RedRover has 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 about the connection on different forms of abuse and help them work together to stop it. Watch the trailer:

(Trigger warning; contains dramatization.)

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. Nina Knapp, Director/Producer for The Deadly Link, explains:

The time is long past for us to look at abuse only through the prism of domestic violence, or animal abuse, or child abuse, or elder abuse. The impact of any and all of these requires systemic social change. When we provide the resources for our various social welfare agencies to come together, we will find a lessening of officers working on the same cases. Police officers, animal control officers, court-appointed therapists, and others can accomplish so much more together than as separate entities. Cross-reporting is a good place for communities to begin. But it is only a beginning. One aspect of our documentary, The Deadly Link, is to help communities find ways to bring social welfare officials together, to encourage them to build collaborations or networks. For instance, if a police officer answers a domestic violence call, but sees animals that may also be in harm’s way, they know who to call in animal control to come and assist right away. This networking also helps to build stronger legal cases against abusers when they are able to collect evidence of both animal and human abuse in violent homes. When The Deadly Link is complete, we hope to take our film “on the road,” complete with an educational document providing resources for change after we are gone.

Creating networks can happen in small, rural communities. In New Mexico, for instance, there is an annual conference on the link between animal abuse and human violence. Attendees are able to connect with each other in very meaningful ways. As a result of the increasing evidence of the link, we now have the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department and County Animal Welfare Department working together making neighborhood sweeps and answering calls of domestic violence or animal abuse. I can’t say enough for how crucial it is to create opportunities for dialogue and building collaborative efforts. That’s how real problems get solved at the grassroots levels, not by waiting for laws to change.

– Nina Knapp, Director/Producer, The Deadly Link

“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.

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. “RedRover is proud to be a participant and sponsor of this important project,” said Esperanza, “The Deadly Link documentary will share the importance of protecting all victims, including both people and animals.”

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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.