A case of animal cruelty in Canberra recently has shocked even the police, who are still investigating the incident.
Two chickens kept at a Canberra suburban childcare centre were stolen from their pen over a weekend and were set on fire while still alive.
When discovered, both the hens were severely injured, with one having to be euthanised and the other needing extensive veterinary care.
While this incident is shocking enough in itself, it overlooks the link between animal abuse and domestic violence: a causal link that has been researched extensively but is often ignored when animal abuse incidents are treated in isolation from their wider social implications.
The research has shown that people who abuse animals don't just stop with animals.
Hurting animals may be a first step, or may be a symptom of wider acts of violence: domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse or other violent behaviour against humans.
As early as 1983, a study found that in 88 percent of cases of child abuse in the home, animal abuse was also present. In 2017, 89pc of women who reported that they had suffered violence from a domestic partner also reported that pets had been harmed or killed by that partner.
Alarmingly, there is also the documented fact that children who are exposed to animal abuse absorb and normalise this behaviour, thus perpetuating a cycle of violence.
Kicking or beating pets, deliberately harming animals, either domestic or wild, or dumping domestic animals and leaving them to die are acts of animal abuse.
Scratch beneath the surface of these acts and it is likely that there will be a causal link that leads to violence in other areas.
Last year the University of Melbourne hosted a seminar conducted jointly by two researchers: one in emergency veterinary care and the other in sociology and heath.
Their work investigated the animal-human violence link, and the seminar involved practitioners in both animal and human care, providing them with the skills they need in identifying the link and also their legal responsibilities in reporting animal abuse as a symptom of other forms of violence.
Animal cruelty is a crime in all Australian jurisdictions, with varying penalties.
Law enforcement must take such cases seriously and ensure that they are fully investigated within the context of the link with other forms of violence.