THE GERALDINE R. DODGE FOUNDATION and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) paved the way for my research on animal cruelty. In what has now become a land-mark study (Arluke et al. 1999), the foundation and MSPCA enabled me to study the presumed “link” between animal cruelty and subsequent violent crimes toward humans. Findings from this study have been both controversial and important; they have been used in several states to upgrade the seriousness of animal cruelty to the status of a felony crime.
At the end of this project I met with Scott McVay, then director of the Dodge Foundation, to talk about future research on animal cruelty. I could see that cruelty has many different meanings in our society and for each meaning, potentially unique uses for those encountering it. We see ourselves many ways in the face of cruelty. After I explained that researchers had failed to unearth the meanings and consequences of animal abuse and neglect, he encouraged me to write a book taking this fresh approach. I was excited by the scope of the idea but felt more research had to be done before I could start such an ambitious project.
Several organizations allowed me to take these steps. The MSPCA's President's Fund made it possible for me to study how humane agents investigate and prosecute abuse cases. The Edith Goode Trust and the San Francisco Society for the Protection of Animals allowed me to explore the controversy over killing animals in the shelter community and the role that cruelty plays in this debate. The Northeastern University Research and Scholarship Development Fund supported my investigation of animal hoarding as a form of cruelty. Finally, the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust, enabled me to combine these separate studies into this book.
I thank many for their help. Friends and colleagues, including Spencer Cahill, Nakeisha Cody, Fred Hafferty, Hal Herzog, Alan Klein, Carter Luke, Trish Morris, Gary Patronek, Andrew Rowan, and Clint Sanders, offered guidance along the way. Members of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium and Maria Vaca-Guzman shared their thinking about this form of extreme neglect. Jan Holmquist and the MSPCA provided the cover photo. More than two hundred people whose lives were entangled with animal cruelty allowed me to observe and interview them. At Temple University Press, Janet Francendese backed my original idea for this book and offered good advice as the project evolved, Jennifer French guided the book through the production process, and Gary Kramer created a prepublication copy. Debby Smith provided fine editorial comments. And finally, Lauren Rolfe supported and encouraged me through it all.
Portions of this book are adapted from previous publications: Arnold Arluke, Brute Force: Animal Police and the Challenge of Cruelty (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2004), with permission of Purdue University Press; Arnold Arluke, “Animal Abuse as Dirty Play,” Symbolic Interaction 25 (2002): 405–30, © 2002 by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction, with permission of the University of California Press; and Arnold Arluke, “The No-Kill Controversy: Manifest and Latent Sources of Tension,” in D. Salem and A. Rowan, eds., The State of the Animals, 67–84 (Washington, DC: The HSUS, 2003), with permission of the Humane Society of the United States.