The Relationship between animal abuse and interpersonal violence

For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed a close bond with animals. Historically, animals have helped humans meet their needs for food, clothing, entertainment, and transportation. Animals are also a source of unconditional love. Interactions with animals can help decrease our loneliness and anxiety, promote social interaction, and encourage us to get much-needed exercise.

While animals contribute significantly to our quality of life, the sad reality is that animals may also be the victims of abuse or neglect at the hands of human beings. There is a growing awareness that cruelty to animals and violence to people are closely related. Studies have found that cruelty to animals is often both an indicator and a predictor of interpersonal, family and community violence.

The connection between interpersonal violence and animal abuse — commonly referred to as “the Link” – may be seen in a variety of ways:

  • when animals are being abused in the home, there is the possibility that children and adults in that home may also be at risk;
  • when a child abuses animals, this may be an indicator that the child is also a victim of abuse; and
  • the abuse of animals by a child may be a warning sign of possible violent behaviour later as an adult.

In 2015, the Saskatchewan SPCA, in partnership with STOPS to Violence and the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan (PATHS), released research on the impact of violence on both animals and people.​

The Link: Interpersonal Violence and Abuse and Animal Safekeeping answers to important questions:

  • Is the concern for the safety of companion animals and livestock a barrier to individuals leaving situations of interpersonal violence and abuse in Saskatchewan?
  • Are there existing networks and supports in Saskatchewan that provide safekeeping of animals for individuals leaving situations of interpersonal violence and abuse?

The full report and the executive summary are available here.