Animal cruelty as a marker for lack of empathy, violence - Criminologist
SHAH ALAM - Cruelty towards animals is often considered a potential warning sign of violent behaviour directed at humans, says criminologist.
Kolej Unikop School of Investigation and Enforcement criminologist Shankar Durairaja said the relationship between animal abuse and serial killers is an essential area of research in the field of criminology and psychology.
Shankar noted that while not all animal abusers become serial killers, many notorious serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy had histories of animal cruelty.
He explained that abusive behavior towards animals can signal a lack of empathy and a disregard for life, potentially leading to various forms of human violence including bullying, aggression, and domestic abuse.
“Cruelty towards animals is often considered a potential warning sign of violent behaviour directed at humans.
“This is because abusive behaviors towards animals can indicate a lack of empathy and disregard for life, which may lead to bullying, aggression, school shootings, sexual violence and domestic abuse," he told Sinar Daily when contacted.
He also noted that animal cruelty is sometimes used to coerce or intimidate humans.
Despite these correlations, Shankar stressed that not every individual who mistreats animals becomes a serial killer or shows violence towards humans.
He attributed the development of violent behavior to a combination of sociological, psychological, and biological factors.
Recently, the Malaysian Animal Association announced a RM5,000 reward for information leading to those responsible for drowning 15 kittens at the Jerantut Wholesale Market.
The incident was reported by a local resident and later brought to the non-governmental organisation's attention.
Shankar commented on the case, noting that while it's suspected the kittens were killed, a necropsy is required to confirm the cause of death.
He stressed treating such incidents as serious crimes if proven deliberate.
He also mentioned that according to the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), animal cruelty cases in Malaysia increased by 25 per cent in 2023, with notable increases in Penang.
Shankar acknowledged the varying attitudes towards animals in Malaysian society, highlighting the role of animal welfare groups and activists in promoting animal rights.