To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Studies have shown that in households where animal abuse is found, whether committed by a parent or child, domestic violence or child abuse is frequently also occurring. Early detection of animal abuse can secure innocent pets as well as family members from long-term abuse or even death.
In addition, identifying this type of abuse early enough can help end a pattern of violence to which the children of the home oftentimes become accustomed and consequently develop into abusers themselves. What’s more, when authorities are alerted to animal abuse and timely action is taken to prevent more and greater violence, society and government can be saved the heavy financial costs associated with serious offenders.
On Thursday, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice (BCP&J) will host Dr. Lorna Grande, coordinator of the Human/Animal Violence Education Network (HAVEN). Dr. Grande will facilitate a workshop on the connections between animal cruelty and human violence. The program will be the seventh in BCP&J’s series on violence reduction in Berkshire County. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pittsfield at 175 Wendell St. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Grande, a graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, has practiced medicine and surgery for more than 15 years and held faculty positions at UMass-Amherst and BCC. Dr. Grande is currently a consultant with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
Founded in 2001, HAVEN is a broad-based coalition of Berkshire County residents who have come together to identify and address the connections between animal cruelty and human violence. As professionals in the fields of education, animal protection, human services, law enforcement and veterinary medicine, HAVEN works to find ways to make Berkshire County a safer, healthier and more humane place for people and animals.
HAVEN’s activities have included the development and implementation of educational programming, including programs that prepare children for healthy relationships with animals and people. The HAVEN supported SafePet program is another initiative. Because pets are not allowed in the safe shelters, many women confronting domestic violence and spousal abuse refuse to leave their abusive environment for fear that their pets will also be abused. Launched and administrated by Berkshire Humane Society and the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the SafePet program provides temporary foster homes for pets of families seeking shelter from domestic violence, until they can be reunited in a safer environment.
This workshop on the connections between animal and interpersonal violence and solutions to the problem is sure to be informative and useful to anyone who is interested in helping to make Berkshire County a more compassionate place for people and animals. Those with questions and concerns about animal cruelty and domestic violence should strongly consider attending.
BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN
Brian J. Trautman teaches peace studies and economics courses at Berkshire Community College. He is also a member of Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice. On Twitter @BriTraut.