Oklahoma Link Coalition
THE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL AND HUMAN ABUSE
THE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL AND HUMAN ABUSE
Thanks to Pat Becker for addressing animal abuse, which can be a difficult issue to tackle when you love animals passionately. We appreciated the opportunity to share the importance of "the LINK" to her audience. Thanks also to founding member Mary Jo Kinzie for being the face of the Coalition!
Dog Talk TV focuses on new and relational topics all dog owners consider. Dog Talk airs Saturdays at 8:30 on KAUT Freedom 43. The episodes are also available on YouTube for everyone to enjoy.
Find out more about Dog Talk TV at dogtalktv.com or find them on Facebook.
The Oklahoma Link Coalition "Intersection" conference was a huge success! Over 100 professionals from a wide variety of fields, including law enforcement, criminal justice, domestic violence, animal organizations, veterinary, and social services, came together to learn about the LINK and how to work collaboratively to reduce violence in our state.
The event was covered by a number of news outlets, bringing larger awareness to Oklahomans of the link between animal abuse and family and community violence.
KOKH FOX 25: OKC Law Enforcement, Veterinarians Addressing Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence
KOSU: Conference Explores Link between Animal Cruelty and Violence Against Humans
Red Dirt Report: Intersection Conference Explores Link between Animal Cruelty, Domestic Violence
Thank you to the Kirkpatrick Foundation for supporting both animal and human well-being in the state of Oklahoma.
November 7, 2017
Oklahoma History Center
Join us for a gathering of professionals working in social services, law enforcement,
animal wellbeing, children's services and advocacy, elder care, the legal field, and many others.
Learn about the LINK between animal abuse and family violence,
and how you can improve life for people and animals in your Oklahoma community.
A growing body of evidence shows that animal abuse is often an indicator and predictor of escalating acts of violence against other members of the family. This includes a strong relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and other forms of family and community violence. Professionals from a wide variety of fields can work together to address these parallel forms of abuse and create safer communities in Oklahoma.
$15 registration fee (includes lunch and all conference activities)
Scholarships are available - Please apply for scholarship prior to registering.
Stay tuned for Continuing Education information.
Space is limited to 100 participants, so sign up today!
Advocacy group helps protect people and animals in abusive situations
by Kathleen Romero
“When animals are abused, people are at risk. When people are abused, animals are at risk.” How well does this statement from animal welfare professional Judy Johns resonate with you? In the past, this connection hasn’t always been readily understood, but a growing body of research is making it clear: abuse and neglect of animals is inextricably linked with maltreatment and violence against people. Often cases of animal cruelty have been treated as isolated incidents, with only an animal victim. Now, more and more professionals are recognizing that acts of animal cruelty are often the predictors and indicators of escalating acts of violence against the human members of the family, with serious implications for society as well. Recently, a movement has started to shine a light on the intersection of animal abuse and other forms of family and community violence.
Animal abuse is highly prevalent in homes marked with child abuse, and childhood animal cruelty increases in homes where children have witnessed domestic violence. Domestic violence survivors regularly report that concern for their animals prevented them from leaving an abusive situation, because their partner threatened, harmed, or even killed their pet. Family members may threaten or harm pets in order to coerce or control vulnerable seniors. Rather than a tangential incident, animal cruelty is part of a complex constellation of antisocial behaviors that have resonating effects on all members of a family ecosystem.
These sobering facts speak to a deep, long-lasting bond between people and animals of all kinds. The impact of having experienced the unconditional love of a dog or the healing joy of a cat’s purr as a child can stay with us as we grow into adults and citizens who move through the world. Pets can act as emotional allies or even life-rafts when we are in crisis or sorrow. Unfortunately, due to this close relationship, these pets can become involved in family systems of dysfunction and violence. According to the 2015 Oklahoma Animal Study, there are more than 2 million companion animals in Oklahoma homes alone. This fact, coupled with Oklahoma’s high rates of child abuse, domestic violence, and incarceration, illustrates a clear picture in which pets could be at the center of interpersonal violence in homes across the state.
The Oklahoma Link Coalition endeavors to address this larger context, bringing in professionals and community members who regularly see “the Link” threaded through their work. Founded in 2014, the Oklahoma Link Coalition was inspired by the National Link Coalition movement, which began in response to mounting evidence that animal cruelty can be a red flag that other family members are at risk for abuse. The Coalition’s mission is to promote collaboration, cooperation, public awareness, and education to end violence against people and animals by recognizing the link between human and animal abuse.
The Oklahoma Link’s goal is to promote advocacy, cross-training, and networking across disparate fields, and spreading awareness of “the Link” to as many professionals as possible, as well as to the public. On November 7, the Oklahoma Link Coalition will host a conference, aptly titled Intersection, at the Oklahoma History Center. This conference will provide opportunities for training, education, and ways to the improve life for people and animals in Oklahoma communities. The cost is only $15 (lunch included), and scholarships are available.
Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, will be a featured speaker. "By helping communities form coalitions,” Dr. Lockwood states, “we are creating a more effective approach in breaking the cycles of violence and protecting vulnerable members of our society.” Outreach to varied professionals whose work touches Link issues is vital to the Oklahoma Link. Professionals encouraged to join the Coalition, and attend the conference, include those who work in the fields of veterinary medicine, criminal justice, law enforcement, animal control, child welfare, elder and vulnerable adult services, law, education, children’s advocacy and services, domestic violence, animal welfare, tribal services, behavioral health, faith-based, social workers, and cultural and civic groups that do work in the community. There is no cost to join, and members simply commit to receiving a monthly newsletter with information about “the Link” and opportunities to become more involved.
A main component of the Oklahoma Link is to bring together different voices at the table -- to share information, cross-train, and build relationships across fields. This multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach builds healthier families and therefore, stronger communities in our state. The Oklahoma Link is supported by the Kirkpatrick Foundation as part of their Safe and Humane initiative, which seeks to make Oklahoma the safest and most humane place to be an animal by the year 2032.
To find out more about the Oklahoma Link Coalition, the conference, or to inquire about joining the Coalition, visit www.oklahomalinkcoalition.org and find us on Facebook and Twitter.
Protecting the Pets
The Link Coalition Works Toward the Well-being of Children, Elderly and Their Pets
by Paulette Black
They have endearing names like Margaret, Holland, Mango, Blossom or Honey. Some even have designer names like Gucci, or unusual names like Josephus, and we spend lots of time and money spoiling them. When we go on overnight trips, we worry about them as much as we do our kids. We know them so well, but science is helping us understand them even more, shedding light on animal intelligence and emotion. We brag about how smart and humorous our pets are, and we acknowledge their pouts, jealousy and silly behaviors to demand our attention. They are part of the family.
Far too often, however, these beloved pets can be the first victims in an environment of family and domestic violence. In the past 30 years, research into the human-animal bond has led social scientists to understand the direct link between child maltreatment, animal abuse and elder abuse.
An important voice in this growing field of research is the National Link Coalition, formed several years ago and coordinated by Phil Arkow, an internationally recognized author and humane educator. During a recent trip to Oklahoma City, Arkow spent a day working with the newly formed Oklahoma Link Coalition. With support from the Kirkpatrick Foundation, more than 25 organizations and agencies participated in the initial meeting, establishing a mission: “The Oklahoma Link Coalition promotes collaboration, cooperation, public awareness and education to end violence against people and animals by recognizing the link between human and animal abuse.”
The new group is coordinated by Paul Needham, Adult Protective Services, Oklahoma Department of Human Services and member of the National Link Coalition Steering Committee.
“The link between the harm done to humans and animals is well documented when it comes to animals, domestic violence, child abuse and adult abuse,” explains Needham. “It is not the possibility that the others are being harmed when the perpetrator is doing harm to one of these; it is the probability.”
Arkow says, “In addition to causing pain and suffering to the animals, animal abuse can be a sentinel indicator and predictor, one of the earliest ‘red flag’ warning signs of concurrent or future violent acts. Abusers and impressionable children who witness or perpetrate abuse become desensitized to violence, and the ability to empathize with victims is lessened. Abuse is often cyclical and intergenerational. The earlier professionals can intervene to break the cycles of violence, the higher the rate of success.”
Experts in child development agree that the danger of children witnessing, being exposed to, or participating in animal cruelty has a long-term negative impact on their future health, mental health and development. An added concern is separation of families from their pets when in domestic violence shelters.
“Domestic violence affects all of us, including our pets,” says Tracey Lyall, Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS) executive director. “More than 71 percent of victims reported that their abusers had harmed, killed or threatened animals. If an animal is abused, it increases the likelihood that the spouse and children are also victims of abuse, so it’s important as members of the community to intercede on behalf of families and their pets.” DVIS will be the first shelter in Oklahoma to have an onsite kennel to board pets of domestic-abuse families and will open in 2015 in Tulsa.
“There has been one case in particular in Oklahoma, where a father was using the family pet as the weapon to abuse his child,” says Tina Harman, public information officer, Oklahoma District Attorneys Council. “This is horrific and reprehensible. Anyone who would sling an animal around by its legs to hit a child is a monster none of us wants in our community.” In such instances, the legal system and law enforcement are both key to responding and holding perpetrators accountable.
Needham adds, “We want to provide a network, information and resources for professionals working within the different public and private entities of law enforcement, animal shelters, veterinarians, child welfare, adult abuse, domestic violence, universities and more — to better collaborate and serve the needs of animals and humans.”
Each of us in the community has a role to play in protecting children, the elderly and animals. The Oklahoma Link Coalition is a step in the right direction.
This article was originally published December 30, 2014 in Natural Awakenings OKC. For more information about the Link, visit NationalLinkCoalition.com. The Oklahoma Link Coalition can be reached through its Facebook page. For more information about the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s Safe & Humane Initiative, visit SafeAndHumaneOklahoma.org. Paulette Black is the program officer at the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
Oklahoma Link Coalition: Seeking to educate about tie between hurting pets and hurting people
By Louisa McCune
Published: April 7, 2017 12:00 AM CDT Updated: April 7, 2017 3:00 PM CDT
While not surprising, the evidence is remarkable. In the past 30 years, social science has led to the discovery of a direct link between animal abuse and several forms of human abuse — specifically domestic abuse, child abuse and elder abuse.
A study in 1983 found that 82 percent of families investigated for animal abuse were also known to social services departments. More than 61 percent were known to criminal probation departments as being families with at-risk children. A study in 1986 found that 48 percent of rapists and 30 percent of child molesters had committed animal abuse when they were younger, and a 2000 study similarly found that 50 percent of school shooters had been animal abusers in childhood. A 2007 study found that batterers who abuse pets are more dangerous, more controlling and use more forms of violence than those who do not.
Along those lines, a 1997 study found that 71 percent of battered women reported their partners harmed, killed or threatened their pets. A 2003 study reported that 92 percent of adult protective services caseworkers found animal neglect coexisting with clients who were unable to care for themselves, and a 2007 study concluded that, because pets can be uniquely important sources of companionship for the elderly, abusive caretakers often exploit that connection, using threats of harm to animals to intimidate pet-owners, retaliate against them or control their assets.
This link between violence against animals and violence against humans is real, demonstrable and the widespread knowledge of it can save lives.
The Oklahoma Link Coalition was founded in 2014, with a mission to convene professionals from a diverse range of fields, including animal welfare advocates, domestic violence mitigators, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and child welfare workers — the people who get up every morning and go to work to help abused animals, children, elders or domestic violence victims. As part of a nationwide effort, the Oklahoma Link Coalition brings these professionals together, providing them with new colleagues they can turn to for help, as well as a library of educational materials and resources to better explain the link to their organizations and the general public.
Heading into its third year, the Oklahoma Link Coalition remains dedicated to informing the public about the connections between human and animal violence. The group has a newly named coordinator, Kathleen Romero, and has plans for a one-day conference later this year. Its first meeting of 2017, scheduled April 19 at the United Way of Central Oklahoma, welcomes anyone interested in sharing this message. These and other new developments will expand the mission and reach of this life-saving coalition.
The “link” is a discovery worth making and sharing in Oklahoma's urban and rural communities. Letting Oklahomans know their law enforcement, animal welfare and abuse-prevention communities are helping each other use what they've learned — to end violence against people and animals — is an effective mission to better serve the state's most vulnerable inhabitants. After all, people and animals are connected — it's always in our best interest to recognize the link between the two.
McCune is executive director of Kirkpatrick Foundation.
Read the article on NewsOK.
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Link Coalition is pleased to announce the appointment
of Kathleen Romero as the first coordinator in its history.
“I have always wanted to combine my love of animals with my social work experience,” Romero said. “Supporting and protecting animals is one of the strongest values I hold and having the opportunity to do so on a statewide level is a dream come true.”
Romero joins the Oklahoma Link Coalition with years of experience in the social services field. She has worked in a variety of areas, including domestic violence, health and safety, and social science research, and has spent most of her career in the child welfare and child advocacy arena.
This experience, combined with her administrative and community practice background, has helped Romero to make an easy transition into her current position with the Oklahoma Link Coalition. The coalition is comprised of representatives from a wide range of disciplines, including child welfare, adult protective services, law enforcement, veterinary sciences, and animal welfare.
“I am excited to bring together all of these different representatives to work toward this common goal that we all share — to build stronger families and communities by preventing violence against people and animals in Oklahoma,” she said. ”Oklahoma is fortunate to have the Kirkpatrick Foundation to support this important work.”
Romero received her undergraduate degree from Colorado College and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Oklahoma. She is passionate about genealogy, loves sewing and other crafting, and has been vegetarian for ten years. Romero was raised in Norman, and lives there with her husband Brian, and their two kitties, Delta and Eve.
The next meeting of the Oklahoma Link Coalition is April 19, 2017, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at United Way of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Lunch will be provided; attendance is open to everyone and RSVPs are requested for planning purposes.
Upcoming plans for Oklahoma Link Coalition include a one-day conference, enhanced awareness of “the Link” through social media and other forms of media, increased recruitment of members to bring as many disciplines to the table as possible, a new website, and statewide outreach to establish satellite coalitions in smaller and rural communities.
The Oklahoma Link Coalition (OkLC) promotes collaboration, cooperation, public awareness, and education to end violence against people and animals by recognizing the link between human and animal abuse.