Connecting the Dots in Criminal Justice: Preventing Crimes Against People by Focusing on Animal Abuse

Connecting the Dots in Criminal Justice: Preventing Crimes Against People by Focusing on Animal Abuse
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2022-01-25
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Connecting the Dots
Unit 2 Transcript: Connecting the Dots
Unit 3 Workbook: Connecting the Dots
Unit 4 Recording: Connecting the Dots

There’s been a growing awareness on the Link of animal cruelty to forms of family violence thanks to the tireless efforts of various organizations. This webinar provides a comprehensive discussion on the Link – why it is critical for criminal justice agencies, how it impacts the community, the Linked crimes and potential outcomes if unaddressed, what is being done related to the Link, and recommendations to better address this issue.

This session’s instructor is Phil Arkow, Coordinator of the National LINK Coalition. Phil is also an internationally acclaimed lecturer, author, and educator who’s presented and authored publications surrounding the topic of human-animal interactions and violence prevention.

Topics discussed in this course include:

  • The Link and its central premise that family violence doesn’t stop at the human species line and how animal abuse serves as a potential indicator and predictor of future violence and crime.
  • How animals are now viewed as members of the family and close companions that bring comfort and joy and the disconnect between the public perception and how the justice system regards animals.
  • The dark side of the human-animal bond and why animal abuse cases must be taken seriously.
  • Unpacking animal abuse myths specifically the tendency for it to lead to interpersonal violence and how children who harm animals grow up to become psychopaths.
  • A brief history on animal cruelty, Link prosecutions, and pivotal points in history that allude to the concept of the Link.
  • Recent developments that legitimatized the Link on a federal level by recognizing how animal abuse can serve as a possible warning behavior for terrorism and capturing accurate numbers of animal cruelty cases and its major types.
  • Criminal justice system challenges that the Link helps to resolve and the seven types of Links.
  • Studies and case examples that demonstrate how animal abuse Links to other crimes.
  • The child maltreatment Link
    • How Humane Societies used to hold the dual function of protecting both children and animals.
    • Gaps in the child protection system that fails to recognize animal abuse as an adverse childhood experience and that dangerous animals might be a risk factor for children’s welfare.
  • The domestic violence Link
    • Cases and studies that illustrate the relationship of abuse victims to their pets and how this is keeping them from seeking help and is being exploited by abusers to maintain control.
    • The risk factors to becoming a domestic violence abuser.
    • The intergenerational cycle of violence and the Duluth model that explains the dynamics of domestic violence.
  • The elder abuse Link
    • Challenges that those working with elders often encounter and the common elder issues related to animals.
    • The types of hoarders based on their reason for hoarding.
  • General recommendations as well as specific investigative, charging, pre-trial, trial, and sentencing considerations
    • Considering animal cruelty as a crime against society, emphasizing the Link, and aggressive enforcement.
    • Using veterinary forensics to build a stronger case and securing expert witnesses to demolish anticipated common defenses and arguments.
    • Setting up dedicated animal abuse units that leverages a multidisciplinary approach.
    • Looking for polyvictimization and charging for multiple crimes, charging for felony whenever possible, and pushing for aggravated charges when a crime is done in the presence of a child.
    • Coordinating with all relevant agencies for a more comprehensive investigation
    • Interviewing children about pets and taking into account the health of other animals to uncover the extent of violence going on in a household.
    • Motions that look into bans from possessing animals, bonds for the cost of care, forfeiture of seized animals, protection orders, and use of evidence to prove motive, opportunity, and planning.
    • Prevent reducing animal charges and sentencing for community service with animals.
    • Requiring psychological evaluation, treatment, and payment for cost of care.
  • Developments surrounding the Link In terms of felony status for animal cruelty crimes, veterinary forensics, public awareness, policy and practice responses, and legislative solutions at the federal and state level.

Questions raised by the webinar participants are on:

  • Connecting the operational silos and the value in cross-reporting.
  • The potential change in legal procedures and the consequences should animals’ legal status be changed from property to something else.
  • Red flags to look out for that may indicate animal abuse in a household.
  • References and resource materials to persuade state legislatures.
  • How educating on and enforcing the Link serves as a pragmatic approach to addressing the issues where the probability of establishing animal rights remains complex and loaded.



Other Webinars with this Speaker:


Or, click here to register and view other Animal Welfare webinars and recordings on the JCH website. 


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “The link philosophy-easy to explain.” — Amy
  • “I loved the slides with simple charts and bullet points to reference when needed. I thought it was well done.”  — Kimberly
  • “As a Humane Agent investigating crimes I wish all police departments would have to take this seminar since most are unaware of animal law even though they can enforce it along with me.” — cassie
  • “This was the best Justice Clearinghouse webinar that I’ve taken so far. Great job!” — Allison
  • “As a CASA I make home visits and work to develop relationships with children in the court system. This Webinar helped me see how much I can learn from talking to my child-clients about their pets, observing their interactions with their pets, as well as the value those observations can add to my reporting.” — Judith
  • “I continue to be amazed about the link between domestic violence, child abuse and animal abuse. The more I learn the more I want to learn! This was the best webinar I have ever sat through, can’t wait until we can attend something in person.” — Karen
  • “Speaker was very clear and I have a much better understanding about the topic. Unfortunately, Abuse through animals is something I am seeing more often. It has ranged from breaking a kitten’s leg to drowning and cutting the throat of two sibling puppies.” — Lynette
  • “One of the things that struck me is thought about is how animal abuse is more likely to be reported than child abuse. This webinar was very informative and provided some history and refresher in the area of the link between animal abuse and domestic violence.” — Sharon
  • “OUTSTANDING WEBINAR. Speaker and stats were a big plus.” — Robert




This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.






This webinar was pre-approved for 1 CEU credit by the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP)® and the DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program (D-SAACP).  Founded in 1975, the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the oldest national victim assistance organization of its type in the United States and is the recognized leader in victim advocacy, education and credentialing.  To learn more about NOVA, visit



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.







Additional Resources
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Thoughts on Kids and Pets from Phil Arkow
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Thoughts on Growing Up with Pets from Phil Arkow
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Thoughts on Protecting Communities from Phil Arkow
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After the Webinar: Connecting the Dots in Criminal Justice. Q&A with Phil Arkow
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