St. Joseph County officials highlighting link between animal and - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

St. Joseph County officials highlighting link between animal and other types of abuse

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Recent reports from the Humane Society show that only five cases of animal abuse were reported in St. Joseph County, but that doesn't mean more abuse isn't happening. When presenter Phil Arkow of the National Link Coalition heard this number, he wasn't surprised. "In today's society, it is very hard to prove animal abuse because there are so many factors that come into play," he says.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office, co-sponsored with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, to hold the event Tuesday explaining the link between animal cruelty and child abuse, domestic abuse, and elder abuse. Officials from the South Bend Police Department, St. Joseph County Animal Shelter, social service organizations, prosecutors, victim advocates, animal control officers, and health and welfare staff took part in the meeting.

Arkow says animal cruelty can lead to crimes that extend even beyond abuse. According to him, 43% of the school shooters from the 1990s to today, had abused animals at one time or another.

Arkow says there is a link between children, women, and the elderly who are abused and animal abuse. Arkow says 71% of pet-owning women in shelters reported their husband or boyfriend abused their animal.

Right now, Indiana is one of seven states in the county that has a domestic violence/animal cruelty statute. It says the following:

Indiana Domestic Violence/Animal Cruelty Statute means except for an act of self-defense, beating torturing mutilating or killing a vertebrate animal without justification with the intent to threaten, intimidate, coerce, harass or terrorize a family or house hold member. That automatically is a felony. Beating an animal is a misdemeanor.

Arkow says this is a great step to head in the right direction of making animal cruelty punishments more severe, and more apparent. However, it still is very difficult to prove animal cruelty cases as a whole. "You have to have witnesses, you have to have evidence, and often times, it's very hard to find people to testify. One of the biggest problems, obviously, is animals cannot testify on their behalf," says Arkow. 


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