88 percent of homes with physically abused children also have abused or neglected pets.
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FAIRBORN — Sometimes lost in the investigation of child abuse is the dog or cat cowering in the corner or hiding under the kitchen table.

Local animal welfare workers and children's advocates hope that will change.

More than 100 people from the Miami Valley gathered Tuesday, Sept. 30, to study that issue in a conference at the Holiday Inn titled, "Exploring the relationship between child abuse and animal cruelty."

"It's a well-established link that we're aware of," said Libby Nicholson, director of CARE House, the children's advocacy center in Dayton composed of local law enforcement, prosecutors, children's services officials and health care professionals.

Experts at the conference noted that 88 percent of homes with physically abused children also have abused or neglected pets, a harsh reality that can be invaluable to investigators.

Dr. Barbara Boat, from the University of Cincinnati, spoke about a 5-year-old child too afraid to talk about the sexual abuse he suffered from a family acquaintance. But when asked about his pets, the boy spoke openly about the man abusing his dog. He then opened up about his own abuse.

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