Violence Against Animals Syllabus Fall 2004 for the upper-level undergraduate seminar

Sociology/Criminal Justice 395


Scott Vollum, Assistant Professor of Justice Studies

James Madison University

Center for Liberal & Applied Social Sciences

Moody Hall 213     MSC 1205 (CLASS)

Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807


(540) 568-7329; 240-4233 (Home); (936) 714-1640 (Cell)

E-mail: [email protected]



Thursday Nights, 7:10 – 9:50, BAL Room 236

Office Hours:  Prof. Vollum will generally be on campus and available on Thursdays from 3:00 to 7:00pm. He will hold office hours in BAL 806 from 4:00 to 7:00pm.  


Required Readings:


Lockwood, R. & Ascione, F. R., Eds. (1998). Cruelty to Animals and Interpersonal Violence: Readings in Research and Application.  West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. (ISBN: 1557531064).   [L/A]


Ascione, F. R. & Arkow, P. (1999). Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Animal Abuse: Linking the Circles of Compassion for Prevention and Intervention.  West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.  (ISBN: 1557531439).  [A/A]


Spiegel, M. (1996). The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery. New York: Mirror Books. (ISBN: 0962449334).  [S]


**Additional readings will be placed on reserve at the library**  [R]


Course Description: 


This course provides an introduction to the study of, and issues surrounding, violence against animals in its many forms.  The social reality of animal cruelty, animal abuse, and other forms of violence against animals is explored, incorporating sociological, criminological, psychological, philosophical, and legal perspectives.  The course begins with an examination of the role and presence of non-human animals in human society, in criminological inquiry and in the law.  It then explores the fundamental issue of what constitutes animal cruelty, animal abuse, or violence against animals, in general, and the different forms it takes.  The course then focuses on the different contexts of violence against animals beginning with its study in the context of intra-human violence.  Two primary aspects of this context are examined: violence against animals as predictive of violence against humans, and violence against animals as co-occurring with violence against humans.  Finally, violence against animals is examined as a social problem/act of violence worthy of study in and of itself, irrespective of its tie to intra-species human violence.  In these contexts, both individualized and institutionalized forms of violence against animals will be considered and discussed.


Attendance Policy:  Regular and prompt attendance is expected!  In accordance with the University attendance policy, each student is allowed a maximum of three class hours of absences.  Absences in excess of three class hours will be reflected in the student’s grade via deduction from class participation points.  Tardiness and leaving class early (without prior permission) will be counted as an absence.  It is the student’s responsibility to obtain missed material from other class members.  Please see the instructor to discuss attendance concerns or excessive absences.  Participation and engagement on the part of the student will be a critical part of learning in this class so please plan on attending all sessions.


Academic Dishonesty:  Any instance of cheating, plagiarism (the use of another person’s work without appropriate attribution or credit to that person; taking someone else’s work and presenting it as your own) or any other form of academic dishonesty will result in failure of the course.  What this boils down to is that you must DO YOUR OWN WORK.


Notice to Persons with Disabilities:  Students with a disability that affects their academic performance are expected to come and speak with the instructor at the conclusion of the first class in order that appropriate strategies can be considered to ensure that participation and achievement opportunities are not impaired. 


Tobacco and Electronic Devices:  Use of tobacco is not allowed in the classroom (this includes smoking, chewing, or any other use you can come up with).  The use of electronic devices such as headphones, cell-phones, and electronic games is likewise not allowed in the classroom.  If you have a cell-phone or pager please turn them off or set them to “silent” mode during class.  If you receive a call during class-time that you just have to take, please leave the classroom prior to engaging in your conversation.




Weekly Reflection Journals: Students will be required to maintain weekly journals reflecting on the readings and the issues that arise in class discussion.  Many weeks I will give specific assignments, topics or issues to write about but the focus will often remain your discretion.  Furthermore, you are expected to engage in thought and writing beyond that assigned by me.  I would expect around three entries each week, including any “assigned” entry.  Your entries should be relevant to the material being covered in the class.  You will be expected to be prepared to discuss your thoughts and ideas in class, so give your journal entries some reflection prior to the relevant class period.  Although I welcome any “style” of writing, your journal entries should be generally well-written and free of typos and grammatical & spelling errors.  Also, please type/word process (12 pt. font) and double-space your journal entries.  The due dates for journals will alternate with each student turning in their journal installments once every three weeks (each student will be assigned a letter and the due-date for all students assigned particular letters is noted on the course schedule).  It is imperative that you do not lose your journal installments and that you keep them well organized (i.e. date the entries and keep them in chronological order).  Each time you turn in your journals, please include all past entries I have returned to you (and on which I have made comments or otherwise marked).  At the end of the semester, you will be asked to turn in all entries.  The journals will be worth 100 points or 25% of your course grade.


In-Class Essays:  Periodically throughout the semester there will be in-class essay assignments.  These will typically be brief reactions to a question, topic, or issue presented to you and requiring that you exhibit knowledge of the assigned readings and any other material we have discussed in class.  These will likely not be announced ahead of time.  There will be a total of five essays, each worth 20 points or 5% of your overall course grade.  A total of 100 points (25%) are available.


Case Study Paper & Presentation:  Each student will be required to complete a “case study” of an act or set of acts of violence against animals.  You are to seek out a case of violence against animals (may be found in the news, official records, internet website, etc.) and write a paper discussing the case and then examining the particular type of act committed.  This second portion of the paper will require research into the type of violence or animal cruelty represented in your case (in effect, you will be writing a brief research paper or literature review).  Finally, you will be required to attempt to provide some explanation or “cause” of the behavior or actions exhibited in your case. This project will be completed in phases and will culminate in a paper and presentation toward the end of the semester.  At specified points in the semester, you will be required to turn in (1) a statement of your case, (2) a detailed outline & bibliography, and finally (3) a 12-15 page paper.  Failure to turn in either of the first two assignments on the due date will result in a 5 point deduction from your grade on your paper.  There will also be a 5 point deduction for each week that the paper is late.  The paper and presentation are together worth 100 points (25% of overall course grade).  More detailed guidelines will be handed out in class.


Class Participation: You are expected to come to class every week and to be prepared to discuss the assigned reading material for that week.  Excessive absences and lack of preparation will be reflected in your final course grade. This class will be taught in a “seminar” format.  This means that your participation and engagement are critical to your success in the class.  Throughout the course I will “assign” specific readings to students for which they will be required to lead discussion.  Grades for class participation will come from a mix of leading discussion for assigned readings, group exercises, and general attendance and participation.  Class participation is worth 25% of your overall course grade.


MAKE-UP POLICY:  There will be NO make-ups for missed assignments except for in very rare and extreme cases (to be determined by the instructor).


The breakdown for grading is as follows:


Weekly Reflection Journals                               100 points  (25%)

In Class Essays (5)                                           100 points  (25%)

Case Study Paper & Presentation                     100 points  (25%)

Class Participation                                            100 points  (25%)

Total                                                               400 points (100%)


Grades will be based upon the following grading scale:


                                    A:         90-100%

            B:         80-89%

            C:         70-79%

            D:         60-69%

            F:         59% and below


NOTE:  Grades will not be publicly posted.  In order to keep track of your grade, record your scores as the class proceeds.  If you have any questions regarding your grade feel free to come and speak with me or email me.


Course Schedule:  Attached is a tentative schedule of classes, which is subject to change.  We may spend more than the allotted time on some of the material and less on other.  In the interest of fostering open and flexible discourse, I would prefer to place as few strict parameters on the class as possible.  We will generally follow the outline of material (and associated readings) and deal with the time element as we go along.  When necessary, changes to this schedule will be announced in class.  In the event of absence, it is the responsibility of the student to obtain schedule changes discussed in class.







Required Reading





Course Overview

Review Syllabus


 Readings Legend: L/A=Lockwood & Ascione

A/A=Ascione & Arkow


R=Reading on Reserve (electronic)








Animals as Members of Human Societies

Role & Function of Animals in Human Societies

Attitudes about Animals

Animal Studies in Criminology and Sociology



·  Robin & Bensel, "Pets and the Socialization of Children" [L/A, pp. 105-120]

·  Schowalter, "The Use and Abuse of Pets" [L/A, pp. 429-433]

·  Ross, "Green Chimneys: We Give Troubled Children the Gift of Giving" [A/A, pp. 367-379]

·  George, "The Role of Animals in the Emotional and Moral Development of Children" [A/A, pp. 380-392]

·  Roseberry & Rovin, "Animal-Assisted Therapy for Sexually Abused Adolescent Females" [A/A, pp. 433-442]

·  Beirne, "The Use and Abuse of Animals in Criminology" [R]









Types of Violence against Animals









·  Locke, "Cruelty" [L/A, pp. 5-6]

·  Ascione, Thompson & Black, "Childhood Cruelty to Animals: Assessing Cruelty Dimensions and Motivations" [L/A, pp. 390-398]

·  Tapia, "Children Who are Cruel to Animals" [L/A, pp. 132-139]

·  Rigdon & Tapia, "Children Who are Cruel to Animals--A Follow-Up Study" [L/A, pp. 140-149]

·  Vermeulen & Odendaal, "Proposed Typology of Companion Animal Abuse" [L/A, pp. 399-408]

·  Munro, "The Battered Pet: Signs and Symptoms" [A/A, pp. 199-208]

·  Rowan, "Cruelty and Abuse to Animals: A Typology" [A/A, pp. 328-334]






Required Reading







GUEST SPEAKER: Sharon Adams, Virginia Beach SPCA


Legal Aspect of Animal Cruelty



·  Favre & Tsang, “The Development of Anti-Cruelty Laws During the 1800s” [L/A, pp. 32-66]

·  Tischler, “Zero Tolerance for Cruelty: An Approach to Enhancing Enforcement of State Anticruelty Laws” [A/A, pp. 297-305]

·  Fox, “Treating Serious Animal Abuse as a Serious Crime” [A/A, pp. 306-315]

·  Schlueter, “Animal Abuse and Law Enforcement” [A/A, pp. 316-327]








The Predictive Quality of Violence against Animals

Psychological/Developmental Perspectives



·  Section 2: Integrative Reviews [L/A, pp. 67-104]

·  Section 5: Criminology [L/A, pp. 177-244]

·  Section 6: Developmental Psychopathology [L/A, pp. 245-287]






GUEST SPEAKER: Kathy Strauss, Chesapeake Animal Control


The Concurrence of Violence against Animals and Intrahuman Violence


Domestic Violence

Spouse Abuse

Child Abuse

Elder Abuse


Feminist Perspectives


Cultural Underpinnings

·  Section 7: Child Abuse, Elder Abuse, and Domestic Violence [L/A, pp. 289-339]

·  Jorgensen & Maloney, "Animal Abuse and the Victims of Domestic Violence" [A/A, pp. 143-158]

·  Quinlisk, "Animal Abuse and Family Violence" [A/A, pp. 168-175]

·  Lembke, "Animal Abuse and Family Violence in a Rural Environment" [A/A, pp. 228-240]

·  Adair, "The Correlation between Hunting and Crime" [R]









Required Reading





GUEST SPEAKER: Loring Harkness, PETA


Speciesism & Institutionalized Violence

·  Singer, “All Animals are Equal…” [R]






A Nonspeciesist Criminology?

·  Beirne, “Toward a Nonspeciesist Criminology” [R]

·  Beirne, “Rethinking Bestiality: Towards a Concept of Interspecies Sexual Assault” [R]






Explaining Violence Against Animals





·  Agnew, “The Causes of Animal Abuse: A Social-Psychological Analysis” [R]

·  Eliason, “Illegal hunting and angling: The neutralization of wildlife law violators” [R]

·  Plous, “Psychological Mechanisms in the Human Use of Animals” [R]

·  Grandin, “Behavior of Slaughter Plant and Auction Employees Toward the Animals” [L/A, pp. 434-442]





Human/Animal Analogies


·   Spiegel, The Dreaded Comparison [S]





Efforts to alleviate violence against animals.









·  Ascione, “The Abuse of Animals and Human Interpersonal Violence” [A/A, pp. 50-61]

·  Lacroix, “Another Weapon for Combating Family Violence: Prevention of Animal Abuse” [A/A, pp. 62-80]

·  Connections—Child Abuse (Entire Section) [A/A, pp. 83-139]

·  Lagoni, Butler & Olson, “Why the Link is Important to Animal Care, Animal Control, and Veterinary Personnel” [A/A, pp. 209-220]

·  Arkow, “Initiating an Animal Abuse Reporting Policy at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital” [A/A, pp. 257-259]

·  Kaufmann, “The Relevance of Cultural Competence to the Link between Violence to Animals and People” [A/A, pp. 260-270]

·  Applications (First Three Readings) [A/A, pp. 343-366]











Work on papers/presentations




































NOTE: The letters in brackets at the bottom of each day’s “topics” indicates those for whom journal entries are due on that day.  The letters in brackets at the bottom of each day’s required readings indicates those who are responsible for leading discussion of the readings for that day.