Our Readers' Opinions
May 9, 2017
Animal cruelty: a diagnostic criterion of conduct disorder

EDITOR: Animal cruelty needs to be recognized for what it is – and stopped. Not only are the things people do to innocent living creatures horrific, causing enormous pain and suffering – and yes, they DO feel pain – they are also against the law (Protection of Animals Act). This Act isn’t about “damage to property”. Animals are cruelly and brazenly tortured for no reason and it would benefit people in law enforcement and social services to heed the warning signs of animal abuse, because it is also a crime against society.

Neglect is one thing, but intentional violence against animals predicts violent crimes against people: animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent offenses against people (assault, murder, rape) than non-abusers, and four times more likely to commit property crimes. Animal abuse is also an indicator of other possible crimes in a household, particularly domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse. And, it’s a warning sign of mental health issues. Animal cruelty is one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder, one that all too frequently escalates into human violence. Early recognition could lead to early treatment.

To protect all animals and Vincentians, a system needs to be in place where multiple agencies cooperate and assume the responsibility of investigating animal abuses: animal welfare groups, Police, DPP, Ministries of Agriculture and Family/Youth Affairs, Marion House and others. Identify, assess and, depending on the circumstances, help or prosecute.

As stated, it starts with recognizing animal cruelty for what it really is – an atrocity against animals, and an act likely to indicate present or future violent behaviour against people.

Board of Directors

Vincentian Society for the Prevention

of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA)