Newsday/Laura Figueroa
Parents for Megan's Law, a Suffolk nonprofit that provides support to sexual abuse victims,is teaming up with the county's animal protection agency to train investigators on the frequentlink between animal cruelty and child and spousal abuse.  A batterer's first target is oftenan animal living at home, Paula Ryder, senior advocate for Parents for Megan's Law, told thegroup.  The second target is a spouse or a child.  Ryder cited a 1986 study publishedin the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry that said 62 percent of animal abuse offendershad also committed an assault and 17 percent had committed sexual abuse.  The study also found48 percent of rapists and 30 percent of convicted child molesters had committed animal abuse inchildhood or adolescence.  Suffolk SCPA Chief Roy Gross said when officers are called toinvestigate animal abuse complaints, they'll quite often encounter suspected child abuse andcases of domestic violence that had previously gone unreported.  Gross recalled the case of aDix Hills man who kept his wife and children chained for long periods of time, threatening themwith his collection of exotic animals including a leopard, and a Selden mother sentenced to yearsin jail after investigators unearthed the bodies of 42 pets buried in her backyard.  Herchildren said she would torture dogs and cats to death in their presence.  Parents for Megan'sLaw and the SPCA plan to collaborate on additional workshops to inform child protective agenciesand local animal shelters about the link between both forms of abuse. 
(New York)