Humane Society CEO: ‘Sadly Unsurprised’ Accused Florida School Shooter Abused Animals

Updated on March 2, 2018
JS Marshall profile image

Dog lover and outdoorsman, John Marshall is a veteran reporter who has worked for The Associated Press and other major news outlets.

The head of the Humane Society of The United States notes the relationship between violence and animal cruelty. (Photo provided by HSUS).
The head of the Humane Society of The United States notes the relationship between violence and animal cruelty. (Photo provided by HSUS). | Source

Accused School Shooter Had History of Abusing Animals

The head of the Humane Society of the United States say she’s “sadly unsurprised” over reports that the teen who opened fire in a deadly rampage at a Florida high school earlier this month also reportedly had a history of cruelty towards animals.

As more information comes out about the past of 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz -- the man police say killed 17 and wounded more than a dozen others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14 -- residents of the Parkland, Fla. neighborhood where the troubled teen lived are relaying stories of a history of animal abuse.

HSUS: Mass Shooters Also Known to Kill Animals

“This pattern of violence is common and well-documented — time and again we hear that individuals responsible for mass shootings have also targeted animals as their victims,” acting President and CEO of HSUS, Kitty Block, wrote in the society’s blog.

Block was referring to media reports that Cruz tortured or killed animals, including an article in The Washington Post where a former schoolmate of Cruz, 17-year-old Dakota Mutchler, told the newspaper that Cruz had posted on Instagram about guns and killing animals.

The Post also spoke to a number of neighbors who cited Cruz’s cruelty towards animals, including one neighbor recalling how the teen had tried to kill a squirrel and feed it to his dog, while another neighbor recounted Cruz wielding a stick and trying to killed bunnies inside a rabbit burrow.

HSUS Notes Connection Between Animal Abuse and Violence

Block writes in the HSUS blog that though ‘“many have long appreciated the important relationship between animal abuse and interpersonal violence,” some have not made the connection.

The HSUS, which is the nation's largest animal protection organization, offers training to police agencies across the country on investigating and prosecuting animal abuse cases. HSUS courses include discussions around why a child might abuse animals, and how animal crimes are related to other felonies, Block said.

The group People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA for short, also reports a connection between cruelty towards animals and violence. PETA's senior director of cruelty casework, Moira Colley, said it came as "no surprise" that Cruz had been connected to animal cruelty.

"The FBI has identified cruelty to animals as a warning sign of more violence to come, and many school shooters and serial killers have a history of abusing animals," Colley said in a statement.

Congress Urged to Pass Federal Anti-Cruelty Laws

Meanwhile, in light of the revelations about Cruz and reports of his cruelty towards animals, Block and the HSUS are urging lawmakers to work on strengthening anti-cruelty laws, including working to pass two bills being considered at the federal level.

One of those measures -- The Pet and Women Safety Act -- would protect domestic violence victims and their pets by expanding domestic violence protections to include pets. The second measure -- The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act -- would make it a federal crime to commit malicious cruelty to an animal on federal property or in interstate commerce.

"Simply put, animal cruelty is an indicator of social pathology," Block said. "Congress should act now to pass these bills without further delay, so we can help protect both animals and humans from needless violence."


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)