Chapter 10

This book began by asking the question:

What makes people harm, injure, or kill animals?

Its analysis of animal harm and animal offending concludes that applying green perspectives to the behaviours, legislation and policy involved in animal harm reveals a complexity to the question and to the behaviours involved that is often ignored. So perhaps a better question would be:

What makes people harm, injure, or kill animals in those specific circumstances in which the law makes their activities unlawful?

Animal harm criminality reveals much about the attitudes of individuals and groups towards animals as well as their attitudes towards wider society. But so too does the public policy response to animal harm and the manner in which legislators, prosecutors and the courts deal with this area of criminality. The question is not solely whether animal harm can be resolved by providing additional legal protection (or even rights) for animals, but why those harms already made unlawful continue to be committed, particularly in those circumstances where those harming animals know or ought to know that their actions are unlawful. In the formulation of their policy and campaigning responses, it may be convenient and comforting for both animal rights activists and policymakers to think of animal offenders as being simply evil (Linzey 2009, Rowlands 2009) or inherently cruel. Such perspectives allow for the demonizing of offenders and the promotion of policies that assert ideological perspectives on offending that can be easily understood by the public, fit comfortably into digestible media narratives, and which reflect a ‘common sense’ logic of offending compatible with mainstream rational choice criminological narratives (Francis and Soothill 2005). But the simplistic assessments of animal harm and its associated criminality revealed by such policies are inadequate to deal with or explain the reality of animal harm; which is a complex phenomenon. As the analysis in this book has shown, animal harm encompasses a variety of behaviours, motivations, influences and criminality that defy simplistic explanations. As a result, a more detailed analysis of animal harm is required in order to develop an understanding of its complexity, varied societal effects and the manner in which it is dealt with by law enforcement agencies. Yet public policy on animal harm consistently treats all offenders as if they were rational, free-thinking individuals who choose to commit offences against animals and are primarily motivated by cruelty, profit, or some other form of personal benefit. But the evidence suggests otherwise and thus animal harm requires deeper examination.

This final chapter concludes that animal harm has a range of causes and consists of several different types of criminality which need to be specifically considered in its public policy, legislative and law enforcement response, rather than treating all animal abusers, wildlife offenders and different aspects of animal harm as the same (Nurse 2011, South and Wyatt 2011). Public policy, enshrined in a legislative and law enforcement perspective that predominantly considers animal harm as homogenized cruelty containing uniform or common characteristics, generally treats animal harm as an animal rights, welfare or animal management issue divorced from other forms of criminality. As a result, animal laws fall predominantly within the agricultural, conservation or environmental sphere of policy rather than the criminal justice one; albeit links are sometimes (and inconsistently) made between animal offending and other crimes. White’s assessment of the socio-legal approach, for example, identifies an emphasis on use of the criminal law as presently constituted (2008: 182). In its simplest terms, a reliance on investigation, law enforcement and prosecution of offenders as rational actors dominates policy responses to environmental and animal crimes. Thus, public policy fails to adequately address the complexity of animal harm, treating it as activity that can be addressed through improved animal welfare standards or via legislative measures that still consistently consider animal interests as secondary to human ones (Linzey 2009) especially where the two conflict. Alternatively it treats animal harm as wildlife crime (which predominantly means wildlife trafficking) which is primarily dealt with via trade regulation or social regulation (White 2008: 182) on the principle of sustainable use, and is generally subject to an enforcement approach of search and seizure despite consistent evidence of the problems and animal harm associated with CITES and national wildlife trade legislation (Zimmerman 2003, Schneider 2008) and the failure of this approach to effectively deal with animal harm problems.

As the previous chapters have shown, there is scope to integrate animal harm into mainstream public policy and in doing so consider the impacts of, and behaviours associated with, animal harm within the broader context of criminal law enforcement and environmental justice initiatives. Green criminology’s focus on ecological justice and aspects of species justice provides for critical analysis of the interaction between human behaviour and the environment (Jasper and Nelkin 1992, Garner 1993, Benton 1998, South 1998, White 2007, Beirne 2007) in a way that positively informs criminal justice policy. While green criminology has predominantly discussed animal issues within the context of animal rights and species justice discourse, a green perspective can be applied to the subject of animal harm within the context of current animal law enforcement perspectives to provide a means through which animal law enforcement can be improved and criminal justice policy developed. This should be the case even if animals are not given any greater legal protection by virtue of being given legal rights. Applying the green criminological perspectives (White 2007) discussed throughout this book and incorporating White’s notions of different approaches to environmental harms and species justice (White 2008), this final chapter recommends a policy agenda for dealing with animal harm. In doing so, it recognizes the remoteness of legal rights for animals becoming a reality in either the short or medium term. However, it also argues that legal animal rights are not a prerequisite to addressing animal harm as a criminal justice issue, despite the desirability of such a development (Singer 1975, Wise 2000, Francione and Garner 2010). Indeed several existing animal law regimes provide a mechanism for dealing with animal harm notwithstanding persistent enforcement problems and inconsistency in the level of protection provided. However, the widespread acceptance of the need for anti-cruelty statutes across different jurisdictions (Kean 1998, Radford 2001, Schaffner 2011) and the existence of national and international enforcement initiatives provide a framework through which animal harm can be detected, investigated and prosecuted.

In asserting that animal harm is a global problem, this book proposes an agenda for dealing with animal harm as a mainstream criminal justice problem, recognizing that:

1. animal harm should be considered as social harm;

2. animal harm should be considered as part of an overall criminal career rather than as isolated animal offending;

3. animal law should be enforced via the criminal law and as animal protection law and species justice, rather than as conservation or animal management law;

4. animal harm prevention should be regarded as a public good;

5. animal harm should be integrated into public policy as part of a holistic approach to crime and criminal justice.

This agenda acknowledges Donaldson and Kymlicka’s arguments that ‘the animal advocacy movement is at an impasse’ (2011: 1) but argues that this need not be the case if an appropriate anti-animal harm agenda is adopted within green criminology and environmental justice discourse. The focus on animal rights, even within species justice discourse, is potentially misleading and a distraction from the reality of animal harm as a breach of current legislation in many countries. Given the existence of legislative regimes which already outlaw animal harm there are compelling arguments for first improving the enforcement of current legislation (Nurse 2003, White 2008), before developing a further set of legislation that provides for additional animal protection through the granting of legal rights for animals. Thus the anti-animal harm agenda set out above is developed further below as a precursor to any suggested new legal animal rights regime. While this does not in any way marginalize or ignore the justifications put forward for legal animal rights, it argues that a system of animal protection in many ways comparable to legal rights already exists but is failing for a variety of reasons, not least an over-reliance on a socio-legal approach rather than regulatory or social action approaches (White 2008). Improvement of this position such that active animal protection becomes integral to the criminal law is not only possible but falls squarely within the remit of green criminology.

Animal Harm as Social Harm

A basic perspective dictating the reduction of animal harm is that man’s dominant position in nature provides dominion over animals and thus provides man with a duty of care to protect animals and the environment in which we and they live (Wise 2004, Rollin 2006). There are conflicting perspectives on whether this obligation should be a legal, moral or ethical obligation albeit the legal obligation has been clearly developed in UK legislation and in the anti-cruelty statutes of other countries (Schaffner 2011). Radford explains that over the course of two centuries (leading up to the twenty-first century) animal welfare law in Britain ‘has been developed to provide for greater protection for individual animals because society at large and public policy makers have recognized that the way in which each is treated matters’ (2001). Nussbaum further argued that ‘utilitarianism has contributed more than any other ethical theory to the recognition of animal entitlements. Both Bentham and Mill in their time and Peter Singer in our own have courageously taken the lead in freeing ethical thought from the shackles of a narrow species-centred conception of worth and entitlement’ (2004: 302). However while these ethical considerations have greatly informed public debate and have undoubtedly developed the animal rights movement in ways that would have probably have seemed unthinkable when Singer first wrote of the need for animal rights, the reality is that the legal conception of animal rights and of animals as legal persons has yet to be achieved and remains unlikely.

However what has already been achieved is a wide acceptance of the need for anti-cruelty and wildlife trade statutes and their associated enforcement regimes; and it is here that a practical conception of animal rights by virtue of legal protection and the prohibition on specific activities already exists, with potential to be developed further. As a practical measure, anti-cruelty statutes already codify activities that are prohibited in relation to animals. They recognize that inflicting unnecessary harm, cruelty or illegally trading in protected wildlife should not be allowed, and that those which carry out these activities should be punished, in some cases through public law and the imposition of prison sentences (Nurse 2011, Schaffner 2011). CITES, for example, explicitly requires that all nation states which are parties to the convention must put in place a system of enforcement, penalties and sanctions for those who illegally trade in wildlife and provide for public enforcement of CITES provisions (Zimmerman 2003), while various anti-cruelty statutes also impose criminal sanctions on animal abusers and recognize the criminality inherent in their actions. Thus the first step in recognizing that those who commit offences against animals are a threat to wider society and contribute to social harm has already been achieved. The existence of public enforcement bodies such as the US and Canadian Fish and Wildlife Services, dedicated police wildlife crime officers in the UK, the animal police service in the Netherlands, and the various CITES management and enforcement authorities across the globe together with the involvement of Interpol in wildlife trafficking and environmental crime, also shows animal harm to be an issue of public interest and, more importantly, public policy. Further recognition of the social harm caused by animal offending is the next step in developing an effective anti-animal harm agenda.

Animal harm is social harm; offenders have negative impacts not just on the animal populations that they adversely affect but also on their wider community, local and national economies, and on social cohesion. Situ and Emmons argue that ‘in a variety of cultures, jurisdictions, and eras, criminal law has served as an agent of social control and an instrument of social change’ (2000: 20). The criminal law attempts to control unacceptable behaviour through a system of punishment, defining what is illegal and providing for behavioural correction as a system of social control. Much (but admittedly not all) animal harm involves violence towards those less powerful than the perpetrator and thus involves socially undesirable characteristics, sometimes exhibited in public. In addition, the influence of masculinities as a factor in crime (Groombridge 1998) and in animal harm in particular (Nurse 2011) identifies animal harm as an aspect of societal violence inextricably linked to the marginalization of women, children and other vulnerable citizens (Donaldson and Kymlicka 2011). Men who become used to exerting power over the vulnerable, whether non-human animals or other humans, may begin to see power and violence as legitimate tools to be used in their interpersonal relationships and to consider their use of such violence as an acceptable social norm. Criminal justice generally seeks to minimize violence within society on the grounds that exposure to violence is harmful and the presence of violence in society usually leads to an escalation beyond its original focus (Levi 1994, Shepherd and Lisles 1998). Thus violence towards animals and the deliberate inflicting of cruelty represents a social harm that should be controlled as part of society’s overall aim of reducing violence and its harmful effects.

Animal harm’s social harm effects also extend to the impact on both the immediate and wider community. Companion animals are now an integral part of most human societies and are protected as such (Budiansky 1999, Schaffner 2011) while attachment to animals is widely recognized as having beneficial or therapeutic effects (Crawford et al. 2006, Barker et al. 2010). Animal harm involving cruelty is therefore capable of causing great distress to a range of people in society beyond those immediately involved (Bekoff 2007) and of contributing to societal anxiety about the compassionate nature of society, inherent levels of cruelty in society and the possibility of escalating violence and a lack of compassion (Franklin 2005). In respect of wildlife, the negative impact of animal harm on wildlife populations by hastening the extinction of various species in the wild prevents future generations from viewing wild animal populations and arguably conflicts with the right to enjoy the environment (Stookes 2003, Stech 2010). In addition, wildlife trade has a negative impact on ecosystems which, in some cases, has the potential effect of causing ecological damage that may not be felt for several years. Animal harm thus has a negative effect on the social environment of future generations and represents a long lasting form of social harm that extends beyond short-term impacts to potential long-term environmental and social impacts (White 2008).

While discussion of the benefits of animal welfare to society can be found throughout the animal welfare and animal rights literature, animal harm in its widest sense (as discussed by this book) has negative consequences for society and represents a significant form of social harm. At the heart of arguments concerning animal welfare are perceptions that society increasingly considers animal welfare to be important and a matter of public concern; but while utilitarianism argues that human interests and animal interests coincide, arguably it is in the direct area of protecting human interests that controlling animal harm becomes most important. The negative consequences of some aspects of animal harm include direct human harm and thus the anti-animal harm agenda needs to consider animal harm not in the isolated, yet worthy, context of legal animal rights, but as a gateway to further human harm.

Animal Harm and Criminal Careers

Theorists from different perspectives within animal rights debates have identified that the reduction of animal cruelty, prevention of animal abuse and provision of equal consideration for animals and humans alike benefits society by creating a society that is increasingly cruelty free and where cruelty towards both non-human animals and humans is less likely to occur and is not tolerated when it does. White (2008) identifies that the response to environmental and ecological problems (including species justice concerns) varies according to the nature of the harm being caused. Control theory arguments suggest that crime can be prevented due to the formal and informal controls that operate within a community, so that crime which harms the community is not tolerated and the community actively engages with law enforcement agencies to prevent crime (Lea and Young 1993, Peelo and Soothill 2005). Criminologists and law enforcement professionals are increasingly becoming interested in animal welfare issues (specifically animal abuse and animal cruelty) as a potential risk factor in violence towards humans and as a means of identifying future offenders (Linzey 2009). A variety of studies have identified that those who commit interpersonal violence are more likely to have previously abused animals (see Chapters 3, 4 and 9). The link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence has been accepted in the United States by the FBI, Department of Justice and social welfare agencies, so that in some states, professional agencies have begun to intervene with juvenile animal abusers on the grounds that those who abuse animals are more likely to escalate to interpersonal violence towards human. Increasingly the link is also becoming accepted within the UK and other jurisdictions; in 2001 the RSPCA and NSPCC held their first joint conference in over 100 years to explore the links between child abuse and animal abuse, and subsequently the First Strike Scotland campaign was initiated to explore and address the links between animal abuse and family violence. In 2003 the UK’s Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons provided guidance for vets on reporting animal abuse, and in 2009 Sussex Academic Press published a book on the links between animal abuse and violence towards humans following an international multi-disciplinary conference on the subject held at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics in 2007 (Linzey 2009). Criminal justice and social welfare agency intervention with animal abusers thus provides the tangible benefit of potentially protecting the public from violent offenders and the harmful effects of crime. While this is currently an intangible benefit due to the lack of co-ordinated intervention or policy initiatives within the UK, there is considerable evidence that animal abuse is one of the risk factors in serious crime which should be considered in dangerousness assessments and crime prevention (Brantley et al. 2009).

As a proposal for an anti-animal harm green criminological agenda, therefore, this book argues that animal harm should be considered as part of a criminal career along a continuum of offending that may begin with animals and end up with humans. But it may also be either an indication of other criminality and antisocial behaviours, or a reaction to other forms of crime and antisocial behaviour such that the offender may be involved in other forms of crime against their will or may be reacting to their own abuse by harming those more vulnerable than themselves. Definitions of criminality vary according to the ideological, theoretical and disciplinary perspectives of academic theorists, theologians, social scientists, criminologists and animal rights activists. However, analysis of the varied types of offending involved in animal harm illustrates that animal offenders’ do not all share the same motivations or operate within similar communities or control mechanisms. Chapter 2 defines animal harm as being more complex than just cruelty or commercial trading in animals, while Chapter 3 develops models that show the different types of offender, discussing five different types and the motivations of each based on research analysis of literature, the views of NGOs and activists and extensive assessment of case and court records. Chapter 8 further identifies that within the broad description of organized crime there are, in fact, different types of offender involved in wildlife trafficking and a range of motivations and behaviours involved. This being the case there is little point in treating all animal harm offenders as if they were the same. Indeed, one conclusion that can be drawn from investigating the characteristics of animal harm is that a blanket animal harm policy, legislative or law enforcement approach based on the presumption of all animal harm as being rational choice offending is unlikely to be successful. The enforcement regime for animal harm thus needs to be adapted at both an international and national level to provide for appropriate action that fits the circumstances of the offender and allows the specific nature of the offence to be taken into account. In addition, there is an urgent need to view animal harm as part of an overall criminal career rather than solely as an isolated environmental or animal rights/welfare issue.

The varied nature of animal harm means that for some offenders their behaviour should be evaluated to determine the extent to which their behaviour constitutes part of an overall criminal career. The importance of animal harm to an offender’s other criminal activity or their tendency towards anti-social or other criminal behaviour provides a means through which future offending or at least risk of offending can be assessed. An enforcement and rehabilitative approach that considers specific offender types should be at the core of the criminological and public policy approach which addresses animal harm. White identifies clear ‘social differences in the ability of the powerful, in relation to the less powerful, to protect and defend their interests’ (2008: 194). He identifies that the powerful can frustrate investigations, manipulate evidence and forestall prosecution by appearing to comply with record-keeping procedures. Thus prosecution of environmental offences committed by corporations becomes difficult while small businesses and individuals become the focus of state intervention. This book argues that state intervention and prosecution of animal harm needs to recognize the varied nature of both individual and corporate animal harm, tailoring its response accordingly. Chapter 3 provided preliminary conclusions on dealing with the different types of animal offender identified as being involved in animal harm. South and Wyatt’s (2011) typology of wildlife trade offenders (see Chapter 8) complements Chapter 3’s offender models and provides further explanation of the varied nature of offending, particularly by organized groups. Thus the perspectives on dealing with offenders can be developed further as follows.

For traditional criminals financial penalties may work as a means of negating any benefit they derive from their activity but the same approach is unlikely to work with economic criminals or stress criminals. An argument can also be made that increased sentencing and use of prison has been unsuccessful in mainstream criminal justice (Wilson 1985) and so the evidence that it will be effective in reducing or prevent animal harm is lacking. For traditional criminals, greater efforts should be made to attempt situational crime prevention, making the physical cost of committing the crime prohibitive as well as increasing the actual cost and removing the perception that their distinct form of animal harm may be seen as a soft option. South and Wyatt (2011) indicate that for some offenders wildlife trafficking is an incidental or secondary business and that crimes are committed only where specific opportunities to do so arise. Increasing the cost of pursuing such opportunities together with eliminating minor opportunities provides a means through which the casual or secondary offender might be prevented from committing wildlife crime where this is not integral to their business. However, there is also a clear link with the more serious forms of organized crime where major wildlife trafficking operations are also involved in people or drug trafficking and use violence, intimidation and interference in legitimate government institutions as tools to facilitate their business. Thus the law enforcement approach needs to be compatible with that used in other forms of organized crime and reflect the seriousness of this particular aspect of animal harm, its links to other forms of crime and its transnational nature and association with crimes of violence and disregard for both law enforcement and the animals it uses as commodities. Increased integration of this form of crime into the criminological mainstream is thus a necessity.

For economic criminals, the source of their offending behaviour is their employment and so any approach to these offenders must include pressure on and penalties for the employer as well as action which prevents them from continuing with employment that provides opportunities for animal harm or is related to animals whether directly or indirectly. Legislative regimes may also require amendment to provide for culpability of employers for the actions of their staff. Accepting the notion of much environmental crime as crimes of the powerful (Pearce and Tombs 1998, Tombs and Whyte 2003, Walters 2007, White 2008) there is scope to ensure that abuses of power by employers that force their staff to either cut corners on welfare, health and safety and human animal handling and despatch processes, causing animal harm in the process, are punished. There is scope also to make the economic costs of ignoring or being negligent of the realities of environmental and animal law compliance costly to businesses committing such animal harm. This could be achieved either through implementing a restorative regime that routinely requires offenders to provide for and meet the costs of redress for the animal harm that they have caused or through increasing the stigma attached to animal harm as serious crime. The difficulty in dealing with economic criminality is currently exhibited by the failure of environmental justice regimes to effectively impose penalties or preventative measures. Situ and Emmons identify that only a small proportion of environmental violations are prosecuted and that fines, which can be incorporated into an economic offender’s operating budget or be paid by an employer, tend to dominate corporate wrongdoing. Thus in the case of animal harm committed by an employee there remain difficulties not only in securing convictions and identifying the responsible individual (i.e. whether employee or corporation) but also in providing an appropriate penalty. Fortney (2003) and White (2008) suggest that for corporation offending an enforcement approach based on firm-type rather than offence committed should be introduced with particular attention paid to fine-multiples for repeat offenders. White also suggests a combination of criminal, alternative sentencing options and civil penalties being used. Thus as a practical means of dealing with these offenders any conviction for animal harm offences should carry with it the threat of being banned from animal related employment for those involved in the countryside, game rearing, fieldsports or animal trading industries as well as significant penalties for the employer.1

For the masculinities offender, the effectiveness of prison or high fines is also questionable. For these offenders, their crimes are situated in notions of what it means to be male and the associated stereotypical masculine behaviours that are integral to their identity. Thus criminalization through minor criminal measures like the UK’s ASBO scheme, community service, or other lesser criminal penalties may simply reinforce the perception of their masculinity and any perceived male status which is linked to their offending. However, the importance of recognizing the role of masculinities and identification with a self-image that is reinforced by societal condemnation of their behaviour is important.

Masculinities offenders who commit their crimes within the home and intimate relationships require both a situational crime prevention approach and a social one. Social work intervention at an earlier age, e.g. when domestic animal abuse is being committed or when signs of antisocial behaviour begin to manifest, are important and may prevent young male offenders from escalating into serious offenders at a later stage. However, given the ‘group’ nature of much offending and the association of like-minded individuals in, for example, dog-fighting rings, a law enforcement approach that embraces the ‘serious crime’ techniques of surveillance and infiltration may be essential in order to detect and gather evidence of some crimes (Hawley 1993, Saunders 2001). There is, however, a need to also consider rehabilitation alongside law enforcement approaches. Masculinities offenders frequently commit their animal offending as part of a continuum of offending and where the causes of their behaviour are not addressed they may well simply go on to commit interpersonal violence or indeed may already be doing so (Linzey 2009). Thus, where the causes of their animal harm are not addressed it is likely that not only will they continue to offend when given an opportunity to do so even if apprehended and sentenced (Cuppleditch and Evans 2005), but their abuse of others may well go undetected or escalate within the home. Thus a wider range of offending may occur. There are, however, potential problems in dealing with a group of offenders that already see themselves as marginalized, or misunderstood by society and which is resistant to law enforcement intervention in its activities. The social approach adopted with other delinquent groups such as youth offenders (Utting 1996) and which emphasize identification of risk factors and development of supportive environments and disrupting the negative impacts of high risk peer groups has potential for success but requires early intervention of a type only sporadically attempted in animal abuse enforcement (Clawson 2009).

Hobby offenders as a group may be the most difficult offenders to deal with. The drive to collect and the obsessive behaviour of such offenders cannot easily be overcome by fines and prison sentences which could even strengthen the desire to commit offences by activating the drive to replace lost items such as a confiscated egg collection or collection of taxidermied animals. While prevention and detection of crimes should continue to be employed for these offenders, treatment to address the issues of collecting as well as education in the effects of animal harm, considering both the societal costs of animal harm and the impact on animal populations, should be considered. As Chapter 3

Only gold members can continue reading. Log In or Register to continue