Assessing Attitudes About Violence Toward Animals: Public Opinion Poll Results From Texas

Scott Vollum, Sam Houston State University
Dennis Longmire, Sam Houston State University
Jacqueline K. Buffington-Vollum, Sam Houston State University

ABSTRACT
Non-human animals are a relatively ignored population of victims in criminological research. Despite a growing body of evidence linking animal cruelty to violence toward humans and increasing knowledge of the undue pain and suffering that animals experience at the hands of humans, research on such crimes is severely lacking. In this study, public attitudes about violence against animals and the criminal justice response to such acts are examined. Included as part of the annual Texas Crime Poll, in which a state-wide representative sample was employed, questions specifically gauging the perceived severity of numerous violent acts against non-human animals as well as the preferred criminal justice response were asked via questionnaires distributed by mail to 750 households. A descriptive analysis is presented and factors related to attitudes about violence toward animals are examined and discussed. Finally, the relationship between attitudes toward animal cruelty and general attitudes toward violence is examined.

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Updated 05/20/2006