Nina Knapp’s life changed about 35 years ago.
While living in Boise, Idaho, and working for a women’s shelter, Knapp was witness to many strange and bizarre cases. One aspect that stuck with her was seeing the women and their pets needing a home.
“One night, this woman showed up to the shelter with a dog and a cat,” Knapp recalls. “We didn’t have the accommodations for the pets. We told her that we would have to call animal control for the dog and cat. She declined to stay there, but we were able to give her some financial support for the night. I don’t know what happened to this woman or her pets, but it was a situation that resonated with me.”
To learn more about the project, visit www.thedeadlylink.com.
Knapp and producer Sheryl Brown have begun work on a feature-length documentary called “The Deadly Link.” The film will present the stories of cruelty and compassion behind the scientific evidence that links animal abuse and human violence, which includes domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse.
Production has begun, and the filmmakers hope to have the film out in 2013.
Knapp says she wanted to make the film because she is an animal lover.
“Both of my grandparents had farms,” Knapp says. “It’s always stuck with me, and I’ve treated all my animals well. I hope that this film will try and solve this problem.”
Brown says the purpose of the documentary is to bring the issue of animal abuse in violent homes, and possible solutions, to the attention of a worldwide audience.
She says it also will be an educational/training tool for social service providers, police officers, mail carriers, utility meter readers, animal control officers, veterinarians, family physicians, clergy, civic groups and politicians.
“Thirty-two percent of battered women report that their children had hurt or killed animals. We need to help stop this cycle,” Brown says. “There is a statistical correlation to it all. People who abuse animals are four times more likely to commit crimes. The point of this film is to stop the violence before it stops.”
Also part of the film crew are Angie Beauchamp, Fritz Eberle, Brad Stoddard, Nick Ward, Monica Garcia, Tammy Fiebelkorn, Alex Raguini, Jeffrey Mettling and Rodney Branigan, who wrote the film’s theme song, “She Bled.”
Knapp says she’s worked planning and doing research for the film for the past two years. Then in 2010, she attended a New Mexico Conference on the Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence and saw that it’s an international problem. The conference also took place in Albuquerque this past fall, and filming began on Sept. 17.
“I found experts and they were willing to talk on the subject,” she says. “It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
So far the filmmakers have interviewed experts like:
♦ Phil Arkow, coordinator of the National Link Coalition, consultant for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals;
♦ Diane Balkin, contract attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund;
♦ Ann Beyke, pet loss and bereavement counselor who has counseled survivors of domestic violence;
♦ Dianne Combs Daniels: social worker, animal assisted therapy;
♦ Amber McDonald: founder of The Kindness Collective;
♦ Patricia Norris, D.V.M.: sheriff’s veterinarian for the Dona Aña County Sheriff’s Department;
♦ Núria Querol Viñas, M.D.: director of the group for the Study of Violence Against Humans and Animals, and the Program for Victims of Domestic Violence and their Companion Animals in Spain;
♦ Tamara H. Ward, L.B.S.W.: social worker who developed Project Second Chance, a program that teams incarcerated youths with shelter dogs.
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