Various research and numerous cases have substantiated the link between animal abuse to other forms of violent crime. And for this webinar, Michelle Welch will discuss this phenomenon, providing case examples and looking into the prosecution of these cases.
Michelle Welch is currently the Attorney General and the Director of the Animal Law Unit at the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. In her role, she’s in charge of taking all animal law questions in Virginia and serves as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. She is also the appointed Special Assistant US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia for animal cruelty-related prosecutions.
Some of the points that Michelle highlighted on this course include:
- Virginia’s Animal Law Unit and what it has effected in its 4-year existence.
- The concept of ‘the link’ where a significant correlation was found between various crimes that involve abuse and violence.
- Understanding Animal Abuse based on the FBI’s NIBRS definition and its categories.
- The cycle of violence that perpetuates in households and creates offenders out of victims.
- The fact that animal abuse does not happen in a vacuum and the importance of treating such cases seriously due to its likelihood to be linked to other forms of crimes.
- Statistics demonstrating:
- The link of animal abuse to domestic violence and child abuse.
- The demographic split of offenders.
- The type of intentional abuse that transpires.
- Cases that highlight the link between animal abuse and domestic violence which stresses the significance of including pets in protection orders.
- Animal neglect and the most basic requirements that humans must be able to provide to their pets.
- More case examples showing how neglect is being committed.
- How animal abuse is being used to threaten the people that care for the animals.
- A study that emphasizes the link where kids subjected to physical and sexual abuse are reported to have a greater tendency to abuse their family pet.
- Questions to ask witnesses and victims that may reveal the co-occurrence of domestic violence/child abuse/elder abuse and animal cruelty.
- Animal cruelty’s link to other forms of crime and how such behavior serves as a precedent to violence and/or sexual deviance later in life.
- The methods that perpetrators employ in intentional animal abuse or torture, and case examples of these.
- Dogfighting and cockfighting, the related criminal activities that happen in such events, and how to recognize dogfighting and cockfighting operations.
- Sexual abuse of an animal, clues indicative of bestiality, and the importance of investigating and prosecuting such cases.
- Sentencing animal abuse cases and the better state of prosecution due to the greater awareness of its gravity and link crimes.
- Michelle answered questions from the audience related to:
- Resources to get more information about the link.
- Educating and getting the judges’ buy-in.
- The weight of an attorney general’s opinion.
- Coordinating DV and animal shelters.
- The rationale behind veterinarians being prohibited to report suspected animal abuse.