Center for the Study of NIBRS Animal Cruelty Data

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AWI established the Center for the Study of NIBRS Animal Cruelty Data (the Center) to facilitate analysis of animal cruelty data from NIBRS, the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The NIBRS data are part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. These data are collected from police departments and are one of the two official sources of crime statistics in the United States.

AWI will soon launch a condensed version of the NIBRS database that will provide researchers with readily analyzable animal cruelty data in both SPSS and Excel formats. If you’re interested in having access to this data when it becomes available, please fill out the form below.

The Center’s data are derived from the NIBRS datasets maintained by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD). The NACJD houses criminal justice data sources, including the NIBRS data. Initially, NIBRS animal cruelty data from 2016 to 2020 will be available on the Center website, with later years’ data added as they become available from NACJD. The main goal of the Center is to encourage researchers, policymakers, and animal advocates to use the NIBRS data and contribute to the new body of research that analyzes various aspects of animal cruelty incidents.

For questions about our activities and advisory board, or to request information from the Center, please contact Dr. Mary Lou Randour. Center personnel include:

  • Dr. Lynn Addington, American University, AWI Consultant
  • Mary Lou Randour, AWI Consultant
  • Claire Coughlin, AWI Program Coordinator

History

Over 20 years ago, prior to joining the staff at AWI, Dr. Mary Lou Randour and Nancy Blaney began making presentations on the relationship between animal cruelty and the commission of other crimes—especially intimate partner violence and child abuse. These presentations, about what has become known as “The Link,” inevitably elicited the following questions: Is animal cruelty on the increase? What age group is most likely to commit animal cruelty? What about gender differences? In the beginning, the unfortunate answer was “nobody knows.” This was because the FBI did not include animal cruelty crime as a distinct category in the NIBRS database. NIBRS could not be used, therefore, to analyze animal cruelty crimes.

Nancy and Mary Lou embarked on a mission to convince the FBI to add animal cruelty as a NIBRS category. As part of that process, a survey, developed by Mary Lou and Dr. Lynn Addington of American University, was sent to each state program director of the Association of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs to gauge opinions about adding animal cruelty as a separate category to NIBRS. The results of the survey were published in the 2012 report Animal Cruelty Crime Statistics: Findings from a Survey of State Uniform Crime Reporting Programs.

Nancy and Mary Lou joined the staff at AWI in 2008 and 2011, respectively. In 2014, after 12 years of campaigning—during which times they gained the support of law enforcement groups, domestic violence organizations, and child welfare organizations—they convinced the FBI to add animal cruelty as a separate category to the NIBRS database. Animal cruelty data collection began in 2016. Since that time, AWI has led the effort to analyze the animal cruelty data in NIBRS so that policymakers, practitioners, and law enforcement agencies can understand more about how, why, when, and where animal cruelty occurs.

Publications

Publications which have used NIBRS animal cruelty data include:

  • Addington, L. & Randour, M.L. (2024). Using National Incident-Based Reporting System Data to Explore Animal Cruelty Incidents that Occur with Intimate Partner and Family Violence: A Brief Report. Journal of Family Violence. doi.org/10.1007/s10896-024-00684-1
  • Randour, M.L., Kearley, A., & Wreman, M. (2023). Examining law enforcement agencies’ responses to the addition of Animal cruelty to NIBRS. American Journal of Criminal Justice. doi.org/10.1007/s12103-023-09740-w
  • Addington, L.A. & Randour, M.L. (2022). Intentional cruelty versus neglect: New insights on animal cruelty crimes and implications for policy. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 1-23. DOI: 10.1177/08874034221098918
  • Palais, J. M. (2021). Using the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to study animal cruelty: Preliminary results (2016-2019). Soc. Sci., 10(10), 378. doi.org/10.3390/socsci10100378
  • Palais, J.M. (2021) Animal cruelty hurts people too: How animal cruelty crime data can help police make their communities safer for all. Police Chief. policechiefmagazine.org/animal-cruelty-hurts-people-too/