Attorney General Van Hollen and Victim Services Providers Praise Move to Add Animal Cruelty to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program

Dec 17 2014
Attorney General Van Hollen and Victim Services Providers Praise Move to Add Animal Cruelty to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program

The UCR Program will add animal cruelty as a separate offense next year.


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is praising the move by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to add animal cruelty as a separate offense in the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), which collects crime data from law enforcement for the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. 


“Studies show a high correlation between those who commit acts of cruelty against animals and those who harm humans.  People who commit acts of domestic violence and child abuse often manipulate and control their human victims through expressed and implied acts of violence against family pets.  Animal cruelty should never be treated lightly,” Jill Karofsky, Executive Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said.


“Not only will this data collection help us understand the factors associated with animal abuse, these crimes will no longer be classified as ‘other’ crimes just because they were committed against animals,” said Anne Reed, the president and CEO of the Wisconsin Humane Society. “Elevating animal crimes to Group A offenses like homicide and arson reflects the progress we’ve made as a society in recognizing the seriousness of animal abuse and how it affects individuals and whole communities. We applaud the FBI in their efforts to direct attention and resources to animal crimes.”


According to CJIS, the National Sheriff’s Association and the Animal Welfare Institute submitted proposals to the UCR Program to create a separate category for animal cruelty in the NIBRS program.  The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis (BJIA) within the Division of Law Enforcement Services manages Wisconsin’s UCR data, which is available here.


“Recognizing animal cruelty as a serious crime will increase awareness, create more accountability for offenders and offer safety for victims,” said Carmen Pitre, Executive Director of Sojourner Family Peace Center.  “Understanding the link between animal abuse and domestic violence is critical to protecting victims in our communities.  This change gives us one more tool to use to achieve safety for people who are trapped in violence.”


Earlier this year, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin Humane Society, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) and Serve Marketing unveiled the “Spot Abuse” project, which is designed to raise awareness of the link between domestic violence and animal abuse.  The campaign was prompted, in part, by research from the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys that found 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse a member of their family.  Visit to learn more.


“The Milwaukee Police Department has trained our members to be aware of the relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence.  Abusers who inflict violence toward animals are often likely to abuse humans and that is why it is essential that the response from the police recognizes the link between domestic violence and animal abuse,” MPD Inspector Carianne Yerkes said.  “MPD has partnered with the Wisconsin Humane Society and the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission in the Animal Abuse Task Force to address the issue.”  


“For the first time since the FBI began collecting crime data in 1930, the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program will now collect information on animal cruelty offenses,” Robert J. Shields, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Milwaukee Division, said.  “The FBI assesses this new collection is significant and will report offenses related to crimes against animals, therefore providing law enforcement and the public a better understanding of the extent of these types of crimes in the United States.” 


The four types of abuse that will be identified for the purposes of reporting criminal activity include:  Simple/Gross Neglect; Intentional Abuse and Torture; Organized Abuse (Dog Fighting and Cock Fighting); and Animal Sexual Abuse.  The defined types of abuse do not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping, according to CJIS.  The UCR Program will implement these changes to the NIBRS next year and accept data January 2016.


Click here for April 30, 2014, news release on “Spot Abuse” campaign.  For more information from the Wisconsin Humane Society, contact Angela Speed, Vice President of Communications, at 414/431-6104.