Link World Awaiting Animal Cruelty Inclusion in FBI Data

~ re-posted from National Link Coalition LINK-Letter January 2016

The Link community is eagerly awaiting word about the planned roll out of the FBI’s revised system of Uniform Crime Reports, utilized by 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, which in 2016 are expected to include, for the first time, animal cruelty incidents. Meanwhile, advance excitement about the new process is resulting in considerable mainstream and professional publicity.

As 2015 drew to a close, numerous media outlets carried articles about the change. Online news journals, including Yahoo! News , the Washington Post and, and local media including stations in Dayton, Ohio, Kansas City, Mo., and South Bend, Ind., interviewed representatives from the National Link Coalition and Animal Welfare Institute about the implications of the change. News media as far away as The Netherlands picked up the interviews. Under the new process – which has been undergoing extensive beta-testing in several states – participating law enforcement agencies will log reports of simple or gross neglect (i.e., animal hoarding); intentional abuse and torture; organized animal abuse (i.e., dog- and cock-fighting); and animal sexual abuse. The data from local agencies will be sent to state coordinators, who in turn will forward them to the federal level where analysts will be able to determine trends that can be used to develop more data-driven responses.

Link authorities note that it may take several years before enough meaningful data are collected to be useful. Relatively few animal cruelty, abuse or neglect incidents are investigated compared to more traditional police cases, and police and sheriffs will have to be trained to incorporate these cases in their reports as they have historically done with such human-victim crimes as assault, burglary, robbery and homicide. In addition, interface procedures must be developed for jurisdictions where agencies other than law enforcement investigate animal cruelty, such as SPCAs, humane societies, or animal control agencies not working under a police or sheriff’s department.

Data submitted to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting process work their way into four annual publications: Crime in the United States; National Incident-Based Reporting System; Law Enforcement officers Killed and Assaulted; and Hate Crime Statistics. Incidents are reported by city, county, university, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies participating voluntarily in the program. The inclusion of animal cruelty incidents – which will send a powerful message to law enforcement agencies and the public that crimes against animals are linked adversely to crimes against people – is part of a much broader redesign and redevelopment of the system that has been in place for more than 30 years.