The Link Between Animal Abuse and Child Abuse

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Date: Fall 2018
From: American Journal of Family Law(Vol. 32, Issue 3)
Publisher: Aspen Publishers, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,709 words
Lexile Measure: 1390L

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Floyd and Barbara Schambon were the parents of five children. The couple's eldest daughter was emancipated and did not live with the couple. The remaining four children, two boys and two girls, were all under the age of 13. (1) Like many other American families, the couple had several animals in their home, including dogs, cats, and even a guinea pig. Barbara Schambon was an obstetrics nurse at a local hospital. (2) Floyd Schambon worked outside of the home as well. The Schambons were also in the business of breeding and selling various breeds of small dogs. From the outside, they may have appeared relatively normal; however, the Schambons were hiding a horrendous secret.

In the summer of 1989, animal control officers responded to information regarding animals in the Schambons' garage. They found over 20 small dogs in the hot, unventilated garage without food or water. They also observed 3-5 inches of feces covering the garage floor. Two of the three responding animal control officers took the animals to the animal shelter. The third officer stayed behind to investigate. (3)

The animal control officer found Barbara Schambon in the home. She invited the officer into the house through the back door that led into the kitchen. When inside the kitchen, the officer saw animal cages lining the kitchen walls and litter boxes overflowing with feces. He observed dirty dishes throughout the kitchen and fungus growing on the stove. A dead, decomposing dog was lying on the kitchen floor. A guinea pig was in its cage on top of the kitchen counter. The animal control officer was so nauseated by the smells in the kitchen that he had to leave the house for fresh air. The officer later returned to the house after obtaining a search warrant for the Schambon house. Floyd Schambon was present and arrested for animal cruelty. (4)

Children Places in Foster Homes

The couple's children returned home when the animal control officers were searching the house. Inside the home, animal control officers found feces on the floor, walls, and beds. Barbara Schambon repeatedly shouted at the animal control officers not to talk to her children. Because of the condition of the home, the children were removed from the Schambons' custody and placed in foster care. Again, Barbara Schambon warned the children not to talk to anyone. The two boys, ages 13 and 6, were placed in a home together. The two girls, ages 10 and 8, were placed in a home together but separate from their brothers. (5)

The boys' foster parents noticed strange behavior by the boys. The youngest boy had poor hygiene and needed additional training on bathing habits. The boy was afraid to go into the bathroom and told his foster parents it was because "you'll be there" and "you might hurt me." Because the young boy often wet the bed at night, his foster parents would wake him to use the bathroom. The boy would go into the bathroom, climb...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A555588863