HARRISBURG – A webinar that explored the connection between child and animal abuse was the focus of a webinar in which Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) recently participated. Toohil currently serves as vice chair of the Children and Youth Committee in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and has been a strong proponent of child protection laws during her time in office.
Toohil was one of about 300 attendees of the online presentation and panel discussion that provided information regarding the “dangerous link between child and animal maltreatment.”
Several case studies were discussed providing evidence that child and animal mistreatment can sometimes occur in the same household. In one such instance, investigators found a dead dog on the porch of a mobile home while a man was cooking meth inside, about 15 feet from a sleeping child. In another case, children with black eyes were discovered at a property where numerous animal carcasses were decomposing.
Presenters pointed to several studies that found animal abuse is a common predictor for bullying and that individuals who witnessed animal cruelty are eight times more likely to commit crimes against humans. One study examined the records of more than 300 people charged with animal cruelty and determined that 65% were also arrested for battery-related offenses, 70% had arrests for other felonies and 13% were charged with a sex crime.
Participants were urged to report possible cases of animal or child abuse, and to stay in touch with their local legislators.
Webinar presenters included Lauren Marvel, Montgomery County assistant district attorney; Dr. Maria McColgan, CARES Institute child abuse pediatrics fellowship director; Dr. Melinda Merck, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) law enforcement trainer; Cathleen Palm, Center for Children’s Justice director; Corp. Michael Spada, Pennsylvania State Police animal cruelty officer; Nikki Thompson, Bucks County chief humane society police officer; Virginia Trea, Bucks County children and youth agency intake manager; and Kristen Tullo, HSUS Pennsylvania state director. The panel discussion was moderated by Valerie Pritchett, abc27 News anchor.
The webinar was co-sponsored by the Center for Children’s Justice, the Humane Society of the United States, Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, Network of Victim Assistance, the Pennsylvania Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office