Animal abusers can be of either gender, any age, and/or fall within any socioeconomic group. They tend to be individuals who look upon their animals as property with which they are entitled to do with as they please, and violence may be part of the behaviour. Alcohol and drug abuse are often contributing factors.
Physical abuse, neglect or cruelty to animals can be reflective of a wider problem of child and/or spousal abuse. Abused children will often start their own pattern of violent behaviour by abusing animals. This behaviour often escalates over time to the physical abuse of others, and to increasing levels of societal violence. The behaviour within the family group may be hidden or denied by its subservient members regardless of whether they themselves are participants in the acts of animal cruelty.
It is important that animal abuse investigators be aware of the existence of these extenuating behaviours or circumstances, both for their own protection as well as that of the animals they are trying to protect.