Crime victim advocates and animal rights groups are applauding the FBI’s decision to add animal cruelty to its index of major crimes like homicide and arson, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Studies show a high correlation between those who commit acts of cruelty against animals and those who harm humans,” said Jill Karofsky, director of victim services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice. She said domestic abusers use violence or threats of violence against pets as a means to manipulate family members.
Four kinds of abuse will be reported: Simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, animal sexual abuse and organized abuse, such as dog or cock fights. Several Milwaukee agencies have teamed up to launch a project aimed at reducing domestic violence through early detection of animal abuse. “Spot abuse” urges people to call 911 when they suspect animal abuse because research has shown 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse someone in their family.