Domestic violence is widely recognized as predictable and preventable. However, while many educational resources exist about domestic violence, lesser known is the dynamic connection—the link—between animal abuse and violence against humans. Understanding this link can provide practitioners and victim support organizations an additional tool to help those caught in a cycle of violence. A new group, the North Texas LINK Coalition, is on a mission to facilitate the awareness, recognition and understanding of the LINK between animal abuse and human violence in a multi-county area in North Texas. The coalition is comprised of animal welfare organizations, governmental agencies, advocacy organizations and retired industry professionals, and seeks collaboration with similar coalitions throughout the U.S. The group’s purpose is to educate the North Texas community to recognize the LINK; to advocate for the implementation of policies and procedures at North Texas agencies and organizations to identify suspected abuse and notify the appropriate agencies; and to collect, report and share data.
The North Texas LINK Coalition’s effort is timely. Over the past three decades, researchers and professionals in a variety of services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, at risk adult abuse and other forms of violence. Additionally, there is recent national recognition of the importance of this type of collaboration to public safety at large. In the December 2016 OJP Diagnostic Center blog by Alyse Altenburg, Policy Advisor, Ms. Altenburg stated, “Animal cruelty cases carry dual importance in law enforcement as there is a suspected link between cases of animal cruelty and occurrence of other violent behaviors like domestic violence, child and elder abuse and public safety concerns.”
At its core, the North Texas LINK Coalition understands that animal abuse is one piece of the LINK puzzle. The way animals are treated in a home is a window into interpersonal relationships and family dynamics. Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored: it is often a warning sign that other members in the household may not be safe.
The North Texas LINK Coalition is hosted by the SPCA of Texas, a local, independent non-profit organization that in 2016 actively investigated over 3,000 criminal cases of animal abuse through its Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit.
To learn more about the link please visit www.northtexaslinkcoalition.com.