More Research and Resources on Preventing Youth Violence

and the Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy


  • Pets decrease feeling of loneliness and isolation (Kidd, 1994).
  • Children exposed to humane education programs display enhanced empathy for humans compared with children not exposed to such programs. (Ascione, 1992).
  • Positive self-esteem of children is enhanced by owning a pet. (Bergensen, 1989).
  • Children's cognitive development can be enhanced by owning a pet. (Poresky, 1988).
  • 70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun subsequent to pet acquisition. (Cain, 1985).
  • The presence of a dog during a child's physical examination decreases their stress. (Nadgengast, 1997, Baun, 1998).
  • Children owning pets are more involved in activities such as sports, hobbies, clubs or chores. (Melson, 1990).
  • Children exposed to pets during the first year of life have a lower frequency of allergic rhintis and asthma. (Hesselmar, 1999).
  • Children with autism have more prosocial behaviors less autistic behaviors such as self-absorption. (Redefer, 1989).
  • Children who own pets score significantly higher on empathy and prosocial orientation scales than non-owners. (Vidovic, 1999).

The Healthy Pleasure of Their Company: Companion Animals and Human Health
Karen Allen, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo

Companion Animals as Social Facilitators

Although some pet owners are happy and fulfilled alone with their pets, other pet owners find their companion animals are important in helping them meet and interact with other people. Certainly meeting other people is a precursor to developing relationships that can grow into meaningful, health-enhancing, social support, and several studies have focused on the role of pets as social facilitators. For example, Hunt, Hart, & Gomulkiewicz (1992) explored the role of small animals (rabbit and turtle) in social interactions between strangers in a park. This study found that in a community setting, without special effort or obvious need on the part of the experimenter, the presence of small animals initiated approaches to their owners by unfamiliar children and adults and conversations between them.

In a related ethnographic study Robins, Sanders, & Cahill (1991) looked at the dynamics of inclusion among dog owners in a public park. The authors conclude that dogs expose their owners to encounters with strangers, facilitate interaction among individuals previously unacquainted, and help establish trust among the newly acquainted. Dogs, then, can be an antidote for the human anonymity often found in contemporary society, and can help build friendships. One explanation for such behavior is that civil inattention is breached when there is some obvious similarity between individuals. A logical extension of this is that even people who are dissimilar in race, education, or socioeconomic status can find common ground for understanding and relying on each other.



In recent decades a wealth of information has been gathered in support of the value of companion animals to human health. Although much of the evidence is correlational, some studies have begun to use more rigorous experimental design and theory testing, and have increased understanding of the meaning and value of pets in our lives. In the current environment for research funding, the interdisciplinary nature of research about health effects of the human-animal bond is one of its strongest points and should be encouraged. Clearly what is needed is a synthesis of the best theoretical approaches from nursing, medicine, psychology, anthropology, physiology, and other health-related professions. Together we can achieve far more than the sum of our individual efforts, and dramatically increase our understanding and appreciation of our relationships with animals.

The Healthy Pleasure of Their Company: Companion Animals and Human Health
Karen Allen, School of Medicine, State University of New York at Buffalo

  1. Allen, K. (1996). The role of pets in health and illness. Suicide: The Constructive/Destructive Self, Studies in Health and Human Services, vol. 25, Ed. C. Klug, Lewiston, Ontario: Edwin Mellen Press.
  2. Allen, K. (1992). Attribution of blame and psychological adaptation to traumatic brain injury. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo.
  3. Allen, K. & Blascovich J. (1991). Presence of human friends and pet dogs as moderators of autonomic stress in women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 582-589.
  4. Allen, K. & Blascovich, J. (1996a). The value of service dogs for people with severe ambulatory disabilities: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 275(13), 1001-1006.
  5. Allen, K. & Blascovich, J. (1996b). Anger and hostility among married couples: Pet dogs as moderators of cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress. (Abstract of a conference presentation) Psychosomatic Medicine, 58, 59.
  6. Allen, K., Gross, A., & Izzo, J. Jr. (1997). Social support and resting blood pressure among young and elderly women: The moderating role of pet dogs and cats. (Abstract of a conference presentation) Psychosomatic Medicine, 59, 94.
  7. Baun, M.M., Bergstrom, N., Langston, N.F., & Thoma, L. (1984). Physiological effects of human/companion animal bonding. Nursing Research, 33, 126-129.
  8. Baun, M.M., Oetting, K., & Bergstrom, N. (1991). Health benefits of companion animals in relation to the physiologic indices of relaxation. Holistic Nursing Practice, 5, 16-23.
  9. Beck, A.M. & Katcher, A.H. (1984). A new look at pet-facilitated therapy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 184, 414-421.
  10. Cain, A.O. (1985). Pets as family members. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 5-10.
  11. Carmack, B.J. (1991). The role of companion animals for persons with AIDS/HIV. Holistic Nursing Practice, 5, 24-31.
  12. Clarkson, T.B., Manuck, S.B., & Kaplan, J.R. (1986). Potential role of cardiovascular reactivity in atherogenesis. Handbook of stress, reactivity, and cardiovascular disease, Ed. K.A. Matthews, S.M. Weiss, T. Detre, T.M. Dembroski, B. Falkner, S.B. Manuck, & R.B. Williams, 35-47. New York: Wiley.
  13. Cookman, C.A. (1996). Older people and attachment to things, places, pets, and ideas. Image: The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 28, 227-231.
  14. Cox, R.P. (1993). The human/animal bond as a correlate of family functioning. Clinical Nursing Research, 2, 224-231.
  15. Davis, J.H. (1991). Pet ownership and stress over the family life cycle. Holistic Nursing Practice, 5, 52-57.
  16. Dembicki, D. & Anderson J. (1996). Pet ownership may be a factor in improved health of the elderly. Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly, 15, 15-31.
  17. Eddy, T.J. (1996). RM and Beaux: Reductions in cardiac activity in response to a pet snake. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 184, 573-575.
  18. Ferguson, C. (personal communucation, November 1, 1997).
  19. Fick, K. (1993). The influence of an animal on social interactions of nursing home residents in a group setting. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47, 529-534.
  20. Fritz, C.L., Farver, T.B., Hart, L.A., & Kass, P.H. (1996). Companion animals and health of alzheimer patients' caregivers. Psychological Reports, 78, 467-481.
  21. Hendy, H.M. (1987). Effects of pet and/or people visits on nursing home residents. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 25, 279-290.
  22. Hunt, S.J., Hart, L.A., & Gomulkiewicz , R. (1992). Role of small animals in social interactions between strangers. Journal of Social Psychology, 132, 245-256.
  23. Jenkins, J.L. (1986). Physiological effects of petting a companion animal. Psychological Reports, 21-22.
  24. Katcher, A.H. (1981). Interactions between people and their pets: Form and function. Interrelationships between people and pets, Ed. B. Fogle. Springfield, Illinois: Charles C. Thomas.
  25. Katcher, A.H. (1985). Physiologic and behavioral responses to companion animals. Veterinary Clinics of North America, 15, 403-410.
  26. Kidd, A.H. & Kidd, R.M. (1994). Benefits and liabilities of pets for the homeless. Psychological Reports, 74, 715-722.
  27. Lago, D., Delaney, M., Miller, M., & Grill, C. (1989). Companion animals, attitudes toward pets, and health outcomes among the elderly: A long-term follow-up. Anthrozoös, 3(1), 25-34.
  28. Manor, W. (1991). Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers: The role of the human-animal bond.
  29. Manuck, S.B. & Krantz, D.S. (1986). Psychophysiological reactivity in coronary heart disease and essential hypertension, In Matthews, K.A., Weiss, S.M., Detre, T. et al (eds): Handbook of Stress, Reactivity, and Cardiovascular Disease. New York, Wiley; 1986: 11-34.
  30. Nathanson, D.E. & de Faria, S. (1993). Cognitive improvement of children in water with and without dolphins. Anthrozoös, 6, 17-29.
  31. Peretti, P.O. (1990). Elderly-animal friendship bonds. Social Behavior and Personality, 18, 151-156.
  32. Redefer, L.A. & Goodman, J.F. (1989). Brief report: Pet-facilitated therapy with autistic children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19, 461-467.
  33. Robins, D.M., Sanders, C.R., & Cahill, S.E. (1991). Dogs and their people. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 20, 3-25.
  34. Serpell, J. (1991). Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behavior. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 84, 717-720.
  35. Singer, R.S., Hart, L.A., & Zasloff, R.L. (1995). Dilemmas associated with rehousing homeless people who have companion animals. Psychological Reports, 77, 851-857.
  36. Siegel, J.M. (1990). Stressful life events and use of physician services among the elderly: The moderating role of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 1081-1086.
  37. Siegel, J.M., Angulo, F.J., Detels, R., Wesch, J., Mullen, A. (1999). AIDS diagnosis and depression in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study: The ameliorating impact of pet ownership. AIDS Care, 11 (2), 157-169.
  38. Sontag, S. (1990). Illness as metaphor and AIDS and its metaphors. New York: Doubleday.
  39. Spencer, L. (1992). Pets prove therapeutic for people with AIDS. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 201(11), 1665-1669.
  40. Thomas, W.H. (1994). The Eden Alternative: Nature, Hope, and Nursing Homes. Sherburne, New York: Eden Alternative Foundation.
  41. Valentine, D.P., Kiddoo, M., & LaFleur, B. (1993). Psychosocial implications of service dog ownership for people who have mobility or hearing impairments. Social Work in Health Care, 19, 109-125.
  42. Voith, V. L. (1985). Attachment of people to companion animals. Veterinary Clinics of North America, 15, 289-295.
  43. Wille, R. (1984). Therapeutic use of companion pets for neurologically impaired patients. Journal of Neurosurgical Nursing, 16, 323-325.
  44. Winkler, A., Fairnie, H., Gericevich, F., & Long, M. (1989). The impact of a resident dog on an institution for the elderly: Effects on perceptions and social interactions. The Gerontologist, 29, 216-223.


Health Benefits of Animals Bibliography

Abstracts or copies of several of the articles listed below are available within the Health Benefits of Animals section of this web site.

  • Ahmedzai, S. (1995). Individual quality of life: Companion animals affect categories nominated. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Geneva.
  • Allen, K. M. (1995). Coping with life changes & transitions: The role of pets. Interactions, 13 (3) 5-8.
  • Allen, K. M. (2001). Dog ownership and control of borderline hypertension: A contolled randomized trial. Presented at the 22nd Annual Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine in Seattle, WA. March 24, 2001.
  • Allen, K. M. & Blascovich J. 1996. Anger and Hostility Among Married Couples: Pet Dogs as Moderators of Cardiovascular reactivity to Stress. (Paper presented at a conference of the American Psychosomatic Society), Psychosomatic Medicine, 58, 59.
  • Allen, K. M., Blascovich, J., Tomaka, J. & Kelsey, R. M. (1991). Presence of human friends and pet dogs as moderators of autonomic responses to stress in women. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 582-589.
  • Allen, K., B. E. Shykoff, and J. L. Izzo, Jr. (2001). Pet ownership, but not ACE inhibitor therapy blunts home blood pressure response to mental stress. Hypertension, 38, 815-820, 2001.
  • Anderson, W. P., Reid, C. M., Jennings, G. L. (1992). Pet ownership and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Medical Journal of Australia, 157, 298-301.
  • Ascione F. R.,. (1992). Enhancing children's attitudes about the humane treatment of animals: Generalization to human-directed empathy. Anthrozoös 5 (3) 176-191.
  • Ascione, F. R., Weber, C. V. (1996) Children's attitudes about the humane treatment of animals and empathy: One-year follow up of a school-based intervention. Anthrozoös 9 (4) 188-195.
  • Bauman, L., Posner, M, Sachs, K, & Szita, R. (1991) The effects of animal-assisted therapy on communication patterns with chronic schizophrenics. The Latham Letter, 13(4) 3-5+.
  • Baun, M. M., Oetting, K. & Bergstrom, N. (1991). Health benefits of companion animals in relation to the physiologic indices of relaxation. Holistic Nursing Practice, 5 (2) 16-23.
  • Batson, K., McCabe, B. W., Baun, M. M. and Wilson, C. M. (1998). The effect of a therapy dog on socialization and physiologic indicators of stress in persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. In Companion Animals in Human Health. Eds. C. C. Wilson, D. C. Turner, pp. 203-215, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. (Available from Dogwise.)
  • Beck, A. M., Rowan, A. N. (1994). The health benefits of human-animal interactions. Anthrozoös 7 (2), 85-88.
  • Bernstein, P., Friedmann, E. Malaspina, A. (1995). Pet programs can provide a novel source of interaction in long-term facilities. In Studies of loneliness, recent research into the effects of companion animals on lonely people, Interactions, 13 (1), 7.
  • Bodmer, N. M. (1998). Impact of pet ownership on the well-being of adolescents with few familial resources. In Companion Animals in Human Health. Eds. C. C. Wilson, D. C. Turner, pp. 237-247, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. (Available from Dogwise.)
  • Bryant, B. K. (1995). Animal assisted therapy within the context of daily institutional life. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Geneva.
  • Bulcroft, K. (1990). The benefits of animals to our lives: A four-part review. Part 1. Pets in the American family. People, Animals, Environment, 8 (4), 13-14.
  • Bustad, L. K. (1996). Recent discoveries about our relationships with the natural world. In Compassion: Our Last Great Hope, 2nd edition, pp. 115-121, Delta Society, Renton, WA. (Add Compassion: Our Last Great Hope to your shopping cart [$12.00].)
  • Carmack, B.J. (1991). The role of companion animals for persons with AIDS/HIV. Holistic Nursing Practice, 5, 24-31.
  • Cawley, R., Cawley, D. and Retter, K. (1994). Therapeutic horseback riding and self-concept in adolescents with special educational needs. Anthrozoös, 7 (2) 129-34.
  • Davis, J.H., McCreary J. (1995). The preadolescent/pet friendship bond. Anthrozoös, 8 (2), 78-82.
  • Duncan, S. L. (1995). Loneliness: A health hazard of modern times. Interactions, 13 (1), 5-9.
  • Eddy, T.J. (1995). Human Cardiac Responses to Familiar Young Chimpanzees. Anthrozoös, 9, (4), 235-243.
  • Fick, K.M. (1993). The influence of an animal on social interactions of nursing home residents in a group setting. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 47 (6), 529-534.
  • Friedmann, E. & Thomas, S.A. (1995). Pet ownership, social support and one year survival among post-myocardial infarction patients in the cardiac arrhythmia suppression trial (CAST). American Journal of Cardiology 76: 1213-1217.
  • Fritz, C. ., Farver, T. B., Kass, P. H., Hart, L. A. (1995). Association with companion animals and the expression of noncognitive symptoms in Alzheimer's patients. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183 (7).
  • Garrity, T. F., Stallones, L., Marx, M. B. & Johnson, T. P. (1989). Pet ownership and attachment as supportive factors in the health of the elderly. Anthrozoös, 3 (1), 35-44.
  • Hansen, K.M., Messinger, C.J., Baun, M.M. & Megel, M. (1999). Companion animals alleviating distress in children. Anthrozoös, 12(3), 142-148.
  • Heath, T. D. & McKenry, P. C. (1989) Potential benefits of companion animals for self-care children. Childhood Education, 7(4), 311-314.
  • Hesselmar, B,, Aberg, N. Aberg, B., Eriksson, B. & Bjorksten, B. (1999). Does early exposure to cat or dog protect against later allergy development? . Department of Pediatrics, University of Goteborg, Goteborg, Sweden. Clinical Exp Allergy, May; 29(5): 611-7.
  • Holcomb, R., Jendro, C., Weber, B., Nahan, U. (1997). Use of an aviary to relieve depression in elderly males. Anthrozoös, 10 (1), 32-36.
  • Holcomb, R. & Meacham, R. (1989). Effectiveness of an animal-assisted therapy program in an inpatient psychiatric unit. Anthrozoös, 2 (4) 259-273.
  • Hunt, S. J., Hart, L. A. and Gomulkiewicz, R. (1992). The role of small animals in interactions between strangers. Journal of Social Psychology, 132, 245-256.
  • Jessen, J., Cardiello, F., & Baun, M. M. (1996). Avian companionship in alleviation of depression, loneliness and low morale of older adults in skilled rehabilitation units. Psychological Reports, 78, 339-348.
  • Katcher, A. & Wilkins, G. G. (1994). Helping children with attention-deficit hyperactive and conduct disorders through animal-assisted therapy and education. Interactions, 12 (4), 5-9.
  • Lago, D., Delaney, M, Miller, M. & Grill, C. (1989) Companion animals, attitudes toward pets, and health outcomes among the elderly: A long-term follow-up. Anthrozoös 3 (1) 25-34.
  • Mallon, G. P. (1994). Cow as co-therapist: Utilization of farm animals as therapeutic aides with children in residential treatment. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 11 (6), 455-474.
  • McLaughlin, C. (1996). Bow-wow, what a difference animal assistance can make. Advance for Physical Therapists, 7 (4), 10-11.
  • Melson, G.F. (1990). Pet ownership and attachment in young children: Relations to behavior problems and social competence. Paper presented to the annual meeting of the Delta Society, Houston, TX.
  • Melson, G. F. (1998). The role of companion animals in human development. In Companion Animals in Human Health. Eds. C. C. Wilson, D.C. Turner, pp. 219-236, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA. (Available from Dogwise.)
  • Montague, J. (1995). Continuing care -back to the garden. Hospitals & Health Networks, 69(17), 58, 60.
  • Morrow. V. (1998). My animals and other family: Children's perspectives on their relationships with companion animals. Anthrozoös, 11 (4), 218-226.
  • Nagengast, S. L., Baun, M.M., Megel, M. & Leibowitz, J.M. (1997). The effects of the presence of a companion animal on physiological arousal and behavioral distress in children during a physical examination. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 12 (6), 323-330.
  • Nielson, J. A. & Delude, L. A. (1994). Pets as adjunct therapists in a residence for former psychiatric patients. Anthrozoös, 7 (3), 166-171.
  • New, J. C. (1995). Quality of life of companion animals. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Geneva.
  • Noel de Tilly, J. (1991). Animals and therapy. Veterinary Technician, 12 (6), 455-9.
  • Parker, H. (1996). JAMA asks animal-assisted therapy to prove it. News and Analysis, Anthrozoös 8 (4) 244-45.
  • Poresky, R. H. (1996) Companion animals and other factors affecting young children's development. Anthrozoös, 9 (4) 159-181.
  • Poresky, R. H. & Hendrix, C. (1989). Companion animal bonding, children's home environments and young children's social development. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Kansas City, MI.
  • Raina, P., Waltner-Toews, D., Bonnett , B. Woodward, C. & Abernathy, T. (1999). Influence of companion animals on the physical and psychological health of older people: an analysis of a one-year longitudinal study. Journal of Am Geriatr Soc 1999 March; 47(3):323-9.
  • Raveis, V.H., Mesagno, F., Karus, D, & Gorey, E. (1993). Pet ownership as a protective factor supporting the emotional well-being of cancer patients and their family members. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Department of Social Work. New York, NY.
  • Sable, P. (1995). Pets, attachment, and well-being across the life cycle. Social Work, 40 (3), 334-341.
  • Schuelke, S.T., Trask, B, Wallace, C., Baun, M. M., Bergstrom, N. & McCabe, B. (1992). Physiological effects of the use of a companion animal dog as a cue to relaxation in diagnosed hypertenisives. The Latham Letter, 13 (1), 14-17.
  • Serpell, J. A. (1991). Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behaviour. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 84, 717-720.
  • Serpel, J.A. (1990). Evidence for long term effects of pet ownership on human health. In Pets, Benefits and Practice. Waltham Symposium 20, April 19, 1990. Ed.: I.H. Burger, pp. 1-7, BVA Publications.
  • Siegel, J. M. (1993). Companion animals: In sickness and in health. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 157-167.
  • Siegel J. M. (1990). Stressful life events and use of physician services among the elderly: The moderating role of pet ownership. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58 (6), 1081-1086.
  • Siegel, J.M., Angulo, F.J., Detels, R.,. Wesch, J, & . Mullen, A. (1999). AIDS diagnosis and depression in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study: the ameliorating impact of pet ownership. University of California, Los Angeles, USA. AIDS Care, 11(2) 157-170.
  • Stallones, L. (1990). Companion animals and health of the elderly. People, Animals, Environment, 8 (4), 18-19.
  • Stallones, L., Marx, M. B., Garrity, T.F. & Johnson, T.P. (1990). Pet ownership and attachment in relation to the health of US adults, 21 to 64 years of age. Anthrozoös, 4 (2), 100-12.
  • Taylor, E. (1993). Effects of animals on eye contact and vocalizations of elderly residents in a long term care facility. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 11 (4).
  • Triebenbacher, S. L. (1998). The relationship between attachment to companion animals and self-esteem. In Companion Animals in Human Health. Eds. C. C. Wilson, D.C. Turner, pp. 135-148, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • Vidovic, V.V., Stetic, V.V. & Bratko, D. (1999). Pet ownership, type of pet and socio-emotional development of school children. Anthrozoös, 12(4), 211-17.
  • Wilson, C. C. (1991). The pet as an anxiolytic intervention. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179, 482-89.
  • Woolverston, M. C. (1991). Reducing children's stress during physical examination by having them play with animals during the procedure. Paper presented at Delta Society's 10th Annual Conference, Portland, OR.
  • Zasloff, R.L. & Kidd, A.H. (1994). Loneliness and pet ownership among single women. Psychological Reports, October, 75(2), 747-52.

Compassion: Our Last Great Hope
Selected Speeches of Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD
by Leo K. Bustad, Cynthia (Sunny) J. Freyer (Editor)

cover of Compassion: Our Last Great Hope.

Leo K. Bustad, DVM, PhD, co-founder of Delta Society and past Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, gave numerous speeches related to the human-animal bond. In response to requests, some of these and other speeches have been published in this book.


Animals in the Classroom

cover of Animals in the Classroom.

A compilation of articles, conference abstracts, and resource information about animals in education.

·       Price: $25.00.

·       Type: Book.

·       Physical Description: 8.5" x 10.75"; Softcover; 234 pages; 1999.

·       Animals in the Classroom Add to cart.

Detailed Description

List of Contents


  • A Classroom Canine Companion Opens Doors to Learning, A Resource Manual.
  • AH-HA! The Animal Human Happy Adventure: A Winning Education Team.
  • Learning and Living Together, Building the Human-Animal Bond Handbook Brochure.
  • Pet Partners in the Classroom.
  • Tips to Help You Teach Humaneness.


  • Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy in the School & Working with Children.
  • The Human Companion Animal Bond and the Elementary School Counselor.
  • Animals Are Helping Children Overcome Physical and Emotional Challenges.
  • Pets at School, Child-Animal Bond Sparks Learning and Caring.
  • Therapy Dog in the Classroom.
  • Therapy Dogs A Boon to Special Ed Class.
  • How Some Kids Gain Success, Self-esteem with Animals.
  • Animals Bridge the Generation Gap.
  • Enhancing Children's Attitudes About the Humane Treatment of Animals: Generalization to Human-Directed Empathy.
  • Children's Attitudes About the Humane Treatment of Animals and Empathy: One Year Follow Up of a School-Based Intervention.
  • Companion Animals and Other Factors Affecting Young Children's Development.
  • Environmental Education, Children and Animals.
  • Fostering Inter-Connectedness with Animals and Nature: The Developmental Benefits for Children.
  • The Behavior of Children with Severe Learning Difficulties During Animal-Assisted Therapy. Abstract from the 7th International conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Animals, Health and Quality of Life, Geneva, Switzerland, September 6-9, 1995.
  • Building Resiliency Skills in Children. 1997 Delta Society Conference Presentation, Atlanta, GA, October 17-19, 1998.
  • Using AAT to Meet the Educational Goals of Special Education Students in the Public School System. 1997 Delta Society Conference Presentation, Atlanta, GA, October 17-19, 1998.
  • The ABC's of Animal-Assisted Education. 1997 Delta Society Conference Presentation, Atlanta, GA, October 17-19, 1998.
  • We All Speak the Same Language When It comes to Animal-Assisted Therapy. 1997 Delta Society Conference Presentation, Atlanta, GA, October 17-19, 1998.

Guidelines for Classroom Animals

  • Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Classroom Pets.
  • Critters in the Classroom? Guidelines for the Selection, Care, and Handling of Classroom Pets. Marin Humane Society, Novato, CA, 1989.
  • *******************************************



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Beyond Violence

The Link Between Violence Against Animals and Violence Against Humans

Beyond Violence is a project of PSYETA working in partnership with the Doris Day Animal Foundation

Youth violence newspaper article
"Beyond Violence" is a PSYETA project offering products addressing a serious societal problem.

In 1999, we all witnessed the most horrific case of school violence in U.S. history when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Littleton, Colorado killed fourteen of their classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School. Scores more were wounded.  Both young men had spoken of mutilating animals and expressed interest in occult rituals.1998 had also been a year for notorious crimes committed by young people with prior histories of animal abuse, and 2001 has started with its own atrocities of violence.

The body counts for the seven months from October of 1997 to May of 1998 were twelve dead and forty-four wounded in four schools in Beyond Violence videoSpringfield, Oregon; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Pearl, Mississippi, and West Paducah, Kentucky. Prior to the school shootings, Kip Kinkel decapitated cats, dissected live squirrels and blew up cows; Andrew Golden shot dogs before he turned his guns on his classmates; Luke Woodham beat and burned his own dog, Sparkle, describing his dog's painful and tortured death as a "thing of true beauty;" and Michael Carneal threw a cat into a bonfire.

It isn't just youthful offenders who move from animal abuse to violence toward humans. Russell Weston Jr., the man who is awaiting trial for shooting two Capitol Hill police officers, shot his father's cats before his assault on the Capitol.

Animal abuse doesn't occur in isolation; rather, it takes place in a complex net of disturbed family relations.  For example, animal abuse is frequently found in families where there also is child abuse and domestic violence. Children in these disturbed families who witness the abuse of family companion animals are more likely to abuse animals; in addition, children who commit animal cruelty are more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults.

We also see a close link between domestic violence and animal abuse. In one national survey of women seeking shelter from domestic violence in safe houses, 83% of women with companion animals reported that their batterers had also hurt or threatened the family pet.

PSYETA's "Beyond Violence" Project is more than a video.

Partnered with the Doris Day Animal Foundation, PSYETA has produced several products that are now available:

  • "Beyond Violence: The Human-Animal Connection" Video and Discussion Guide (in both English and Spanish language versions.)
  • AniCare Child: an Assessment and Treatment Approach for Childhood Animal Abuse - the first published treatment approach to focus exclusively on juvenile cruelty to animals.
  • "The Violence Connection: An Examination of the Link Between Animal Abuse and other Violent Crimes," a free booklet for judges, prosecutors, and other legal and human service professionals.

The Video and Discussion Guide
With "Beyond Violence" we hope to stimulate discussions among mental health professionals, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, and religious leaders about the human-animal relationship, and the importance of that relationship in advancing beyond violence.  The video does more than examine the link between animal abuse and human violence.  It also depicts the many ways in which animals foster and support human development--a relationship with an animal can help an individual heal from emotional injury, promote emotional development, teach us about compassion and caring, and engender a sense of ethics and responsibility.

The Spanish language version of the video is now available!

The AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse
The AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse is a first-of-its-kind counseling intervention program, designed as a training manual for mental health professionals.  AniCare is based on a successful approach to treating spouse batterers that has been found to be the most effective for this related population. Click for more about The AniCare Model!

NEW - AniCare Child: an Assessment and Treatment Approach for Childhood Animal Abuse
AniCare Child is the first published treatment approach to focus exclusively on juvenile cruelty to animals. The 90 page practitioner's handbook provides comprehensive strategies and practical suggestions for assessing and treating childhood animal abuse. AniCare Child can be used as the primary treatment focus or as an ancillary treatment. Click for more information about AniCare Child, or to place an order.

The Violence Connection: An Examination of the Link Between Animal Abuse and Other Violent Crimes
This is the Doris Day Animal League publication which provides detailed information to judges, prosecutors, and other law enforcement officials about the link between animal abuse and human violence.  It lists the various resources that are available to law enforcement on this topic, and stresses the importance of treating animal abuse as a serious crime. It is available free of charge from PSYETA.

PSYETA can help you help animals.

·  PSYETA maintains a speaker's bureau of professionals who can address your particular audience on the violence connection and related topics.

·  PSYETA offers training workshops for mental health professionals on the AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse.  If you would like assistance in setting up a workshop where you live, contact us at PSYETA for professional resources and guidance.

·  PSYETA also has an inventory of references on the subject of the human-animal relationship.  At your request, we can either send, or suggest, publications or bibliographies on a variety of topic areas-for example, the relationship of animal abuse to human violence; the effectiveness of animal models for understanding human psychology; and the spiritual aspects of the human-animal relationship.

Click here to order this or other PSYETA materials

Click to help support PSYETA!
PSYETA sends its project directors around the nation conducting training sessions
with mental health professionals, parents, teachers, and law enforcement groups and
giving presentations to raise awareness about the "violence connection." 

AniCare Child: an Assesment and Treatment Approach for Childhood Animal Abuse

A project of the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF)
and Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PSYETA)

What is AniCare Child?
AniCare Child is the first published treatment approach to focus exclusively on juvenile cruelty to animals. The 90 page practitioner's handbook provides comprehensive strategies and practical suggestions for assessing and treating childhood animal abuse. AniCare Child can be used as the primary treatment focus or as an ancillary treatment. (Note that PSYETA also has available The AniCare Model aimed at treating animal abusers over the age of 17. Please click here for more information).

What does the AniCare Child model involve?
Encompassing a number of theoretical perspectives - cognitive-behavioral, attachment theory, and psychodynamic, AniCare Child provides detailed and practical suggestions for assessment and treatment. It describes four basic steps in making as assessment and enumerates the factors to consider

The three therapeutic tasks of treatment - connection, expression, and corrective intervention - organize the approach to treatment. Clinical case examples, a variety of exercises, and other tools, such as use of projective material and puppet role play, are presented. AniCare Child also addresses assessing and treating children who witness animal abuse and includes a section on "Working with Parents."

How was AniCare Child developed?
The development of AniCare Child is based on documented clinical experience, an examination of effective and reliable treatments for children that are relevant to this topic, and consultation with and review by experts.

Who can use AniCare Child?
AniCare Child is designed for two audiences: (1) child mental health professionals working in agencies, domestic violence organizations, hospitals, schools, and private practice; and (2) other professionals who work with children and their families - day care providers, social service workers, probation department and law enforcement officials, teachers, clergy, animal control and humane society personnel, and veterinarians. 

Who created AniCare Child?
AniCare Child is a joint project of the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF) and Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PSYETA). In addition to AniCare Child, PSYETA and DDAF developed The AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse - designed to be used with adults. 

How can I learn to use AniCare Child?
AniCare Child may be used independently by individuals experienced in working with children. Many people, however, feel better prepared if they receive training in the use of the AniCare Child approach. Throughout the year at various locations in the United States, DDAF and PSYETA will consider requests from interested groups who seek AniCare Child training. To inquire about or request an AniCare Child training workshop in your area, please contact Kenneth J. Shapiro.

Where can I order AniCare Child?
AniCare Child can be purchased from PSYETA for $24.95 (in print or CD-ROM format). The manual can be purchased via our secure online orders page, by calling PSYETA at 301.963.4751, or by sending your payment and order to PSYETA at PO Box 1297, Washington Grove, MD 20880 USA.

For a referral list of mental health professionals trained in AniCare Child, please contact:

Kenneth J. Shapiro, PhD, ABPP
PO Box 1297
Washington Grove, MD  20880-1297

The AniCare Model

The First-Ever Psychological Intervention Program
for Treatment of Animal Abuse

AniCareThe link between animal abuse and violence against humans is increasingly recognized by mental health professionals, social service workers, parents, teachers, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system.  In our violence-prevalent society the treatment of animal abusers has therefore become an increasingly acknowledged necessity, and a growing number of states are mandating court-enforced psychological counseling for convicted animal abusers. 

Youth violence newspaper article
"Beyond Violence" is a PSYETA project offering products addressing a serious societal problem.

In 1999, we all witnessed the most horrific case of school violence in U.S. history when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Littleton, Colorado killed fourteen of their classmates and one teacher at Columbine High School. Scores more were wounded.  Both young men had spoken of mutilating animals and expressed interest in occult rituals.1998 had also been a year for notorious crimes committed by young people with prior histories of animal abuse, and 2001 has started with its own atrocities of violence.

The body counts for the seven months from October of 1997 to May of 1998 were twelve dead and forty-four wounded in four schools in Beyond Violence videoSpringfield, Oregon; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Pearl, Mississippi, and West Paducah, Kentucky. Prior to the school shootings, Kip Kinkel decapitated cats, dissected live squirrels and blew up cows; Andrew Golden shot dogs before he turned his guns on his classmates; Luke Woodham beat and burned his own dog, Sparkle, describing his dog's painful and tortured death as a "thing of true beauty;" and Michael Carneal threw a cat into a bonfire.

It isn't just youthful offenders who move from animal abuse to violence toward humans. Russell Weston Jr., the man who is awaiting trial for shooting two Capitol Hill police officers, shot his father's cats before his assault on the Capitol.

Animal abuse doesn't occur in isolation; rather, it takes place in a complex net of disturbed family relations.  For example, animal abuse is frequently found in families where there also is child abuse and domestic violence. Children in these disturbed families who witness the abuse of family companion animals are more likely to abuse animals; in addition, children who commit animal cruelty are more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults.

We also see a close link between domestic violence and animal abuse. In one national survey of women seeking shelter from domestic violence in safe houses, 83% of women with companion animals reported that their batterers had also hurt or threatened the family pet.

PSYETA's "Beyond Violence" Project is more than a video.

Vol. 5 No. 3, 1997


Perceptions of Family Violence:
Are Companion Animals in the Picture?

Carol D. Raupp, Mary Barlow and Judith A. Oliver1
California State University, Bakersfield

Service and education organizations such as the ASPCA claim a connection between family violence against children and companion animals, but to what extent does the general public share this perception? Sixty-three undergraduates rated their certainty about perceiving family violence using 60 pictures with differing potential targets of family violence. Participants showed stronger certainty when the target was a child than when the target was a companion animal, but ratings for companion animals averaged above the midpoint of the scale used. Interview questions were used to obtain information about childhood recollections of joint discipline situations in which children received punishment for what companion animals did, or vice versa. Thirty-four participants recalled such situations, some of which resulted in the death or discarding of a family's companion animal. The majority of participants affirmed a connection between violence against children and companion animals in the family, with some giving credit for that insight to their taking part in the study.


American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (1992). America's abuse problem. Animal Watch, Fall/Winter, 9-16.

 Ascione, F. R. (1993). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychopathology. Anthrozoös, 6, 4, 226-247.

 Boat, B. W. (1995). The relationship between violence to children and violence to animals: An ignored link? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 2, 229-235.

 Cain, A. O. (1985). Pets as family members. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 3/4, 5-10.

 Carmack, B. J. (1985). The effects on family members and functioning after the death of a pet. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 3/4, 149-161.

 Davis, J. H. & Juhasz, A. M. (1985). The preadolescent/pet bond and psychosocial development. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 3/4, 79-94.

 DeViney, E., Dickert, J., & Lockwood, R. (1983). The care of pets within child abusing families. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4, 4, 321-329.

 Dickinson, G. E. (1992). First childhood death experiences. Omega, 25, 3, 169-182.

 Felthous, A. R. (1980). Aggression against cats, dogs and people. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 10, 3, 169-177.

 Felthous, A. R. & Kellert, S. R. (1987). Childhood cruelty to animals and later aggression against people: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 6, 710-717.

 Gelles, R. J. & Straus, M. A. (1988). Intimate violence. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Graziano, A. M. (1994). Why we should study subabusive violence against children. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 9, 3, 412-419.

 Hendrickson, K. M., McCarty, T., & Goodwin, J. M. (1990). Animal alters: {WHAT?} Case reports. Dissociation, 3, 4, 218-221.

 Kidd, A. H. & Kidd, R. M. (1985). Children's attitudes toward their pets. Psychological Reports, 57, 15-31.

 Kidd, A. H., Kidd, R. M., & George, C. C. (1992). Successful pet adoptions. The Latham Letter, 13, 2, 4-5.

 Loar, L. & White, K. (1992). Connections drawn between child and animal victims of violence. The Latham Letter, 13, 3, 1-3.

 Melson, G. F. (1988). Availability of and involvement with pets by children: Determinants and correlates. Anthrozoös, 2, 1, 45-52.

 Milner, J. S. (1994). Assessing physical child abuse risk: The Child Abuse Potential Inventory. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 6, 547-583.

 Patterson, G. R., Reid, J. B., & Dishion, T. J. (1992). Antisocial boys. Eugene, OR: Castalia Publishing Co.

 Plous, S. (1993a). The role of animals in human society. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 1, 1-9.

 Plous, S. (1993b). Psychological mechanisms in the human use of animals. Journal of Social Issues, 49, 1, 11-52.

 Poresky, R. H., Hendrix, C., Mosier, J. E., & Samuelson, M. L. (1988). Young children's companion animal bonding and adults' pet attitudes: A retrospective study. Psychological Reports, 62, 419-425.

 Robin, M. & ten Bensel, R. (1985). Pets and the socialization of children. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 3/4, 63-78.

 Roscoe, B., Haney, S., & Peterson, K. L. (1986). Child/pet maltreatment: Adolescents' ratings of parent and owner behaviors. Adolescence, 21, 84, 807-814.

 Schenk, S. A., Templer, D. I., Peters, N. B., & Schmidt, M. (1994). The genesis and correlates of attitudes toward pets. Anthrozoös, 7, 1, 60-68.

 Soares, C. J. (1985). The companion animal in the context of the family system. Marriage and Family Review, 8, 3/4, 49-62.

 Straus, M. A. (1991). Discipline and deviance: Physical punishment of children and violence and other crime in adulthood. Social Problems, 38, 2, 133-154.

 Tapia, F. (1971). Children who are cruel to animals. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 2, 2, 70-77.

 Tebault, H. H. (1994). Latham confronts child and animal abuse. The Latham Letter, 15, 2, 1 & 5.

 Widom, C. S. (1989). Does violence beget violence? A critical examination of the literature. Psychological Bulletin, 106, 1, 3-28.

Vol. 5 No. 3, 1997


Untangling the Animal Abuse Web

Dorian Solot1
Providence, Rhode Island

Academics like to erect walls. The walls do an excellent job of dividing things into neat categories: child abuse on this side of the wall, domestic violence on that side, another wall for the cruelty to animals section over there. The problem with all the walls is that they start to block our view, preventing access to each other's tools and methods.

In my experience as a domestic violence hotline counselor, animal shelter staff member, community mediator, advocate for abused children, and organizer and facilitator of several alternatives to violence programs for prison inmates, drug users, and inner-city youth, the landscape of violence begins to look familiar. Yet the literature, language, and research methodology of each "type" of violence look surprisingly different, despite the gradual realization over the last two decades that the strands in the "tangled web of violence" are worth more attention than they've previously received.

 In the sphere of cruelty to animals, those on the front lines of investigation and direct service seem to be several big leaps ahead of the academics.While cities around the country organize conferences to discuss cross-training for the staff of child protective services agencies, law enforcement agencies, women's shelters, and animal welfare organizations, researchers continue to debate whether childhood acts of cruelty have any association with future violence toward humans (Felthous, 1980; Felthous & Kellert, 1987a, 1987b; Kellert & Felthous, 1985; Langevin, Paitich, Orchard, Hardy, & Russon, 1983; Ascione, 1993; Miller & Knutson, 1997).

 Comparing what has been written about cruelty to animals with what has been written about domestic violence and child abuse, the first major difference is the sheer quantity of research. Sociofile, an electronic social science abstract index, lists 1,674 articles related to the keywords "child abuse," but only six under "animal abuse" and five under "cruelty to animals." Other library searches confirm how little attention has been paid to violence toward animals. Given the nascent stage of research, those researching animal abuse have a rich source of tools and insights to borrow: centuries of research and writing about violence toward humans. I will explore a few major themes, considering where we are and directions that future research might take.

Exploring the Complexity

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) created a graphic "Power and Control" wheel that is widely used in the educational efforts of domestic violence prevention advocates around the country. The wheel divides abuse into nine categories, each with several examples: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, using children, threats, using male privilege, intimidation, and isolation. While this typology's categories, like most, may be simplistic (Vermeulen & Odendaal, 1993), the wheel is a effective way to demonstrate the connections between different behaviors that some abusers use, all related to the words "Power and Control" at the wheel's hub (DAIP, 1991). A woman who has been the victim of domestic violence is often able to categorize the beatings she received as abuse, but surprised and empowered to rethink her partner's other behaviors as possibly also abusive: taking her money and making her ask for an allowance, threatening to take her children away, or making all the "big" decisions himself. The wheel is, effectively, a handle, a way to grapple cognitively with a complex social issue.

 Similarly, child abuse theorists have created intricate "maps" of the interacting influences that affect the quality of parenting. One includes such considerations as parent psychiatric factors (substance abuse, self-concept, etc.), child characteristics (temperament, age, gender, etc.), social factors (income, support networks, church, etc.), sociocultural values, parental developmental history, and other short- and long-term factors to demonstrate the complex intersections of the issues involved (Biller & Solomon, 1986).

Despite the groundwork laid by researchers of other kinds of violence, those theorizing cruelty to animals -- at least from an academic standpoint -- seem to thus far lack a similar typology of the issue. Vermeulen and Odendaal propose a broad typology of companion animal abuse that offers a starting point for continued work and addresses the need for increased complexity that they recognize (1993). Previous attempts to break down animal abuse into approachable segments include abuser type: ritualistic abuse, neglect, torturers, adolescents, and animal collectors (Lockwood, 1995); abuse type: a list of 17 acts including "throwing an animal off a high place," "tying two animals' tails together," and "pouring chemical irritants on an animal" (Kellert & Felthous, 1985); direct motivation for abuse: a list of nine including "to control an animal," "to retaliate against an animal," and "to satisfy a prejudice against a species or breed" (Kellert & Felthous, 1985); and indirect reasons adolescents abuse: a list of four, including feelings of helplessness, imitating family violence, and never having learned to value the lives of others (Lockwood and Hodge, 1986).

These lists, while a start, simultaneously need broadening and narrowing. Attempting to list every possible act of violence against an animal (or a person) is a never-ending task, constrained only by the creativity of the abusers. Such a list, while helpful to understand what sorts of acts specific researchers defined as "cruelty toward animals," accomplishes little in terms of furthering an understanding of the violence. On the other hand, dividing all abuse into a few categories (abuse vs. neglect, or torturers vs. ritualistic abusers) also leaves a great deal unexplained. There are still major questions about animal abusers left unanswered: What is the ratio of child/adolescent abusers to adult abusers (most research has focused on childhood cruelty to animals, yet according to the American Humane Association (AHA), animals are probably more likely to be abused by adults (Trowbridge, 1997). How does abuse break down along lines of class, race, gender, and other variables? Are people more likely to abuse animals they know (akin to violence towards family or acquaintances) or unknown animals (stranger violence)?2 Are different "types" of abusers (by class, race, gender, family background, etc.) more likely to engage in certain types of abuse? Although there have been a fair number of experimental sketches about violence toward animals, the illustration still lacks both the broad strokes and the fine details -- the overall picture is still unclear. A more vivid understanding of the dynamics at work when humans abuse animals will bring us closer to the goal of reducing or eliminating all violence.

Grappling with Definitions

Defining what constitutes cruelty or abuse is difficult regardless of the victim's species. Some domestic violence texts call this form of abuse "any behavior a person uses to control a partner," including physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual acts in the definition (Paymar, 1993, p. ix). This definition cannot be directly applied to violence toward animals, since humans' control over animals is often a given, not a sign of abuse. How people can emotionally or psychologically abuse animals is also a matter of debate, since animals' emotional and psychological needs are difficult to establish.

The focus of cruelty toward animals has traditionally been on physical harm, since it is the easiest form of violence to recognize. In their research, Stephen Kellert and Alan Felthous defined animal cruelty as "the willful infliction of harm, injury, and intended pain on a nonhuman animal" (Kellert & Felthous, 1985, p. 1114). This definition leaves two issues unaddressed. First, according to Doug Trowbridge, Program Coordinator for Field Studies of the AHA, neglect accounts for about 90% of all animal abuse (1997). In the definition above, neglect might conceivably fall under "the willful infliction of harm," and indeed Kellert and Felthous include "deliberately starving" an animal as an example of a cruel act that would be included in the above definition. But what about the kind of neglect that Trowbridge attributes to "ignorance," such as animal guardians who leave a dog outside overnight in freezing weather, or those who tie an animal outside and forget to refill his or her water bowl? If these types of acts constitute the vast majority of what the AHA considers animal abuse, should they be included more explicitly in research definitions? Perhaps we want research to focus on more "active" forms of violence, but since such a focus would include only about 1 in 10 cases of abuse, the decision to limit the subject should be a reasoned choice. Other suggested definitions have been broader (Ascione, 1993, p. 228; Vermeulen & Odendaal, 1993, p. 249) and include neglect, though Ascione's definition only includes neglect (as "omission") when it is intentional.

 The second problem with the commonly accepted definition of abuse arises when one considers the contradictions in our culture's use of animals: the very acts that would be considered perfect examples of cruelty when performed by certain individuals in certain contexts on certain species are culturally acceptable in other situations. Raising and killing animals for meat or fur, fishing, experimentation, sport hunting, dissection, and killing insects and rodent "pests" might all be considered clear examples of "the willful infliction of harm, injury, and intended pain on a nonhuman animal," yet these acts are practiced by millions of people annually and are not considered morally objectionable by most Americans. This problem is illustrated in Vermeulen and Odendaal's examination of animal abuse reported to SPCAs. Many of their categories of abuse, including inbreeding, sport, experimentation, installation of fear, and deprivation of affection, had no reported instances (1993). This is not to say that these acts never took place, but rather that society's view of such acts as acceptable or even commonplace gives them no reason to report them to the SPCA. In this case, reported acts of abuse tell more about what society perceives to be a problem than what is actually taking place.

When relying on people's own recollections of their cruelty toward animals, one must wonder how people learn to differentiate between hunting rabbits for fun as a boy (not considered cruelty), killing a chicken for dinner (also not cruel), and breaking rabbits' legs (cruel). What if one cuts the chicken's head off for the amusement of watching its body walk around before it dies -- does society still consider the killing uncruel? When exploring possible connections between violence toward humans and violence toward animals, what do we do with the man who hunted rabbits as a boy yet would never think to classify the sport as inflicting harm on an animal?

Subcultures of acceptable behaviors complicate the picture still further. Kellert and Felthous separate out "possible indicators of animal cruelty" that they say are linked to social acceptability or value standards, such as participation in cockfights, harsh physical punishment during the training of an animal, and sexual play with animals (Kellert & Felthous, 1985). However, many more of the acts they imply to be unquestionably cruel might fall in a similarly gray area, perhaps considered cruel by "mainstream" culture but acceptable by a given subculture. One subject Kellert and Felthous interviewed said he killed "animals in an outrageous fashion to impress his motorcycle gang members," and another said he was cruel to animals as a way of demonstrating his violence to others (p. 1122). If one's peers, gang members, or other subculture expect one to demonstrate one's worth by being violent toward animals, this seems a perfect example of "cultural relativity": whose definition of acceptable cruelty do we employ?

 This definitional problem is illustrated again in an anecdote related by Barbara Boat about teenage boys who caught a six-month-old kitten in a leg hold trap, shot arrows into the kitten, and stomped it to death, laughing and joking as they videotaped the event. When questioned about the incident, one boy said, "But it was only a cat." His mother was also puzzled by the fuss being made about the case, explaining that he wasn't a cruel child because he had never mistreated his dog (Boat, 1997). In this situation, values regarding cats were clearly transmitted from mother to son, resulting in the son's participation in an act he believed to be acceptable. From their comments, both mother and son appeared to distinguish clearly between acceptable and unacceptable violence: if the son had killed a dog -- or a human -- we might predict the mother would find his behavior cause for concern. But if researchers find killing a kitten unacceptable, drawing their line somewhere between rodent and cat instead of between cat and dog, the base assumptions about violent acts rest on ground that appears more stable than it actually is.

 Since societal definitions of acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors change slowly -- witness the gradual shift in attitudes toward wearing fur over the last decade -- the contradictions in cultural attitudes toward animals are not going to disappear tomorrow. Yet researchers need to be cognizant of and willing to grapple with these contradictions, particularly if research subjects are asked to generate their own memories of "harm" toward animals.

Don't Forget the Animals in Animal Cruelty

Quotes like the following one have become quite common in texts about the connections among various types of violence: "Over the last decade, social scientists and human-service agencies have finally begun to examine cruelty to animals as a serious human problem" (Lockwood & Hodge, 1986, p. 2). National projects like the Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) First Strike! campaign are being launched to draw public attention to facts like, "Animal cruelty, in particular, is often an early-warning sign of violent tendencies that will be acted out eventually against people" (HSUS, 1997, p. 1).

 Of course, the connections between animal and human violence are important ones to be making; as I argued above, there are certainly insights to be gained from leveling some of the dividing walls to make the landscape of violence more visible. Yet the published research on animal abuse -- unlike the published research on any other form of violence -- is motivated almost without exception by the connection to human violence. Most subjects who have been interviewed in studies about cruelty toward animals are criminals (and noncriminal control groups) who have committed violent crimes against humans. When even animal welfare organizations like HSUS launch major campaigns calling attention to animal abuse as a "human problem," those who always studied animals appear thrilled to leap into an arena that finally validates their interest. Since any focus on animals is frequently perceived as silly or less serious than a focus on humans, it appears that the new interest in "the web of violence" has provided the perfect opportunity for those who previously focused on animal abuse to reap praise for performing the role of "early warning sign" for more "important" kinds of violence.

 It is crucial that those in the field of violence toward animals not accept being characterized as chroniclers of a symptom of larger problems, but that they insist that their studies be seen as having intrinsic worth. It would be ludicrous for us to belittle other forms of violence by pointing out that "a woman who beats her children needs to be tracked, because someday she may hurt an adult" or "dating violence is a real problem because the teen who rapes his girlfriend is more likely to kill his wife." Even as we validate the connections among all forms of violence, we must take care not to invalidate each separate form. The woman who beats her children, the teen who rapes his girlfriend, and the adolescent who sets a cat on fire all need attention because they have committed horrific acts of violence against other living beings -- not because someday they might do something worse.

Stop Competing

Throughout the literature on violence, both popular and academic, are assertions that society cares more about one kind of victim than another. The most common claim is the counter-intuitive one made by Barbara Boat and others that society is more willing to tolerate violence toward children than toward animals. She cites as proof the example of a woman killed by a mountain lion, both leaving orphaned young, where the amount of money the public donated toward the mountain lion's cub exceeded the money donated toward the woman's children (Boat, 1995). An article about domestic violence cited as cause for alarm the fact that there are more animal shelters in the United States than shelters for battered women (The Spread, 1996).

 Besides the fact that the situation is not even clearly a fair comparison -- did the children have a father? How did the media portray the situation, and which orphan's photograph was featured more prominently? Is money donated the best way to ascertain the public's sympathies? -- the competition is profoundly unproductive. It is well established that the American public responds in irrational ways to identified victims ("victims with a face") of any species, such as the cases of the outpouring of attention to two whales trapped in the ice while the endangered species is neglected, or the gifts sent to the girl who fell into a well while poor children across the country live in unsafe, unhealthy conditions.

It may be true that the number of animal shelters exceeds that of battered women's shelters. It is also true that humans currently have an assortment of rights not available to animals, and that every state has a major agency, funded by taxes, devoted to child welfare, without an equivalent for animal welfare. The competition for Most Favored Victim Status is a clear example of bickering among potential allies, while the real enemies -- poverty, a violent culture, a government that spends many times one and a half times as much on the military than on all services for humans or animals combined (War Resisters League, 1997), the forces that oppress children, women, animals, the elderly, and other common victims of violence -- are ignored. Securing attention and funding for one's cause, be it animal or human victims of violence, need not be dependent on attacking the others. As many try to teach their children, cooperation will benefit us much more than competition.


The concept of a tangled web of violence, each strand connected to others, offers exciting possibilities for insights not available to any of us standing alone on one side of a wall or another. The subject of violence toward animals has thus far received far less formal study than violence against humans. Yet this later chronological development gives those researching animals a certain advantage: the realization that violence is a well-theorized and much-researched (though always complex) subject. If we accept the premise that similar issues of violence, power, and control exist in all violent situations (Pagelow, 1984; Paymar, 1993; Schmidt, 1995), it stands to reason that concepts borrowed from research on violence toward humans would apply to situations involving violence toward animals.3

 Research on animal abuse needs to continue to explore the complexity, both expanding and refining its focus, in order to provide a framework for understanding the whos, hows, and whys of violence toward animals. This understanding is complicated by our society's contradictory attitudes toward animals. Further understanding is also endangered both by the temptation to value (or choose to conduct) research on animal abuse based solely on its applicability to humans and by the competition for most victimized status. If we are to be successful in our quest for a society without violence, in which all living beings are treated with dignity and respect, we must have a better understanding of all types of violence. There is much work to be done.


1. Correspondence should be sent to Dorian Solot, 19 Phillips Street, Providence, RI 02906.

2. In an article on family violence, Elizabeth Kandel-Englander found that 90% of violent men were either violent towards their families or violent towards non-family members, but not both; their violence was not indiscriminate. Such an insight into violence toward humans has fascinating implications for violence toward animals in terms of our understanding of how abusers choose their victims and why they abuse (Kandel-Englander, 1992).

3. An example of extrapolation from theories of violence to situations of animal abuse involves choice of animal victim. If all violence relates to power and control, are abusers more likely to make cats their
victims rather than dogs (Felthous, 1980; Felthous & Kellert, 1985) because cats are behaviorally less willing to be controlled by their owners?


 Ascione, F. (1993) Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychopathology. Anthrozoös, 5, 226-247.

 Biller, H. & Solomon, R. (1986). Child maltreatment and paternal deprivation: A manifesto for research, prevention, and treatment. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

 Boat, B. (1995). The relationship between violence to children and violence to animals: An ignored link? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10, 228-35.

 Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. (1991, December 24). Graphic. In A. Grant, Breaking the cycle of violence. The Providence Journal-Bulletin, E1+.

Felthous, A. (1980). Aggression against cats, dogs, and people. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 10, 169-177.

 Felthous, A. & Kellert, S. (1987). Childhood cruelty to animals and later aggression against people: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 710-17.

 Felthous, A. & Kellert, S. (1987). Psychosocial aspects of selecting animal species for physical abuse. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 32, 1713-23.

 Humane Society of the United States. (1997). First strike! Animal cruelty/human violence: The role of the community in reducing violence. Washington, D.C.

 Kandel-Englander, E. (1992). Wife battering and violence outside the family. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 7, 462-70.

 Kellert, S. & Felthous, A. (1985). Childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals. Human Relations, 38, 1113-29.

 Langevin, P., Paitich, D., Orchard, B., Hardy, L. & Russon, A. (1983). Childhood and family background of killers seen for psychiatric assessment: A controlled study. Bulletin of American Psychiatric Law, 11, 331-341.

 Lockwood, R. (1995, May). Who abuses animals and why? Paper presented at the conference, From the tangled threads of violence weave a silver web of hope, Providence, RI.

 Lockwood, R. & Hodge, G. (1986). The tangled web of animal abuse: The links between cruelty to animals and human violence. Humane Society News, Summer, 1-6.

 Miller, K. & Knutson, J. (1997). Reports of severe physical punishment and exposure to animal cruelty by inmates convicted of felonies and university students. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21, 59-82.

 Pagelow, M. D. (1984). Family violence. New York: Praeger.

 Paymar, M. (1993). Violent no more: Helping men end domestic violence. Alameda, CA: Hunter House.

 Schmidt, K. L. (1995). Transforming abuse: Nonviolent resistance and recovery. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

The Spread. (1996). Brown University. Winter.

 Trowbridge, D. (1997, April 16). Telephone interview.

 Vermeulen, H. & Odendaal, J. (1993). Proposed typology of companion animal abuse. Anthrozoös, 6, 248-257.

 War Resisters League. (1997). Where your income tax money really goes: The United States federal budget for fiscal year 1998. New York.


Physical Cruelty Toward Animals in Massachusetts, 1975-1996

Arnold Arluke1
Northeastern University

Carter Luke
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

This article describes the nature of animal abuse and the response of the criminal justice system to all cruelty cases prosecuted by the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals between 1975 and 1996. Dogs were the most common target; when combined with cats, these domestic animals composed the vast majority of incidents. Almost all of these animals were owned, and females were the majority of complainants. Suspects were almost always young males, and most of the time they allegedly shot, beat, stabbed, or threw their victims. Reportedly, adults were more likely than minors to abuse dogs, shoot them, and commit such acts alone rather than in a group, while minors were more likely to abuse cats, beat them, and commit such acts with peers present. Less than half of the alleged abusers were found guilty in court, one- third were fined, less than one- quarter had to pay restitution, one- fifth were put on probation, one- tenth were sent to jail, and an even smaller percent were required to undergo counseling or perform community service.

Between 1975 and 1996, there were approximately 80,000 complaints of abuse and neglect investigated by the MSPCA. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of such complaints. From 1980 to 1984, the MSPCA investigated 17,480 complaints of abuse and neglect. From 1985 to 1989, the number of these cases jumped to 20,698, or a 12.7% increase over the prior five- year period. And from 1990 to 1994, the number reached 27,587, or a 33.2% increase over the prior five- year period.

The prosecuted abusers were typically young males. There were 259 males (96.6%) and 9 females (3.4%). Moreover, two of the females were accomplices who did not directly touch or harm animals. Although their ages ranged from 9 to 83, most of the suspected abusers were young (mean = 30). Approximately 27% of them were adolescents (i.e., under 18 years), and 56% were under the age of 30.

Closer inspection of the two most common methods of abuse revealed some interesting differences. When only beating and shooting incidents were compared, adolescents (71.4%) were significantly more likely than adults (46.2%) to beat animals, and adults (53.8%) were significantly more likely than adolescents (28.6%) to shoot animals (Chi square = 14.67, df = 2, p < .0006).

 There are two possible explanations for this difference. First, adults have greater access to firearms than do adolescents. Second, younger people are more likely than older people to commit an expressive form of cruelty where the process of abuse is itself the sought after goal (Arluke, 1996). In such instances, mistreatment of animals is more important to abusers than achieving other goals such as retaliating against disliked owners. Compared to methods such as beating or strangling, remote methods of abuse such as shooting will be less appealing to the expressive abusers because they do not provide direct contact with victims.

As indicated in Table 3, most of the court cases did not result in punishment.11 When they did, fines were the most common punishment; they were ordered in 91 cases (33%) with a mean of $132 per fine. Restitution was the next most common punishment, ordered in 56 of the cases (20%) with a mean of $99. Usually, this restitution was to reimburse owners for veterinary costs and did not serve financially to punish abusers or award punitive damages to owners. Probation was ordered in 59 cases (21%), with a mean of 5.5 months of probation. Jail time was rarely served (10%), and the amount of time served was brief (mean = 4.5 months). When jail time was served, the abuse always involved domestic animals that were killed. Counseling was also rarely ordered (10%), as was community service (7%), the latter consisting of volunteer work in an animal shelter.

                        Table 3. Sentences















5.5 mon




4.5 mon






com. service


50 hours


* Court ordered counseling was always an indeterminate length.

Overall, dogs were the most common target in prosecuted cases of physical cruelty; when combined with cats, these domestic animals composed the vast majority of incidents during the period studied. Almost all of these animals were owned, and females were the majority of complainants. Suspects were almost always young males, and most of the time they allegedly shot, beat, stabbed, or threw their victims. Reportedly, adults were more likely than minors to abuse dogs, shoot them, and do it alone rather than in a group, while minors were more likely to abuse cats, beat them, and do so with peers present. Less than half of the alleged abusers were found guilty in court, one- third were fined, less than one- quarter had to pay restitution, one- fifth were put on probation, one- tenth were sent to jail, and an even smaller percent were required to undergo counseling or perform community service.


 Arluke, A. (1996). A comparison of adolescent and adult animal abusers. Unpublished manuscript.

 Ascione, F. (1995). Battered women's reports of their partners' cruelty to animals. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Human- animal Interactions, Geneva, Switzerland.

Beirnes, P. (in press). The causes of animal abuse: A social- psychological analysis. Theoretical Criminology.

 Cullen, K. (1992, April 9). Dog's killing stirs outrage. Boston Globe, pp. 1, 24.

 Department of Justice (1996). Crime in America. Washington, D.C.

 Goetting, A. (1995). Homicide in families. New York: Springer.

 Gurr, T. (1989). Historical trends in violent crime: Europe and America. In T. Gurr (Ed.), Violence in America, 1, (pp. 21- 54). Beverly Hills: Sage.

 Hayward, E. (1996, November 29). Man charged with terrorizing girlfriend, setting her on fire. Boston Herald, p. 26.

 Hutchinson, B. (1994, June 3). Boy, 13, laughs at law after dog kill. Boston Herald, pp. 1, 4.

 Kellert, S. & Felthous, A. (1985). Childhood cruelty toward animals among criminals and noncriminals. Human Relations, 18, 1113- 1129.

 Levin, J. & McDermitt, J. (1994). Hate crimes. New York: Plenum Press.

Perrin, C. (1988). Belonging in America. Madison: University of Wisconsin.

 Rowan, A. (1992). The dark side of the 'Force.' Anthrozoös, 5, 4- 5.

 Reuters (1996, December 8). "Vampire" cult began with game, youth's mother says. Boston Globe, p. A4.

 Rhoades, J. (1981). Attitudes of the public towards dogs and cats as companion animals. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 22, 129- 137.

 Vermeulen, H. & Odendaal, J. (1993). Proposed typology of companion animal abuse. Anthrozoös, 6, 248- 257.

 Wilensky, L. (1995, Summer). Abuse an animal -- go to jail! The Latham Letter, 15- 16.

Guest Editors' Introduction:
Understanding Cruelty to Animals

Arnold Arluke1
Northeastern University

Randall Lockwood
The Humane Society of the United States

During the last 40 years, many of society's concerns were focused on the quality of our physical environment and the threats to the integrity and health of that environment. As we enter the next millennium it is becoming clear that societal concerns about the proliferation of violence will be the basis of the next "environmental movement," a movement driven by concern for our psychological environment. Research, debate and discussion about the causes and cures of violence in American society are already part of the discourse of nearly every discipline, from philosophy to criminology to evolutionary biology.

Society is looking for new tools and resources to employ in efforts to combat violence, including identifying real or potential perpetrators at an early age and defining actions that might prevent violent behavior. One idea that is attracting greater attention as a source of insight into the dynamics of violence is the long- standing belief that the treatment of animals is closely associated with the treatment of fellow human beings.

Law Enforcement Response to Animal Cruelty

Society's response to animal cruelty is reflected in the laws that are enacted and the level of enforcement of those laws. With the recent addition of Texas, 18 states have felony- level provisions within their animal cruelty codes, a dramatic rise from just a decade ago. This reflects both societal pressure to respond to animal cruelty and legislative willingness to accommodate this demand. It is difficult, however, to document law enforcement response since such cases are generally not tracked in any systematic way other than through local humane groups with enforcement authority. Indeed, we cannot even say how many animal abuse and neglect cases are handled on a regional and national basis. More information is needed.

 Although local and state police officers are authorized to enforce anticruelty laws, few police officers have the training or expertise to do so. We do not even know whether police officers are aware of the possible connections between animal cruelty and violence against people, or whether this knowledge is integrated into law enforcement's response to domestic violence and community policing. Information about these issues is vital to obtain.

 The great majority of such enforcement work is performed by humane society law enforcement officers who investigate cruelty complaints, issue warnings, make court appearances, and pursue prosecutions. While we know basic background and performance statistics about humane officers - - such as their ages, gender, length of career, number and types of complaints investigated, etc. - - we know nothing about the sociology of their work. For example, what is the socialization process as they move from novice to experienced officer? What kinds of stresses do officers face and how do they manage them? What kinds of practical knowledge and informal techniques do they acquire on the job that guide the way they conduct investigations?

Social Service Response to Animal Cruelty

Humane organizations have made significant inroads in alerting social service agencies to regard animal cruelty as a form of family violence that can be both indicative and predictive of other violence. Although only California formally includes animal control officers and state humane officers among mandated reporters of child abuse, many other communities are providing for the cross-training of animal abuse and child abuse investigators or are including humane society representatives in local coalitions against violence. Similarly, Ascione et al. (this volume) have documented growing sensitivity to animal cruelty issues among those responding to the needs of women seeking shelter from domestic violence. To maximize the effectiveness of these bridges between animal and human welfare advocates, we need more information about these cooperative efforts.

Prevention and Intervention

The core assumption of many of the efforts against violence is that earlier detection of predispositions for violence will give the best opportunity for meaningful intervention. However, the lack of standardized programs for detection and intervention has left this concept essentially untested. Many questions remain unasked and unanswered.

 Interventions need to be correctly timed and targeted. Does response to severe or repeated animal abuse identify offenders at an early enough stage for successful intervention? Is this more reliable than other measures of antisocial behavior? What qualities of animal cruelty offenses are the most significant warning flags that intervention is needed? Is it more productive to target "at- risk" groups rather than active offenders?

 The design of different interventions need comparison and testing to ensure their effectiveness. What are the most significant objectives for individuals who are recipients of intervention (e.g., self- esteem, communication skills, empathy, anger management)? What are the best short- and long- term measures of successful intervention in dealing with animal-abusing populations? Does pairing offenders or high- risk individuals with non- violent or humane mentors provide greater impact than formal instruction in non- violent skills or humane attitudes? How significant are opportunities for "undoing" harm or being confronted by victims in structuring effective interventions? Do community service or other diversions that involve opportunities for providing restoration to victims have better long- term results than interventions which are only punitive?

 How important is it for animals to be involved in prevention and intervention programs? Can nurturing and other prosocial skills be taught in other ways (e.g., gardening projects)? When is use of animals contraindicated? Are there patterns of violent history that should not be addressed through animal- assisted therapy or animal- assisted activities?

 Answers to many of these questions will require the cooperation of individuals and agencies from many different disciplines. They will also require a true prospective approach, identifying individuals involved in animal cruelty at the earliest possible stage and tracking the influences that prevent or promote the escalation to other forms of violent behavior. Violence makes victims of us all, and all segments of the community that deal with health and safety, kindness and cruelty, people and animals, must constantly find ways to build the connections that will make it possible to end this victimization.


Anonymous. (1997). Domestic violence and substance abuse as factors explaining why violent crime is rising fastest among middle- agers. Domestic Violence Report, 2(4), 56.

 Arluke, A. & Sanders, C. (1996). Regarding animals. Philadelphia: Temple University.

 Ascione, F. R. (1993). Children who are cruel to animals: A review of research and implications for developmental psychopathology. Anthrozoös, 5(4), 226- 247.

 Boat, B. (1995). The relationship between violence to children and violence to animals: An ignored link? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 10(4), 229- 235.

 Bride, I. (in press). Herpetofauna pet-keeping by secondary school students: Causes for concern. Society and Animals.

 Burrell, C. (1997, April 13). Violent crime down sharply. Associated Press.

DeViney, E., Dickert, J. & Lockwood, R. (1983). The care of pets within child abusing families. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4, 321- 329.

 Dobrin, A., Wiersema, B., Loftin, C. & McDowal, D. (1996). Statistical handbook on violence in America. Phoenix: Oryx Press.

 Downes, D. (1982). The language of violence: Sociological perspectives on adolescent aggression. In P. March & A. Campbell (Eds.), Aggression and violence (pp. 27- 45). New York: St. Martin's.

 Felthous, A. R. & Kellert, S. R. (1987). Childhood cruelty to animals and later aggression against people: A review. American Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 710- 717.

 Katz, J. (1988). Seduction of crime. New York: Basic Books.

 Lockwood, R. & Ascione, F. R. (Eds). (1997). Cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence: Readings in research and application. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University. (In press).

 Nash, J. (1996). The meaning of social interaction. Dix Hills, NY: General Hall.

 ten Bensel, R., Ward, D., Kruttscnitt, C., Quigley, J., & Anderson, R. (1984). Attitudes of violent criminals toward animals. In R. Anderson, B. Hart, & L. Hart (Eds.). The pet connection. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

 Vermeulen, H. & Odendaal, J. (1993). Proposed typology of companion animal abuse. Anthrozoös, 6, 248- 257.

Veterinarians need to report animal abuse

The AVMA recognizes that veterinarians may have occasion to observe cases of cruelty to animals, animal abuse, or animal neglect as defined by state law or local ordinances. When these observations occur, the AVMA considers it the responsibility of the veterinarian to report such cases to the appropriate authorities. Such disclosures may be necessary to protect the health and welfare of animals and people. (AVMA, 1997a, p. 58; Anonymous, 1996a)

Program for Companion Animal Behavior
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis

Related Publication

Animals Teaching Adolescents
compiled by Deborah A. Mathis

This list is an attempt to identify programs across the country in which animals are helping high school age children to develop empathy. Some of these programs were included as examples that might be adapted to a high school setting. Many of them have developed autonomously across the United States and many more have surely been missed. The list is meant to be a means of establishing contact between these programs and others like them. New programs are invited to send information to the Center for Animals in Society, University of California School of Veterinary Medicine, Davis, CA, 95616. Printed copies of this material are available at this address also.

AUTHOR     Deborah Anne Mathis
                  Class of '99, School of Veterinary Medicine
                  UC Davis
FUNDING     Roy Grant Fellowship

General References:

The Latham Letter

Clement & Schiller Streets
Alameda, CA 94501
fax: (510)521-9861

This publication is an exceptional source of humane issues and activities.

Delta Society

289 Perimeter Rd East
Renton, WA 98055-1329

Action line: (800)869-6898
Business line: (425)226-7357
Fax: (425)-235-1076

Delta Society is dedicated to providing training and advocacy as they promote animals helping people improve their health, independence, and quality of life.

Mother Hildegard George

PO Box 425
Shaw Island, WA 98286

An excellent resource for programs using animals to assist children.

Index by State


·  4-H After School Program

·  Elkus Ranch

·  Farm Sanctuary

·  Helen Woodward Animal Center

·  Human Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.)

·  Humane Society Of Sonoma Co.

·  Lindsey Wildlife Museum - Interpretive Guide Program

·  Mendocino County 4-H

·  Peninsula Humane Society - Education Program For Youth

·  Teaching Love And Compassion


·  Argus Center For Human Animal Bond

·  Colorado Boys Ranch - Bovine Program

·  Colorado Boys Ranch - Horsemanship Program

·  Colorado Boys Ranch - New Leash On Life

·  Emily Griffith Center

·  Humane Society of Boulder Valley- Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy

·  El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch - Miniature Horse Program


·  Animal Companion Science Program

·  G.L.O.W.S.- Getting To Love Our World And Self


·  Hawaiian Humane Society


·  Chenny Troupe Inc.

·  Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy


·  Mustang Troop


·  Follow Your Heart


·  Humane Society Of Missouri Volunteer Program

·  TOUCH - Therapy of Unique Canine Helpers

New York

·  Green Chimneys Farm And Wildlife Center


·  Humane Society of Greater Dayton

·  Occupational Work Adjustment (OWA)

·  Project Pooch

·  Raise With Praise

Rhode Island

·  Dog Of Joy

South Carolina

·  Magik Treks


·  Asian Elephant; An Endangered Species



·  Cal Farley Boys Ranch

·  Dolphin Research Team

·  Girls Town USA

·  Hope Therapy


·  Turnabout Ranch - Horsemanship/Cow-calf


·  The Shiloh Project


·  People-Pet Partnership

·  Prison Pet Partnership

·  The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce Co.

·  Viewpoint Farm


·  Future Farmers Of America

·  People, Animals, Learning (PAL)


·  Therapy Dogs Inc.


·  PAWS In The Classroom, Alberta

·  Vancouver Aquarium - Educational Department, British Columbia


Index by animal type

Birds (also see wildlife)

·  G.L.O.W.S. - Getting to Love Our World and Ourselves

Dogs / Cats

·  Argus Center for Human Animal Bond

·  Chenny Troupe, Inc.

·  Colorado Boys Ranch - New Leash on Life

·  Dog of Joy

·  Emily Griffith Center

·  Follow Your Heart

·  Girls Town USA

·  HALT - Humans and Animals Learning Together

·  Hawaiian Humane Society

·  Helen Woodward Animal Center

·  Hope Therapy

·  Human Animal Rescue Team (HART)

·  Humane Society Of Boulder Valley - Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy

·  Humane Society of Greater Dayton

    • Humane Society of Missourihumane Society of Sonoma Co.
    • Mendocino County 4-H
    • Occupational Work Adjustment (OWA)
    • PAWS in the Classroom
    • Peninsula Humane Society - Education Program For Youth
    • People Animals and Learning
    • People - Pet Partnership
    • Prison Pet Partnership
    • Project PoochRainbow Animal Assisted Therapy
    • Raise With Praise
    • Teaching Love and Compassion (T.L.C.)
    • The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce Co.
    • The Shiloh Project
    • Therapy Dogs, Inc.
    • TOUCH - therapy of Unique Canine Helpers / Support dogs Inc.

Exotic Animals

    • Animal Companion Science Program
    • Asian Elephant; An Endangered Species

Farm Animals

    • 4-H After School Program
    • Animal Companion Science Program
    • Cal Farley Boys Ranch
    • Colorado Boys Ranch - Bovine Program
    • Elkus Ranch - 4-H
    • Farm Sanctuary
    • Future Farmers of America
    • Girls Town USA
    • Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center
    • Mendocino County 4-H
    • Turnabout Ranch - Horsemanship /Cow calf
    • Viewpoint Farm


    • Girls Town USA
    • G.L.O.W.S. - Getting to Love Our World and Ourselves
    • Vancouver Aquarium - Education Department


    • Colorado Boys Ranch - Horsemanship Program
    • El Pueblo Boys and Girls Ranch - Miniature Horse Program
    • Emily Griffith Center
    • Girls Town USA
    • Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center
    • Helen Woodward Animal Center
    • Hope Therapy
    • Mustang Troop
    • People-Pet Partnership
    • Turnabout Ranch - Horsemanship /Cow calf
    • Viewpoint Farm


    • Emily Griffith Center
    • Magik Treks

Marine Mammals

    • Dolphin Research Team
    • Vancouver Aquarium - Education Department

Rabbits / Rodents

    • Animal Companion Science Program
    • G.L.O.W.S. - Getting to Love Our World and Ourselves


    • G.L.O.W.S. - Getting to Love Our World and Ourselves
    • Green Chimneys Farm and Wildlife Center
    • Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Interperative Guide Program
    • Peninsula Humane Society - Education Program For Youth


Program Listing

4-H After School Program

4-H/UC Cooperative Extension
Contact: Sharon Junge
11477 E Ave.
Auburn, CA 95603

Sliding scale after school daycare is provided by paid staff, volunteer teens and senior citizens. 4-H activities vary.

Animal Companion Science Program

Palm Springs Elementary School
Contact: Jim Griffin
6304 East 1st Av.
Hialeah, FL 33013

The Animal Companion Science Program is a Dade Co. Public School Dropout Prevention Program that provides instruction to students in 4th - 6th grade. Classes are conducted on a farm in Amelia Earhart Park (a public Park in urban Miami). The natural setting is filled with a menagerie of domesticated farm animals and tame and exotic classroom pets. Animals are incorporated into the unique curriculum and help enliven lessons and activities. Ecology, botany, biology, zoology and animal husbandry are topics of classroom lessons. Science is the motivator, but the program uses many disciplines to stimulate active participation. Goals are to motivate students and create an enjoyable learning atmosphere and improve self-discipline and self-esteem. Program has its own bus and provides transportation for students. Program currently serves 324 boys and girls from 12 local public elementary schools. The staff believes that experience is the best teacher! Ages: 10-12

Argus Center For Human Animal Bond

Colorado State University
Contact: Jennifer Freeman
300 W. Drake
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1620
(970)226-3539 / (970)491-2993

Three separate programs in education. SHARE program matches veterinary students with grade school and high school classes. Vet students teach classes based on DELTA Society curriculums - Getting with Pets, Cats as Pets, Dogs as Pets. One to three veterinary students and one of their pets put on the class. Pets include dogs, cats and ferrets. Ages 5-11

Asian Elephant; An Endangered Species

The Elephant Sanctuary In Hohenwald
Contact: Carol Buckley
PO Box 393
Hohenwald, TN 38462

The Sanctuary is the nation's only natural-habitat refuge for old, sick and needy Asian elephants. Elephants come from zoos and circuses. Education programs include outreach and teleconferencing which cover history, biology, alternative management and medicine, and the crisis facing performing elephants. Ages: all

Cal Farley Boys Ranch

PO Box 1
Boys Ranch, TX 79010
Fax: (806)534-2277

Very large residential school (300 students) accepts girls and boys on a basis of need. Children stay until they graduate from high school. Working dairy, egg production facility, hog farm, slaughter facility and cow/calf operation are operated by the children with only adult supervision. Vocational training is provided by the school. FFA projects to raise and show livestock are also available to the students. Recreational riding is taught in a horsemanship program.. Ages: 5-16

Last year, the Cal Farley organization served more than 2,000 children and families either in residence or through other outreach services. Today, more than 400 at-risk boys and girls from Texas and 20 other states are finding hope for a brighter future.


Chenny Troupe Inc.

Contact: Janet Rosen
1700 W. Irving Park Road, Suite 311
Chicago, IL 60613

This program trains and certifies therapy dogs teams; establishes and implements therapy programs in the greater Chicago area. Programs are established through a team effort of the facility, doctors, therapists and CTI program coordinators. Certified teams volunteer for a minimum of 8 weekly sessions in the program of their choice. Program coordinators organize teams and facilitate visits. Programs include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, residential schools, a teen women's substance abuse center and an orphanage. Chenny Troupe volunteers and their certified therapy dogs work at each or these facilities weekly to help each client reach his or her therapy goals. Ages:all

Colorado Boys Ranch - Bovine Program

Contact: Jim Kerr
PO Box 681/28071 Hwy 109

La Junta, CO 81050

Children appointed to this psychiatric residential treatment facility are all showing severe emotional behavioral problems and have failed in many prior placements. Several animal assisted programs are offered and all are optional. The Bovine Program involves a working cow/calf operation designed for the boys. Boys work in every phase including moving the herd between winter and summer pastures, breeding management, calving, branding, vaccinations, weaning and selling the calves. All phases of the program attempt to integrate the children into society as well as teach usable skills. Staff compete in rodeos with the boys assisting, providing role models. Ages: 12-18

Colorado Boys Ranch - Horsemanship Program

Contact : Jim Kerr
PO Box 681/ 28071 Hwy 109
La Junta, CO 81050
(719) 384-5981

The Horsemanship Program is very extensive and the boys assist in all phases. The ranch has a breeding and foaling program, riding and showing programs. Boys can participate and compete in 4H, FFA and fairs in English and Western riding, Gymkhana and halter classes. They assist staff who, acting as role models, compete in rodeo events. In the breeding and foaling program caring, love responsibility and nurturing are emphasized. A racing program is doing quite well, and though the boys can't jockey they are involved in every other stage of training and racing. Children appointed to this psychiatric residential treatment facility are all showing severe emotional behavioral problems and have failed in many prior placements. Several animal assisted programs are offered and all are optional. Ages: 12-18

Colorado Boys Ranch - New Leash On Life

Contacts: Chris Harrington & Charlene Cordo
PO Box 681/28071 Hwy 109

La Junta, CO 81050

Children appointed to this psychiatric residential treatment facility are all showing severe emotional behavioral problems and have failed in many prior placements. Several animal assisted programs are offered and all are optional. In the New Leash on Life program dogs from a local shelter are chosen by instructor and paired with a boy for 10 week training program. Graduation involves completing the Canine Good Citizenship test and dog is then placed with new adoptive owners. Charlene Cordin is the instructor in charge of this program. The ranch also offers a horsemanship program which is NARHA certified where boys learn to ride, groom, feed and care for horses. A small animal assisted therapy program is also housed at the ranch providing classes involving a variety of small animals including a resident dog, cats, chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters and fish. Chris Harrington is in charge of this program.. Ages: 12-18

By Teri Erickson


Backed by a $68,400 grant from the Iams Company, the Colorado Boys Ranch will set out this spring to scientifically evaluate its innovative pet therapy program, New Leash on Life.

The research seeks to determine whether working with dogs in the New Leash on Life program effectively changes how CBR's youth relate to themselves and others. CBR staff members are working with the Colorado State University School of Social Work and College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to evaluate the benefits of the program, which matches unwanted dogs from area animal shelters with CBR residents who care for and train the dogs for placement in adoptive homes.

"We have always suspected that participation in New Leash on Life and in other animal-assisted therapy programs has a profoundly positive effect on our youth," said CBR President Charles Thompson. "This research enables us to scientifically document this observation."

A major goal of each 10-week-long New Leash on Life session is to teach boys important life skills such as responsibility, patience and communication, while also saving the lives of unwanted dogs. Since the program's inception in 1995, some 120 dogs have been placed with new owners throughout Colorado and neighboring states.

Chris is among CBR program participants who are convinced that New Leash on Life can help change behavior. Prior to working with his dog, Lucky, a "head-strong" Dalmatian, Chris admitted to being angry and often stubborn himself. While gently teaching Lucky discipline, Chris developed patience and learned how to curb his own anger.

"If I got angry, I'd spend some time alone," said Chris. "Then I'd come back and teach Lucky things." Following "graduation" from New Leash on Life, Lucky was placed in a local nursing home.

"The dog and cat lovers at the Iams Company know firsthand the benefits of the human-animal bond on both people and pets. We are thrilled to help make research like this New Leash on Life study possible," said Lara Strazdin, Manager of External Relations at Iams.

Among other things, the research will explore whether a boy's involvement in New Leash on Life results in higher levels of empathy and positive social interactions as compared to boys who did not participate in the program. The boys will be videotaped during the sessions and asked to complete questionnaires that document their feelings about the program and their role in their dogs' training process. The research is expected to begin with the next New Leash on Life training session in early June.

This article appears courtesy of the La Junta Tribune-Democrat. It was printed in the April 30, 2002 edition.

Article in follow-up to "New Leash on Life" in the August 1999 Dog & Kennel Magazine.




Upon admission to Colorado Boys Ranch, a treatment team completes a thorough testing and assessment process specifically addressing the boy's fundamental needs. The process includes psychological, physical, family, developmental, social, environmental, legal and educational tests, as well as assessments of diet and nutrition.

This assessment process results in an integrative evaluation, developed in partnership with the youth, his family and referral sources, and is the foundation of the boys Master Treatment Plan, a guideline for case management.

The Master Treatment Plan encompasses clear and measurable social, emotional, behavioral, recreational and occupational goals, designed to increase the effectiveness of treatment and resolve the problems that most trouble the youth. It also addresses transitional services and discharge planning, developed in partnership with the referral source.

The multi-disciplinary team reviews the Treatment Plan monthly and makes revisions when necessary. These reviews are reported to the referring agency.



  • A positive self-image and positive relationships.
  • Goal-directed behaviors.
  • Self-responsibility for feelings, behaviors and thinking.


Dog Of Joy

Founder: Pearl Salotto
173 Easton Av.
Warwick, RI 02888
Fax: (401)463-3639

Pearl Salotto is a professional Pet Assisted Therapist who runs several programs. The D. J. Respect for Living Things Program is adapted for age from preschool to middle school. Talks revolve around dogs as living beings and whether they have feelings. This is broadened to people, other religions, handicaps, etc., working with family therapy pets "DJ" (Dog of Joy) and "Maj-En" (Majestic and Enthusiastic) as living examples of unconditional regard. Finally this is tied to having respect for one's self - in drug prevention, dropout, pregnancy, etc. In 1990, Pearl began a state-of-the-art cirriculum, offering certification in Pet Assisted Therapy at several colleges. Classes include history, ethics, safety, training therapy animals, and a 100 hour field internship. Classes are also offered in how to set up professionally and ethically based pet assisted therapy programs. A college text, "Loving Intervention" is currently in publication. In the high school program a 7 week course on Pet Therapy is offered through Feinstein High School for Community Service followed by ongoing community service. Students are introduced to the profession of pet therapy in nursing homes, prisons, rehabilitation centers, etc., and are taught respect for all living things. Pearl founded Windwalker Humane Colition in 1995 to educate professionals and public about the link of abuse between people and pets and to advocate the profession of pet assisted therapy.

Dolphin Research Team

Univ Of Houston, Clearlake
Contact: Michael Hunt
2700 Bay Area Blvd./Box 21 Hum Sci
Houston, TX 77058-1098

Very limited in terms of funding. Students are at-risk teens from Houston inner city high schools. Kids are taught to spot and count dolphins and record observational data for the research project. Whenever possible whole classes are taken over several trips. On the boat students also learn to recognize adult and juvenile dolphins, and some dolphin behavior. Charters are also available. Ages:13-18

Elkus Ranch - 4-H

Contact: Richard & Ruth Elkus
625 Miramontes St. #200
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

High school volunteers assist physically, mentally and financially handicapped children as the explore and work on this 630 acre ranch. Teams work together to hike, camp garden and help with various farm animals. There is hope to eventually have a handicap riding arena at the ranch.

El Pueblo Boys & Girls Ranch - Miniature Horse Program

Contact: Jake Shue
1591 Taos Rd.
Pueblo, CO 81060
fax: (719)544-7705

Average stay at this residential treatment center is 12 - 18 months. The Miniature Horse program is primarily a show program, where children compete in local through national shows. There is a small breeding program and a class for the animals programs. Students are active in all phases of raising, care, training, grooming and showing. Residents also take the horses into nursing homes for the patients to enjoy. A 4H program for raising livestock is available. Proceeds from the sale of the animals goes first toward expenses, then any leftover to the student. Emphasis on responsibility, nurturing and building self-esteem. Ages: 10-18

Emily Griffith Center

Contact: Sue Kemp
Box 95/12163 S. Perry Park Rd.
Larkspur, CO 80118
Fax: (303)681-2400

This residential treatment center houses 65 emotionally disturbed boys for approximately 18 month intervals. Horses and llamas are used for both biology and science curriculum and group and individual therapy sessions. Therapeutic riding is also used. Children feed, groom and care for resident animals. 4H projects allow the children to participate in local shows with horses, llamas and occasionally other animals. Staff may also bring in dogs. Ages:10-21

Farm Sanctuary

Contact: Lori Ehudin
PO Box 1065
Orland, CA 95963

Live in program to assist in care of farm animals rescued from abusive situations. Ages:16 & up

Follow Your Heart

Angel Care Farm Inc.
Contact: Denise DeSanty
105 Chapel Rd.
Savoy, MA 01256

John and Denise DeSanty are certified pet therapists who have developed a 45 minute program for 3rd - 6th graders using her Springer Spaniel, Jessie. Topics include morals, trust, self-esteem, honesty, how to control your tongue and replacing bad habits with good. Use a pretzel reward system. Teachers reinforce "Jessie would like you ... To be nice, smile, etc." and "Jessie would not like it if you ... Are mean, say mean things, etc." Denise and her husband are also starting a violence prevention farm program for 5th - 8th grade high risk kids. The program will run during school hours and the summer. Ages:4-14

Future Farmers Of America

National FFA Foundation
PO Box 45205
Madison, WI 53744

Programs throughout the United States involving young people with all aspects of agriculture including livestock.

Girls Town USA

Cal Farley Boys Ranch
PO Box 135
Whiteface,TX 79379

Girls only residential facility for children that need supervision but not treatment facility. Animal programs involve 4H projects raising steers, goats, pigs and rabbits for show and sale. Recreational horsemanship program requires some class time before riding lessons. Girls may compete in local rodeos. House parents may keep dogs and cats, girls may keep fish in their rooms. Ages: 5-16

G.L.O.W.S.- Getting To Love Our World And Self

Dick Dillman, DVM
4000 SW 128th Ave
Miramar, FL 33027

The Glows program teaches elementary school children empathy and moral values through the interaction of children, animals, and nature. Classroom animals, such as rabbits, fish, hamsters and cockatiels, are established and cared for by the students. Weekly classroom visits by Dr. Dillman include hands-on experiences with many different animals. Twice a month the children go on field trips to local parks, Metro Zoo, Butterfly World, Seaquaruim, and several trips to the Everglades National Park. Emphasis is on teaching a respect for all living things. Ages: 9-10

Green Chimneys Farm And Wildlife Center

Green Chimneys Children's Services, Inc.
Caller Box 719, Putnam Lake Rd.
Brewster, NY 10509
Fax: (914)279-2714

A multi-program social sercice agency founded in 1948 and based in Brewster, NY. Operations include a 150 acre Residential Treatment Center for 102 children, ages 6-21, which is regarded as the country's most extensive residential animal assisted therapy program for at-risk children and adolescents. Nearly 400 animals reside at the farm and wildlife center, residents live, attend school, receive counseling and mental health services, annd are immersed in programs serving abused, neglected and/or injured animals. Activities include daily feeding, barn care, grooming, medical care, breeding and birthing processes, riding and driving, as well as therapeutic horticulture, organic gardening, hiking, swimming, outdoor education, Native American studies, 4-H and Farm-on-the-Moove, a mobile educational farm program that enables the residents to travel to the inner-city and teach others about farm animals. Extensive vocational programs are in place. Operations include public programs, group homes, runaway prevention and mentoring services, day care, programs for developmentally disabled adults and a Country Store featuring gifts and items produced by students. Visitors welcome year round. Internships available. Animal-Assisted Activities Therapy Handbook is available for purchase.

HALT - Humans and Animals Learning Together

PO Box 23424
Knoxville, TN 37933

The HALT project provides therapeutic intervention for at-risk adolescents through obedience training of dogs rescued from a local animal shelter. Dogs are quarantined for a month and veterinary screening, worming and shots are provided by the University Of Tennessee School Of Veterinary Medicine prior to the beginning of the program. Each group meets twice weekly for three hours at a local kennel where the dogs are housed. After the four week session students present the dogs to their new owners at a graduation ceremony.

Hawaiian Humane Society

Contact: Eve Holt
2700 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96826


Volunteers must complete a 2 hour orientation to the shelter as well as quarterly enrichment training with trainers, behaviorists, etc. Duties include walking, grooming and training dogs as well as working in one special event per year. Specialized programs include a PAL program caring for pets belonging to people that are hospitalized or ill (walking and grooming); Foster care program providing foster homes for pets until permanent owners can be found; Teacher workshops for preschool and lower elementary teachers including activity books for their pupils; Animal Assisted Therapy visiting nursing homes, daycare facilities and facilities for the emotionally disturbed. All special programs require specialized training. The Animal Assisted Therapy program uses the volunteers' personal pets which must meet certain behavior criteria. Ages:14 & up

Helen Woodward Animal Center

Contact: Amy Hoyt Bennett
PO Box 64/6461 El Apajo Rd.
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067

Several programs allow juvenile volunteers to assist with animal programs. All programs require training and positions are limited. Most require minimum commitments. At the Adoption Department students 14 and over assist with training, walking, grooming and cleaning for both dogs and cats. In Therapeutic Riding volunteers (14 - 17) assist in lessons and horse care. The Education Department allows volunteers 11 and up to assist in education programs about animal care and welfare. Junior volunteers may also assist in some special events. Ages: 11-17

Hope Therapy

Moody Gardens
Contact: Sherry Kirwin
One Hope Blvd
Galveston, TX 77554
Fax: (409)740-3045

Providing animal assisted therapy, therapeutic riding, horticulture therapy, adaptive day camp and vocational training programs. Specifically tailored programs for various institutions. Volunteer programs available for all areas. Ages:16 & up

Human Animal Rescue Team (HART)

President: Suzanne Kane
PO Box 546
Filmore, CA 93016

A non-profit animal welfare and social service agency serving the Southern California area. Founded in 1982, H.A.R.T. was chartered to protect the beloved dogs of the indigent elderly, terminally ill and AIDs patients who can no longer care for them due to circumstances beyond their control. Maintaining a No-Kill Sanctuary for approximately 50 homeless dogs in Fillmore, CA, H.A.R.T. provides temporary food, shelter and veterinary medical care until new guardians are identified and screened and the dogs are adopted out. H.A.R.T. specializes in the rescue and placement of elderly, abused and disabled dogs. H.A.R.T. also publishes Muttmatchers/Messengers, a free photo ad newspaper advertising hundreds of homeless conpanion animals for adoptions being cared for by a wide variety of No-Kill Southern California Rescue organizations. Adaptable humane education material provided when available. Individual programs for students.

Humane Society Of Boulder Valley - Animal Assisted Activities/Therapy

Contact: Jackson Galaxy
2323 55th St.
Boulder, CO 80301
Fax: (303)440-8242
email: Humane@Boulder

Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy program involving volunteers with therapy dogs that are temperament tested and certified by the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. Visitation sites include a juvenile detention center, safe house, assisted living homes, long-term care facilities and nursing homes. Animals help the kids and adults to open up and talk and provide companionship. Ages: 13-17 with an adult

Humane Society Of Greater Dayton

Contact: Sara Hoschouer
1611 Nicholas Rd.
Dayton , OH 45418


This Humane society accepts only animals from cruelty cases. Volunteers help to socialize both cats and dogs, walk dogs and teach obedience to the dogs to help with placement of these animals. Also provide jobs for the Occupational Work Adjustment program of Ohio. Students in OWA undergo regular employee training and help with animal care. Ages: 12 and up

Humane Society Of Missouri

Contact: Julie Cohen / Maureen Kobbe
1201 Macklind Av.
St. Louis, MO 63110
(314)647-8800 x311
Fax: (314)951-1511

Volunteers work in adoption center after orientation. Parental guardian must approve and sign paperwork. Kids clean cages in puppy parlor, transport animals and help with adoptions. Transport and assist with medical exams and keep supplies stocked. Ages: 16 and up

Humane Society Of Sonoma Co.

Contact: Carol Rathmann
PO Box 1296
Santa Rosa, CA 95402
(707)542-0882 x213
Fax: (707)542-1317

Two projects - outreach and in-house. Children served are at risk of abuse and neglect. Outreach project uses high school seniors working for credit on senior project to take animals to local preschool through third grade classrooms. Seniors were highly screened and completed same orientation and training given adult volunteers at the center, plus extra time to learn about resident farm animals used in project. In-house program offers projects for 3 to 18 year olds including animal needs education, gardening and craft projects individually designed to the group, with special projects available at certain times of the year. Also work with deaf children. Ages: 3-18

Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Interpretive Guide Program

Contact: Cassandra Smith
1931 First Av.
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

This program strives to nurture a sense of volunteerism and social responsibility. All cultural and economic backgrounds welcome to apply. Volunteers are responsible for Pet Library and Petting Circle, butterfly and garden projects, habitat enhancement, journaling and traveling exhibition development, leading exhibit hall tours and discussions, and assisting with special events. Training is required and ongoing. Animals include non-releasable wild animals and exhibits that encourage a commitment to care of the natural world. The program is designed to affirm respect for life through activities and training that promote environmental literacy by connecting students with their surroundings. Ages: 12-16

Magik Treks

Contact: George Appenzeller
PO Box 6876
Columbia, SC 29260

Provide structured outing for at risk youths. Maximum of 8 kids with 2-3 adults (including the teacher booking the trip). Each child chooses a llama which will pack for them. The child is responsible for feeding, watering, grooming and packing under the supervision of adults. Occasionally younger children may be matched with older kids or handicapped with not handicapped. Llamas have organized social structure and set examples of cooperation and good behavior for the children. The group is out 3 to 5 days, then in for a couple of weeks, then out again in the mountains of North Carolina over the summer and on a wilderness island over the winter. Curriculum is centered around animals and environmental education. In the process of developing a permanent camp with the McCloud Center near Charlette, NC. May do some day camps. Ages: 13-17

Mendocino County 4-H

Contact: Evelyn Conklin-Ginop
County Ag Center/ Courthouse
Ukiah, CA 95482

First time convicted drug and alcohol abuse offenders are offered 4-H as an alternative to rehabilitation centers or counseling programs. Prior to joining youngsters must test drug free and they and their parents must agree to attend at least 70% of the 4-H meeting per year. Once admitted to the program, youngsters are not identified as participants, but treated as any other member. Many continued as members after their required one year attendance. 4-H programs include home economics, fine arts, agricultural and farming projects, livestock projects and puppy training. This program has the final word on applicants. Ages: 10-15

Mustang Troop

Kentucky Horse Park
Contact: Jean Hampell
4089 Iron Works Pike
Lexington, KY 40511

Youngsters are chosen by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Division of Police, Police Activities League. They are teamed with horses donated by the Bureau of Land Management's "Adopt a Horse Program". Horses are green broke by the Wyoming Riverton Penitentiary Honor Farm inmates under the direction of the BLM. One horses arrive at the Kentucky Horse Park they are worked and trained by the Park's Equine Staff. Troopers are responsible for the cleaning and setting up stalls and grooming their horses. They observe and participate in round pen training, lunging and learning to ride the horses. Due to safety issues rules are very strict and must be followed to continue participation in the program. Troopers eventually learn to work together as a drill team and preformed at Equitana (an international horse event) in 1996. Troopers work their horses Monday through Friday during the summer and weekends during the school year. The Horse Park also offers classes in horsemanship and handling during the summer. Ages: 9-14

Occupational Work Adjustment (OWA)

Contact: Ron Sumlin
Dayton OH

This is a work study program for freshman high school students. It is aimed at dropout prone kids with poor attendance records and is designed to help ease the kids back into the school system. Students are chosen from incoming attendance records and a program coordinator does a home visit to see if the student and parents are interested in the program. OWA students attend 4 hours of regular classes, 2 hours of special OWA classes including holding a job and any special tutoring that may be needed. Jobs for the students are from the schools (food service, maintenance) and the community (food service, animal shelters, service stations, etc.). Wages may be supplemented by the program. Program coordinators are teachers paid by the state (via a federal program), which work in local areas.

PAWS In The Classroom

Pet Therapy Society Of N. Alberta
330,976817 0 St.
Edmonton, AB T5T 3Z4

fax: (403)413-8805

This program was developed especially for at-risk children who have not yet had trouble with the law. Selected students are invited to participate in the class as an elective. For one hour on Mondays for 14 weeks, 4 therapy dogs and their handlers met with the students and their teacher. If students maintained attention dogs were allowed off leash to interact with the kids. Classes focused on safety around dogs, pack behavior as it relates to human behavior, responsible pet ownership and non-ownership and careers and volunteer work involving animals, especially emphasizing realities. A field trip to the local SPCA was also provided. Ages: 12-16

In a landmark book published in 1984, a biologist named E.O. Wilson wrote about biophilia - simply defined as "the innate tendency to focus on life." In his book, Wilson suggests that the evolutionary history of human thought, language and socialization has been profoundly influenced by our species’ relationships with other animals. The next step in this progression is the question "Can this influence have implications for learning?"

Even more recently, author/researchers Katcher and Wilkins concluded several studies involving children and animals in the Biophilia Hypothesis (Keller, Wilson, eds; Washington, D.C. Island Press, 1993) with these three conclusions:

  • Animals brought into a human context are powerful reinforcers of human attention and behaviour.
  • When the child is given the opportunity to interact with the animal as well as watch it, there are more positive changes in behaviour and they are more persistent.
  • Human speech and the nonverbal expression of emotion are facilitated by the presence of animals.

Another documented study conducted at Cajon Park School in Sanee, California concluded that animal affection resulted in a change of pupil behaviour in the classroom and there was an improvement in attitude and behaviour toward teacher and peers. This was reported in Animal Affection and Student Behaviour by D.M. Kaye.

Interest and support for animal-assisted learning has moved from researchers to educators themselves. In a statement issued by the National P.T.A. Congress in 1993, the long-term societal benefit of positive human-animal interaction was noted: "Children trained to extend justice, kindness and mercy to animals become more just, kind and considerate in their relation with each other. Character training along these lines in youth will result in men and women of broader sympathies, more humane, more law-abiding - in every respect more valuable citizens."



Email Us



Peninsula Humane Society - Education Program For Youth

Contact: Pam Patek
12 Airport Blvd
San Mateo, CA 94401-1098

fax: (650)348-7891

Many humane education classes are offered by subject area with considerable choice in study area and instructor. Classes provided both at the shelter and in the classroom. Shelter also provides an outlet for community service credit requirement for local junior high and high schools. Volunteers accepted if 16 or older. Younger less reliable. Junior volunteers start in 6 month program working in clerical, pet supply store or restocking and eventually earn right to work with the animals, starting in puppy socialization, then dog walking and working with cats. Camp 101 is offered in the summer and during school breaks for 9 to 12 year olds (16 kids per session). This is a day program (9 am to 3 pm) held at the Humane Society. Two to three volunteers and one staff person attend the kids each day. Projects include pet care, wildlife rehabilitation, pet adoption, shelter work with and for the shelter animals, teaching positive reinforcement obedience training with staff or volunteer dogs, observe a spay or neuter operation, art projects (leash, cat collar,pet dinner mat, etc.), and animal laws. Ages: Camp 9-12; volunteers >16; service learning 13-18; classroom programs K-8.

People, Animals, Learning (PAL)

Wisconsin Humane Society
Contact: Lynn Derr
4151 N. Humbolt Av.
Milwaukee, WI 53212
fax: (414)961-1070

PAL program is designed for at-risk kids between the ages of 10-13 who have a definite interest in animals. During the program kids obedience train shelter dogs and help feed and monitor orphaned baby birds prior to their release back into their natural habitat. PAL kids become teacher by presenting the knowledge they have acquired to other kids and adults in the community. Two sessions are held each summer. Each three-week session is held Monday-Friday from 9 am - noon. The program is offered free and transportation is provided to and from the shelter. Ages:10-13

People-Pet Partnership

Washington State University College Of Vet Med
Contacts: Francois Martin, PhD or Leo Bustad, DVM, PhD
Box 647010
Pullman, WA 99164-7010

People-Pet Partnership (PPP) is a public service activity of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Their mission statement is to study the human-animal bond and its applications. At this time, PPP has four partnerships. Pet Education Partnerships (PET) vounteers take temperament tested and obedience-trained companion animals into local schools to provide K-6 lessons from its curriculum guide "Learning and Living Together: Building the Human-Animal Bond". Lessons include: responsible pet ownership, the web of life, stewardship of the environment, people with disabilities and their service animals, prevent-a-bite and dealing with the grief associated with the loss of a pet. The Companion Animal Partnership (CAP) volunteers take temperament tested and obedience-trained companion animals into local care facilities. In addition, research is being conducted on the effects of animal-assisted therapy on special populations. The Palpouse Area therapeutic Riding Center (PATH) offers recreational therapeutic horseback riding lessons for area rides with physical, emotional and/or mental diabilities. Funding is being sought that will allow the expansion of the program to offer hippotherapy and therapeutic horse-driving and to research the effects of this intervention for people with disabilities. The Pet Loss Partnership provides face to face and telephone counseling for people who have lost or are facing the loss of a companion animal. In the fall PPP offers an ethics seminar, Reverence for Life. This course is taught conjointly with the philosophy department. Materials can be ordered by calling (509)335-1303 or emailing

Prison Pet Partnership

Contact: Jean Hampl
PO Box 17/9601 Bujacich Rd. NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98335-0017


This non-profit organization contracts with the Washington State Department of Correction to provide Vocational Education. The Pet Technician Level I & II curriculum from the American Boarding Kennel Assoc. is used as a screening tool for female offenders. Classes include Breeds and Handling, Nutrition, Immunology, Cleanliness and Parasitology. Inmates run a full service Boarding and Grooming Kennel as well as train dogs rescued from local humane societies to be Service Dogs for the physically disabled. The scope also includes Seizure Alert & Social Therapy Dogs. Dogs are placed in WA, OR and S. British Columbia. Ages: >18

Project Pooch

Oregon Youth Authority
Contact: Joan Dalton
2630 N. Pacific Hwy
Woodburn, OR 97071

(503)378-3598 x654
fax: (503)373-7968

Positive Opportunity Obvious Change with Hounds (POOCH) is an on going project at an all male juvenile correction facility. Dogs from local humane societies in need of training to make them more adoptable are assigned to inmates. Youth are responsible for all care, feeding and training of dogs. Approved as federal vocational program. Youth learn anatomy in science classes. Write about dogs in English. Animals assist in anger management. Dogs are kenneled at night. When animals are ready, adoptions follow guidelines of humane society. Youth do have some feedback in adoption process, though breaking the bond can often be hard. Ages: 14-25

Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy

PO Box 531
Northbrook, IL 60065-0531
fax: (773)283-1129

A non-profit all volunteer organization dedicated to providing physically or emotionally challenged children the opportunity to participate in aminal-assisted activity and therapy. Programs at schools, hospitals, residential centers and park districts are designed to meet goals set by the child's therapist, teacher or parent. The special activities are provided free of charge to the children. Each specially trained and registered therapy dog belongs to a club member. Serving the greater Chicago area. Ages: All

Raise With Praise

Founder: Paul Ownis
2027 W. 65th St.
Cleveland, OH 44102

fax: (216)651-1663

Paul Ownis has developed a program for teaching nonviolence using animals. He uses dogs to teach nonviolence using food, toys, freedom and praise for teaching and training. The programs are age based and designed around specific groups of kids. Video and books are also available on Non-violence in Dog Training and Stress Management for Dogs and Their Humans.

Teaching Love And Compassion (TLC)

SPCA Los Angeles
Contact: Joan Melrod Weiss
5026 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
fax: (213)730-5333

Twelve children, six male and six female, ages 11 to 13 are paired with six dogs for a three week period during intersession from school or for 4 weeks as an after school program.. A dog trainer teaches the children how to train basic obedience and the children also attend violence prevention lectures/workshops daily. Dogs within the program have had a very high adoption rate. Post graduation children have the option of continuing on as trainer/volunteers for the shelter, which includes leading tours, socializing and grooming shelter animals and giving presentations for younger children. TLC now has a 4 page color bulletin called Side by Side - Youth & Animals United, featuring humane education articled and activities focusing on violence prevention and compassionate treatment of animals. Ages:11-13   (Get a copy!)

The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce Co.

Contact: Bob Walter
2608 Center St.
Tacoma , WA 98409

fax: (253)572-3678

Volunteer program requires parental involvement. Kids work in bathing and grooming animals, nursing home therapy visitations, and shelter events (manning booths at fairs, etc.) Shelter also has available a brochure on Breaking the Cycle of Abuse available to teachers and counselors. Ages: 14-17

The Shiloh Project

Contact: Nancy Katz
12210 Fairfax Towne Center
Fairfax, VA 22033

The Project pairs homeless dogs with juvenile offenders. One licensed teacher, one humane education instructor and one experienced trainer works with groups of six youth to train three dogs. Worked with four separate schools in 1996-97 school year. Case workers or counselors choose the youth participating. The dogs are brought to the school for each training session. Program lasts one month, three times per week, 1.2 hours per session of dog training and one half hour of anger/personal attitude management and humane education. Dog trainer comes once a week. “Our Mission: Teaching juvenile offenders and youth at-risk Compassion, Respect and Responsibility toward animals and others through the experience of socializing and interacting with rescued homeless dogs, Promoting the adoption of homeless companion animals and Encouraging healthy and positive human/animal bonds.  “  The goals of The Shiloh Project are to provide an opportunity for juvenile offenders and youth at-risk to:


   -Learn about animal abuse and prevention, its links to human violence and how interaction with animals relates to human relationships.

  -Experience exposure to a healthy and non-violent interaction with a companion animal.

  -Learn proper care and responsibility toward companion animals.

  -Discover how to make a difference n the lives of homeless companion animals.

(prosecuting animal abuse:  DEADLY SERIOUS:  


Part 1

By Randall Lockwood, Ph.D., and Ann Church


   The HSUS has a long history of working closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat cruelty to animals. Many of these agencies have become acutely interested in the connection between animal cruelty and other forms of violent, antisocial behavior. They have found that the investigation and prosecution of crimes against animals is an important tool for identifying people who are, or may become, perpetrators of violent crimes against people.


   Earlier this year [1996], Senator William Cohen of Maine formally asked U.S. attorney general Janet Reno to accelerate the U.S. Department of Justice’s research in this area. On June 6, The HSUS met with the staffs of Senator Cohen and Senator Robert Smith of New Hampshire and with representatives of the FBI and the Justice Department. One participant was Supervisory Special Agent Alan Brantley of the FBI’s Investigative Support Unit (ISU), also known as the Behavioral Science Unit. The ISU is responsible for providing information on the behavior of violent criminals to FBI field offices and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Special Agent Brantley served as a psychologist at a maximum-security prison in North Carolina before joining the FBI. He has interviewed and profiled numerous violent criminals and has direct knowledge of their animal-abuse histories. In his role as an ISU special agent, he shares that information with agents at the FBI Academy and law enforcement officers selected to attend the FBI’s National Academy Program. When we asked Special Agent Brantley how many serial killers had a history of abusing animals, his response was, "The real question should be, how many have not?")



Therapy Dogs Inc.

Contact: Ann Butrick
PO Box 2786
Cheyenne, WY 82003

Non-profit corporation that provides testing, registration and liability insurance for therapy dog teams. Teams are tested and observed working in therapy situations before being registered. Call for local tester information. Dogs must be at least one year. Minimum age for 4H dog handlers is 12 yrs, all others 16 yrs of age. Children under 16 required to be accompanied by parent or guardian. Ages: 12-adult

TOUCH - Therapy of Unique Canine Helpers / Support Dogs Inc.

Contact: Christine Curtis
3958 Union Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63125

Support Dogs Inc. (SDI) certifies and monitors therapy dogs in the Midwest from their base in St. Louis. Canine teams work on a regularly scheduled basis with several hospital's psychiatric and behavioral units, including adolescent units, in the TOUCH (Therapy Of Unique Canine Helpers) Program. Therapy sessions are conducted under the direction of facility counselors, therapists or other medical personnel. Monthly documentation of the results and success of this program has been submitted by the facilities and the canine handlers since 1989. TOUCH dogs are especially good at getting through to children who have severe withdrawal, with progress often seen in the day following visitations. Handlers must be at least 18 to be certified and dogs must be over 18 months to begin training. Ages: all

Benefits of TOUCH Therapy

TOUCH Therapy helps rehabilitate children or adults by providing Therapy Teams trained to:

·         Stimulate voluntary physical activity

·         Decrease preoccupation with problems

·         Stimulate memory

·         Increase social cooperation

·         Stimulate communication and verbal skills


Turnabout Ranch -Horsemanship/Cow calf

Please visit our revised and up-to-date site at:

  Turn-About  Ranch
 280 North 300  East, P.O. Box  345, Escalante, UT  84726  




PO Box 345
Escalante, UT 84726

Several large animal programs. Horsemanship program emphasizes responsibility and accountability. Children are required to spend class time learning about horses before interacting with them. They learn how their behavior can effect the behavior and reactions of the horses. Western riding is taught. A 200 head cow-calf operation provides a working experience for the boys and girls who participate in all phases including feeding, maintenance, vet work, calving, hand-raising abandoned calves, branding, docking and weaning. Pigs, goats, sheep and chickens are kept and maintained. Ages: 12-18

Vancouver Aquarium -Education Department

Contact: Margaret Butschler
POB 3232
Vancouver, BC V3B 3X8
fax: (604) 631-2529

Several programs are available to students through the Aquarium. Nightlights is a 12 hour program based on the nocturnal habits of marine mammals. Students are allowed to sleep beside the killer whales. Other programs include youth volunteer programs, family camps and many school programs, both on site and through Aquavan (a mobile classroom). Topics include ecosystems, ethics and biology. Aquakits are available for local teachers to assist in teaching the subjects.

Viewpoint Farm

Contact: Barbara Downing
6808 112 St. East
Puyallup, WA 98373
fax: (253)848-0959

Working farm acts as a 90 day stabilization placement for runaway girls housing 4 to 5 kids at a time. Girls attend school, assist with farm chores including hand raising replacement dairy heifer calves and a horse raising operation. Girls are integrated into community riding lessons given at the ranch and participate in 4H special projects. One such project, City Kids and Calves, a joint effort of Viewpoint farm and the Pierce Co. 4H, brought at-risk kids from local metropolitan areas to assist in raising calves. Use of large animals is humbling, yet empowering, helping to build confidence in the teens. Future hopes include a working girls ranch in Washington state. Ages: 12-18

UC Center for Animal Alternatives
Companion Animal Behavior Program
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California, Davis


UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health CCAH Update, Spring 1999

Animal Companions Enhance People's Lives


“Scientific studies have shown that people with companion animals are likely to be happier and healthier (and more socially attractive!) than people without pets.


Center for Children's Environmental Health begins autism survey


July 2001

Animal Abuse and Youth Violence  Juvenile Justice Bulletin September 2001

Motivations That May Underlie Animal Abuse by Children and Adolescents

Animal abuse in the context of firesetting may also have predictive value. Rice and Harris (1996) reported on a sample of 243 firesetters who had resided in a maximum-security psychiatric facility and were later released. In a followup of 208 of these men, Rice and Harris found that a childhood history of cruelty to animals (coded from patient records) predicted violent offense recidivism (p<0.001) and nonviolent offense recidivism (p<0.05) but not firesetting recidivism.5

The Salt Lake City Area Juvenile Firesetter/Arson Control and Prevention Program (1992), funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, is based on a typology of juvenile firesetters that may be relevant for developing a typology for children who abuse animals (Marcel Chappuis, personal communication, March 23, 1998). The typology of juvenile firesetters categorizes children into the following groups:

  • Normal curiosity firesetters. The mean age of this group is 5 years (range, 3–7 years). Children in this group often share the characteristics of poor parental supervision, a lack of fire education, and no fear of fire.
  • "Plea-for-help" firesetters. The mean age of this group is 9 years (range, 7–13 years). The group's firesetting is often symptomatic of more deep-seated psychological disturbance. The individuals usually have had adequate fire education.
  • Delinquent firesetters. The mean age of this group is 14 years (range, 13 years to adulthood). Firesetting may be one of a host of adolescent-onset antisocial behaviors, including gang-related activities, exhibited by this group.

The Salt Lake City program has developed a series of assessment scales geared to each age group of firesetters that can be administered to the child and the child's parent/guardian. In addition to questions about fire education and the firesetting incident(s), this series has questions about general behavior problems (similar to items on the CBC), including one item about cruelty to animals. (There is also a direct question about whether the firesetting incident involved the burning of an animal.) Responses to these assessments are used to select an intervention strategy. Children who fall into the normal curiosity group are often enrolled in a fire education program, and attempts may be made to educate parents about fire safety and the need for supervising young children. Children who fall into the other two groups are referred to mental health services because fire departments are not prepared to deal with the psychological problems these young people may present.

It might be possible to develop a similar typology for children who abuse animals. Although there is not a great deal of empirical information on which to rely, the study by Ascione, Thompson, and Black (1997) suggests the varied motivations that may underlie child and adolescent animal abuse. Using the extensive experience of animal control and animal welfare professionals, one could develop a typology mirroring that for juvenile firesetters. A sketch of such a typology might approximate the following:

  • Exploratory/curious animal abuse. Children in this category are likely to be of preschool or early elementary school age, poorly supervised, and lacking training on the physical care and humane treatment of a variety of animals, especially family pets and/or stray animals and neighborhood wildlife. Humane education interventions (teaching children to be kind, caring, and nurturing toward animals) by parents, childcare providers, and teachers are likely to be sufficient to encourage desistence of animal abuse in these children. Age alone should not be the determining factor in including children in this category. For example, CD symptoms may have an early developmental onset, and as noted earlier, cruelty to animals is one of the earliest CD symptoms to be noted by caretakers. Older children who are developmentally delayed may also fall into this group.
  • Pathological animal abuse. Children in this category are more likely to be (though not necessarily) older than children in the exploratory/curious group. Rather than indicating a lack of education about the humane treatment of animals, animal abuse by these children may be symptomatic of psychological disturbances of varying severity. For example, a number of studies have tied childhood animal abuse to childhood histories of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exposure to domestic violence. In these cases, professional, clinical intervention is warranted.
  • Delinquent animal abuse. Youth in this category are most likely to be adolescents whose animal abuse may be one of a number of antisocial activities. In some cases, the animal abuse may be a component of gang/cult-related activities (e.g., initiation rites) or less formal group violence and destructiveness. The use of alcohol and other substances may be associated with animal abuse for these youth, and they may require both judicial and clinical interventions.

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California Children and Family Services     




Youth Violence Prevention Article   March 23, 2004





by, Melanie Barker, MPH/MSW, Education Coordinator, Center for Child Protection

This is the first in a three-part series including defining the youth violence problem; aggressive behavior in adolescents, including prevention programs; and politics and policy for youths in the juvenile justice system.






According to Reddy, et al (2001), those youth at risk for targeted violence may not have many of the risk factors generally associated with juvenile delinquency. The etiology and intervention may differ significantly. Cornell, et al (as cited in Reddy, 2001) found that juveniles referred for evaluation after having committed homicide were less likely to have prior mental histories, arrests, poor school adjustment, or placements in juvenile facilities, vis-à-vis those juveniles referred for evaluation after having committed larceny. Findings revealed a substantial heterogeneity among juvenile homicide offenders. Reddy, et al (2001) posit that juvenile offenders of targeted school violence may differ considerably not only from non-violent crime youth offenders, but also from those who commit other acts of homicide. Hence, they argue that for purposes of preventing school violence, assessment requires identifying whether a particular student poses a threat to another identified individual(s) at school, as opposed to assessing whether an individual poses an increased risk for committing some act of aggression. Further, any inquiry should also include an investigation into a student’s grievances about school or potential targets.

In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Secret Service developed and implemented the Safe School Initiative project in an effort to bring their expertise in research and prevention of targeted violence to address the problem of school violence, providing accurate information to those multidisciplinary stakeholders challenged with school safety. To that end, The Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center studied 37 school shootings, involving 41 assailants who were current or recent students at the school, and where the assailant(s) chose the school for a particular purpose, rather than as an opportunistic site.

Most attackers had demonstrated some behavior that warranted alarm or a need for intervention. Almost 50% of the attackers had histories of depression, and nearly 75% had demonstrated suicidal ideation, gestures, or attempts.

Far too often children experience victimization, as illustrated in the following statistics:

  • In 1994, approximately 2.6 million youth ages 12-17 were victims of crime–simple and aggravated assaults, rape, and robbery (Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, as cited in Marans and Berkman, 1997).
  • In a study conducted at Boston City Hospital, 1 out of 10 children seen by their primary care clinic had witnessed a shooting or stabbing prior to age 6–50% of these incidents occurred in home and 50% in the street. These children averaged 2.7 years in age (Taylor, et al as cited in Marans and Berkman, 1997).
  • In a survey of 5th and 6th graders in Washington, D.C., 31% reported having witnessed a shooting; 17% reported witnessing a homicide; and 23% reported having seen a dead body (Richters and Martinez, as cited in Marans and Berkman, 1997).

Children’s exposure to violence and child maltreatment is highly correlated with depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, anger, substance abuse, and poor school performance (Garbarino et al; Martinez and Richters; Singer et al; and Ciccetti and Carlson, as cited in Marans and Berkman, 1997). These symptoms are clear indicators, however, the Surgeon Generals’ report states that abuse and neglect are "relatively weak predictors of violence," and "most children who are abused and neglected will not become violent offenders during adolescence." Conversly, the role of family and parental factors, influenced by social learning, modeling, and identification with the aggressor, with respect to aggressive, physically abusing, and criminal parents is well cited in the literature as predictive of aggressive/antisocial behavior (Fry 1988; Hall and Cairns 1984; West and Farrington 1977; as cited in Shaw & Campo-Bowen, 1995).

Next quarter, look for part two in the series on aggressive behavior in adolescents.


Bureau of Justice Statistics (2001). Homicide trends in the U.S. U. S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.


Cooper, W.O., Lutenbacher, M., Faccia, K. (2000). Components of effective youth violence prevention programs for 7- to 14-year-olds. Archives Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 154, 1134-1139.

Fanning, K. (2001) Kids in the legal system. School violence: Staying safe [On-Line].


Hanson-Harding, A. (1999). Ending School Violence. Junior Scholastic [On-Line].


Marans, S. & Berkman, M. (1997). Child development–community policing: partnership in a climate of violence. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Bulletin, March, 1-8.

Reddy, M., Borum, R., Vossekuil, B., Fein, R., Berglund, J. & Modzeleski, W. (2001) Evaluating risk for targeted violence in schools: Comparing risk assessment, threat assessment, and other approaches. Psychology in the Schools, 38 (2), 157-172.

Shaw, J.A. & Campo-Bowen, A (1995). Aggression. In Sholevar, G. Pirooz (Ed.), Conduct Disorders in Children and Adolescents. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Press.

Spoth, R.L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (2000). Reducing adolescents’ aggressive and hostile behaviors. Archives Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 154, 1248-1257.

U.S. Depts. of Education and Justice (1996). Creating Safe and Drug-Free Schools: An Action Guide. Washington, D.C. [On-line].

Available at: or

Vossekuil, B., Reddy, M., Fein, R., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2000) U.S.S.S. Safe School Initiative: An Interim Report on the Prevention of Targeted Violence in Schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center







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