Pets and Violence

About the Link

Professors Arnold Arluke and Jack Levin of Northeastern University and Carter Luke of the MSPCA conducted the study which is the first to examine the relationship between violence against animals and crime in the general. In the study, a number of cruelty cases prosecuted by the MSPCA between 1975 and 1996 were reviewed. Results indicate that 70 percent of those who committed crimes against animals had also been involved in other violent, property, drug, and disorderly crimes.

The study also concluded that a person who has committed animal abuse is:

  • 5 times more likely to commit violence against people
  • 4 times more likely to commit property crimes
  • 3 times more likely to be involved in drunken or disorderly offenses

The results of this ground breaking study established that an animal abuser is more often a potential danger to society and more likely to be involved in other crimes.

Laws and Legislation

The MSPCA has been actively involved it passing legislation that addresses the link:

  • We worked on a law to facilitate the cross-reporting between animal and human services agencies.
  • Advocated for a 2012 law that allows pets to be included in temporary protection orders.
  • Involved in the filing of PAWS II a bill filed in the Massachusetts 2017-18 legislative session that increases cross-reporting between agencies and adds animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and/or release upon conditions.
  • The Federal PAWS Act, filed by Congresswoman Katherine Clark, allows individuals to obtain an order of protection for themselves and their companion animals in cases of interstate domestic violence and stalking. It would also establish an Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program that would provide funding to eligible entities to establish short-term pet shelters and housing assistance. Learn more.


As many of 48% of domestic violence victims don’t leave – or delay – leaving a violent situation out of concern for a pet. These programs may be able to help by providing temporary care for a pet. Most of the programs recommend or require that the person making the contact be an advocate from a domestic violence program.

Dakin Humane Society
Safety Plan for Animals
171 Union Street, Springfield, Mass.

Link Up Education Network
Safe People Safe Pets Program
(617) 999-3055

Elizabeth Freeman Center
in partnership with Berkshire Humane Society
SafePet Program
413-447-7878 ext 140

Safe Pet program

Womanshelter companeras
Holyoke, Mass.

More information about the Link

Understanding the Link between Violence to Animals and People.
Publication of the National District Attorneys Association (.pdf)

The National Link Coalition
Working together to stop violence against people and animals

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