Spotlight on animal cruelty

Last updated 09:29 02/10/2012
Bob Kerridge
Animal antics: Bob Kerridge, one of the organisers of the New Zealand Companion Animal Conference.

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The Wellingtonian

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The link between animal cruelty and violence towards people is the topic of a major conference being held in Wellington next week.

New Zealand Companion Animal Conference, first held in 1990, is a forum for the discussion of animal welfare.

National and international speakers at this year's conference on October 9 and 10 will focus on human-animal relationships, in particular the link between animal abuse and violent crime, said spokesperson Bob Kerridge.

"Recent months have been marked by some very high profile criminal cases in which violence towards humans, animals or both has figured in one form or another," he said.

"In addition, this year has seen the publication of an internationally-acclaimed New Zealand study on how cruelty to animals is used to manipulate and terrorise women in abusive relationships,"

The Pets as Pawns study, commissioned by the Royal New Zealand SPCA and Women's Refuge New Zealand, backs international data that establishes a connection between cruelty to animals and towards humans, said Mr Kerridge.

United States lecturer Phil Arkow will give the keynote speech at the conference. Mr Arkow is the coordinator of the National Link Coalition, a United States organisation dedicated to increasing the awareness of, and tries to stop, the cycle of violence.

"It's increasingly clear that animal abuse can act as a 'red flag' for the likelihood of violence towards humans. 

"This can and should prompt social agencies to investigate and intervene on behalf of those abused," he said.

Other spearkers include Nik Taylor, a senior lecturer in sociology at Australia’s Flinders University; Germaine Shepherd, former police dog trainer; Nicola Taylor, managing editor of Society & Animal; and Kevin Stafford,  veterinary ethology professor at Massey University.

They will cover topics such as how pets contribute to a sense of community, the healing power of pets and pets as companions

-   New Zealand Companion Animal Conference, October 9-10, InterContinental Wellington. See www.nzcac.org.nz

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