Animal cruelty leads to more serious crime

Stories–especially those involving real-life issues and events–never really end, even after the final draft is sent.

Last semester, I wrote about three CU students arrested and charged with animal cruelty. Reports said that the students beat a raccoon to death with a machete in Boulder, Colo.  One of these students was Nicholas Foti, who has recently been charged with yet another crime – sexual assault.  The incident occurred in September, when the 21-year-old man and a friend entered a 19-year-old woman’s house uninvited. According to a CBS Denver story, they realized she was alone and attacked her while reportedly calling her “numerous obscenities during the incident. Before leaving the residence, they vandalized the kitchen and smashed a bicycle.” Though harm to a raccoon versus harm to a woman may seem incomparable or un-relatable, the truth is that cruelty to animals foreshadows greater violence to come.

(Josh Shettler/CU Independent Graphic Illustration)

According to a 2001-2004 study by the Chicago Police Department, as reported by The Humane Society, “Of those arrested for animal crimes, 65 percent had been arrested for battery against another person.” 65 percent is an overwhelming majority and, surprisingly or not, this statistic is not one of a kind. The Humane Society lists many more documented and researched cases that share similar figures.  For example, “of 36 convicted multiple murderers … 46 percent admitted committing acts of animal torture as adolescents” or “of seven school shootings that took place across the country between 1997 and 2001, all involved boys who had previously committed acts of animal cruelty.” All of these statistics echo a similar morbid message: cruelty toward animals is a good indicator of future cruelty toward people.

The research also reveals that the criminals questioned in the studies are usually young, white men like those responsible for mass shootings in 1997, 2001 and 2012. In fact, according to a Mother Jones article, out of the 62 mass shootings in the last 30 years, 44 killers were white males. The news of Foti’s most recent crime is not happy or inspirational. Even though society showed their disapproval of cruelty with jail time, Foti did not learn his lesson and committed a more serious crime.This second offense still remains unsettling. However, the fact that cruelty is reported and does get noticed is a silver lining in an otherwise sobering tale.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kitty Winograd at

Kitty Winograd

Kitty is a senior at CU majoring in English and minoring in Ebio. Kitty loves baking, reading literature (assigned or not) and looks forward to watching Boulder Creek change colors every year. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue happily writing on issues that concern and interest her, especially those centered around the natural world and humankind’s interaction with it. As a side note, Kitty is an identical twin, and both can often be seen on campus. Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kitty Winograd at

1 Comment
  1. How to recognize someone who doesn’t understand statistics, lesson one. The fact that people who have committed more serious crimes have also committed crimes against animals by no means indicates a causal relationship between the two. All it does is tell us that cruel people have always been cruel, or that unsympathetic people have always been unsympathetic, or that sociopaths have always been sociopaths or however you’d prefer to phrase it. What the author does not present here is the number of people who were convicted of animal cruelty AND THEN went on to commit more serious crimes.

    All that these statistics can actually indicate is that cruelty toward animals and cruelty toward people are, to varying degrees, symptoms of being the kind of person who commits violent crime. Whether the underlying cause is something independent (genes, upbringing, hormones, whatever) or some kind of “gateway crime” is impossible to determine from this trifling analysis.

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