SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— The Federal Bureau of Investigations is upping the stakes in their battle against animal cruelty.  It’s now part of the Bureau’s index of major crimes.  That means crimes against animals will now be taken as seriously as arson or homicide.

The hope is that law enforcement will be able to catch people prone to violence early, before they move on to commit bigger crimes.  According to San Francisco SPCA Co-President Jennifer Scarlett, statistics show that’s often the case.

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“There’s a high correlation between animal cruelty and torture moving on to violent crimes against humans,” Scarlett said.  “If they can understand and prevent animal cruelty they can go on to prevent other violent crimes against people. In fact 76 percent of animal abusers also go on to abuse somebody else in the family.”

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Scarlett says animal advocates hope the change will also lead to tougher sentencing.