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An Urban Experience
E. Patterson-Kane1
1American Veterinary Medical Association, Animal Welfare Division, Schaumburg, USA
Emily Patterson-Kane, PhD
American Veterinary Medical Association 1931 N Meacham Rd Ste 100 Schaumburg IL 60173
The most widely accepted de nition of animal abuse is:
“Socially unacceptable behavior that intentionally causes unnecessary pain, suffering, or distress to and/or death of an animal”.[1] It is important to recognize that this is a hybrid de nition in that it de nes animal cruelty 1) as a crime with a victim experiencing suffering or death, and also 2) that this outcome must be deemed unnecessary and socially unacceptable, and 3) the conduct must be “intentional” although the motivation need not be sadistic (seeking suffering as the primary outcome). Various experts support narrowing or expanding this de nition, which would have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of this behavior and its associations.e.g.[2]
Settling on this particular scope also has a lot of implications for the attempts being made to unpack what the more common animal cruelty motivations are and how they develop--including our attempts to understand how animal cruelty connects to other types of behavior and behavior categories like violence and antisocial behavior. Most of the extant theories have some bene ts and some limitations when it comes to developing preventive and treatment strategies, and the underlying data is incomplete and complex. Currently there are three major models for how animal abuse is connected to other socially unacceptable behaviors.
The Graduation Hypothesis
The graduation hypothesis suggests that animal abuse is a crime that indicates dangerousness that is likely
to escalate and result in crimes against human victims such as serial murder, and this idea is now very widely accepted by the public. It is a theory with a very long history and which is present in different cultures.
There is however a tension created by relying on this narrative. While is can be extremely effective for gaining
traction with in uential groups that are not particularly concerned about animal issues, it can also be seen as marginalizing animals as victims. But the greatest issue with this theory comes from combining it with a relatively broad de nition of animal abuse.
By the current de nition, animal abuse is not an especially rare behavior. Surveys of control “normal” populations of males sometimes reveal that a majority report having committed at least one act of animal abuse and overall rates of approximately 30% are common.
In this context the rates of animal abuse found in
known violent and criminal population are not clearly in
a different category from normative populations.[3] Our current de nition of animal abuse includes individual
that demonstrate many different types and frequencies of behavior, and may be further distorted by people not remembering or reporting acts they do not consider relevant or signi cant, or that they are ashamed of. Based on current research the connection between abuse of animal and people is somewhat correlated
but no more so than correlations with crimes against property, self-harming behaviors, and other risk factors such as poverty.
Special Association Theories
One way to try and narrow the scope of study to a forensically useful range is to look at connections between animal abuse and other more speci c and uncommon types of behavior. The most famous example of this approach is the Macdonald Triad[4] which suggests a special connection between animal abuse,  re setting, and bed wetting. Many decades of research have also failed to support a particular link between these three. Nevertheless it continues to be the theory that refuses to not fade away based partially on its early adoption by the FBI.
It is worth remembering that almost every theory
of special connections is based upon suggesting
a common underlying motivation for the different behaviors—often rather speculatively. For the Graduation Hypothesis it is typically callous or sadistic personality. For the MacDonald Triad it is the offender’s desire to rebel and act out against rules and defy authority. And more recently researchers have adopted the idea that animal cruelty and  re setting are lined by a desire to exert personal power and control. In terms of motivation or mens rea these are very distinct and separate motivation types, and popular theories tend to track the predominant moral anxiety of the community at that time.
General Strain/Deviance
Other researchers have largely abandoned the idea of emphasizing particular connections, coming up with

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