Exposing the link
between animal cruelty
and human violence.
“Our research has shown if somebody is harming an animal,
there is a good chance they also are hurting or will hurt a human.
If we can see patterns of animal abuse,
the odds are that something else is going on"
John Thompson, Deputy Executive Director National Sheriffs’ Association

National Link Coalition

Over the past 35 years, researchers and professionals in a variety of human services and animal welfare disciplines have established significant correlations between animal abuse, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, elder abuse and other forms of violence. Mistreating animals is no longer seen as an isolated incident that can be ignored: it is often an indicator or predictor crime and a “red flag” warning sign that other family members in the household may not be safe.

We call this species-spanning interconnectedness of different forms of violence The Link. The National Link Coalition is a multi-disciplinary, collaborative initiative to increase awareness and address public policy, programs and research. We serve as the National Resource Center on The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence. We want to stop the cycle of violence that often affects multiple family members.

The Link Between Violence to People and Violence to Animals

In recent years there has been renewed interest in an idea dating back centuries — that acts of cruelty against animals can be a sentinel indicator – and often a predictor – of other forms of family and community violence. Research has documented relationships between childhood histories of animal cruelty and patterns of chronic interpersonal aggression. Animals often become victims in the battles of power and control  that typically mark domestic violence. Animal abuse and neglect often indicate situations of elders needing assistance. We call the areas where child maltreatment, domestic violence, elder abuse and animal cruelty intersect “The Link.”

Today, knowledge of The Link informs many aspects of family and community violence prevention. Research increasingly substantiates the interrelationships of different forms of abuse, which are often committed by the same offenders. Officials in child welfare, animal care and control, domestic violence and adult protective services are coordinating their efforts. By transcending disciplinary and institutional boundaries, collaborations ensure a more effective approach to breaking the cycles of violence and protecting all vulnerable members of society.

To join the National Link Coalition (it’s free!), to find a speaker to address your organization or to receive our monthly e-newsletter about Link activities, please contact National Link Coalition c/o Phil Arkow, Coordinator arkowpets@snip.net





2020 Legislative Wrap Up 


CS/SB 1082: Domestic Violence Injunctions

Domestic Violence Injunctions; Authorizing a court to take certain actions regarding the care, possession, or control of an animal in domestic violence injunctions, etc.

Approved by the Governor on June 18, 2020


CS/HB 705: Emergency Sheltering of Persons with PetsEmergency Sheltering of Persons with Pets; Requires DOE to assist DEM in determining strategies regarding evacuation of persons with pets; requires certain counties to designate shelter that can accommodate persons with pets; specifies requirements for such shelters.
Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect: 7/1/2020


CS/CS/CS/SB 1414: Fish and Wildlife Activities

Prohibiting the keeping, possessing, importing, selling, bartering, trading, or breeding of certain species except for educational, research, or eradication or control purposes; including green iguanas and species of the genera Salvator and Tupinambis in such prohibition, etc.

Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect: 7/1/2020


CS/CS/CS/SB 680: Shark Fins

Shark Fins; Citing this act as the “Kristin Jacobs Ocean Conservation Act”; prohibiting the import, export, and sale of shark fins in this state; providing exceptions; requiring the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to evaluate the potential economic impacts to the commercial shark fishing industry in this state; requiring the commission to review the potential impact on shark populations; requiring a report to the Legislature by a specified date; authorizing the Legislature to impose a ban on the domestic production of shark fins based upon the findings of the report, etc.

Approved by the Governor, these provisions took effect:: 10/1/2020


2021 Legislative Watch


Florida HB 47 and SB 216 (“Allie’s Law”) would require veterinarians, technicians and other animal treatment provider employees to report suspected animal cruelty (at locations other than commercial food-producing animal operations) to authorities with immunity from civil and criminal liability, professional disciplinary action and employer retaliation. Failure to report would be grounds for disciplinary action. It would be a misdemeanor to destroy or alter medical records to conceal animal cruelty. Reporting at commercial food operations would be permissive. HB 49 and SB 218 would allow veterinary records to remain confidential if animal cruelty is reported as a means to protect veterinarians and to encourage such reports by making them feel safe to do so.


HB 177: Tethering of Domestic Dogs and Cats 
Tethering of Domestic Dogs and Cats; Provides requirements for tethering domestic dogs & cats; provides penalties; provides for enforcement.


HB 45: Retail Sale of Domestic Dogs and Cats
Retail Sale of Domestic Dogs and Cats; Prohibits pet stores from selling or offering for sale domestic dogs & cats; provides penalties.

Florida LINK News 2021

Branden Anthony Richter, 33, of Belleview, Florida, is facing charges of aggravated assault on a police officer and battery on a police K-9 for allegedly resisting arrest and biting the ear of a police dog. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said chaos ensued when deputy Brandon Donahue tried to serve Richter on several out- standing warrants. Richter reportedly tried to flee and pointed a loaded gun at the deputy but the dog, “Scout,” brought him down. Bodycam footage revealed a long, violent struggle over the pistol during which Richter allegedly bit both the deputy and Scout and tried to choke it, Fox 35 Orlando reported. Donahue and Scout were recovering from their injuries. Marion County jail records indicate Richter was also facing previous charges of resisting arrest, escaping, motor vehicle theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.


Convicted felon was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, driving with a suspended license and aggravated animal cruelty for allegedly tying a dog to a tree and shooting it with a shotgun for attempting to bite him and his girlfriend. Isaiah Beavers, 30, of Cocoa, Florida, apparently tied the dog to a tree in a public park and fled. Florida Today reported that police found a shotgun in the hatch of the SUV. Beavers was being held without bond in the Brevard County Jail and the dog had to be euthanized.

A South Florida veterinarian is facing charges for child pornography possession, sexually abusing a dog, and allegedly animal crushing authorities said.
Prentiss Madden, 40, had been the medical director of Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Aventura Florida. According to a criminal complaint, agents with Homeland Security Investigations received a cyber tip and raided Madden's northeast Miami-Dade home in February. Agents described finding images of child pornography and photos of what appeared to be him sexually abusing a dog, the complaint said.

Authorities in Florida are investigating individuals who were allegedly hunting illegally tied to murder the law enforcement officers trying to stop them.
Three men from the Miami area Lazaro Milian, Michel Amalfi, & Rodrigo LaRosa
were charged with attempting to run over a law enforcement officer with their ATV after an encounter at a hunting camp in Polk County, Fla. The Miami Herald reported that Lazaro Milian, 50, of Miami, Michel Amalfi, 45, of North Miami-Dade, and Rodrigo LaRosa, 27, of Hialeah were in custody. According to charging documents, the three were night hunting at an 88,000-acre River
Ranch Hunt Camp. A Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission officer followed them, took their shotguns and began talking with them. A fight ensued, and Amalfi and LaRosa reportedly ran over the officer with their ATV, beat him, and left him deep in the woods. A manhunt involving some 100 officers and an Osceola County Sheriff’s Department helicopter eventually apprehended the trio. The unnamed officer was reportedly recuperating. Milian is in the middle of a 10-year probation term after having been convicted of grand theft.

Florida LINK News 2020



Fiance Charged with Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty in Shooting of Two Dogs
William Petty, 49, of DeLand, Florida, was charged with animal cruelty, child abuse and carrying a concealed weapon after he allegedly tried to make his fianceé’s 16-year- old son shoot one of her two dogs, and then reportedly shot the dogs himself. Volusia County Sheriff’s officials said that following an argument with her, Petty drove the dogs and the teen to a wooded area; when the boy refused to shoot a dog, Petty killed it and tossed both dogs into the woods, the Tampa Bay Times reported.


Mother Accused of Sending Son’s Friend Lewd Photos and Bestiality Video
Darling Noa, 43, of Homestead, Florida, was arrested on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct, aggravated stalking, and harmful electronic transmission to a minor for allegedly sending her son’s friend inappropriate photos, text messages, voice mails, and bestiality videos. The Miami Herald reported that the boy, age 15, called police after Noa texted him topless photos of herself, pictures of her in nothing but underwear, images of her in see-through lingerie, and a video of a person having sex with a horse. When she asked him if he wanted to have sex with her, she reportedly said he could decline the offer, but if he agreed she would give her children medicine to make them go to sleep early.


Woman Threatening to Jump Throws Dog Off Motel Balcony Instead
A Daytona Beach, Florida woman who threatened to jump from a second-story motel room but instead allegedly threw a dog off the balcony was charged with animal cruelty and resisting an officer with violence. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Allison Murphy, 35, had threatened to jump from a Motel 6 balcony; after Volusia County Sheriff’s deputies knocked on her door, she came out with a German shepherd and threw the dog off the balcony. The dog, named “Miracle” by Volusia County Animal Services, landed on its feet and was not seriously injured although an x-ray found a sewing needle lodged in her right thigh. A future court hearing will determine custody provisions for the dog.


Detectives Bust Alleged Dognapping and Robbery Scheme 
Jeffrey Paul Parris, 34, of Gainesville, Florida, was arrested in an elaborate alleged dognapping and robbery scheme when he reportedly demanded a ransom for the dog’s return to Alachua County sheriff’s detectives. The Gainesville Sun reported that Parris allegedly broke into a home and stole thousands of dollars in cash, two handguns, $1,000 shoes, and a pit bull. Following the burglary, the victim began getting texts demanding $20,000 for the dog’s safe return. The dog’s owner notified authorities, who responded by text to Parris, who upped the ante to $25,000 and threatened to send the dog’s paws back in a box if the ransom wasn’t paid. After Parris picked up what turned out to be an empty money bag outside a car wash, detectives tailed his car and found the dog alive and huddled in the back seat. Parris served two years in state prison on multiple burglary and grand theft charges.


Teen Who Shot Police K-( After Armed Robbery and Carjacking Gets 25 Years In Prison 
A Jacksonville, Florida teen who fatally shot a Sheriff’s Office K-9 named “Fang” two years ago was sentenced to 25 years in prison followed by 10 years probation. The defense attorney for Jhamel Malik Paskel, now 19, asked the court for leniency saying his client was now a man ready to take responsibility for mistakes he made as Jhamel Paskel a child, the Florida Times-Union reported. Paskel had pled guilty to killing the police dog, possession of a gun by a juvenile delinquent, and armed robbery and kidnapping for carjacking two women that preceded a 120-mph high-speed chase and the dog’s death. “We are glad to bring this case to resolution,” State Attorney Melissa Nelson told WOKV radio. “His senseless killing underscores the dangers law enforcement face every day and it sparked changes in state law. This outcome finally achieves justice to Fang’s memory.”


Ex-football Star Charged with Sexual Activity with Minors and Animal Neglect
Former Jacksonville Jaguars football player Telvin Smith, 29, who had been arrested in April for allegations of unlawful sexual activity with minors, was charged with seven civil citations for alleged animal neglect. Jacksonville Florida Animal Care and Protective Services said Smith left dogs tethered and unattended in his yard, according to the Florida Times-Union. A star athlete at Florida State University, Smith played for the Jaguars in 2014-2018 but abruptly stepped away from football to focus on his health and family.


12-Year-Old Who Shot Family Dog Charged with Bringing Guns to School
A 12-year-old boy who had recently killed the family dog with a pellet gun was arrested after Nassau County, Florida deputies said he brought three guns and ammunition to school. Citing the severity of the incidents, WJXT-TV identified the boy as Gabriel Dean Lewis Stanford, of Callahan. The principal of Lighthouse Christian School called the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office after staff found two firearms and two boxes of .380 caliber ammo in his lunchbox; a third gun, that was loaded, was later found along with a violent drawing of a man outside a school with guns. The man was surrounded by dead bodies, covered in red marker indicating blood. Sheriff Bill Leeper called the incident “very scary,” saying it’s “dangerous for kids to have weapons like that, much less taking one to school.” The boy’s mother said he had recently accidentally killed the family’s Chihuahua with a pellet rifle when he was unsupervised. “When you look at the killing of a family pet, you look at some of the drawings that were found in the kid’s desk, it is alarming," Leeper said. "You don’t know what’s in the child’s mind and what they’re thinking — maybe innocent, maybe not. But surely, you don’t want to take that chance; you want to make sure the child gets the help that he needs to make sure nothing like this will happen in the future.”


Recovered Stolen Phone Leads to Child and Animal Pornography Charges
A man whose stolen cell phone was recovered following a robbery was charged with multiple counts of child pornography, animal cruelty and bestiality after detectives allegedly found 1,400 files of child pornography and video of him abusing the family dog. The Volusia County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office reported that Joshua Jobe, 20, of Deltona, Florida also had a history of abusing a different family dog when he lived in DeLand, Fla., in 2016. The University of Florida’s Veterinary Forensic Sciences Program and Volusia County Animal Services assisted in the investigation. The analysis of Jobe’s phone also revealed texts claiming access to and sexual contact with children, including claims of raping children and babies; the Sheriff’s Office said there were no indications substantiating any of these had happened but they asked anyone with potential information to come forward. The dog, “Brownie,” was removed from the home.


Dispute Over Dangerous Dog Leaves Two Neighbors and Gunman Dead
An 82-year-old man apparently angry that his next-door neighbors had managed to get his dog declared dangerous went on what Port St. Lucie, Florida. law enforcement officials called a shooting rampage that killed two neighbors, including an 11-year-old girl, and the gunman. WPTV reported that Guy Alexander Hansman, 55, and his daughter Harper Hansman, 11, were shot and killed by their neighbor, Ronald Delserro, 82, after returning from a court hearing where Delserro’s bull mastiff, “Roxy,” was declared dangerous. “They all came home from court and then the suspect armed himself and went to the victims’ house,” Sheriff Ken Mascara said at a news conference. After the young girl called 911, “Old Man” was rescued from the abuse police and sheriffs arrived at the Hansman house, where they exchanged gunfire with Delserro, who was armed with two handguns. It was not clear whether Delserro was killed by police or took his own life; one officer who was wearing a bulletproof vest was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm. Four other people in the house managed to escape. The neighborhood feud stemmed from a March 4 incident when Roxy attacked and bit a woman at the Hansmans’ house. “I believe this to be an intentional act of violence against these neighbors,” said Port St. Lucie Asst. Police Chief Richard DelToro.

Woman with Child Neglect History Charged with Animal Cruelty
A Pinellas Park, Florida, woman who had been charged with child neglect in 2013 was arrested on May 26 on a charge of felony animal cruelty after her dog was reportedly found dead in her back yard after being tied to a shed for multiple days without food or water. WFLA-TV reported that Sierra Manley, 27, told sheriff’s deputies she had been in Miami for several days while the dog was tied to the shed and that she knew about the dog’s passing and had texted a friend about the dog being dead and stinking. Physical Therapist Sought for Alleged Fraud Charges with Homicide and Animal Cruelty The father of a Connecticut family that hadn’t been seen in weeks was arrested in Celebration, Florida on four counts of homicide and one count of animal cruelty after the bodies of his wife, three young children and a dog were reportedly found inside a home on the outskirts of Disney World. Anthony Todt, 44, was charged with the deaths of his wife Megan, 42, children Alek, 13, Tyler, 11, and Zoe, 4, and the family dog, “Breezy.” The family had previously lived in Colchester, Conn., but rented the Florida home last May while they were being evicted from their home and Todt, a physical therapist, was facing eviction from his office.


Teen, Dogs Rescued from Feces- and Cockroach-Filled Home
A Largo, Florida, couple were each arrested on a count of felony child abuse and child neglect, and their four dogs were taken into protective custody by Animal Services, after their malnourished 14-year-old son was reportedly found with bruises and marks on his legs and living in squalid conditions in a feces-filled mobile home infested with 1,000
cockroaches The Tampa Bay Times reported that Larry James Brown, 44, and Melanie Guy Brown, 36, had padlocked the refrigerator and freezer to keep their son from “stealing food.” The parents allegedly told police they would wake the boy up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and beat him unless he cleaned the house, which was filled with clutter. The boy, who had been found at 1 a.m. lying on the ground near a supermarket, was taken to a children’s hospital for medical evaluation.

Florida Businessman Charged with Child and Animal Abuse
Damon Becnel, 47, of Destin, Florida, was charged with child abuse and animal cruelty after his 14-year-old daughter told Okaloosa County Sheriff’s officers on Christmas
Eve that she had been physically abused and allegedly provided investigators with a video of the incident from a security camera she had installed. The Walton Sun reported that the video purportedly shows Becnel pulling out a knife and threatening one of two dogs while yelling, “I will cut this [expletive deleted] dog’s eyeballs out.” He could later be seen striking the dog, grabbing it by the throat and throwing it to the floor while the child tells him to stop, and then struck the girl several times, according to the arrest report. She later escaped the house while he was asleep and walked several miles to a Wal-Mart where she bought a burner phone and called her babysitter. The arrest sparked a community backlash with the creation of a Facebook page, viewed more than 6,000 times, called “Justice for Daughter of Damon Becnel & Her Pets,” and re-ignited a bitter custody battle with the girl’s mother filing a petition for an injunction against domestic violence on behalf of the girl. The petition claims that Becnel has a criminal history, has committed or threatened domestic violence in the past, owns more than 20 guns, and has substance abuse issues and a history of mental health issues. Becnel was described as a prominent local businessman who is a managing partner of 26 businesses and is president of the Sandestin Police Department.

Shot Dog Survives Murder-Suicide Attack in Home of Sex Offender
Cape Coral, Florida police say a case where a mother, son and family dog were shot was a murder-suicide. The Fort Myers News-Press reported that police found the bodies of Joanne Lynn Walpole, 59, and her son, Michael Edward Walpole, 37. The investigation found that Joanne Walpole shot the dog, her son and then herself. The dog survived and was being cared for by Lee County Animal Control. Michael Walpole was a registered sex offender, having been convicted in 2012 of lewd or lascivious conduct on a minor.

Take Action

Florida Dept. of Children Florida Department of & Families Report Abuse Hotline 1-800-962-2873 FL Relay 711 TTY 1-800-955-8771


Florida Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-500-1119 TDD 800 621-4202


Florida Elder Abuse 1-800-962-2873 TDD/TTY 800-453-5145


Clay Animal Care & Control 904-269-6342


Duval Animal Care & Control 904-630-CITY


Nassau Animal Services 904-530-6150


St. Johns Animal Control 904-209-6190

Advisory Board

Tara Wildes serves as Director for the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Corrections Division. Previously she was the Director of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Department of Corrections and served as the administrator of over 800 employees, 3400 incarcerated persons, three correctional facilities, as well as pretrial services, reentry, medical and court services with a budget of over 90 million dollars.  She retired from that position in 2016 and formed Wildes, Bowen and Associates, LLC, a corrections consulting firm that provides expert witness, training and other corrections specific reporting services.  She returned to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in 2020 as their Reentry Coordinator.

Tara serves on the boards of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Prisoners of Christ and Disability Rights Florida.  She represents the incarcerated population for StopTB USA and the University of North Florida Institutional Review Board.   She is also on the Florida Bar Grievance Committee “D” for the 4th Judicial Circuit and is an adjunct instructor for Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Tara is committed to criminal justice system reform and is focused on improving correctional processes.  She is the recipient of numerous awards for her role as a mental health advocate, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mental Health America, the Above and Beyond Award from the State Attorney, 4th Judicial Circuit and Outstanding Alumnae Award from the University of North Florida Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.



Tracy Sampson serves as the Regional Coordinator for the Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools serving Nassau, Baker, Duval, Union, Bradford, Clay, St. Johns, Alachua, Putnam, Flagler, Marion, Citrus, Sumter, Lake, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, as well as P.K Yonge at University of Florida and Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. She is based in the region and travels to visit schools and district offices to provide technical assistance and training, and to verify local compliance with school safety laws. Tracy is a FortifyFL administrative user for each of the districts in her region. Prior to joining the Office of Safe Schools Tracy had 13 years' experience in Education, 2.5 years as a trainer for educators and 1.5 years as a School Safety Specialist for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Tracy has a B.S. in Paralegal Studies; M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. Tracy is a certified trainer for Comprehensive Student Threat Assessment Guidelines (CSTAG) and AlerT Training (active shooter response plan).



Susan Gillespy has been in the Northeast Florida area since 1969. After attending Orange Park High School she earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Jacksonville University. She then furthered her education, earning her Master's degree in Counseling Psychology at the University of North Florida as well as becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Susan has extensive post-graduate training in Natural Systems Theory, one of the oldest and most respected theories in family counseling. She also specializes in Ericksonian techniques. Both schools of therapy focus on respecting the uniqueness of each individual. Susan is both a counselor and dog trainer, and completed her Master's degree in 1996 from the University of North Florida. She obtained her professional canine education at Animal Behavior College and has been training dogs in the Jacksonville area since 2010. She is a member of two professional animal trainer organizations, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) as well as the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). She is also a Knowledge- Assessed Certified Professional Dog Trainer and credentialed by CCPDT.  Susan most recently became a Certified Force Free Trainer.


Coming Soon - Bio- Advisory Board- Domestic Violence

Coming Soon - Bio- Advisory Board- Elder Care 


Kelly Anderson, Coordinator North Florida Link Project. As Coordinator Kelly is driven to find innovating new ways to effectively use research, data and statistics to increase awareness of the link. Throughout her career, Kelly has worked with organizations across a wide range of industries — from nonprofits like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Changing Homelessness, to serving over 10 years in the public sector as a Registrar for the St. Johns County School District. She is a Florida native and is proud to call Mandarin home. Kelly is focused on issues that impact Floridians and as the Coordinator of the Link Project, her goal is simple - to expand community awareness and empower action that results in the prevention of abuse.



Email NFLP@cmail.nu


Follow the Link Project on twitter @FLActionLink