Animal abuse is a horrible crime, but did you know that its discovery can help investigators uncover further abuse in the home? When animal abuse occurs, it can be an indicator that some sort of human abuse (domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse) may be taking place as well. This is “the link.”

This link between human and animal abuse is extremely important to recognize when investigating any type of violence, as it may uncover more victims below the surface. According to, up to 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse a member of their family.

“When we recognize ‘the link,’ animal welfare groups and human services agencies can work together to break the cycle of violence,” said Esperanza Zúñiga, RedRover Relief’s program manager and advocate for the animal victims of domestic violence.

Esperanza and RedRover have joined up with The Deadly Link, a new investigative documentary on the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence. The documentary is meant to educate police officers, social service providers, veterinarians and other investigators make the connection on different forms of abuse and work together to stop it.

“Social welfare officials, teachers, law enforcement and animal caregivers can all recognize how animal abuse might point to other forms of violence in the home, and vice versa,” said Esperanza. “The Deadly Link documentary will share the importance of protecting all victims, including both people and animals.”

What you can do:

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitant – telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it – keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life and the life of their pets.