Cycle of Abuse Conference Recap

by SAAV Volunteer, Laura R. Perry

SAAV is thrilled to report that the October 5th Cycle of Abuse conference was a sold-out success! Focusing on the link between family violence and animal cruelty, speakers addressed the underlying issues like power and control that connect these abuses as well as the practical steps that we can take to help vulnerable people and animals in our communities.


The day was bookended by two speakers that highlighted how the connected issues of animal cruelty and family violence touch so many lives and bring together a wide range of professionals and practitioners dedicated to ending the cycle of abuse. Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney opened the conference with a rousing call to action, describing the progress Dane County law enforcement has made in their efforts to support victims and address these crimes and reminding us of all that is still to be done to end the cycle of abuse. In a fitting end to a day of panels about the bonds between humans and animals, keynote speaker Dr. Patricia McConnell made the connection between how humans and dogs experience trauma, bringing in examples from her own life and her own beloved dogs. After Dr. McConnell read excerpts from her book The Education of Will, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!


The conference was deeply inspiring, as everyone there was committed to understanding and addressing the cycle of abuse that harms both humans and their beloved animals. Lawyers, humane officers, social workers, educators, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, police officers, domestic abuse advocates and animal advocates were at the podium and in the audience, discussing the links between family violence and animal cruelty and what we can do to address these issues. Animal cruelty and family violence present many challenges across each of our professions and communities, so we all might face them in different forms. But what conference speakers emphasized is something that we truly take to heart at SAAV: we can help humans and animals best when we work together and talk to each other.


Ending animal cruelty and family violence is a vital goal for SAAV, but it’s not something we can accomplish alone. We need all hands on deck! That’s why we are so grateful to our sponsors, volunteers, speakers, and participants who made the Cycle of Abuse conference such a success, and who helped to shed light on the links between animal cruelty and family violence. Thank you!