by Tony Fontes
Asst. Professor, Business Administration, Bunker Hill Community College
Before I was familiar with the mission of Safe People, Safe Pets, I never actually had firsthand experience with animal abuse. Recently I heard a true story that illustrated how abusive relationships can actually lead to animal abuse.
A friend of mine recently took on a tenant to live in her house.” Kathy” lives alone and thought the extra income would help. She asked around, and a gentleman was referred to her from a friend of a friend. After checking some of his provided references, they entered into a landlord/tenant relationship.
“Bert” was a divorced father of three looking for a place to live. He had a respectable job and seemed “normal.” He moved into Kathy’s place with only a few belongings.
Kathy has a beloved cat, and when Bert moved in, he seemed to have a sort of fixation with the cat. The cat was visibly afraid of Bert, and would run and hide whenever he entered the home. Kathy, recognizing this, asked Bert to leave the cat alone, as it was apparent the cat wanted nothing to do with him.
One night after coming home from work, Kathy found her cat outside, hiding in the bushes. This was alarming in that the cat was left in her bedroom with the door shut. Upon questioning Bert, he claimed he thought the cat wanted to go out. This was the first alarm that went off in Kathy’s head, as she asked Bert not to get involved with the cat and to stay out of her bedroom, to which both requests he ignored.
About a week later, Kathy arrived home to find her cat under her bed, severely injured. Blood was all over the carpet and her cat was extremely skittish and cowering. After finally coaxing the cat out from under the bed, she realized she had underestimated her injuries. She immediately drove her cat to the local veterinarian, where it was diagnosed that the cat suffered “severe blunt force trauma,” required 20 stitches, and had to have two teeth surgically removed.
Upon arriving home and confronting Bert, all was denied. Despite the cat being locked in her bedroom, and Bert being the only one home, he denied any involvement in the cat’s brutal injuries. Kathy immediately asked Burt to pack his belongings. Bert’s response was “It’s only a f*&%$ cat.” He proceeded to become verbally abusive to Kathy, calling her every name in the book.
She was friendly with a local police officer and asked him to come to ensure Burt left the premises. He later told Kathy that upon looking into Burt’s background, he found out he already had an existing restraining order from his previous wife. Kathy’s was now his second.
It is important to recognize that if research indicates that violence toward animals serves as a symptom and a predictor of other violent behavior, it makes one wonder if Kathy was next on Burt’s list. Fortunately Kathy rectified the situation before it escalated, and her cat is successfully on the mend.
What I learned is that this type of thing does happen. Conceptually I knew this, but hearing a real life scenario really reinforced the fact that when animal abuse can be detected early, it not only saves innocent pets from senseless abuse or death, but it can also shed light on potential criminal or abusive behavior, as potentially is could have in Kathy’s case.
TAKE ACTION AND BE PROUD
People often ask me why I am involved with Safe People*Safe Pets. It’s a question that I never tire of answering. Delivering the message of the link between animal cruelty and human violence is a powerful one. When I explain the mission of our organization a light bulb goes off for mostly everyone, Oprah might call it an AHA! moment. They immediately want to know what they can do to help, the good news is there is a lot you can do. The easiest thing to do is to make a donation, this allows us to further our mission by developing our educational programs and to expand our foster program. Of course we would love for more people to be involved with our programs, volunteering is a great way to get to know an organization better.
I invite you to get to know our Safe People*Safe Pets better, I know that you will be as proud as I am to support this important cause.
Vice President, Safe People*Safe Pets
The People-Pet Connection
Human and animal bonding has dated back to pre-historic times, and it has evolved from the instinctive bond between a caveman and a wolf to the emotional connection between a pet and person. Contrary to popular belief, pets are aware of much more than previously thought. Pets can sense physical danger, emotional struggle and even medical illness within a family.
Because of this, researchers have found a link most people are not aware of, and that’s the link between human abuse and animal abuse. The American Psychiatric Association has ruled animal maltreatment an antisocial mental disorder. Author and researcher Frank Ascione, believes animal abuse is a byproduct of an abusive childhood. He contends that by being exposed to the emotional trauma of animal violence, some children may develop and foster feelings of empowerment by inflicting pain. This thinking leads them to believe that pets are expendable. Sadly, as adults they may continue to abuse pets or even people, furthering the cycle of violence.
Our mission at Safe People * Safe Pets is to create awareness and provide the tools to change this outcome. There are many ways to accomplish this including sharing infomrationand education, advocating for policy and legislation and providing care for animals whose owneres are leaving violence behind. Together we can help others understand that our world can be less violent, for both people and their pets. We need your help. Please become part of our movement. Click here to find out how you can help.