, Corbin, KY

August 21, 2013

Animal cruelty a big red flag

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — Joshua Gouker — who pleaded guilty to murdering his stepson by beating him to death with a pipe — allegedly began by abusing animals, including beating a puppy to death with a bat while his teenage son filmed the deed and laughed. Such reports can serve as a wakeup call for many.

Medical experts and top law-enforcement officials agree: Cruelty to animals is a big red flag.

Many serial rapists and murderers, including school shooters, have a background of abusing animals. The link between cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence is undeniable. In fact, the FBI uses reports of cruelty in gauging the threat potential of suspected and known criminals, and the American Psychiatric Association identifies such crimes as one of the diagnostic criteria for conduct disorders. It’s vital that animal abusers receive intervention — including counseling and a ban on contact with animals — to prevent their violence from escalating.

Reporting known or suspected cruelty to animals to authorities immediately protects everyone. To learn more, visit


Martin Mersereau, Director

Emergency Response Team

Cruelty Investigations Department,

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)