FBI has begun tracking cases of animal abuse on a national level
This year, the FBI has begun tracking cases of animal abuse on a national level in order to research trends and adopt prevention strategies. Beginning in January 2016, police departments will be required to report animal-related crimes to the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS is used by criminologists, law enforcement and researchers.
Previously, animal abuse was reported into a catch-all category in NIBRS. The FBI will now classify animal-related crimes as a “crime against society.” Incidents will be classified according to four different categories: neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (i.e. dog fighting), and animal sexual abuse.
Advocates hope that this move will bring more attention to animal abuse cases, to educate people about the link between animal abuse and other violent crimes. According to a senior adviser for animal cruelty programs and training at the nonprofit Animal Welfare Institute, research has shown that violence against animals is an early indicator that someone will be violent towards people as well. Moreover, data shows that animal abuse is often linked with domestic violence. Spouses may also use violence and threats against pets as part of a pattern of domestic abuse against their partner.
According to the National Link Coalition, witnessing animal abuse and neglect harms children. It can desensitize them to violence and hinder their capacity for feeling empathy. Known serial killers, including Jeffrey Dahmer and the “Son of Sam,” both abused animals when they were children.
Many high-profile cases in the news recently have increased public awareness about animal cruelty. Just decades ago, law enforcement officers did not take animal cruelty cases seriously. Police who had been alerted to incidents of cruelty would just ignore the complaint or send animal control. Now, many police departments have resources dedicated to investigating animal cruelty. For example, the Baltimore Police Department has a four-person team, up from one officer in 2009.
Until now, there has been no way to find out on a national level where animal cruelty occurs or to determine whether it is increasing. Advocates hope that this information will help law enforcement to intervene and prevent more acts of cruelty from occurring.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Francis Falkenstein
Francis (“Frank”) Falkenstein, has been licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey since 2005. He is a graduate of Drexel University (2002) and Rutgers University School of Law in Camden (2005.) He has been specializing in criminal, traffic and real estate law for the past seven years. Frank has appeared in Superior and Municipal court in every county in New Jersey but dedicates most of his practice to handling matters in Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
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