt or killed their companion animals, and 32 percent of mothers reported that their children had hurt or killed their pets (Ascione, 1998). Still another study showed that violent offenders incarcerated in a maximumsecurity prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets (Merz-Perez, Heide, & Silverman, 2001).