AWI Launches New Center to Track and Analyze National Animal Cruelty Data

Injured dog with a person touching the dog's head
Photo by Chalabala

Washington, DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has developed a new initiative to provide researchers with readily accessible animal cruelty data from across the country.

The Center for the Study of NIBRS Animal Cruelty Data provides updated animal cruelty data through a condensed version of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) database. US police departments use NIBRS to submit crime data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

AWI was instrumental in convincing the FBI, in 2014, to include animal cruelty as a distinct crime category within NIBRS. Previously, animal cruelty incidents — to the extent they were reported at all by state and local law enforcement officials — were consigned to the “miscellaneous crimes” category in NIBRS, making retrieval and analysis of data on such incidents all but impossible.

Reporting of animal cruelty crimes to NIBRS began in 2016. Since then, AWI has actively encouraged analysis of this data to help policymakers, law enforcement, researchers, and advocates uncover criminal patterns related to animal cruelty.

“This new effort will allow researchers to systematically analyze animal cruelty data, informing effective intervention and prevention efforts that will benefit both animals and the communities in which they live,” said Dr. Mary Lou Randour, the Center’s coordinating consultant, who previously served as senior policy advisor for AWI’s Animals and Interpersonal Violence Program.

The Center’s data is derived from the NIBRS datasets maintained by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research’s National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD). Animal cruelty data files from 2016 to 2022 are available on the Center’s website in both SPSS and Excel formats, along with user guides and animal cruelty codebooks for each year. Data from 2023 and beyond will be posted as it becomes available. 

A seven-member advisory board of researchers, law enforcement officials, policymakers, and practitioners will help the Center promote its work and offer recommendations for new research, such as exploring regional differences in animal cruelty crimes and trends over time. The advisory board members are as follows:

  • Dr. Bethany Backes, associate professor of criminal justice and social work at the University of Central Florida
  • Dr. Maya Gupta, senior director for research at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
  • Dr. Brinda India Jegatheesan, associate professor of learning sciences and human development, early childhood and family studies, and anthrozoology at the University of Washington
  • Dr. Nathan Perkins, assistant professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago
  • Keon Turner, manager of the Data Analysis and Reporting Team for the Virginia State Police
  • Dr. Michael Vaughn, professor of social work and director of the Ph.D. in Social Work Program at Saint Louis University
  • K. Michelle Welch, Esq., senior assistant attorney general in the Virginia Attorney General’s office

Center personnel in addition to Dr. Randour are Dr. Lynn Addington, AWI consultant and professor of justice, law, and criminology at American University, and Claire Coughlin, coordinator for AWI’s Animals and Interpersonal Violence Program.

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
(202) 446-2128, [email protected]

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere: in agriculture, in commerce, in our communities, in research, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.