What do serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David Berkowitz have in common?
Each has a history of animal abuse and confessed to brutally killing animals during their childhood. Animal abuse is often the first sign of serious disturbance among adolescent and adult killers. “Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids,” says Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI is tracking animal cruelty cases now to help nab such criminals early.
The Warning Signs
Psychologists are increasingly focused on animal abuse in childhood as a warning sign. When a child of any age shows intentional cruelty toward animals that is repeated, severe and without remorse, this should be taken very seriously.
“Serial killers are closely linked to animal cruelty, so much so that it is exceedingly rare to find one who did not begin his or her career with animal abuse.”Dr. Harold Hovel in a 2015 report by the New York State Humane Association.
In a welcome initiative, the FBI is now tracking data on animal cruelty cases throughout the USA, to prevent animal abuse and help flag those who might become violent offenders. In a partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association and the Animal Welfare Institute, animal cruelty crimes will now have their own organized category within the FBI’s public collection of national crime statistics. Previously animal abuse fell into an “other crimes” category which includes minor offenses like spitting.
This data would help police look for patterns of animal abuse as well and thus better allocate their resources. The database includes information like age, criminal history, and location.Animal rights organizations can also reallocate resources based on the new federal data by focusing their attention and finances on a specific region of the country or a certain age demographic that seems most prone to animal violence.
This long due exercise would hopefully help animals and humans alike by identifying potential offenders.