The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been in existence since the early 20th Century and throughout its existence the agency would not take responsibility on the federal level regarding cruelty to animals. Their policy was that it was a state issue and each state should be responsible for monitoring animal cruelty. Though many of the animal territories span more than one state and products from these animals are transported intrastate the FBI refused to change their policy. They also disregarded the fact that those people who are cruel to animals can pose a threat to society. There had always been some issue overriding the animal cruelty situation. During Prohibition the FBI was monitoring illegal use of alcohol, the Great Depression brought job losses and other issues. World War II gave the agency un-American activities to investigate and by the end of the 20th Century cyberspace needed to be watched. In 2001, terrorism took precedence and issue of animal cruelty once again was passed over. This situation has finally been reversed through many years of producing evidence by many animal advocate organizations.
The states have been monitoring animal cruelty for decades but they are limited to jurisdiction and proof. Park Rangers, Sheriffs, county and state officials do not have the man power to monitor all of the incidents. Private organizations like the non-profit Animal Welfare Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Society (AHS) have long been encouraging a federal mandate regarding this matter.
It is a proven fact that individuals who are cruel to animals are abusing children and other adults. Animal cruelty is on the rise as is domestic violence and violent crimes. There is a proven tie between these situations. The National Link Coalition is an organization dedicated to promote the understanding of this connection between animal abuse and violent crimes states that witnessing animal abuse and neglect can desensitize children to violence and stunt the development of empathy.
“In animal abuse, you have total power over the animal,” said Baltimore County prosecutor Adam Lippe, who handles cruelty cases. “If you’re willing to exert that in a cruel, malicious and vicious way, then you’re likely to do that to people too, who don’t have power, like children and vulnerable adults. It’s an issue of a lack of empathy.”
As of 2016, the FBI has begun to monitor animal abuse cases. Their National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) started collecting data from law enforcement agencies regarding animal cruelty that includes gross neglect, torture, sexual abuse and organized abuse. Prior to this year, crimes that involved animals were lumped into the category of All Other Offenses.
Milwaukee residents can find more information regarding animal cruelty at the Wisconsin Humane Society and Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Center.