Oklahoma Link Coalition
THE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL AND HUMAN ABUSE
THE LINK BETWEEN ANIMAL AND HUMAN ABUSE
News Channel 6 in Tulsa featured the Oklahoma Link Coalition and several of its members in law enforcement regarding several recent local cases. Click here to watch the video!
CRAIG COUNTY, Oklahoma -Statistics show more than 70 percent of domestic abuse survivors claimed their partner harmed or killed animals to intimidate them. Some Oklahoma sheriff's offices are teaming up to raise awareness about the link.
Investigator Frank Miller says he remembers the day he walked onto a property in rural Craig County and found more than 10 dead dogs and several others that were severely malnourished.
"In my 26 years of law enforcement, this is the worst case I've ever seen. Conditions were absolutely deplorable. No food or water.” said Miller
Glenn Ranay Davidson was sentenced on 3 felony counts of animal abuse. Investigators say a registered sex offender also listed that address as his home.
"We have direct ties linking the sexual abuse of a child to the home where there was heinous animal cruelty," said Miller.
Oklahoma is one of two states in the country that is working to raise awareness about the link between animal cruelty and family violence. The Craig County Sheriff's Office along with their neighbors in Ottawa County were two of the first agencies to jump on board.
“If we can see a pattern of animal abuse at an early stage then we can correct that before it becomes a major problem.” Said Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd.
Research shows that abusers often kill or harm pets to orchestrate fear which could mean that there are other types of abuse in the home.
“We want to get the animals out of that situation then we want to start looking deeper into why is this person abusing that particular animal,” said Floyd
Across the US, 71% of battered women reported that their abusers had harmed, killed or threatened animals to coerce or humiliate them.
Local Shelters say they see the impact that abuse has first-hand but they believe the public can play a big role in helping stop it.
“If you just look for the signs and report it when you do see those signs it can help,” said Brittany Browne for the City of Miami.
And Sheriff Floyd hopes this will encourage other law enforcement agencies to jump on board.
“We want this to be a great program that will not only help the pets but the people involved,” said Floyd.
Click on the link below to view the video!
OKLAHOMA CASES HIGHLIGHT LINK BETWEEN
ANIMAL ABUSE AND FAMILY VIOLENCE
Communities called to take animal cruelty more seriously
OKLAHOMA CITY–Several recent incidents in Oklahoma show the clear link between animal cruelty and escalating acts of violence against other members of a family or community.
As this connection becomes harder to dismiss, communities around the country, including in Oklahoma, are taking animal cruelty more seriously. Several animal cruelty investigations in the last year in Oklahoma County have resulted in harsher convictions and sentencing. In December, an offender received an eight-year prison sentence after officers discovered starving and neglected dogs in his care. In February, another received a twenty-year suspended sentence, has to spend weekends in county jail, and is banned from owning animals for not providing shade or water for his dogs, which resulted in animal death. In January, yet another perpetrator of felony animal cruelty received a year in county jail, plus a five-year suspended sentence and 160 hours of community service. These acts were in conjunction with other offenses, which is consistent with the proven link between animal abuse and other crimes. Addressing these acts of maltreatment toward animals leads to more protected families, safer communities, and less violence in our state.
Other communities are joining the movement to recognize that animal abuse isn’t just about an animal victim. Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd started a unit in November 2017 specifically to address animal abuse, citing “the link” as a significant reason. Roger Nagl, a deputy with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, states that “animal abuse has been a topic that has been brushed aside for quite sometime now. The damage goes a lot further than just the animals being abused. A perfect example in Oklahoma is how domestic violence victims have stated over and over that their abuser has abused the victim’s pets before abusing them or threatened to abuse the animals if the victim tries to leave the situation or speak to anyone about it.” According to Nagl, funding and training are two major issues, and the Ottawa County and Craig County Sheriff’s Offices, the Oklahoma Link Coalition, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, and the Humane Society of the United States are taking steps to create a training module to provide law enforcement and prosecutors the education and resources needed to combat this growing problem.
One response to this growing issue is the Oklahoma Link Coalition, a network of over 250 Oklahoma professionals and concerned citizens that seeks to promote awareness, education, and action around the link between animal abuse and family and community violence. The Oklahoma Link Coalition will hold its next meeting Friday, July 20 from 11:30 to 1 p.m. at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. Professionals and community members from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend, and can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch will be provided.
SCHOOL SHOOTING SHOWS KNOWN LINK BETWEEN
ANIMAL ABUSE AND VIOLENCE AGAINST PEOPLE
Suspect displayed warning sign of violence against animals
OKLAHOMA CITY— The mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida this week is the most recent tragedy illustrating the link between cruelty to animals and violence against people. Years of anecdotal evidence of this link has been backed up by solid research proving that those who hurt animals often escalate to hurting other vulnerable members of their household or community.
The FBI recognizes this link so strongly that in 2016, they added animal cruelty offenses to their national reporting database, on par with homicide, arson, and assault. Data shows that in 59% of animal cruelty cases, there were other crimes of interpersonal violence involved as well. This speaks to the interrelated nature of these crimes, and why something like animal abuse cannot be ignored or treated as an isolated incident.
Indeed, a review of school shootings from 1988-2012 revealed that 43% of offenders had committed acts of animal cruelty. Combined with the fact that 54% of mass shootings are related to family violence, a picture emerges that clearly demonstrates that animal abuse is part of a constellation of antisocial behaviors with devastating consequences. This reinforces innumerable studies showing strong ties between animal cruelty and domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse.
Those who are aware of a child harming animals can follow these steps provided by the National Link Coalition: Assess the seriousness of the situation: talk to the child and friends, teachers and classmates to try to uncover the child’s motivations. The incident could be exploratory, pathological, delinquent or criminal in nature or in response to mental health issues or reaction to trauma. A trusted family member, friend, teacher, counselor or therapist may be brought in to the discussion. The child should be held accountable for the actions and made to appreciate empathy for the animal’s feelings. In more serious incidents, counseling, other professional intervention, referrals to other social services agencies, or the filing of criminal charges may be warranted. A child’s revelation of other family violence may require reporting to child protection officials, and to animal care and control officials for removal of the animals.
To prevent further violence in our communities, professionals and the public must recognize that violence against animals is not just about an animal victim - it has resonating effects on children, families, and the larger society as a whole.
The Oklahoma Link Coalition is a network of diverse professionals formed around “the Link” between animal abuse and violence against people. The Coalition is a project of the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
To learn more or to join the Coalition, visit www.OklahomaLinkCoalition.org or engage with the Coalition on Facebook and Twitter.
Mission: 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.
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.