AWI Calls Attention to Animal Cruelty and At-Risk Youth at National Judges Conference

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chicago—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is taking part next week in the 77th Annual Conference of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) to call attention to how youth and family violence are connected to animal abuse—and what juvenile and family court judges and court officers can do to intervene on behalf of children exposed to animal abuse. The NCJFCJ will convene more than 400 judges and court professionals from July 13 to 16 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago to learn from more than 50 sessions featuring a wide range of juvenile and family law topics.

For the past several years, AWI has worked closely with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and other organizations to bring greater understanding of the connection between family violence and animal abuse, and to provide resources to help judges, law enforcement officials, and other professionals aid victims and stop abuse.

Studies show that children exposed to domestic violence are at greater risk of psychological maladjustment, including a higher risk of becoming perpetrators or victims. Pet abuse, in fact, is an early indicator of such maladjustment. Understanding these links and recognizing the early warning signs will help juvenile and family court judges make appropriate decisions to help young victims break the cycle of violence and obtain the counseling and support they need.

AWI also helped arrange a visit to the conference from Safe Humane Chicago, in order to showcase two programs that provide positive opportunities for at-risk youth and youth in custody to work with shelter dogs. One such program, Lifetime Bonds, helps at-risk youth learn to care for, socialize, and train shelter dogs using positive reward-based techniques and thereby create a nurturing and trusting relationship to animals. A related program, Court Case Dogs, helps rescue the dogs themselves from unjust treatment and provide them with the proper training, socialization, and enrichment opportunities to become lifelong companions.

For information about the NCJFCJ and the 77th Annual Conference, visit www.ncjfcj.org. To learn about Safe Humane Chicago, visit www.safehumanechicago.org. For more on AWI and how it is helping to safeguard both human and animal victims of abuse, see http://awionline.org/animalsfv.