Animal Abuse and Human Interpersonal Violence in Canada: An Anthrozoological Perspective on Policy, Legislation and the Need for Cross-sector Reporting

In the last decade, research evidence has increasingly demonstrated a co-occurrence of human interpersonal violence and abusive behaviour toward nonhuman animals although the actual nature of this intersection continues to remain controversial. While livestock and wildlife can also become victims, more often the abuse is directed at a family pet whose ‘owners’ view them as members of the family, forming strong emotional attachments with them and grieving their loss when they die. Whether we view animal abuse as a harbinger or a red flag, a discussion about the protection of other animals from abuse must include a critical examination of how to identify and assess situations in which they are vulnerable to neglect or violence. Intervention can be facilitated through cross-sector reporting between agencies whose professionals routinely encounter animal abuse that accompanies other forms of violence. Such a dialogue must also include a review of public policy and legislation that seeks to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, both human and nonhuman.

By Adriana Pisano Beaumont

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