Animal Abuse papers presented at The Stockholm Criminology Symposium

Escrito por Nuria Querol i Viñas.


The 2012 Stockholm Criminology Symposium was a successful symposium attracting over 500 delegates from around 40 different countries. More than 200 speakers presented within the two main themes, Focusing on Victims of Crime – Comparing Crime Patterns and Improving Practice and Contemporary Criminology. Dr. Nuria Querol, member of the ASC, the National Link Coalition, the Animals and Society Institute among others, presented two papers on animal abuse.


Speaker:   Nuria Querol Viñas

Presentation title:  The role of animals in domestic violence

Regarding violence to animals within the context of domestic violence, previous studies reveal that 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims;  32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals. 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.  Mistreating animals is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.The Comission against Family and Gender Violence of the Primary Care Centers of Sant Cugat and Valldoreix is developing a Multidisciplinary Program to Attend Women victims of domestic violence and their companion animals following the SAF-T guidelines. We have established collaboration with SPCAs Fundación Altarriba and Cau Amic to offer shelter for their companion animals in case it is needed. For that purpose, we are asking screening key questions in the emergency room or in the facility where the woman reports violence. In a year-time, we have identified 30 women who lived animals, 76% of them reported the animal being abused as well. In two cases, the abuser chose the breed (german shepherd and bull terrier) and left the animal with the woman when he left home. These dogs were poorly socialized and the women felt unable to positive-train them, in a parallel way to what was happening with their children which victimised the women in a way that was new for us. In one case it was necessary to shelter 3 dogs because the woman emergency shelter does not allow companion animals. For the 82% of the children/youngsters the companion animals were a source of comfort and love.  3 cases in which they abused animals where identified: a 8-year old child who is being abused by the father killed a companion fish and tried to kill a canary. He also presents enuresis, fascination for fire, self-harm and bullying. The two other are young women aged 19 and 21 diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.


Speaker:   Nuria Querol Viñas

Presentation title: Cruelty to animals and Antisocial Personality  Disorder. Criminological and forensic correlations

 Over the past 25 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of violence. There is virtually no data in Spain regarding animal abuse and violent crime. We took a sample of 24 male inmates of the Prison of Barcelona to evaluate psychopathy and other possible indicators for risk assessment such as cruelty to animals. We administered the PCL:SV and RACA (Reports of Animal Care and Abuse). 23,5% of the inmates had a history of complete Mc Donald triad (cruelty to animals, enuresis and pyromania), 65% presented incomplete triad (one/two items). The descriptive analysis of the items of the triad gives the following percentages:Animal  abuse 41,7 %; pyromania: 71% and enuresis: 58,8 % of the subsample.

Given the pronostic value of this triad (Pincus, 2001): cranial trauma+ paranoia+ history of psychological/physical/sexual abuse (as victims) it is remarkable that 41% of the inmates presented the complete triad and 29, 4% one or two items. It is also interestig to point out the fact that some sexual aggressors reported for the first time, having been sexually molested during childhood or adolescence. In the case studies we have observed conduct disorder and important lack of empathy, especially in the individuals with a high rate of violence in their felonies including animal abuse. Both triads may be useful to evaluate the dangerousness or can be an important indicator for risk assessment.

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