As a volunteer for a local animal rescue group for the past 10 years who also has been a foster provider for more than 160 animals, I’ve witnessed first-hand the relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence. In some cases, perpetrators of domestic violence have a history of animal abuse; in others, people stay in violent households because it’s the only way they know to protect their pets. I think it’s time we crack down—on animal abuse and domestic violence.
When I realized candidates for Ramsey County Attorney were openly addressing domestic violence as part of their platforms, I was thrilled. After all, because evidence has shown a relationship between the two, it would be impossible to address domestic violence in any sort of meaningful way without talking about animal abuse too. I was looking forward to beginning a conversation with prospective elected officials and tried for many months, unsuccessfully. I didn’t attempt speak with David Schultz, though—until yesterday.
Yesterday morning, in a moment of frustration, I wrote a note to a person involved with the Schultz campaign and, surprisingly, heard back from David Schultz himself within a half an hour. His response was refreshingly straightforward. Our conversation went something like this:
When I asked David about the relationship between domestic violence and animal abuse, he told me that, while he wouldn’t say animal abuse is a “gateway crime,” it is most certainly a “red flag,” not only to domestic violence, but is also a predictor of other crimes. And David should know. Unlike his opponent, David has actually prosecuted cases of animal cruelty when he was an Assistant Attorney General under Skip Humphrey.
He then proceeded to tell me, emotionally, about witnessing a case of animal abuse when he was in junior high. After bringing the badly injured kitten to his junior high principal, he proceeded to report the children who had abused it. Later, he told me, one of the participants ended up in the justice system.
Now I’m not suggesting that everyone who abuses animals is going to be a career criminal, but as David Schultz says, animal abuse is a crime in itself. And I can’t help but think that if we crack down on animal abuse fewer people will experience domestic violence. The criminals will be put away before they have the opportunity to escalate to other crimes.
So, I ask you: Isn’t it time we toughen up on animal abuse and domestic violence?
I hope you’ll join me on Tuesday and vote for David Schultz for Ramsey County
Foster, Second Chance Animal Rescue
Member, Minnesota Disaster Animal Response Team
Resident, St. Paul