Before he murdered police officer Garrett Swasey, mother of two Jennifer Markovsky and Iraq war veteran Ke’Arre Stewart at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs Friday, Robert Lewis Dear had a long criminal record.
Among those crimes was a charge of animal cruelty, according to police reports provided to the Daily Beast by the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.
In November 2002, as a dog belonging to Dear’s neighbor, Douglas Moore, walked down the driveway, “a shot was fired from [a] residence next to his and Douglas’s dog yelped out and ran over to him.”
The dog, who had been shot with a pellet gun, survived.
Dear insisted he didn’t shoot his neighbor’s dog — yet he told the two deputies who responded to Moore’s call, “Douglas was lucky that it was only a pellet that hit the dog and not a bigger round.”
He was found not guilty of animal cruelty.
“These aspects of his personal profile come as no surprise to those of us who are familiar with the established link between violence against humans and cruelty to animals,” wrote Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), on his blog yesterday. (Serial killers Robert Durst, Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy all started out by torturing animals.)
“In fact, the investigation and prosecution of crimes against animals is often an important tool for identifying people who may become perpetrators of violent crimes against people,” Pacelle wrote. “When we work with law enforcement on animal fighting crimes, we see plenty of evidence of criminality and interpersonal violence committed by these thugs.”
Next month, Tennessee will become the first U.S. state to have an animal abuse registry. It will contain the names, current photographs and other identifying data of adults who have been convicted of felonies including aggravated animal cruelty, felony animal fighting, bestiality and other offenses.
The registry will make it easier for animal shelters and rescue organizations to identify people who should never have pets. And since animal abusers often move on to violence against people, it could prove helpful to law enforcement.
In September 2014, for the first time ever, the FBI started keeping track of animal cruelty crimes in its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Although this was too late for Dear’s victims, hopefully it will help save the lives of others, whether they have two legs or four.