YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - There have been numerous cases of animal cruelty and abuse in the Mahoning Valley over the last few weeks, and psychologists say it is the sign of a deeper, more disturbing problem.

  • Boardman Police released surveillance video hoping to find the person behind the wheel of a truck responsible for purposely driving into a flock of geese, killing three of them.
  • Police say Brandon Hamilton is charged with killing three 12-week-old kittens that belonged to his foster parents.
  • Jaycen Leapline of Warren was charged with beating his girlfriend's Tiger Kitten against the wall, and then throwing it out of the window.

In the latest case of animal cruelty, Columbiana County man Jose Ramos IV was charged with animal cruelty after driving his car over two Swedish ducks in a restaurant parking lot.

A witness says it happened even though she signaled Ramos to stop. The animals were pets of Donnie Snyder.

"Sophia and Melvin, they were wonderful animals. Everyday when I got home from work they would greet me at the side of the car, waiting for me to pet them. They would come in the house with there diapers, and they were just a big part of my life," says Snyder. 

Snyder says he thinks these actions are inexcusable, and wants justice for his pets. He says he hopes tough sentences will prevent future cases of animal cruelty.

Psychologist Dr. David Chiarella say when someone abuses an animal, it comes from a much deeper problem.

"Some of them may enjoy the pain that they inflict on these animals, because they're sadists. It's a sadistic act. There's a tremendous association between domestic violence and animal beaters. In other words if you're involved in a domestic fight and you have pets, that pet is likely to be abused as well," says Dr. Chiarella.

Studies have found that the majority of serial killers abused animals during adolescence. 

However, adults who lash out at animals may have problems controlling anger and aggression, often harming the pet of a family member to get back at them in some way.

In some cases the abusers may have been victims of abuse themselves, and a jail sentence may not be enough to change that.

"It's about power and control, and it is a significant problem because it's violence," says Dr. Chiarella.