• Tia Hoffer
  • Holly Hargreaves-Cormany
  • Yvonne Muirhead
  • J Reid Meloy
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Psychology book series (BRIEFSPSYCHOL)


Results were presented and included the following categories case type (acts included beating, shooting, burning, kicking, punching, etc.). The 259 offenders commit active animal cruelty acts against 495 animal victims. Breaking down the affective and predatory violence, the sample comprises 33.5% affective violence and 59% predatory violence. The majority are Caucasian (78.8%) and the median age was 34 years. The other findings include education level. Marital status, household composition, children, employment status, mental health and substance use, and/or abuse history.

Regarding the offenders’ criminal history, 73.3% of the 213 offenders with National Crime Information Center reports were arrested for at least one offense. In addition, 88.7% had a documented criminal arrest history prior to the animal cruelty charge and 54.5% had been arrested following the animal cruelty offense, with 59.9% engaged in interpersonal violence prior to, concurrent to, and post the animal cruelty offense.

The animal victims were mostly dogs (64%) and 24% were cats. In 40%, beating was the most frequent animal cruelty act, followed by shooting (22%). Affective offenders exhibited more beating and predatory offenders exhibited more shooting acts. Instruments were used in 52.8% of the cases and 29.1% used personal weapons. Affective offenders used personal weapons while predatory instruments used sharp force instruments.

Relationship with the victim and offender in the affective group is 86% compared to 48% of predatory offenders. In addition, in 69.1% of the cases people were present during the animal cruelty incident. The top three motivations included displacement/retaliation against an animal, punishment for unwanted behaviors of the animal, and animal unwanted. Other results included offender’s claims/explanations to law enforcement, number of victims killed, cause of death, location of body disposal, and legal outcomes.


Beating Shooting Burning Kicking Punching Offender demographics Gender Age Race Education Marital status Household composition Children Employment Mental health Substance abuse Criminal history Recidivism NIBRS Species Age Dog breeds Victim age Instruments Sharp force Blunt force Firearm Poison Water and drugs Personal weapons Firearms Compound bow Asphyxiants Animal cruelty act Children Adults Incriminating statements Partial confession Full confession Denial Fled the scene Refused to talk to police/acted arrogantly Denied the animal cruelty act Provided a written statement Exhibited no remorse, guilt, or shame Bragging minimization Rationalization Accident Self-defense Mentally ill Motivations Dogs Cats Birds Cows Rabbits Turtle Squirrel Ferret Alligator Opossum Groundhog Goats Horses Fish Beating Shooting Throwing Strangling/choking Burning Mutilation Torture Neglect Intimate partner Neighbor Motivational types Third party Offender’s emotions Offender’s needs/wants Action by the animal Displaced/retaliate against people Anger expression/tension Other emotions of offender To experience nonspecific sadism Animal unwanted Other antisocial behavior Punishment for unwanted behavior Peer pressure Imitation Ritual Body disposal Legal outcome 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) under exclusive licence to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tia Hoffer
    • 1
  • Holly Hargreaves-Cormany
    • 2
  • Yvonne Muirhead
    • 3
  • J Reid Meloy
    • 4
  1. 1.Federal Bureau of InvestigationKapoleiUSA
  2. 2.Marymount UniversityArlingtonUSA
  3. 3.Federal Bureau of InvestigationSan AntonioUSA
  4. 4.University of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA

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