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Adult Protective Services and Animal Welfare: Should Animal Abuse and Neglect Be Assessed During Adult Protective Services Screening?

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Abstract

Past research has examined links among animal abuse, child maltreatment, and intimate partner violence and demonstrated the importance of addressing the needs of both human and animal victims. We hypothesized that there might be a similar link between animal abuse and older adult welfare issues. As a first step in the earlier research was the development of a screening protocol that shed light on the link between domestic violence and animal abuse, we decided to follow a similar route to explore this new topic by asking state government representatives about their experiences, if any, with this topic. Here we report the results of a national survey of state Adult Protective Services agencies regarding their protocols for assessing animal welfare issues in the context of older adult maltreatment. We also describe a model assessment protocol we developed in collaboration with the Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services.
... When women are involved in cruelty it is more likely to be passive such as neglect, hoarding, or involving poison [25]. The lower propensity for animal cruelty among women has been posited to emanate from their higher levels of empathy across animal types-pets, pests, and food-and their tendency to view themselves as animal guardians [26]. Most cruelty offenders have been found to be around 30 years old or younger although older individuals are more likely to neglect or hoard animals even in the presence of strong attachments to them [26]. ...
... The lower propensity for animal cruelty among women has been posited to emanate from their higher levels of empathy across animal types-pets, pests, and food-and their tendency to view themselves as animal guardians [26]. Most cruelty offenders have been found to be around 30 years old or younger although older individuals are more likely to neglect or hoard animals even in the presence of strong attachments to them [26]. ...
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Background: Animal cruelty appears to be widespread. Competing theories have been posed regarding the causes of animal cruelty leading to conflicting findings and little direction for public policies to combat it. Objective: To assess the applicability of extant theories of the causes of animal cruelty: domestic violence; deviance; perpetrator traits; and social disorganization. Methods: Data are drawn from police department reports of animal cruelty in the City of Detroit from 2007 to 2015; 302 incidences of animal cruelty were reported. Multiple regression is used to determine the theory which best appears to account for animal cruelty. Results: Common types of animal cruelty in Detroit are shooting; blunt force trauma; neglect; and dogfighting. While most incidents involve unknown persons; cruelty by owners; neighbors; and domestic partners is also common. Neighborhood conditions in terms of economic stress; vacancy and blight; and crime appear to have the greatest impact on animal cruelty. Conclusions: The findings from Detroit support deviance and social disorganization theories of animal cruelty. Neighborhood conditions in terms of economic stress, vacancy and blight, and crime appear to have the greatest impact on animal cruelty in this urban area.
... Thus, companionship with other animals is frequently conceptualised as a means to enhance the quality of human life, although more now acknowledge the importance of considering the welfare of animals as well (e.g., Gee & Mueller, 2019;Hughes et al., 2020). Aside from such works, a smaller number of studies focus on issues such as grief and loss of pets (Laing & Maylea, 2018;Morley & Fook, 2005), elder abuse (Boat & Knight, 2001;Peak, Ascione, & Doney, 2012), end of life care (Dorfman, Denduluri, Walseman, & Bregman, 2012;Engelman, 2013;Geisler, 2004), and animal hoarding (Koenig, Leiste, Spano, & Chapin,2013;Nathanson, 2009). Still others encourage social workers to include companion animals in geriatric practice as hard-to-reach older clients may accept visits by social service agencies if they help them to care for companion animals (Ebenstein & Wortham, 2001) or to promote food security and health among older companion animal owners by including pet food in local foodbanks (Rauktis et al., 2020). ...
... There are diverse reasons why a pet owner may not maintain their pet's grooming needs, some of which may be unintentional (e.g., lack of access to services, lack of knowledge regarding pet's grooming needs) and/or due to circumstances beyond their control [e.g., financial hardship, disability, mental illness, aging; (5,6)]. Still, grooming-related omissions of care may meet legal definitions of animal neglect and have serious consequences for individuals who are unable or unwilling to provide adequate grooming-related care (7,8). ...
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Grooming is an essential health maintenance activity that is fundamental to the welfare of many companion animals. Despite the potentially serious consequences of inadequate grooming for pets and their caregivers, few studies have examined the role of access to pet grooming services and supplies in promoting and maintaining companion animal health and welfare. The goal of this paper was two-fold: 1) To provide preliminary findings demonstrating the scope of grooming and matting concerns among animals served by a large, non-profit animal welfare organization and 2) to provide a call for research to guide effective prevention of and responses to grooming-related omissions of care. We retrospectively extracted data from five American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) programs serving the New York City area: ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH), Community Medicine (CM), One ASPCA Fund, ASPCA-NYPD (New York City Police Department) Partnership, and the Community Engagement (CE) Program. The prevalence of grooming–related concerns was relatively consistent across all three veterinary service programs (AAH: 6%; CM: 4%; One ASPCA Fund: 6%). Thirteen percent of the ASPCA-NYPD Partnership’s cruelty cases involved general hair matting concerns and/or strangulating hair mat wounds (93% were long-haired dog breed types). Five percent of CE cases received grooming-related supplies to support pet caregivers’ in-home grooming capabilities. Our findings underscore the need to understand the scope of grooming-related concerns among animals served by veterinarians and other community programs to improve animals’ access to health-related services.
... Thirty-two percent of those who had children (n = 159) reported their children had witnessed threats to a family animal, and 24.5% had witnessed the animal being harmed or killed. Acts of animal cruelty in the home may also be an indication of violence perpetrated against elders or between siblings (Peak, Ascione, & Doney, 2012). ...
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INTRODUCTION: Based on an understanding of links between human- and animal-directed domestic violence, this article: 1) argues for companion-animal inclusive domestic violence service delivery; and 2) reflects on the challenges this offers to social work and the human services.APPROACH: We start by considering the importance of companion animals in many people’s lives and then offer an overview of material on “the link” between human- and animal-directed violence, specifically as it pertains to domestic violence.CONCLUSIONS: Implications for service design and provision are discussed. We conclude with brief comments about the importance of centring animals in future considerations of human– animal violence links and outline how this offers an opportunity to challenge and re-think the humanist foundations on which traditional social work is built.
... Thus, companionship with other animals is frequently conceptualised as a means to enhance the quality of human life, although more now acknowledge the importance of considering the welfare of animals as well (e.g., Gee & Mueller, 2019;Hughes et al., 2020). Aside from such works, a smaller number of studies focus on issues such as grief and loss of pets (Laing & Maylea, 2018;Morley & Fook, 2005), elder abuse (Boat & Knight, 2001;Peak, Ascione, & Doney, 2012), end of life care (Dorfman, Denduluri, Walseman, & Bregman, 2012;Engelman, 2013;Geisler, 2004), and animal hoarding (Koenig, Leiste, Spano, & Chapin,2013;Nathanson, 2009). Still others encourage social workers to include companion animals in geriatric practice as hard-to-reach older clients may accept visits by social service agencies if they help them to care for companion animals (Ebenstein & Wortham, 2001) or to promote food security and health among older companion animal owners by including pet food in local foodbanks (Rauktis et al., 2020). ...
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INTRODUCTION: Significant benefits of companion animals (i.e., pets) for older adults are recognized and publications on Animal-Assisted Intervention, Animal-Assisted Activities and Animal-Assisted Therapies with older adults are growing. Studies on housing and community- residing older adults with companion animals from a non-utilitarian perspective on other animals, however, are rather limited. METHODS: For this scoping review, we used a Critical Animal Studies perspective, in particular, a trans-species social justice framework to address two questions: “What are the scope and size of the literature on housing for community living older adults with companion animals?” and “What is known from the existing literature?” We searched peer-reviewed publications from 1980 to 2019 by using MEDLINE, PsychINFO, ProQuest and Scopus. FINDINGS: Six works from Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand and US met our criteria. A disturbing reality was discovered: Restrictive leasing (‘no pets’ for rental housing) among low-income older adults with companion animals in public housing has persisted for the last 40 years and prevents them from accessing affordable housing. Also, the discourse of pets as problems or risk seems to justify prohibiting older adults from living with companion animals. CONCLUSION: Utilising the concept of speciesism and a trans-species social justice framework for analysis, we argue that intersectional institutional oppression of speciesism and classism is a root cause of the situation. Justice for older adults cannot be achieved without justice for their companion animals. Future studies in human–animal relations and education and practice in social work need to incorporate ideas of speciesism and justice beyond humans.
... • Animal Neglect: More than 92% of adult protective services respondents to a national survey reported animal neglect coexisting with a client's inability to care for himself/herself, indicating that reports of animal neglect may be an important warning sign for vulnerable adults' self-neglect (Lockwood, 2002). Animals may be neglected by frail elders who lack financial resources, transportation, or physical or mental capacity to care for them adequately (Peak, Ascione & Doney, 2012). • Self-neglect: Frail elders may neglect their own needs by spending limited financial resources on their animals' food and medications. ...
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A species-spanning approach that incorporates clients’ relationships with their companion animals into family genograms, schools of social work curricula, continuing education, interviews, assessments, and interventions offers increased career opportunities, professional and personal growth and development, and a more comprehensive resolution of clients’ issues, social justice concerns, and the prevention of family violence. This article identifies six reasons why social workers should be cognizant of human–animal relationships and introduces nine ways, with action steps, in which social workers can include these relationships into training and practice outside the more developed field of veterinary social work. These venues include: agencies working in child protection and child sexual abuse; children’s advocacy centers and courthouse facility dogs; animal shelters; domestic violence shelters; public policy advocacy; clinical practice; agencies working with older and disabled populations; veterinary sentinels for intimate partner violence; and pet support services for homeless populations. Such attention to the human–animal bond can utilize social workers’ problem-solving skills to improve delivery of services, identify clients’ risk and resiliency factors, enhance social and environmental justice, expand academic inquiry, and increase attention to all of the vulnerable members of families and communities.
... African American and Black families have been sorely underrepresented in research in this area, along with other ethnic and cultural minority groups. Similarly, research omits other marginalized and underrepresented groups such as elders and the connection with elder abuse (Peak, Ascione and Doney 2012;Arkow 2015). It is important to determine the cross-cultural relevance of The Link when informing related practice and policy changes, and to identify how the intersection of multiple minority identities (e.g., race, religion, sexual orientation, disability) may impact relations between violence to human and non-human animals within households and communities. ...
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In 2018, more homes in the US have pets than those that have children. Though pets are regarded as property by US law, a majority of people identify pets as part of the family unit. Animal abuse and cruelty have been identified as a potential indicator and precursor to interpersonal violence (IPV). Moreover, child maltreatment, domestic violence, elder abuse, and animal abuse co-occur in households and communities link together to indicate the nexus of these heinous crimes; these co-occurring forms of violence have been increasingly referred to as The Link, to indicate the linked violence. However, there is an incongruence in the definition of animal abuse and cruelty; thus, documenting cases, bringing charges, and achieving a conviction is difficult. Furthermore, the initial education to learn of these topics in human service professions, such as social work, remains absent from many curricula. In practice, cross-reporting of suspected abuse or neglect is a vital mechanism for connecting human and animal professionals to address the issues between human and animal welfare systems. This sharing of information can increase the likelihood that clients experiencing IPV will receive comprehensive services that can improve their level of safety and quality of life. By providing professionals with education for indicators of abuse, and strategies for how to make a report, communities can build stronger support networks for those in need. Herein, Ohio legislation and current community efforts serve as a case study to define animal abuse, delineate transdisciplinary factors for relevance, and make recommendations for addressing this vital social welfare need. The strategies within this case-study are encouraged to be adapted and applied nationally and internationally.
Chapter
Considerable growth has occurred in research on various aspects of human-animal interaction in recent years. This chapter provides an integrated overview of the current state of empirical research in each of the four core domains of veterinary social work: animal-assisted interventions, animal-related grief and bereavement, compassion fatigue and management, and links between animal and human maltreatment. We discuss strengths and limitations of available knowledge alongside opportunities for future research and, where applicable, data-driven implications for programs and policy.KeywordsAnimal crueltyAnimal-related grief and bereavementAutismCompassion fatigueFamily violenceOlder adultsResilienceTrauma
Chapter
Chapter 3 explores the psychological sequelae of animal maltreatment, including risk factors of and correlates between animal abuse and other types of violence, diagnostic considerations and psychological factors, and cautions regarding the limitations of much of the research in this area.KeywordsAnimal hoardingAnimal maltreatmentAnimal abuseCase examplesDiagnostic considerationsDynamic risk factorsPsychological factors and treatment recommendationsTypesStatic risk factorsChild abuseElder abuseIntimate partner violence (IPV)The LinkCriticisms of the Link
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The aim of this document is to investigate the current situation of animal abuse in the society and its diagnose in the vet field. It also seeks to identify similar actions carried out in other professional fields, as human medicine, and its connection to interpersonal violence (child, gender, elderly,..). Likewise, it is assessed whether a veterinary complaint protocol is needed regarding animal abuse.
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Applying focus group methodology, this article explores urban battered mothers' perceptions of their preschool children's exposure to domestic violence. It also examines mothers' reports about their young children's functioning and traumatic stress symptoms and the connections women make between their own experiences of victimization by partners and their children's difficulties. Finally, this research describes the challenges abused mothers relate in their efforts to parent in the context of domestic violence. The sample consists of 43 women from diverse sociodemographic backgrounds who participated in five focus groups in New York City. Findings suggest that battered mothers have a wide range of awareness of their children's exposure to domestic violence and its possible effects on their preschoolers, including traumatic impact. Women identified parenting burdens related to domestic violence including efforts to prevent aggression and victimization in their children. The implications for intervention with battered women and their preschool children are presented.
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Only recently have sociologists considered the role of nonhuman animals in human society. The few studies undertaken of battered women and their animal companions have revealed high rates of animal abuse co-existing with domestic violence. This study examines several aspects of the relationship between humans and animals in violent homes. The study explored the role of companion animals in the abusive relationship through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with clients at a battered women's shelter. In particular, the study focused on the use of companion animals by women's violent partners to control, hurt, and intimidate the women; the responses of the animals to the women's victimization; and the role of pets as human surrogates and the resulting symbolic interaction between human and nonhuman family members. The significance of the findings for family violence research and application are discussed, as well as the broader implications for sociological investigation of human-animal interaction.
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Robb, S.S., & Stegman, C.E. (1983). Companion animals and elderly people: A challenge for evaluators of social support. The Gerontologist, 23, 277–282.
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