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Friday, 25 May, 2001, 06:10 GMT 07:10 UK
Pet cruelty study 'warning'
Dunblane killer Thomas Hamilton
Thomas Hamilton is said to have killed rabbits
Scotland's largest animal charity has called for better links with police and social workers to stop children who abuse animals growing up into killers and psychopaths.

Research published on Friday will show that some murders and cases of cruelty were committed by people who first "practised" on animals.

The study, carried out at Stirling University for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, found that a history of cruelty to animals is frequently seen in killers and child abusers.

In a paper entitled Animal Cruelty and Family Violence: What You Need to Know, sociologist Lorna Bell examined the behaviour of individuals like Dunblane murderer Thomas Hamilton and the killers of toddler Jamie Bulger.

A goose being force fed
The SSPCA want more notice taken of animal cruelty
The Cullen inquiry into the shooting of 16 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School in 1996 was told that as a young man, gunman Thomas Hamilton spent hours trying to squash rabbits under the wheel of his car.

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the killers of Merseyside toddler Jamie Bulger, also displayed noted cruelty to pets.

The research at Stirling University found that there were chilling similarities in the type of injuries seen in animals and human victims.

Bruising, leg fractures, cigarette burns and shaking syndrome are all common.

Animal abusers often take damaged pets to different vets on different occasions - just like child abusers.

The SSPCA now wants to work alongside police and social workers to intervene in cases of children abusing animals to stop them progressing to humans.

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See also:

20 Nov 00 | Scotland
Top vets examine 'cruelty' claims
19 Dec 00 | Scotland
Cruelty case man faces arrest
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