April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, but we should always be alert to signs of cruelty and neglect, and report known or suspected abuse to law enforcement authorities immediately. Stopping animal abusers doesn't only protect animals -- it makes our communities safer for everyone.

Animal abusers are bullies and cowards, and their targets often include members of their own species. The FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals regularly appears in its records of serial rapists and murderers, and it uses reports of cruelty to animals when gauging the threat potential of suspected and known criminals. As someone who deals with dozens of cruelty-to-animals cases every week, I have seen case after case in which people who abuse animals commit similar crimes against members of their own communities and families.

Each of us can help stop the cycle of violence by never letting any cruelty go unreported. For more ways to help animals, visit www.PETA.org.

MARTIN MERSEREAU

Director, Emergency Response Team

Cruelty Investigations Department

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Norfolk, VA