Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Contact: Janine Kava, Press Office
(518) 457-8906 or (518) 275-5508 – cell
For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008

State, ASPCA sponsor training exploring link between domestic violence, pet abuse

Law enforcement professionals, social services and animal protective providers and advocates who assist domestic violence victims today attended a day-long training designed to increase awareness of the link between domestic violence and pet abuse.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ (DCJS) Violence Against Women Act Unit and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) sponsored the training, which was held at the YWCA in Schenectady and attended by more than 90 professionals.

The day-long training was the first of three that will be held across the state in October, which has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month by Gov. David A. Paterson. The training was comprised of five workshops, each focusing on a different aspect of the topic, including exploration of the ways in which animals are used to threaten and manipulate victims of abuse and a discussion of sheltering/pet fostering programs.

The training also featured an update on legislation and legal issues, including discussion of a new law enacted by New York State last month that extends orders of protection to include pets of those individuals protected by the order. The two other trainings are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15 in Brooklyn and Tuesday, Oct. 21 in Mount Morris (Livingston County).

“By working in partnership with social service providers and domestic violence advocates, law enforcement agencies across the state have made great strides in the fight against domestic violence,” DCJS Commissioner Denise E. O’Donnell said. “However, the methods that abusers employ to harass and intimidate their victims are constantly changing, so we must all stay one step ahead of those who would commit these crimes. This training will allow everyone – law enforcement, social service professionals and advocates – to better understand the connection between pet abuse and domestic violence so that we can work collectively to tackle this emerging trend.”

In the past month, two high-profile cases in New York City involved allegations of domestic violence-related pet abuse. In one case, a Brooklyn man was arrested on felony aggravated animal cruelty charges after he allegedly tossed his girlfriend’s Shih Tzu from a third floor window after a domestic argument. The dog died from its injuries. In another case, a Manhattan man was accused of killing his girlfriend’s cat in a jealous rage. That case resulted in a hung jury and prosecutors are considering a retrial.

The DCJS Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Unit has a variety of responsibilities, including administering federal funding that comes to New York State for domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking programs and distributing the state’s Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kit, which is provided free to all hospitals so medical providers can collect forensic evidence in sexual assault cases.
Founded in 1866, the ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States. The Human Law Enforcement Department enforces New York’s animal cruelty laws and is featured on the television series “Animal Precinct” on Animal Planet. For more information, visit www.aspca.org.

DCJS is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including collection and analysis of statewide crime data; operation of the DNA databank and criminal fingerprint files; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry and a toll-free number (1-800-262-3257) that allows anyone to research the status of an offender.