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Jan 26, 2006
By Katharhynn Heidelberg, Daily Press News Editor

Jan 17 - MONTROSE - By now, the link between animal cruelty and sensational crimes perpetrated by the Jeffrey Dahmers of this world is legendary. It's also real, and a problem that must be addressed - even if violence against animals might not lead a person to commit serial murder, it often escalates to violence
against humans.

"You cannot extricate one (type of violence) from another," Diane Balkin, a Denver-area prosecutor, told those gathered for "The Link" training session at the Montrose Pavilion Monday. "This is a matter of public safety."

The training was jointly sponsored by the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center and Montrose County Animal Services to highlight the link between animal cruelty, domestic violence and child abuse.

Animal abuse - defined under state and local statutes as physical/sexual abuse, endangerment, neglect, medical neglect, hoarding (having more animals than one can adequately care for) and abandonment - results in death for an estimated 62 percent of known animals victims each year nationwide.
According to Balkin's statistics, 71 percent of these are domestic pets, followed by livestock (18 percent); wildlife (4 percent) and exotic animals (2 percent). More than half of known cases involve intentional abuse or torture and 43 percent involve neglect to the point of starvation or failure to provide care.

Beyond the harm to animals is harm to humans and attendant social ills, Balkin and fellow presenter Kay Dahlinger, chief probation officer in Aurora, stressed.

For instance, though not every person who abuses animals becomes a serial killer, Balkin said every known serial killer has a history of harming animals. A history of arson is also statistically common among violent offenders who abuse animals and animal abusers are five times as likely as others to commit violent crimes. Most high school shooters - though according to Balkin, the evidence for Columbine High School murderers Eric Klebold and Dylan Harris remains anecdotal -
have had a history of hurting animals.

A survey of battered women revealed that 82 percent had to live with threats against family pets as a means of control or retaliation. In approximately 62 percent of these cases, at least one pet was killed.

Up to 70 percent of women do not leave their abusers because crisis shelters will not accept pets and they don't want to leave the animal at the offender's mercy. Dahlinger told conference attendees of a woman who did leave her abuser, only to return when he sent photos of her pet's ears being cut off.

In Montrose, Animal Control Officer Mike Duncan is willing to provide shelter to animals threatened by an abusive spouse until the victim can leave a crisis shelter. The Denver area has safe havens specifically for pet protection in such cases.

The correlations between animal cruelty and familial abuse are clear, Balkin reported. "Quite frankly, it is more rare to see one (form of abuse) in isolation," she said.

"It's power and control. Often, a pet is used as a tool to keep a child quiet. ...In more cases than you can imagine, there is threatening of an animal. That is a form of domestic violence."

Animal cruelty can be the result of a trickle-down effect of violence in the home, Balkin added. Children who see abuse or who are abused have been known to learn the behavior and in turn take out their frustrations on the one family member they can exert control over - the dog or cat.

There is also a sexual component to animal abuse, from bestiality, to taking "trophy" photos or videos that allow the offender to relive his or her crime.

Balkin told of "Samson," a Chow dog whose 17-year-old owner killed and sodomized him with a tree branch before leaving the dog's body in a public place with a makeshift cross and note that declared: "A work of the next king. It's pure art."

The boy had been sexually abused, but his mother apparently wrote off his history of fire-setting "because the fires were small."

Animal cruelty is also nothing new. It has been documented as far back as the 1700s, when woodcuts show a character who begins abusing dogs in the school yard, progresses to other crimes, and finally, is executed for murdering his lover. In the United States, a concerted effort to protect animals was begun in
1866 when Henry Burgher founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Colorado's animal cruelty statutes date back to 1889 and were so comprehensive that the language of today's statutes is almost identical.

The key difference: 2002's legislation making knowingly or intentionally killing or torturing an animal a felony - a change made following outcry over the matter of Westy, a cat set on fire and thrown from a vehicle in Westminster, Colo. (Westy, though horrifically injured, survived and was adopted).

It's frequently such cases that have turned the tide of public and legislative perception, Balkin said. In 1992, only seven states had felony animal cruelty statutes; by 2003, 41 states, including Colorado, had it on the books.

"The days of 'boys will be boys' or, 'it's just a dog or a stray cat' are over," Balkin said.

A Hotchkiss attendee said, however, that she still encounters that mindset. "Over and over again," she said she saw the attitude "that, 'They're just dogs.'"

In what often begins as misguided love of animals, others condemn pets to what Balkin called a fate worse death by hoarding or "collecting" them to the point that they overrun the home.

She pointed to a Cortez hoarding case in which a destitute elderly couple kept dozens of cats in a fifth-wheel trailer at a local campground. Graphic photos showed rescue members wading through feces and discarded food cans, along with the bones of starved or cannibalized cats, and kittens found dead in a freezer. Some 39 cats were recovered alive, though many had to be euthanized. The couple was declared unfit for pet ownership and prosecuted.

Balkin said it was important to follow awareness of animal cruelty with action. "I have impressed upon Denver that if there's any indication it's (abuse) intentional, go for state prosecution," she said. Penalties are tougher under state law than under most municipal codes. Conviction can also result in a mandatory
evaluation and treatment.

"The earlier we intervene, the better off the community is and the (abusive) individual," Balkin said. "The way we break this cycle is education, intervention and collaboration."

One out-of-town attendee said, however, that prosecutors weren't always receptive. The unidentified woman said that despite the evidence she'd presented in her local jurisdiction, they had showed little interest and cited existing case overload.

Dahlinger acknowledged a collaborative effort is more difficult to achieve in smaller communities, but said it was worth the effort. In Aurora in 1999, for instance, her office realized the lack of communication between emergency and law enforcement agencies was affecting the way animal abuse cases were
addressed. She worked to bring the agencies together and they formed a specific action plan as to agency response.

"Once you get collaboration going, you will be besieged with calls," Dahlinger said. "The reason you have to collaborate is, you have to arrest, you have to prosecute and you have to do something with the offender after. ...It isn't just a cat or a dog anymore. It's a victim."

Kay Alexander, director of Dolphin House, said she would like to see Montrose develop a specific action plan for addressing the problem, but that some agencies are already working toward that end. "We have a ways to go, but the time is appropriate because of the groundwork that's been laid," she said.

"We need to make sure we've got that community willingness to roll up our sleeves and get to work."
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Posted: Jan 26, 2006 11:38am
Jan 16, 2006
Focus: Safety
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Woman Arrested For Animal Cruelty (US )

Jan 13 - A 31-year-old Kyle woman is facing jail time Thursday night for killing her husband's dog. It started as a domestic dispute and ended when the woman grabbed the dog and a knife.

The gruesome nature of this crime could send the woman to prison for several years.

"This was a particularly nasty crime and such a criminal act is not going to be tolerated here in the city of Austin," Lt. Doug Dukes with APD Strategic Command said.

An act simply heinous by definition, and a woman obviously saddled with emotional problems. Thirty-one-year-old Joanne Hinojosa turned herself in to police just before 3 p.m.

Police say she butchered her estranged husband's dog stabbing it 27 times.

"Family violence and cruelty to animals are very, very closely related. Usually when one happens, it's not far off for the other on to happen soon after," Dukes said.

That is how witnesses say this started, when Hinojosa came to her estranged husband's house. Police say they argued. She took a swing at him, and he ran down the street and called police.

It was then Hinojosa called the dog, took her inside and started stabbing.

"A lot of times when you're seeing domestic abuse or child abuse situations happen you're also going to have animal abuse in these same types of households. So there's not anything that's going to predict the kind of person that would do that," TLAC Director Dorinda Pulliam said.

The dog was taken to the Ben White Pet Hospital for emergency surgery. Because of blood loss and severe organ damage, she was euthanized.

"This will not be tolerated and we're going to deal with it to the full extent of the law," Dukes said.

Hinojosa faces up to four years behind bars and a $14,000 fine for family violence and animal cruelty charges.

Bond was set at $30,000. Additional charges are pending.

"Animal cruelty is a crime, and it's something that needs to be taken seriously. If you're involved in harming an animal, you can do felony time for that so it is something we take very seriously," Pulliam said.

The dog, named Marti, suffered stab wounds to the abdomen, lungs, spleen, diaphragm and other internal organs.

Police found the dog with the knife blade still in the abdomen.

Police say Mrs. Hinojosa also caused damage to her husband's truck, and his friend's truck.

Because of that, criminal mischief charges could also be filed.
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Posted: Jan 16, 2006 8:19am
Jan 9, 2006
Focus: Civil Rights
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

2006: 130 Years Since the First Cruelty to Animals Act


Since the 19th Century…

 In 2006 it will be 130 years since the approval of the “Cruelty to Animals Act” in the United Kingdom. Some other acts regarding nonhuman animals had previously been passed in the 19th century.

The “Ill-treatment of Cattle Act” was introduced back in 1822, although this law only opposed harming nonhuman animals in as much as they were resources or property that could be damaged. In 1835 The Protection of Animals Act was approved. It banned some uses of animals for entertainment such as cock and dog fighting, as well as bear, bull and badger baiting, leaving nonetheless many other uses of them untouched.

 The 1876 “Cruelty to Animals Act” was focused on the use of nonhuman animals in experiments. It was a result of strong anti-vivisectionist campaigning during the years before, as well as of the reaction against this of the pro-animal experimentation lobby. The final outcome was disappointing: no real curtails to the use of nonhumans in experiments were approved.

…to the 80’s

 1896 is not the only date to remember this year: in 2006 it’ll be 20 years since the ratification of the 1986 Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, which replaced the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1876. This controversial law divided the organisations concerned about the interests of nonhuman animals in the UK. Although some of them supported it as they considered it better than nothing, others strongly opposed it, arguing that it didn’t mean any significant improvement for nonhumans, but rather was giving legitimacy to their use as resources. In actuality it has not brought about any notable improvements in the situation regarding the use of nonhuman animals as laboratory tools.

1986 was a year in which legislation regarding animal experimentation passed not only in the UK but in all of the European Union (which was then still known as the EEC), with the European Directive 86/609, on the “Protection Of Animals Used for Experimental or Other Scientific Purposes”. This directive has since then aroused debates in the continent similar to the ones that took place in the UK regarding the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.

And also in the US

 Similarly, in the US this year it will be four decades since the approval of the Animal Welfare Act, in 1966. Just as in the case of the British laws, this act set some standards for the use of some nonhuman animals. Since then, this act has been amended on several occasions. But again, it has failed so far to draw any significant limitations to the use of nonhumans.

Therefore, the conclusion is that these acts introduced regulations to how nonhumans should be used, and prohibited only some of the uses of nonhumans, but none of them recognised other animals as right holders.


The Situation Now

 Nowadays, nonhumans are still massively subjected to suffering and are killed for various human purposes. Their numbers haven’t reduced, but have actually dramatically increased. It thus seems a good occasion to look back and reflect on what have been the achievements as well as the blunders in the struggle to defend nonhuman animals.

Regarding this, in spite of the very short effects that the mentioned laws have had, it would not be accurate to say that the endeavor to defend nonhumans from human exploitation so far has only been a failure. In one respect the achievements have been remarkable, but they have had to do with the efforts directed to changing the minds not of legislators but of the public. The number of people who have abandoned using nonhuman animals, irrespective of such use (i.e. slavery) being fully legal, has been significant, for example vegetarianism and veganism have never been so widespread. This seems to be, then, a proper focus for our future efforts. Besides, laws can only be approved insofar as they have enough support among the public –as long as the public keeps on viewing nonhuman animals as means for us to use then no significant legal change will ever be achieved.


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Posted: Jan 9, 2006 11:16am


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