Calling all animal lovers and humans worldwide – there's been a breakthrough in the prosecution of animal abusers and violent criminals in the US. The FBI have formally declared that they are now recognising animal cruelty as a serious offense.
This year will be the first time the FBI collects data on animal crimes the way it does for other serious crimes like homicide and arson. Starting from January 1st, data is being entered into the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the public database the FBI uses to keep a record of national crimes.
Animal abuse had previously been classified in "miscellaneous crimes", including fraud, drug possession and even spitting. This made it very hard to keep track of these criminals. However, now we will have access to more concrete information on these animal abusers such as their age, criminal history, and location.
The FBI officially defines cruelty to animals as:
Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment.
Cases of animal cruelty fall into four categories —
- Simple/Gross Neglect (failure to provide food, water, shelter, veterinary care, or intentionally or knowingly withholding food or water)
- Intentional Abuse and Torture
- Organised Abuse (dog fighting and cock fighting)
- Animal Sexual Abuse (bestiality)
The FBI's decision is not only a way to stop cases of animal abuse but it can also help to identify people who might go on to commit violent crimes. According to a psychological study by the New York State Humane Association, animal cruelty is one of the first acts of violence that potential felons commit. Indeed, nearly 70% of violent criminals begin by abusing animals.
Dr. Harold Hovel, who led the study, asserts:
Serial killers are closely linked to animal cruelty, so much so that it is exceedingly rare to find one who did not begin his or her career with animal abuse.
For the FBI, animal abusers of today could be the serial killers of tomorrow. So keeping statistics on animal cruelty cases can help law enforcement identify high-risk felons who are more likely to commit future human violence, such as murder.
But for animal advocates, this is not just a win for the prevention of human violence - this marks a huge progress in stopping animal cruelty in the first place.
Animals are living, breathing beings that feel the same emotions as we humans do – joy, love, and happiness, but also pain. Being cruel to animals goes against all our instinctive morals and should be taken very seriously.
No animal should have to be subjected to any form of cruelty. And it's time their abusers were properly condemned.
This is a huge victory for animal lovers and people all over the world!
NB. The FBI announced the change in 2014 but only began collecting data as of this month. The information will be publicly available in the coming year (2016).
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