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The Relationship of Animal Abuse to Violence and Other Forms of Antisocial Behavior

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Abstract

Results from this study challenge the assumption that animal abusers commonly “graduate” from violence against animals to violence against humans. The criminal records of 153 animal abusers and 153 control participants were tracked and compared. Animal abusers were more likely than control participants to be interpersonally violent, but they also were more likely to commit property offenses, drug offenses, and public disorder offenses. Thus, there was an association between animal abuse and a variety of antisocial behaviors, but not violence alone. Moreover, when the time order between official records of animal abuse and interpersonal violence was examined, animal abuse was no more likely to precede than follow violent offenses. Although these findings dispute the assumption that animal abuse inevitably leads to violence toward humans, they point to an association between animal abuse and a host of antisocial behaviors, including violence. Also discussed are the methodological problems of demonstrating sequential temporal relations between animal abuse and other antisocial behaviors.
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