A stray cat was brought to Prince George’s County Animal Shelter with an array of wounds to his ears, limbs and tail that left him limping and weak. It was clear that this poor cat had been through extreme cruelty and was suffering greatly. Because of the severity of his injuries and necessary treatment, Alley Cat Rescue came in and rescued this traumatized cat.
Looking at his gashed ears and nearly amputated toes it was clear that these injuries were the result of intentional animal cruelty. Our veterinarian assessed him and his prognosis was worse than we could have anticipated. The abuser had tortured the cat over a course of weeks. The cat had slowly suffered with no veterinary care or compassion. The abuser had tied the cats tail and limbs tightly and had cut his ears. His tail became necrotic and required surgical removal. The toes on three of his legs were hanging by threads and our vet removed the toes as well. He is finally receiving the love and compassion he deserves here at Alley Cat Rescue. After the horrible ordeal he suffered he somehow still trusts humans and loves to nudge people and have his head pet. We have named him Hardy, which means courageous and capable of enduring difficult conditions. This certainly describes Hardy’s brave yet gentle personality.
Hardy’s case illustrates the real life costs of animal cruelty. Hardy’s case shows a severe form of animal cruelty where an abuser took advantage of an innocent and voiceless creature for their own sadistic purposes. Animal cruelty is often an indicator of a violent personality. Offenders who begin by abusing animals can escalate to abusing and even killing humans. A 10 year study of at risk children found that children that were cruel to animals were more than twice as likely to be referred to authorities for violent offenses[i]. Animal abusers are more likely to be convicted of other types of crimes such as violent, property and drug crimes[ii]. We as a society need to take animal cruelty seriously, not only by prosecuting offenders but by proactively helping pets leave violent homes.
As animal cruelty is a predictor crime, it is also an indicator crime. This means that in homes where animal cruelty is occurring there can be other victims such as spouses and children. The co-occurrence of domestic violence and animal cruelty is well reported. In a study conducted at a domestic violence shelter, 71% of women with companion animals reported that their pets had been threatened, abused or killed by their partner[iii]. This is why the Pet and Women Safety Act is crucial to help protect both human and non-human victims of violence. This federal bill would provide funding to domestic violence shelters for them to include pets in their housing, encourage states to include pets in Orders of Protection and include hurting or threatening a victim’s pet to the definition of stalking in the federal criminal code. Although we do not yet know Hardy’s backstory, abusers mutilate and torture countless cats to control or punish their victims. The Pet and Women Safety Act would allow domestic violence victims to escape their abusers with their pets, who could also fall victim to violence. Alley Cat Rescue supports the Pet and Women Safety Act and is working to help pass this necessary bill. We urge you to reach out to your legislators and ask them to support this bill. We also urge anyone who has information on Hardy to contact Prince George’s County Animal Control who is investigating his case.
[i] Becker, K.D., Herrera, V.M., McCloskey, L.A. & Stuewig, J. (2004). A Study of Firesetting and Animal Crueltymin Children: Family Influences and Adolescent Outcomes, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43(7).
[ii] Luke, C., Arluke, A. & Levin, J. (1997). Cruelty to Animals and Other Crimes:A
Study by the MSPCA and Northeastern University, Massachusetts Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 1997.
[iii] Frank, A.R. (1998). Battered women’s reports of their partners’ and their children’s cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1, 119-133.