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Animal abuse link to other crime studied

By KYLE HARDING news-press staff writer

Allie Phillips of the National District Attorneys Association speaks Thursday on the link between animal abuse and other crime.

STEVE MALONE / NEWS-PRESS


September 5, 2014 5:58 AM

The connection between animal abuse and violence against people is being explored by a task force put together by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

 

"I, like many of my colleagues who are here today, decided to become a prosecutor because we wanted to give a voice to the voiceless," Ms. Dudley said.

 

Allie Phillips of the National District Attorneys Association gave a presentation to a group of animal advocates, domestic violence advocates and county officials on Thursday about how violence to animals correlates with domestic violence and child abuse.

"When you have violence in a home, do you really think anyone is safe?" Ms. Phillips, a former prosecutor, asked.

 

Ms. Phillips said animal abuse can predict child abuse.

Animal abuse, or the threat of it, also can be used to threaten victims of domestic violence or child abuse, she said.

 

Ms. Phillips told prosecutors and law enforcement officers in her audience to key in on animal abuse when examining situations for the potential of other violent crimes.

 

Children who abuse animals likely learned the behavior from a parent or guardian, she added.

Humans naturally have an empathetic bond with animals, Ms. Phillips said.

"When you find children who are indifferent, or are harming animals, something broke that bond," she said.

 

Because domestic violence victims may be hesitant to leave a home where a pet is being abused, it is important for domestic violence shelters to ask victims about pets and help them find a place for the pets to go during the victims' transition, Ms. Phillips said.

Peggy Langle, executive director of the Santa Barbara Humane Society, said the society offers emergency boarding for pets involved in domestic violence.

 

Ms. Phillips' presentation featured news stories showcasing the link between animal abuse and violence directed at humans, including a local story. Duanying Chen is facing a felony assault charge in Santa Barbara County stemming from an alleged May 20 attack on his girlfriend.

 

The investigation began after Mr. Chen's girlfriend brought her small dog to a local veterinary hospital, and staff members determined that the dog's injuries were consistent with abuse. In California, veterinarians are required to report animal abuse to law enforcement, Ms. Phillips said.

 

The woman then told the staff that she had been victimized as well. The dog later had to be euthanized.

 

In addition to the assault charge, Mr. Chen is charged with two counts of animal cruelty.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brooke Gerard said prosecutors should be sure to prosecute animal cruelty charges in addition to other crimes to show that the perpetrator has a history of violence against animals.

 

email: kharding@newspress.com

 

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