What do human and animal abuse have in common?

Have you heard that Humane Canada is presenting Canada’s first national conference on the violence link in December?

If you aren’t familiar with the violence link, it’s the proven link between violence against animals and violence against people. This can manifest in many ways, including a pet being harmed or killed after a woman leaves an abusive relationship or a serial killer practicing his or her abuse on animals before moving on to human beings. Over the last decade, this pattern has come to be known as the violence link.

We now know that, not only does animal abuse co-occur with human abuse, but it can predict future violence against human beings. In fact, animal abuse is more clearly correlated to family violence than mental illness, drinking or drug abuse*.

Our conference is the first big step that Canada is taking to find ways to coordinate and improve our response to the abuse of both people and animals – and better address the ways those forms of abuse intersect.

Our lineup of expert speakers includes…

  • Dr. Margaret Doyle, DVM: a forensic expert on animal abuse and neglect who has worked on hundreds of animal cruelty cases, from crime scene analysis and necropsies to providing expert witness testimony at trial. She will be speaking on The Veterinarian’s Role in Preventing Violence.

  • Dr. Rebecca Ledger: an animal behaviour and welfare scientist who has been doing ground-breaking work as an expert witness in the prosecution of psychological and emotional suffering in cases involving cruelty and neglect. She is presenting on Determining Psychological Suffering in Cases of Animal Cruelty.

  • Tracy Porteous: the Executive Director of the Ending Violence Association of BC and a three-time Governor General of Canada medal recipient for her work to prevent and end violence. She is presenting on Understanding Lethal Risks Associated with Domestic Violence Toward Keeping Women, Families and Pets Safer. 

  • Marcie Moriarty: Chief Prevention and Enforcement Officer of the BC SPCA, thought leader on animal cruelty enforcement and prosecution, and a key advisor for Canada’s National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty. She is co-presenting on Investigation and Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Neglect.

  • Alex Janse: Animal Cruelty Resource Counsel for British Columbia with the BC Ministry of Justice, thought leader on animal cruelty prosecution, and a key advisor for Canada’s National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty. She is co-presenting on Investigation and Prosecution of Animal Abuse and Neglect.

  • Dr. Frank Ascione: an internationally-renowned researcher and author on the development of antisocial and prosocial behaviour in children and Scholar-in Residence at the Graduate School of Social Work of the University of Denver. He is presenting on The Roots of Animal Abuse and Neglect and the Connections to Interpersonal and Societal Violence.

Who is this conference for? Police officers, Crown prosecutors, judges, animal cruelty enforcement personnel, veterinarians, social workers, first responders, animal welfare advocates and policy experts. All of these key stakeholders in the fight against violence and abuse will gather for cross-training on these issues so we can begin to take real action on preventing the cycles of abuse that harm both animals and people.

*Source: Dealing with Animal Abuse to Alleviate Family Violence. Zorza, Joan. Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly. Spring 2010. Vol. 2 Issue 4, page 345.