The connection between animal abuse and the abuse of humans will be explored at this year's New Zealand Companion Animal Conference.

The conference, which starts in Wellington today, has the theme "The Link" - a term which the New Zealand Companion Animal Council said covered the relationship between abuse of animals and that of humans, and also the deep empathy that could exist between humans and animals.

This year's conference comes in the same year that a New Zealand report was released into the connection between animal and human abuse.

This year the Pets and Pawns study, commissioned by the Royal New Zealand SPCA and Women's Refuge New Zealand, reinforced overseas data which established beyond doubt the connection between cruelty to animals and towards humans, as well as the high incidence of animal abuse in the childhood histories of mass murderers and other violent criminals, the conference's spokesman, Bob Kerridge, said.


The Pets as Pawns study, published in March, found that one in three of the Women's Refuge clients surveyed had delayed leaving violent relationships because of fears that pets or other animals would be killed or tortured.

Women's Refuge New Zealand chief executive Heather Henare said she hoped the Justice Minister would encourage police to recognise the link between different faces of violence.

"And we would also like to see government funding made available for sharing information and strengthening links between ourselves, the SPCA, Child, Youth and Family, police and other concerned agencies," she said.

Justice Minister Judith Collins will be attending the conference.