By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Internationally recognized violence prevention advocate Phil Arkow will be in Oklahoma City to lead a workshop focusing on the link between animal abuse and other forms of family violence.
The free event will be held on Tuesday, March 31 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Will Rogers Garden Exhibition Center Hall at 3400 NW 36th Street.
Coordinator of the National Link Coalition, Arkow will lead the discussion and training workshop designed for animal advocates, human service workers, law enforcement officers and anyone with an interest in preventing family and pet violence.
The Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, the Central Oklahoma Humane Society and the Kirkpatrick Foundation are hosting the event.
Arkow will discuss that studies have shown that children and adolescents who are violent with animals often grow up to become perpetrators of other forms of family violence.
“While millions of people love and respect their pets, there’s a ‘dark side’ to the human-animal bond, “ Arkow said. “It’s called animal abuse.
“It used to be excused but it is now considered a serious crime. It’s often a predictor and marker for other aggressive acts including domestic violence, child maltreatment and elder abuse. Animal cruelty is the first link in the chain in preventing other forms of violence.”
Arkow says learning to recognize signs of animal abuse can provide an opportunity for people to seek treatment for the person involved, along with preventing future abuse.
An acclaimed lecturer, author, and trainer, Arkow has conducted more than two hundred trainings internationally and authored dozens of books, chapters, and articles.
He chairs the Latham Foundation’s Animal Abuse and Family Violence Prevention Project and is consultant to the ASPCA and the Animals & Society Institute.
“Batterers frequently abuse animals to keep spouses and children trapped in violent homes,” Arkow stated. “A history of animal abuse is one of the four greatest risk factors for domestic violence. Animal cruelty perpetrated or witnessed by youths is one of the earliest diagnostic indicators of conduct disorder.”
“We at the National Link Coalition, and our local chapter with the Oklahoma Link Coalition, are aware of how these forms of family violence are all linked,” said Arkow.
“We’re working to prevent all forms of family violence through public awareness, new laws, academic research and programs that bring the humane and human services sectors together.”
Arkow co-founded the National Animal Control Association, the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey and the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies. He is an authority on the human-animal bond, violence prevention, humane education, animal-assisted therapy and animal shelter management.
He has served on boards and committees with the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Delta Society (Pet Partners), the American Humane Association, and the American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians.
“This workshop will teach critical tools to identify the connection, and what you can do to prevent future dangerous behavior that can harm pets and family members,” said Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Superintendent Julie Bank.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), as many as 25 percent of domestic violence survivors have reported returning to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet.
Recent studies show that 71 percent of pet-owning women entering domestic violence shelters report that their abuser threatened, harmed, or killed a family pet. Children who are exposed to domestic violence are three times more likely to be cruel to animals.
“When animals are abused, people are at risk, and when people are abused, animals are at risk. The Link is as simple – and as preventable – as that,” Arkow said.
This workshop is one of the many events that will take place in coordination with the Kirkpatrick Foundation’s ANIMAL Conference on March 30 and 31 in downtown Oklahoma City.