Paws for Thought
From the Lincoln County Humane Society
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
It is a well-known fact that domestic violence and animal abuse have a common link. Often, pets are also victims of violence in a home where domestic abuse occurs. According to the ASPCA website:
1. A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of pet abuse is one of the four most significant indicators of who is at greatest risk of becoming a domestic batterer.*
2. A Texas study found that batterers who also abuse pets are more dangerous and use more violent and controlling behaviors than those who do not harm animals.*
3. Twelve separate studies have reported that between 18 and 48 percent of battered women, and their children, delay leaving abusive situations in fear for what might happen to their animals.*
4. Women who do seek safety at shelters are nearly 11 times more likely to report that their partner has hurt or killed their animals than women who have not experienced domestic abuse.*
5. In Wisconsin, 68 percent of battered women revealed that abusive partners had also been violent toward pets or livestock; more than three-quarters of these cases occurred in the presence of the women and/or children to intimidate and control them.*
6. Children who are exposed to domestic violence were three times more likely to be cruel to animals.*
7. The Chicago Police Department found that approximately 30 percent of individuals arrested for dog fighting and animal abuse had domestic violence charges on their records.*
Animal cruelty can encompass many things, such as physical neglect (not providing fresh food and water or a solid shelter during bad weather), direct violence and physical abuse, depravation of socialization, torture, maiming, and killing of animals. Animal abuse is not an easy subject to discuss and at the Lincoln County Humane Society, it is never an easy thing to see. But addressing animal abuse is an important factor in preventing cruelty from continuing and we owe it to the animals and children of our community to stop the cycle of abuse and save the innocent victims of violence.
To help prevent animal abuse, one of the main things you can do is pay attention to what is happening close to your own home. Phone calls, even anonymous ones, from concerned citizens who notice a dog without food and water or a cat that endures physical abuse, make all the difference in the world for that animal. Walk around your neighborhood and pay attention to the circumstances in which the local animals live. Is there enough food and water? Is there adequate shelter? If there’s not, it’s a simple call to the Sheriff’s Department that may save the life of that animal.
Another factor in preventing animal cruelty is learning to recognize the signs:
1. Injuries on the body, missing patches of hair, body weight far below normal, signs of starvation or limping
2. Direct abuse, such as hitting or kicking
3. Animals who are injured and have not received any medical treatment
4. Animals who are kept outside in extreme weather conditions without appropriate shelter
5. Animals who cower in fear or act aggressive when approached by the owners
When you are reporting animal cruelty, it’s important to contact the correct person and organization. The Lincoln County Humane Society does not have a humane officer to investigate crimes against animals but any cases reported to us will be turned over to the appropriate department. If you call the Police Department to report animal abuse, make sure to ask for the Animal Control Officer or Humane Officer on duty. Lincoln County is very lucky to have dedicated officers on the force that take animal abuse seriously and appreciate the calls reporting the abuse. Calling the Sheriff’s Department at (715) 536-6272 or the Tomahawk Police Department (715) 453-2121.
When you report animal abuse, it is helpful to the investigators if you report the type of cruelty you witness, who was involved, the date of the incident, and where it took place. If you feel your report is not taken seriously, do not hesitate to contact the ASPCA or a similar organization for results. Calling or writing your local law enforcement agencies as well as your legislators is a great way to voice your feelings and show your support for stronger punishments for animal abusers and thorough investigations of animal abuse.
By setting a good example for others, you reduce the cycle of abuse. Make sure your pets receive quality care and love in addition to food, water, and shelter. If you suspect your animal is sick, visit your local vet. Be responsible and spay or neuter your pets. Make sure your children are aware of how to treat animals with kindness and respect. Education is the most important factor for preventing animal cruelty and it is important for children to be rewarded for kindness and prevented from any negative behaviors.
Ignoring abuse or deciding that you don’t want to “get involved” can have dire consequences. Animals that experience abuse are often desperate to avoid any further harm and may bite or attack anyone that is perceived as a further threat to their safety. Animal abusers rarely stop with animals and other family members, especially children, are likely to experience abuse or trauma from witnessing animal abuse. Abuse is a vicious cycle and everyone involved is going to deal with the negative repercussions of such behavior. Your involvement could save an animal or a child from on-going violence.