Animal cruelty is a crime in all 50 states; Virginia is one of 41
states that have elevated certain serious violations to a felony
crime. Animal cruelty is often a precursor to other crimes, and
is especially likely to co-occur with child abuse and other forms
of family violence.


The FBI was the first to identify the link between animal and
human abuse, and even collects statistics on animal cruelty
crimes. However the FBI combines these statistics with other
crimes under a 'miscellaneous' category where the information is
irretrievable and therefore useless. Local law enforcement
agencies and many others want this information to help them
better understand and respond to animal abuse and other offenses.


The FBI must assign animal cruelty to a separate category in its
uniform crime reporting system. Luckily the FBI recently began
revising and upgrading its crime-data gathering system. Part of
the process involves deciding which new crimes to cover. Now is
the perfect time to add the animal cruelty category, because it
can be done at no extra cost as the new system is developed.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) is the chairman of the House subcommittee
that funds the FBI. He is in an ideal position to tell the FBI to
assign animal cruelty crime to a separate reporting category.


CALL Rep. Wolf at (202)225-5136; send a FAX to (202) 225-0437; or
E-MAIL him at http://www.house.gov/wolf and click on Contact."

Ask Rep. Wolf to tell the FBI to give animal cruelty crimes a
separate category in its crime-data reporting system. This simple
move will help make animal cruelty statistics available to law
enforcement, domestic violence agencies, professionals working
with at-risk youth, and others, in order to develop better
prevention and intervention programs.

Mention that animal abuse is an early warning sign of troubled
youth, and is often a precursor to other forms of violence,
including child and spousal abuse, even murder. The FBI
acknowledges that having usable data about animal cruelty would
improve its crime analysis capabilities.

Be sure to say you are a constituent. And dont forget to thank
Rep. Wolf for all he does on behalf of Virginia.


It is important for Rep. Wolf to hear from constituents on this
issue. Please forward this Alert to your friends and family in
Virginia that care about animals. THANK YOU for taking the time
to speak out on behalf of animals!


The Doris Day Animal League was founded in 1987. Its overriding mission is to reduce the pain and suffering of non-human animals, to encourage the spaying and neutering of companion animals, and to increase the public's awareness of its responsibility toward non-human animals through legislative initiatives, public and membership education, and programs to require the enforcement of statutes and regulations which have already been enacted protecting animals. Contact us at 227 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Suite 100, Washington DC 20002. PH: (202) 546-1761; FAX: (202) 546-2193; EMAIL: info@ddal.org.


Rescue Action

Animal control officers sometimes take animals from homes in which domestic violence has been reported, said Chris Williams, animal control officer with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

"If an animal is in imminent danger, we can take it for its safety,"
Williams said.

Occasionally, Department of Human Services officials ask animal control officers to remove an animal from a home where child abuse has been reported -- especially when the animal appears to be unhealthy or abused, said Tina Haden, director of Rogers Animal Services.

Calls about abuse to animals sometimes follow family arguments.

"Somebody will call and say the husband is mad at her and is hitting the dog," Haden said. "Or people say their husband threw them out of the house, and they're afraid he'll kill the dog.

"Usually, we can talk the people out of the animal, that it's in their best interest to let us have it until the problem is solved,"
she added.

"We try to have a nice attitude and not get into their personal business. The focus is on the animal. The other stuff isn't our concern," she said.

"Sometimes they just tell us to take a flying leap," Haden said. "If they just say no, we can get the police involved if we know the animal is in immediate danger."

In her experience, Haden said, 80 to 90 percent of the abused animals taken from homed find new families.

"Some people get their business settled and come get their pets, but that doesn't happen a lot," she said.

More Than A Pet

Sometimes, if a woman cannot make safe arrangements for the family's
companion animal, she will not leave her abuser, Joslin said.

"It's more than just a pet. It's their companion. It's part of their
lifeline," she said.

Abuse victims are concerned that women's shelters will not be able
to help them if they have pets in tow, said Judy Selle, chief
executive officer of the Project for Victims of Family Violence in

"When women call us, thinking of how to leave a dangerous violent
situation, we routinely ask them about family pets. If they don't
bring it up, we will," Selle said.

"There are always actions we can take," Joslin said of finding
shelter for pet victims of family violence. "We don't want to
discourage anyone from finding help."

Safe Haven

The two area women's shelters can make arrangements for animals'
care but do not accept pets at the facilities.

The Project for Victims of Family Violence works with the
Fayetteville Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of the Ozarks to
house animals for women staying in the Fayetteville shelter. Some
Junior League members also have offered to be pet foster parents.

"In our current situation, we don't have a kennel," Selle
said. "With our new shelter, we hope to have an area outside for

The Benton County Women's Shelter works with the Bella Vista Animal
Shelter and Sugar Creek Animal Hospital in Bella Vista concerning
animals of shelter residents. The pets might be housed at the
shelter or in pet foster homes until other plans can be made, Joslin

Animals are an important part of these human shelters, Joslin said.
The Benton County Women's Shelter sponsors a "Walk and Wag" event
for area residents and their pets each October to promote awareness
of domestic violence.