(Phoenix, Arizona) According to the US Department of Justice, animal cruelty crimes can serve as a precursor to more violent crimes and other types of offenses such as domestic violence, assault, and elder abuse. Some studies have referred to animal cruelty as a gateway crime.
Today, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell committed to continuing and strengthening a focus on these crimes by hiring a prosecutor and specialized detective to work on the successful prosecution of these cases. Prosecutor Casey Mundell, who was recently appointed as a municipal judge and will be leaving the office soon, has focused on these cases for years and made Maricopa County a national model for prosecuting crimes against animals.
“Casey has been a wonderful advocate on behalf of animal victims. Even in his absence, these cases will remain a priority,” said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell. “Whether it's cracking down on organized retail theft, catalytic converter thieves, or prosecuting animal cruelty, I'm not willing to look the other way, or ignore the law, and let the ripple of gateway offenses become a tidal wave of violent crime in our community.”
Domestic and sexual violence are two examples of crimes that often co-occur with animal cruelty. Researchers and advocates have been describing the connections between animal abuse and interpersonal violence since the 14th century. 71% of pet-owning women reported that their abuser had injured, killed, or threatened family pets.
“Stated simply, people who hurt animals don’t stop with animals. There is a strong link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans and violence against animals must be taken seriously under the law,” stated Myriah Moon, CEO of New Life Center, the largest domestic violence shelter in the state.
“More than ever, it is our duty to stay vigilant towards animal cruelty. When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe. I want to thank the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, law enforcement, and other community partners that are fighting for women, men, families, children, and animals in Maricopa County and beyond.”
Watch the full announcement here: