WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) announced that she has introduced the bipartisan Animal Violence Exposes Real Threat of (AVERT) Future Violence Act of 2022, a commonsense step towards understanding and responding to the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
“From Columbine to Parkland to Buffalo to Uvalde, many perpetrators of mass gun violence have a history of animal abuse. Better understanding this pattern of behavior will help us save lives,” said Assistant Speaker Clark. “This is a crucial step in our work to end America’s epidemic of gun violence and make our schools, streets, and communities safer.”
“For far too long, Americans have grappled with an epidemic of gun violence that has taken lives, and shattered families and communities in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Peters. “We must continue to come together to find commonsense actions we can take to protect our communities and save lives – including understanding behavioral patterns like how a history of animal abuse can lead to future violence.”
Research shows that individuals who commit animal abuse are five times more likely to commit crimes than non-animal abusers. On average, 70% of convicted animal abusers will commit another crime within ten years, and nearly 40% of those follow-on crimes will be violent. This link between animal abuse and future criminality is so strong that in 2016 the FBI amended the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to start collecting data on animal abuse.
The AVERT Future Violence Act ensures that animal abuse is treated with urgency as a broader community issue and provides lawmakers with concrete policy recommendations to develop more effective intervention and diversion strategies for animal cruelty offenders to reduce the likelihood of future violence occurring in our communities. Specifically, it calls for:
The commission of a definitive study within the Department of Justice to assess the link between acts of animal cruelty and future violence against others; and
Authorization of a $2 million annual grant program to support mental health experts, law enforcement, and animal welfare organizations in their efforts to stop animal cruelty and rehabilitate offenders.
The AVERT Act is cosponsored by Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Dina Titus (D-NV-1), Alma Adams (D-NC-12), John Katko (R-NY-24), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), David Joyce (R-OH-14), Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC).
“I am cosponsoring the AVERT Act because I have seen the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence,” said Congresswoman Titus. “Those who mistreat animals are also likely to mistreat people. Guns just make it worse.”
“Often, individuals who commit violent crimes make animals their first target, and then move to humans. The disturbing correlation between animal abuse and other acts of violence must be studied and understood, which is why I am spearheading introduction of the AVERT Future Violence Act with Rep. Clark,” said Congresswoman Moore.
“Many who have a history of animal abuse have proven to go on to enact violence on others,” said Senator Tillis. “Recognizing obvious, early warning signs, like animal abuse, and acting on those signs, can save lives. I am proud to introduce this legislation with my colleagues to take a commonsense step towards reducing violence, including devastating mass shootings.”
The legislation is endorsed by ASPCA, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society Legislative Fund, National Sheriffs’ Association, National LINK Coalition, NOVA (National Organization for Victim Assistance), Community Justice Action Fund, American Psychological Association, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Small & Rural Law Enforcement Executives Association, SAF-T (Sheltering Animals and Families Together) Program, and the PAWS Coalition (Human Animal Bond Research Institute; Nestlé Purina; Red Rover; Noah’s Animal House; Urban Resource Institute; Pet Partners).
Full text of the bill can be found HERE.
Original story HERE.