Chicago police charged a 22-year-old with felony counts of animal cruelty when his girlfriend reported him for allegedly killing several cats. Thomas Martel faces four counts of aggravated cruelty and two counts of animal torture. His girlfriend told police that he had placed cats into a microwave before shoving their remains into a kitchen cupboard.
Martel is accused of obtaining a kitten, which he named Shelley, then killing that kitten and replacing it with another, which he also named Shelley. His girlfriend says she first became aware of his alleged cruelty when a friend sent her a video showing her boyfriend throwing a cat into Lake Michigan. He later confessed to a series of gruesome cat killings and she contacted law enforcement. The accused’s defense attorney said he is suffering from significant mental health problems.
The FBI began collecting data on animal cruelty in the United States in 2016 following a campaign by the National Sheriffs’ Association for recognition that cruelty to animals is often a sign of a broader capacity to inflict pain and suffering. The Sherriff’s Association noted that notorious serial killers, including Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy, were known to have tortured animals before moving on to human beings. The agency also said there is a link between animal cruelty, child abuse, and domestic violence.
According to available data, 16,573 animal cruelty offenses were reported to law enforcement agencies in 2021. The leading state is Texas, with 2,952 offenses recorded that year.
Furthermore, a study carried out by American veterinarians in 2009, found that animals are more vulnerable to abuse in African American and Asian American communities, whereas abuse is least likely to occur among Hispanic populations. The investigation also found that men are four times more likely to abuse an animal than women, and much cruelty occurs within low-income communities and among populations with high records of mental health concerns.
The report found that 10 million animals die annually from abuse in the US.