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Human abusers are often animal abusers, too

In light of the new study which found that pediatricians sometimes fail to alert authorities when they suspect that their patients may be the victims of child abuse, I urge readers to do the right thing and speak up if they witness or suspect the abuse of any vulnerable being, including animals. Exposing and stopping animal abusers doesn't only protect animals, it makes the entire community safer.

Animal abusers are cowards who take their issues out on "easy victims" -- and their targets often include members of their own species. In my work, I have seen case after case in which people who abuse animals commit similar crimes against members of their own communities and families. Official statistics support this.

For example, in 88 percent of 57 New Jersey families being treated for child abuse, animals in the home had also been abused. Many batterers try to control their victims, such as a partner or spouse, by threatening, torturing, and/or killing the victim's animals. The FBI has also found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers.