The link between animal abuse and domestic abuse is apparently stronger than originally thought, according to new figures released by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
The research found that 76 percent of animal abusers also abuse a member of their family.
And to raise awareness on that issue, a coalition of local organizations took to the streets last week, canvassing the neighborhood near Oakland Avenue and Capitol Drive in Shorewood.
Volunteers hung hundreds of flyers in public areas encouraging witnesses to report animal abuse to authorities.
Leading those volunteers was Karen Burns.
In March, her dog, Beatrice, was stolen from her lawn and horribly abused. Then, a few days later, she was found wandering near Burns' neighborhood, burned over 90 percent of her body. She underwent emergency surgery and received extensive skin grafts.
Burns said she fears the abuser's next victim could have been a person.
"Even murders and serial killers — the worst of the worst start out on animals and work up to people," she said.
Today, Beatrice has mostly recovered from her injuries and the abuser has been arrested. And Burns said the takeaway of today's event is straightforward — if you witness abuse, report it.
"Call 911. The police are taking it far more seriously, because frequently animal abusers become domestic abusers,” said Burns.
The “Spot Abuse Project,” is a collaboration between the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin Humane Society, Sojourner Family Peace Center, The Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) and Serve Marketing.
Click the podcast player above to hear more from Burns and organizers behind the awareness campaign.