Animal cruelty: Warning sign before attackers progress to violent crimes against people

After several disturbing animal cruelty cases in the Phoenix area, experts warn the public about statistics showing a link between animal cruelty cases and violent crimes against people. 

It seems like a new, horrific case pops up every week. 

Most recently it was BB Bear, a husky puppy dropped off at an animal shelter with his skull bashed in.

Before that it was an pit bull puppy who was dragged by a vehicle and left for dead in Surprise. The puppy later had to be put down.

Then there was Panda, a pit bull mix, who's throat was slashed before she was left for dead in Chandler. 

All separate cases but the concern about their attackers is the same

“This was an intentional act where someone tried to kill this dog or hurt it,” said Sgt. Daniel Mejia, a spokesperson with the Chandler Police Department. 

Chandler detectives and other Valley agencies are aggressively investigating these latest cases of animal cruelty with the hopes of bringing the attackers to justice. 

A task made increasingly important by the growing number of studies showing the link between people who abuse animals and the likelihood that the suspect will commit violent acts against humans.

"All of our serial killers have animal cruelty in their background,” said Alison Ferrante.

Ferrante is an assistant Mesa city prosecutor.

While Ferrante definitely isn’t saying everyone who commits animal cruelty is a serial killer, studies show a disturbing link to other violent crimes.

"There's a good chance this person has committed crimes in the past or a good chance they'll commit crimes in the future,” Ferrante said. 

Ferrante, who specializes in animal cruelty cases, says some killers have previously talked about how they progressed from animals to people. 

“Animals, obviously they feel love, they feel pain and they react the same way we do,” she said.

“So they yelp or cry and a lot of times humans (who commit the act) want to get that rise out of an animal and then they'll escalate to a person,” Ferrante explained.

As for Panda, she continues to recover from her wounds as police search for her attacker.

Other dogs haven't been as lucky. 

Last week, Ollie, a pit bull terrier mix who'd been stabbed more than 50 times and stuffed in a suitcase, died after enduring several surgeries at an animal hospital in Florida.

It’s cases like Ollie’s that drive Ferrante to urge the public to come report any cases of animal abuse, before these violent attackers can hurt anyone else. 

Studies show an alarming connection between animal abuse and perpetrators of domestic violence and violence against children. 

“If you don't call police to investigate an animal cruelty case you could be allowing this person to abuse a child, to abuse a person,” she said. 

If you have any information on any outstanding animal cruelty cases you can call local authorities or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377).

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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