WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation is collecting detailed data from participating law enforcement agencies on acts of animal cruelty. Crimes submitted to the bureau’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) include gross neglect, torture, organized abuse and sexual abuse. NIBRS generates the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program’s Crime in the United States report.

Animal abuse crimes will be classified as Group A offenses, and considered a "crime against society" along with homicide, arson and other major offenses. Before the transition, animal cruelty crimes were grouped together under an “All Other Offenses” category in the UCR.

“If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance they also are hurting a human,” John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’ Association, said in a statement. “If we see patterns of animal abuse, the odds are that something else is going on.” The National Sheriff’s Association was a leading advocate for adding animal cruelty as a separate data set to the FBI’s crime statistics.

The FBI said NIBRS animal cruelty statistics will be available in 2017, but it will take another three to five years for the data to show helpful patterns. Studies have linked animal abuse to other serious crimes, the bureau said, most notably serial murders.

“With this information, law enforcement and victim services would be able to better target their intervention efforts with respect to both animal cruelty and those crimes for which animal cruelty serves as a marker,” Dr. Mary Lou Randour of the Animal Welfare Institute said in a statement. “Identifying and analyzing animal cruelty crimes would provide an important tool for law enforcement.”