There’s a special place in hell for people who abuse animals, or indeed anything or anyone that is smaller and more vulnerable than they are. Now, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will put animal abusers on the internet for the world to see — much like a sex offender registry.
“Her hind legs were put into a pot of water. Boiling water,” Cindy Marx-Sanders told WREG while holding Molly the chihuahua, who was rescued from an abusive home. Marx-Sanders is a lobbyist who worked to make the first-in-the-nation statewide animal abuser registry a reality.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead studied the link between animal abuse and human on human abuse. She was one of the first to suggest that childhood cruelty to animals was a predictor for future violence.
In 1964, she wrote:
“One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it… [as] such children, diagnosed early, could be helped instead of being allowed to embark on a long career of episodic violence and murder.”
More recent research was done in the early 2000s, which said that violent offenders such as rapists, murders, serial killers, child abusers and others are significantly more likely than non-violent offenders to have abused animals when they were children.
“Animals are easy prey for people who take out their frustration on other beings,” wrote Dr. Dawn Ruben in her piece Animal Cruelty and Violence Against People. “People who feel powerless, ignored by society or controlled by others seek out those less powerful.”
“In a study of the dynamics involved in domestic violence,” Ruben continued, “it was found that in 71 percent of cases involving spousal abuse, animal abuse was also occurring.”
The American Humane Society goes on to cite one study that says:
“70 percent of animal abusers also had records for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.”
Serial killers like David Berkowitz, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Boston Strangler, Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, Andrew Cunanan (Versace’s killer), the D.C. Sniper, the infamous BTK Killer, Carroll Cole and others were all animal abusers and killers before they hurt people.
Under the Tennessee registry, a person convicted of hurting an animal will have his or her picture on the site for two years. If there is a second conviction of a similar crime, the photo will remain on the registry for up to five years.
While the piece mentions the importance of stopping cruelty to animals, it neglects to mention the potential harm that these offenders could be causing in other places. Hopefully, this registry can help serve as a deterrent to those who will be publicly shamed for their disgusting actions. However, an unintended benefit of this registry could be a greater scrutiny on abuses to uncover whether they are abusive elsewhere.
A next step would be for a child and spousal abuse registry for survivors of domestic violence.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons