OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Animal cruelty cases will be getting their own category in a national FBI database so law enforcement can better track them.
The FBI worked with the National Sheriff’s Association and the Animal Welfare Institute to add animal abuse to the list of crimes that the federal agency tracks. Authorities have long said that animal cruelty can be an early indicator of violent crime against people.
Animal abuse often happens behind closed doors, not necessarily in the public, like at dog parks sprawling with pooches. The FBI changes begin next month in the New Year.
Previously these types of cases were listed under “other crimes” and weren’t easily tracked.
Animal rights advocates say this is a step in the right direction, even if California currently isn’t a part of the database.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” said Leroy Moyer from Voices for Pets. “We somehow have to keep track of these violent, sadistic people.”
Under the new system, animal abuse would be categorized under four new categories. They include; simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse or torture, organized abuse (dogfighting or cockfighting), and animal sexual abuse.
Former FBI criminal profiler, Candice Delong said the new data could help researchers track trends and track increases in animal abuse.
Delong said the database could be useful to profilers because studies have shown that some serial killers abused animals while they were growing up.
“If a parent knows about it or a neighbor, especially a parent, they’re not going to call the police. They’ll just tell little Johnny, ‘Don’t do that again,’” said Delong.
Dog owners at a Concord dog park said they support the database.
This new database does not make animal cruelty a federal crime, or that animal abusers will face stiffer sentences.