An organization advocating for animal rights in Saskatchewan is asking the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners...

An organization advocating for animal rights in Saskatchewan is asking the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners to take into consideration the link between domestic abuse and animal abuse as its members search for a new police chief

From Saskatoon StarPhoenix, November 17th, 2017

The board started searching for a new police chief after long-time former chief Clive Weighill announced his retirement and marked his last day with the service on Oct. 6.

Frances Wach, executive director of the Saskatchewan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said the connection between the two forms of violence should be understood by the new chief, pointing to research carried out by Dr. Phil Arkow of the National Link Coalition, which examines the link between domestic and animal abuse.

“It’s important for the police service to be aware of all forms of violence,” said Wach.

Quoting Arkow, she explained: “When animals are being abused, people are at risk and when people are being abused, animals are at risk.”

The letter, which was presented at Thursday’s board meeting, notes having a police chief with “knowledge and familiarity” of the connection between these forms of violence could make Saskatoon a leader in preventing animal cruelty and interpersonal violence.

“It’s important for human-service organizations and animal-welfare organizations to work together,” she said of the correlation. “From the Saskatchewan SPCA’s point-of-view, it is important and I would hope they might incorporate a question on the link in their interviewing process.”

Interim police chief Mark Chatterbok said the number of animal cruelty complaints that come into the service are “relatively low,” but said he’d like more information before commenting further.

However, when asked if there’s a possibility police officers may be trained in identifying the signs of animal abuse, he said it’s something that might be considered. 

“We have all sorts of training that’s provided to us from other community partners and this is perhaps one area that we can look at for something down the road,” he said.

Darlene Brander, chair of the Board of Police Commissioners, thanked Wach for her submission.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, she said the board is “really pleased to see that there’s such active participation from the community in regards to sending information forward to us.

“We’ve got some good information from the SPCA … there’s a link between animal abuse and domestic violence and that’s something that we want our next police chief to know,” she said.

However, when asked if the the Saskatoon Police Service would be open to forming a partnership between animal control and police to investigate the potential link, she said it would be a decision for the incoming chief to make.

—By Morgan Modjeski, Saskatoon StarPhoenix