Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) dramatically under-reporting animal cruelty

A study in the International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy leads observers to conclude that the majority of animal cruelty cases in the US go unreported to the FBI and therefore their database on animal cruelty highly suspect, indeed misleading making it perhaps less than worthless.

The FBI under-reports animal cruelty due to a flawed data collection system

The FBI under-reports animal cruelty due to a flawed data collection system. Image: MikeB

The study authors state that the number of animal cruelty cases could be up to 500 times higher than those reported to the FBI.

The FBI, in America, is under-reporting animal cruelty cases because of “severe shortcomings in how the FBI collects animal cruelty data, what kind of data it collects and how it classifies that data”.

According to Nathan Winograd who has read the above-mentioned study, the FBI classifies homicide and other interhuman crimes as crimes against persons. However, it does not classify animal cruelty as “crimes against animals”.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

It classifies animal cruelty as “crimes against society”. A very peculiar classification which apparently is similar to crimes concerning properties such as theft and I presume criminal damage which is damage to a person’s possessions.

Comment: this might be because under Western jurisdictions cats are regarded as the property of the cat’s caregiver, no different from any other possessed and owned object whether it is inanimate or a sentient being.

This is an old-fashioned classification which seems to have affected the way the FBI collects animal cruelty data.

Because animal cruelty is classified in this way by the FBI it does not place data from this classification in the main category of crimes but in a catchall category called “All Other Offences”.

And also, according to Nathan Winograd, who I’ve relied upon to interpret this study, this catchall categorisation of animal cruelty cases “limits the amount of data it gets from state law enforcement officials”.

This is because although most US states report on crimes against persons and other primary crime data, 32 states do not provide any reporting in the “All Other Offences” category.

The result is that “the majority of cruelty cases go unreported to the FBI”.

Also, the FBI limits who can report data which presents a unique problem for crimes against animals. The police do not always investigate animal cruelty cases whereas they consistently investigate crimes against persons.

Animal control officers (ACOs) are the ones who most frequently respond to complaints of animal cruelty and not the police. Unfortunately, animal control officers are not permitted to report this information to the FBI to allow them to include it in their database.

Other sources of statistics on animal cruelty in the US are: Agriculture, Conservation, Drug Enforcement, Fire Marshal, Fisheries/Wildlife, Forestry, Natural Resources, Marine Resources and Health/Social Services. As I understand it, these agencies do not report animal cruelty to the FBI. Or they are among the least reported of all crimes.

Other problems with this database include inadequate information about the offenders and victims which would have allowed for the instigation of effective intervention. It appears that the FBI identifies the details regarding the offenders but the information is classified into neglect, abuse, dog/cockfighting and sexual offences. It does not provide “information on animal victims themselves – nothing on the relationship between human offenders and animal victims; on victim species; or on the duration, degree or type of harm was caused”.

The FBI admit that there is a problem with their database reporting but is not prepared to do anything about it. An FBI report found that there were numerous gaps regarding knowledge of crimes against animals.

The recommendation is that the FBI better prioritised animal abuse cases and categorise these crimes in the main group of crimes allowing more states to report them to the FBI.

The study recommendations also include more precise categorisation of animal cruelty and, as I understand it, creating subcategories. The FBI has rejected the proposals. Animal cruelty cases will continue to be underreported by the FBI thereby dramatically hindering the prevention of animal cruelty crime.

Study details

Title: On the Geometry of Speciesist Policing:The Federal Bureau of Investigationā€™s Animal Cruelty Data.
Authors: Piers Beirne – University of Southern Maine, United States and Michael J. Lynch – University of Southern Florida, United States.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *