For one to completely understand animal cruelty one must know how animal cruelty is categorized. Animal cruelty was first categorized as a symptom of conduct disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 1987 (McPhedran; 2008). Conduct disorder is defined as “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others are major age appropriate societal norms or rules are violated” (American Psychiatric Association; 1994 as cited as McPhedran; 2008). To be diagnosed with conduct disorder, a person must have at least 3 of the 15 symptoms of the disorder presented. Other symptoms of conduct disorder include persistent patterns of aggression towards humans, lying and deception, theft and/or robbery, and destruction of property (American Psychiatric Association; 1994 as cited as McPhedran; 2008).
Ascione states, “that animal cruelty must be treated as a multidimensional behavior” (Ascione, 1997 as cited as McPhedran, 2008). There are dimensions of animal cruelty which are: severity, frequency, duration, recency, diversity, animal sentience level, covert, isolate, and empathy. The multidimensional approach states, that distinguishing between different types of behaviors towards animals, and the various different motivational states underlying those behaviors, is a vital tool to enhance understanding about precise nature of the animal abuse and the interpersonal relationship (Ascione, 1997 as cited as McPhedran, 2008).
Abusing of animals is usually one of the first symptoms of conduct disorder to appear in children (Ascione, 2001 as cited as McPhedran, 2008). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), states “A substantial proportion of children diagnosed with conduct disorder continue to show behaviors in adulthood that meet criteria for antisocial personality disorder” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; as cited as McPhedran; 2008). To not treat or even acknowledge animal cruelty maybe ignoring an underlying disorder, and treating the developmental problem can help prevent future violent behaviors. The violence graduation theory states that animal abusers progress to other forms of violent behavior (Flynn, 2000; and cited as McPhedran, 2008).
Animal abuse and family violence tend to be “linked” and tend to happen in the same household. Companion animals are often regarded as family members, if not by the abuser, than by others within the family (McPhedran; 2008). Some Researchers have suggested that domestic violence dwindles down to the pets because the pets are thought of as being a family member within the family (McPhedran; 2008). Research shows that incidences of animal abuse is disproportionately higher in homes where family violence is present compared to homes where violence is not presented (McPhedran; 2008).A social-psychological research stated, that attitudes toward animals would predict behavior towards animals (Henry; 2008).
Threatening or harming...