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The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence


The Revd Professor Andrew Linzey is Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. He has written more than 100 articles and authored or edited 20 books on theology and ethics, including seminal works on animals: Animal Theology (1994). In 2001, he was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury in recognition of his 'unique pioneering work in the area of the theology of creation with particular reference to the rights and welfare of God's sentient creatures'.


1 November 2011


Oxford animal theologian Professor Andrew Linzey has been awarded a top university honour for his pioneering work around the world.

The University of Winchester is to recognise Professor Linzey with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in recognition of his work in animal theology in a graduation ceremony on 9 November.

Professor Linzey, who is Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, said: "I am delighted to accept this award on behalf of my colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, who are in the forefront of pioneering this subject internationally.”

“Animal ethics is now an emerging discipline with scores of university courses world-wide, and this is a tremendous boost to those working in this field.”

“Animal ethics explores the challenges that new thinking poses, both conceptually and practically, to traditional understandings of human-animal relations.”

Professor Elizabeth Stuart, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor commented: “At Winchester we value and celebrate those who champion the voiceless and challenge the dominant paradigms. We shall honour one of the animals’ most thoughtful and passionate champions, someone who I believe will be remembered as one of the most pioneering and influential theologians of his day.”

Professor Linzey was made an Honorary Professor of the University of Winchester in 2007, and in the same year his book Creatures of the Same God was the first to be published by Winchester University Press. He is also co-editor of the Journal of Animal Ethics published by the University of Illinois Press.

“Winchester has one of the most progressive departments of theology in the country, and I am delighted to be associated with it,” said Professor Linzey.


The RSPCA gave one of its highest awards, the Lord Erskine Award, to Oxford theologian, the Reverend Professor Andrew Linzey at a special ceremony held at the RSPCA Headquarters in Horsham on 11 September 2010.

Professor Andrew Linzey is one of the world’s leading ethicists on the status of animals and the pre-eminent theologian on animal issues. He is the founder and the Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics ( and a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. This is the first time that the award has been given to a theologian.

On hearing of the award, Professor Linzey said: “This is a tremendous affirmation of the work we have been doing at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. I am happy to accept this award on behalf of all the fellows of the Centre who are pioneering ethical perspectives on animals.”

Professor Linzey has written or edited more than 20 books including seminal works on animals: Animal Theology (1994), Animal Gospel (1999), Creatures of the Same God (2004), and The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence (2009). His latest book, Why Animal Suffering Matters published by Oxford University Press in 2009 has been described as “a paradigmatic example of how practical ethics ought to be done”. (Christopher Libby, Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 4.1. 2010).

Andrew Linzey is also Honorary Professor at the University of Winchester, and Special Professor at Saint Xavier University, Chicago. In addition, he is the first Henry Bergh Professor of Animal Ethics at the Graduate Theological Foundation, Indiana. The post is named after Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and pioneer in animal protection.

The RSPCA’s award is named after Lord Erskine (1750–1823) who pioneered the first anti-cruelty legislation in the United Kingdom. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (as it then was) was founded a year after his death in 1824.

Many philosophers, including Aquinas, Locke, Schopenhauer and Kant, have assumed that there is a link between cruelty to animals and violence to people. During the last 40 years, evidence for this view has steadily accumulated as a result of statistical, psychological, and medical investigations, and there is now a substantial body of supporting empirical evidence.

The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence brings together international experts from seven countries to examine in detail the relationships between animal abuse and child abuse, the emotional development of the child, family violence, and serial murder. It considers the implications for legal and social policy, and the work of key professionals. Sections include critical overviews of existing research, discussion of ethical issues, and a special focus on the abuse of wild animals.

This book is essential reading for all those who have a stake in the debate, either because their academic work relates to the issues involved, or because their professional role involves contact with the abused or the abusers, both human and animal, including child care officers, community carers, law enforcement officers, health visitors, veterinarians, anti-cruelty inspectors, animal protection officers, social scientists, lawyers, psychologists, and criminologists. The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence is the most up to date, authoritative, and comprehensive volume on the link between animal abuse and human violence.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-324-9
Hardback Price: £60.00 / $84.95
Release Date: July 2009
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-325-6
Paperback Price: £19.95 / $44.95
Release Date: June 2009
Page Extent / Format: 300 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


About the Editor and Contributors

Does Animal Abuse Really Benefit Us?
Andrew Linzey

Part I Overviews of Existing Research
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

1 Measuring Animal Cruelty and Case Histories
Marie Louise Petersen and David P. Farrington

2 Types of Cruelty: Animals and Childhood Cruelty,
Domestic Violence, Child and Elder Abuse
Marie Louise Petersen and David P. Farrington

3 A Lifespan Perspective on Human Aggression and Animal Abuse
Eleonora Gullone

Part II Emotional Development and Emotional Abuse
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

4 Empathy as an Indicator of Emotional Development
Andrea M. Beetz

5 Emotional Abuse of Children and Animals
Franklin D. McMillan

Part III Children, Family Violence, and Animals
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

6 Cruelty, Children, and Animals: Historically One,
Not Two, Causes
Sabrina Tonutt

7 Examining Children’s Exposure to Violence in the Context of Animal Abuse
Frank R. Ascione

8 Women-Battering, Pet Abuse, and Human–Animal
Clifton P. Flynn

9 The Role of Animals in Public Child Welfare Work
Christina Risley-Curtiss

Part IV Animal Abuse and Serial Murder
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

10 Developmental Animal Cruelty and its Correlates in Sexual Homicide Offenders and Sex Offenders
Llian Alys, J. Clare Wilson, John Clarke and Peter Toman

11 Reducing the Link’s False Positive Problem
Jack Levin and Arnold Arluke

Part V Ethical Perspectives on Human–Animal Relations
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

12 Is Human Rights Speciesist?
Conor Gearty

13 Responding Ethically to Animal Abuse
Mark H. Bernstein

14 The New Canaries in the Mine: The Priority of Human Welfare in Animal Abuse Prosecution
Elizabeth Clawson

15 The Structure of Evil
Mark Rowlands

16 ‘Vile attentions’: On the Limits of Sympathetic Imagination
Daniel B. Williams

Part VI Law Enforcement, Offenders, and Sentencing Policy
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

17 An FBI Perspective on Animal Cruelty
Alan C. Brantley interviewed by Randall Lockwood and Ann W. Church

18 Laws and Policy to Address the Link of Family Violence
Joan E. Schaffner

19 Dealing with Animal Offenders
Angus Nurse

20 Implications for Criminal Law, Sentencing Policy and Practice
Martin Wasik

Part VII Prevention and Professional Obligations
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

21 A Legal Duty to Report Suspected Animal Abuse – Are Veterinarians Ready?
Ian Robertson

22 The Role of Veterinarians and Other Animal Welfare
Workers in the Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse
Corey C. Montoya and Catherine A. Miller

23 Animal Cruelty and Child Welfare – The Health Visitor’s Perspective
Dawn Hawksworth and Rachel Balen

Part VIII The Abuse of Wild Animals
Introduction by Andrew Linzey

24 Overview of Research
Nicola Taylor and Tania Signal

25 Hunting as an Abusive Sub-culture
John Cooper

26 Hunting as a Morally Suspect Activity
Priscilla N. Cohn and Andrew Linzey

27 Dolphin Drive Hunts and the Socratic Dictum: ‘Vice harms the doer’
Thomas I. White


I think at some point in our career, we as vets have come across at least one case where we’ve suspected that an animal has been subject to neglect and/or abuse. Often it could be that we think the case is not ‘severe’ enough to report or there are other (human) factors which play a part in our decision making whether to report or not.
... If we – on top of considering the obvious unreasonable suffering of the animal – knew, that signs of animal abuse could be an indicator of much deeper problems in the home of the caretaker, would our decision be different?
... This book provides critical overviews of existing research and examines the latest evidence. It addresses the underlying ethical issues and considers the implications for legal policy and the work of key professionals (including veterinary surgeons). It comprises work by international experts from seven countries and features research by up-and-coming scholars as well as accomplished researchers. It also looks into the link between animal abuse and abuse/neglect of the elderly and has a chapter regarding the abuse of wildlife.
... The introduction asks Does Animal Abuse Really Benefit us? Later in the book we get some answers to why animal abuse can ‘benefit’ humans as a vent for anger, depression and frustration when a human is caught in an abusive relationship as a child, adolescent or adult. But it also suggests that in a home environment, where abuse and violence might be happening frequently, children growing up in such homes fail to learn to respect animals and later on in life could also develop this attitude into having low respect for fellow humans. Adults who have been subject to physical, sexual and mental abuse in childhood (whether there was animal abuse in the home or not) are more likely to develop the same patterns in adulthood. This might not come as such as surprise, but in this book we actually get some explanations to why this happens.
... The book is divided into 8 parts – each having a short introduction with chapters written by various authors to illustrate research and other investigation into the subject.
... As vets, we need to know as much as we can about our patients and learn to recognise any signs of abuse and/or neglect early on. But we must also appreciate the human implications of animal neglect and abuse in order to help the animal presented to us in the most effective and ‘holistic’ way. In homeopathy we aim to treat the individual rather than the symptom. If we knowingly treat an animal without looking into its past and more importantly into its present situation, then we’re treating the ‘symptoms’ shown on the surface without addressing the real problem. If we can help individual family members (especially children) in a joint venture with other healthcare professionals and authorities, then we’re helping in a truly ‘holistic way’.
... With references to statistics and calculations, parts of this book could be a challenge to some readers. However, chapters can be easily understood without them and the book offers a great deal of helpful information for professionals in understanding the dynamics of a violent home environment and why people do what they do.
Read it and be all the wiser!
Book review by Malene Jørgensen, CandMedVet, VetMFHom, MRCVS, appeared in BAHVS (British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons)

Excerpt from a review essay titled ‘The Elephant in the Room: Three New Books on Animal Ethics and Animal Theology’ by Scott Cowdell, who reviewed The Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence, and two other books by Andrew Linzey, Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology (Lantern Books, New York); and Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics (Oxford University Press)

Andrew Linzey is the world’s first ‘animal theologian’ … He charts his own vocational commitment to animal welfare and the reform of Western theological imagination – as a conscientiously vegetarian theological student, then through decades of writing and activism as an academic clergyman, most recently as founder of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

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