Excluding references and index, Animal Cruelty Pathway to Violence against People is 167 pages of intense facts, data, research and case studies collected from a variety of credible and referenced sources. The focus is on making the connection between childhood cruelty to animals and adult violent behavior. It is a must read, and resource for agencies that deal with violent offenders and their victims. The authors, Linda Merz-Perez and Kathleen M. Heide, both with impressive credentials, bring new insight to this issue. Impressive Forward and Afterword contributors further enhance the book's credibility and support.
The in-depth information and subject matter are presented in textbook style and does not make for quick nor easy leisurely reading. The flow of the information is well organized. I was impressed with the overview of animal welfare history and the reexamination and refinement of previous studies and research. Three theories of offenders are clearly outlined followed by a chapter detailing method and study design. There are numerous table summaries of various studies, many of which I found useful. However I found myself skimming over areas of foreign text explaining the formulas such as, chi-square = 2.248; d.f. = 1;p = .134. I most enjoyed the proposed definitions of seven forms of animal cruelty (page 156-157). "These definitions, although not mutually exclusive, establish distinct conceptual parameters by which to more clearly articulate cruelty in its many manifestations."
As with any good research, it leaves the reader with more questions and new avenues to explore. Animal Cruelty Pathway to Violence against People is likely to be too specialized for a general audience. I would, however, recommend it for anyone with an interest in violence against humans or animals and the welfare of animals.
Practitioners in the animal welfare field, law enforcement circles, and social services arena have often maintained that childhood cruelty to animals is a forerunner to violence against people. Does this behavior serve as a red flag with respect to extremely violent offenders, such as serial killers? Is it part of the cycle of violence associated with domestic abuse? Perez and Heide provide the first scientific examination of this relationship and examine issues of cruelty across different types of animals (pet, wild, stray, farm). The authors evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data to identify correlations between childhood cruelty and adult violent behavior, utilizing interviews and criminal records of violent and nonviolent inmates in a maximum security prison. Their findings will be of importance to a diverse audience, including researchers and practitioners in the field of juvenile justice, violence and domestic abuse, social welfare, animal welfare and animal rights and developmental psychologists and counselors, as well as law enforcement officers, district attorneys and judges, county and municipal officials, animal control officers, veterinarians, and school administrators, especially those concerned with intervention and prevention strategies.