This research explores the relationship between the nature of animal cruelty perpetrated by owners versus cruelty against animals of domestic partners, family members, and neighbors. All animal cruelty incidents in the City of Detroit for which there is a police report between 2007 and 2015 were included in the analysis. Animal cruelty was categorized into eight types of abuse: dog fighting, shooting, neglect, poisoning, threat, stabbing, kicking/hitting with blunt force, and “other.” A list of motivations for the cruelty was also coded based on information contained in the police reports. Descriptive and association analyses along with odds ratios derived from logistic regression were used to illustrate the likelihood of method of cruelty, given a particular relationship type and motivation. Findings suggest that the types of cruelty perpetrated by owners of the animal are different from cruelty committed by a family member, neighbor, or intimate partner. Perpetrators who are intimate partners or family members of the owner of the animal are more likely to demonstrate more active cruelty such as kicking or blunt force injuries, while owners are more likely to evidence forms of neglect. General relationships between cruelty type, motivations, and interpersonal relationships are similar among all those accused of animal cruelty and those that have also been charged with other crimes. The findings suggest that connections between interpersonal relationships and the types of animal cruelty perpetrated are more complex than previously understood, and that actions taken to reduce animal cruelty must be multipronged and take into account the variation in types of interpersonal relationships and types of cruelty.
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