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Animal Sheltering
From May-June 1997 Issue

The Front Lines

HSUS Launches Its "First Strike"
Campaign Focuses on the Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

The HSUS is bolstering its efforts to educate the public and social-service professionals about the undeniable connection between animal abuse and human violence. The HSUS's new "First Strike" campaign will increase awareness of the well-documented connection, but more importantly will attempt to strengthen the ties that bind community organizations together in an effort to improve abuse prevention, increase intervention efforts, and strengthen anti-cruelty laws.

 Your agency can take the lead in educating those who are on the front lines: members of the public and animal welfare, law enforcement, human services, and education professionals. Once investigators in humane agencies and social service agencies are trained to identify instances of abuse and begin sharing pertinent data with each other, your community will be better able to rescue animals and people who stand in harm's way.

 To help you get started, The HSUS has created a First Strike campaign kit filled with materials on intervention and prevention. The kit contains fact sheets customized for animal-shelter personnel, law-enforcement representatives, social workers, educators, parents, and the general public. It also features advice enjoining an existing anti-violence coalition or organizing a new one.

 "Action against violence must draw on all the diverse talents of a community," says Randall Lockwood, PhD, HSUS vice-president for Training Initiatives, a psychologist who's published numerous articles on the cycle of abuse. "Humane groups can help identify the perpetrators and victims of violence and can act as resources to promote empathy and compassion to others within the community."

 The HSUS recently sponsored a national public opinion poll which reveals the depth of the public's interest in this topic. Some of the survey's results include:

  • Four in five Americans want stronger enforcement of anti-cruelty laws and 75 percent are more likely to support politicians who vote to strengthen such laws. Americans have witnessed an incident of intentional animal abuse within the last five years, though less than half reported the incident to authorities.

  • Three in ten Americans said that either they, a friend, or a co-worker has been a victim of domestic abuse.

  • Of those reporting abusive situations where a pet was present, 18 percent said that the victims' pets were either threatened, injured, or killed by the perpetrator.



    These findings underscore the need for collaborative efforts to prevent all forms of violence.

     The First Strike campaign will be the focus of a two-day symposium entitled "Cruelty to Animals and Human Violence: Making the Connection," scheduled for September 9-10 in Washington, DC.
    Call toll-free 888-213-0956 to register for the symposium or to learn more about the First Strike campaign. To receive a campaign kit containing brochures, handbooks, ad slicks, and fact sheets, request order #PM2188 and send $8 to First Strike Campaign, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20037.

    -Debbie Duel

     Copyright © 1997 The Humane Society of the United States.