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Intersection Conference to discuss link between animal and human abuse

By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Tuesday, November 7, professionals from across Oklahoma will participate in a day-long discussion about the link between animal abuse and the cycle of family and societal violence.  The event will take place at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive, in Oklahoma City.

Check in begins at 9:30 a.m. with the first session at 10 a.m.; the day concludes at 4:15 p.m. A special announcement will take place at noon, say organizers.

The conference will include professionals working in social services, law enforcement, animal wellbeing, children’s services and advocacy, elder care, the legal field, and many others.

Studies show that animal abuse is often an indicator and predictor of escalating acts of violence against other members of the family.  This includes a strong relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, and other forms of family and community violence.

During the event, professionals will have the opportunity to work together to address these parallel forms of abuse and create safer communities in Oklahoma.

“As you no doubt know, acts of animal cruelty are often the predictors and indicators of escalating violence against the human members of the family, with serious implications for society as well,” said Louisa McCune, Executive Director, Kirkpatrick Foundation.

“Since its inception in June 2014, the Oklahoma Link Coalition’s mission has been to promote advocacy, cross-training, and networking across disparate fields and spreading awareness of “the Link” to as many professionals as possible, as well as to the public.”

Speakers and sessions include:
•    Dr. Randall Lockwood, Senior Vice President for Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
•    Lt. Kimberly Teachman, Oklahoma City Police Department
•    Dr. Melinda Merck, leading Forensic Veterinarian
•    Dr. Mary Anne McCaffree, neonatologist and member of the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse
•    Cynthia Armstrong, The Humane Society of the Unites States with a training on law enforcement in animal abuse investigations
•    Training on the AniCare Model of Treatment for Animal Abuse, the first professionally-developed psychological intervention program for adults and children who have abused animals
•    Diana Webster, the Native America Humane Society and Steve Kunzweiler, Tulsa County District Attorney will speak on how states, tribes, and communities can address “the Link.”
The “Intersection” conference is presented by the Oklahoma Link Coalition and Kirkpatrick Foundation.

In June 2014, professionals from thirteen organizations, including those in adult protective services, domestic violence, animal protection, veterinary medicine, public health, social work, mental health, substance abuse, academia, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, met in Oklahoma City to form the first Link Coalition in Oklahoma.  

The Link refers to the connection between animal cruelty, domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, and other forms of interpersonal violence.

Once viewed by law enforcement as a tangential concern better left to animal welfare organization, animal cruelty is now becoming recognized as part of a larger network of violence and crime including domestic violence, child abuse, drug trafficking, gambling, illegal firearms possession, rape, and murder.

Based on the mission of the National Link Coalition, the Oklahoma Link Coalition was founded to provide a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to these issues.

The conference will offer six CLEET (Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training) hours (including two mental health), 6.5 CEUs (Continuing Education Unit) for Oklahoma-licensed social workers, and 6.5 CEUs for Oklahoma-licensed veterinarians.

Professionals are invited to join the coalition and attend the conference, including those who work in the fields of veterinary medicine, criminal justice, forensics, law enforcement, animal care and welfare, child welfare, elder and vulnerable adult services, law, education, children’s advocacy and services, domestic violence, tribal services, behavioral health, faith communities, social work, and cultural and civic groups.

“In short, there is something for everyone at this particular convening and membership in general,” said McCune. “There is no cost to join the coalition, and members simply commit to receiving a monthly emailed newsletter with information about ‘the Link’ and opportunities to become more involved.”

The $15 registration fee includes lunch and all conference activities.

For more information, visit or contact Manda Overturf Shank at 405-608-0934.



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