CPS and Animal Control to Work Hand-in-Hand?

A boy and his dog
CPS and Animal Control may have to work hand-in-hand in future.

When the average person thinks about CPS, they don’t usually also think about dogs and cats and possibly gerbils. Nor does the average person associate Animal Control with children (unless they are a parent making jokes after a very difficult day!) Either way, these are not two agencies that are commonly linked in their work or in people’s minds. But that might be about to change.

A bill introduced in the Michigan House recently aims to have these agencies link hands when it comes to the issue of reporting abuse. The bipartisan bill, if signed into law, would require animal control officers to report any suspected child abuse that they encounter when responding to their duties. In the same way, Child Protective Services workers would be required to report suspected animal abuse.  

House Bill 4442 (2017), sponsored by three Republican and two Democratic Representatives, were introduced just days ago. IF they are passed, they would put Michigan on the map with twelve other states in the U.S. that have already passed similar laws. Although, ask any of the Representatives who sponsored this, and they will tell you it has nothing to do with being like other states. According to Rep. Kosowski, it’s just another way to “make sure that we’re taking care of our Michigan families.”

To many people this may seem like a strange partnership, but in actual fact the link between child abuse and animal abuse has long been recognized by experts. Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center printed an article that opens with the line: It has been well documented that mass murderers often abuse animals before they turn to people.

Are animal abusers also likely to abuse people?

According to Melissa Trollinger, an attorney in Colorado and the original author of the article, the link between domestic violence, child abuse, and cruelty to animals is widely recognized. “Jeffery Dahmer, Albert DeSalvo (the “Boston Strangler”), Ted Bundy, and David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam”) all admitted to mutilating, impaling, torturing, and killing animals in their youth.”

She goes on to say that “a connection often exists between juveniles who have abused and killed animals, and those who assault or even kill people.” The examples Trollinger provides include “Classmates of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold reported that the boys bragged about mutilating animals before their attack on Columbine High School. Sixteen-year-old Luke Woodman, who stabbed and killed his mother and then shot and killed two classmates, wrote in his diary about beating, burning, and killing his dog Sparkle.”
Brandy Thompson, a family law attorney at The Kronzek Firm, says, “While I certainly would never condone animal abuse or neglect. Many times animals are neglected for financial reasons. There isn’t enough money for vet check-ups or even dog food. In these situations the parents are likely choosing to feed their children before their pets, such a situation may warrant the removal of the animal(s) but certainly not the removal of the children.”