The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office has launched an innovative and provocative radio, television, and billboard campaign to encourage the public to call 911 to report animal abuse. The goal is to expose more instances not only of animal cruelty but also of domestic violence. One poster juxtaposes the photo of a badly injured dog with that of a wary looking young girl, with the text “she’s next" and the tagline "Report animal abuse. Stop domestic abuse. Call 911.” As explained on the campaign’s website, www.spotabuse.org: “The premise is that if more people can be convinced to dial 911 when they suspect animal abuse (an act generally considered to be easier than reporting domestic abuse), that the police will then have the opportunity to uncover a higher number of domestic violence cases.” Milwaukee County District Attorney (and chairman of the board for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys) John Chisholm told the Shepherd Express that the new campaign is a “‘major law enforcement initiative ... [with] a broader importance that addresses issues that lead to these problems that are all so deeply connected. We want to address the issue as soon as we see it and now we have law enforcement that is getting extensive training.’” Other partners in the campaign include the Milwaukee Police Department, Wisconsin Humane Society, Sojourner Family Peace Center, Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, and Serve Marketing, an all-volunteer non-profit advertising group.
AWI continues its outreach to domestic violence groups to increase awareness both of the relationship between animal abuse and domestic violence and of the resources that AWI makes available to address this problem. In addition to providing important background information on this relationship, AWI actively publicizes its Safe Havens Mapping project, through which individuals seeking to escape abusive situations can find safe keeping for their companion animals. AWI is also providing its children’s books to domestic violence advocates and family shelters. The books provide stimulation for the children and also open up opportunities for them to discuss what might be happening to their own pets.