Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer
Leavenworth County Humane Society Executive Director Crystal Swann Blackdeer presented “Animal Cruelty and Neglect”, a lecture to inform audience members about
indicators associated with animal cruelty and its connections to domestic violence Oct. 26
in Marshall Lecture Hall at the Lewis and Clark Center.
The guest lecture was one of the Family Advocacy Program’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month educational events. Key themes in Blackdeer’s presentation included the mistreatment of animals as an indicator of ongoing or future criminal activity, and literary evidence of abuse correlations.
She also talked about local and military statutes that define animal cruelty, animal care
and reporting processes. Blackdeer emphasized how different forms of abuse often correlate because of the tendency of an abuser to create an oppressive environment.
“You’ll see that intersection there — child maltreatment, elder abuse, animal abuse, spousal abuse, there’s a connection,” she said. “It’s all about a lack of empathy, and power and control.”
She provided examples of convicted killers with a history of animal abuse, such as Jeffery
Dahmer and Nikolas Cruz, to demonstrate how children who participate in animal cru-
elty may escalate violent behavior through their formative years into adulthood.
“If we can interrupt that cycle of violence, we can help that child,” Blackdeer said. Animal abuse can also be a warning sign of child abuse. Blackdeer said law enforcement officers who respond to animal cruelty calls frequently find patterns of child abuse as a result of the response.
Outright violent behavior is not the only indicator of animal cruelty, as neglect is also
a possibility. From a veterinary perspective, some owners might not know how to provide
a pet’s basic needs.
“We try to provide information and resources to that person when they come to claim their animal,” Blackdeer said. She said dogs coming into LCHS’s care with painfully overgrown nails is a common occurrence. Guidance and assistance is offered when the
dogs are returned to their owners.
“That way we are sending the animal home to a better environment, hopefully.”
In terms of intervention, Blackdeer suggested the audience members become familiar with Kansas anti-cruelty statutes, military statutes and the consequences associated with
each. She informed the audience about the signs of physical abuse and what an abusive
environment might look like to encourage initial reporting.
Blackdeer also suggested that interested parties report through a National Incident- Based Reporting System through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. NIBRS is designed to track incidents for national analytics standards and capture data for future use.