Washington, DC—A very simple sad fact is that people abuse animals. It is hard for most people to fathom why anyone would want to hurt another living being. Who does this? Where does it happen? Is it increasing or decreasing?
The answers to these and other questions would help law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health professionals, educators, policy makers, and others address this problem more effectively. Unfortunately, not only is this information not readily available, but also, until now, it could not be said whether such information even exists.
In recognition of April as Animal Cruelty Awareness Month, the Animal Welfare Institute announces the availability of the Animal Cruelty Crime Statistics: Findings from a Survey of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs. For the first time, a snapshot has been taken of whether and how states collect and report animal cruelty crime data. Knowing this is the first step towards having such information available on a national level.
Animal cruelty in and of itself is a heinous act against some of the most vulnerable members of society. It is a crime in all jurisdictions, and some forms constitute felonies in 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virginia Islands. Moreover, it is well known that animal abuse is linked to other crimes, including family violence and other forms of interpersonal violence, gang and drug offenses, and property crimes. However, the FBI does not collect animal cruelty crime statistics as part of its Uniform Crime Report (UCR), and so there is no broad picture of these crimes.
AWI has long been working to achieve inclusion of animal related crimes in the UCR. Its new report offers detailed information obtained from the 28 participating state FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) programs about if and how animal cruelty crime statistics are reported to the state UCR programs by local police and then transmitted to the FBI national office. Of critical importance, Animal Cruelty… reveals that some state UCR programs maintain retrievable animal cruelty crime statistics. This is vital information not publicly known before this survey.
AWI President Cathy Liss explained that the survey was done to gain a better understanding of what is and isn’t known about crimes against animals. “We needed to know if such information exists or can be generated for submitting to the FBI. We learned that some states are already collecting such data. And we were particularly gratified to learn that the majority agree that having such data is useful.”
This report takes an important first step toward the goal of gaining inclusion of animal cruelty crime statistics in the FBI’s national analysis.
Other resources related to animals and interpersonal violence can be found at AWI's Animals and Family Violence page.