WHY DON'T MORE PEOPLE REPORT ANIMAL CRUELTY?
Reprinted from Breaking the Circle of Violence by Phil Arkow, The Latham Foundation.
Many cases of abused children, spouses and animals never come to the attention of Child Protective Services, law enforcement agencies, or animal protection agencies. There are several reasons for this including, but not limited to, the following:
People don’t want to get involved.
People don’t want to report an abuser whom they know well.
People may think they can accomplish more by working with the family themselves.
Reporting an incident may jeopardize a professional-client relationship, as in the case of veterinarians.
People presume nothing will be done.
People may think a report will subject the victim to even greater risk.
People may be afraid of retaliation.
There may be no local agency to which a report can be made.
People resent governmental intrusion into what they feel are private matters.
People feel the legal headaches and public exposure will not be worth it.
These concerns transcend individual disciplines. Caregivers in the above three fields should set the standards and, by their actions, convince the public that increased reporting of suspected abuse and neglect is a matter worthy of widespread concern.
HOW OUR COMMUNITY CAN HELP STRENGTHEN ANIMAL CRUELTY LAWS:
Assign tracking numbers to animal cruelty convictions to support research into early childhood cruelty to animals and later juvenile delinquency and adult criminal patterns.
Evidence of acts of animal cruelty in a convicted perpetrators record could be used in a sentencing review or parole / probation hearings.
Require cross-training, cross-reporting and information exchange between agencies. Design interagency referral and reporting forms.
Design laws that provide a treatment requirement for animal abuse charges.
Make penalties strong enough to plea-bargain an offender into treatment.