Domestic violence often tied to animal cruelty cases

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – There are several domestic violence cases that go along with animal cruelty cases in the Capital Region, and many times, the two crimes are connected and committed by the same person.

The issue was brought to light in a panel discussion Wednesday afternoon.

Attorneys, law enforcement, and animal advocates talked about why animal abuse is often an indicator of elder abuse or child maltreatment.

According to a recent study, 71 percent of pet guardians entering a domestic violence shelter told of an abuser who had harmed or killed a pet. Experts say harming an animal is the abuser’s way of showing control and what could happen to a person.

“While you may be addressing the issue that pertains to the human being, the human adult or the child, what’s often neglected is the fact that that animal is still in that residence and that animal is still subject to violence,” Albany County District Attorney David Soares said.

The violence seen in both animals and people usually are a sign of control the abuser enjoys.

“These are just violent people who either can’t control their temper or have been invoked in other sorts of violent crimes and have issues that are harming both people and animals,” Exec. Dir. of the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society Brad Shear said.

And sometimes, the abuser can be someone you’d least expect.

“There’s people out there that are very wealthy; there’s middle class and there’s people that are poverty stricken that are involved in domestic violence, so it hits everybody,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said.

Soares said whether the animal or person gets abused first, it’s important both get addressed.

“If he’s putting hands on you, it’s only a matter of time before he starts putting his hands on other members of the family, including the pets,” he said. “If he’s also putting his hands on the pets, it’s only a matter of time before he’s putting hands on you.”

Law enforcement members said domestic violence and animal cruelty tend to be underreported crimes.

They said if you or anyone you know is a victim, you are urged to reach out to them.

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