The Link between Animal Abuse, Child Abuse and Neglect, and Interpersonal Violence
April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.
Studies have shown a correlation between animal abuse, child maltreatment, and other forms of interpersonal violence, including domestic violence and elder abuse. Professionals refer to this correlation as the Link.
A review of research shows:
- Animals were harmed in 88% of homes where a child was physically abused.
- 75% of female survivors of domestic violence in one study reported their pets were threatened or intentionally harmed by their partner.
- Children exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals
- 45% of caseworkers working with the elderly encountered animal abuse or neglect co-occurring with elder abuse.
Connecticut has taken proactive steps to address these issues, including enacting legislation pertaining to cross-reporting.
State statute requires both DCF and Animal Control Officers to report suspected animal cruelty to the Department of Agriculture. The legislation includes training requirements as well. Here is the cross-reporting guide for DCF staff: Cross Reporting Guide for DCF Staff
State law further mandates the Commissioner of Agriculture to send a monthly report to the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families containing all reports of animal cruelty received.
Between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021, the Department of Children and Families received a total of 134 written reports from the Department of Agriculture. Of the total reports received, 36 families had histories with the Department, 20 reports were made on open DCF cases, and eight reports met the standard for an abuse/neglect investigation based on the initial information provided in the written report. More information is available on our webpage about the Link and cross-reporting.
Paws for Kids is a partnership between DCF and the animal advocacy community to promote child and animal well-being through education, cross-reporting efforts, and other activities. Their website can be accessed here: Paws for Kids
Members of the public can make a reports of animal cruelty directly to the local Animal Control Department in the town where the concerns have been noted or by calling (860) 713-2506 as well as via e-mail at AGR.AnimalControl@ct.gov. Those wishing to make a report can remain anonymous.
A reasonable suspicion of child maltreatment can be made to the Child Abuse and Neglect Careline by dialing 1-800-842-2288. The Careline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Callers to the Careline can remain anonymous.