Most of us remember the days when prosecutors, with a few notable exceptions, were willing, even eager, to ignore animal abuse cases. Fortunately, a shift has started in some district attorneys’s offices, and animal cases are being treated with increasing care. Sometimes there are even special units — or at least designated individuals — who are appointed to handle animal cases and who have the special expertise to know how to manage these often difficult cases, which not only can require knowledge of the law, but require a sensitivity to the often complex needs of the animal victims.
One sign that more serious attention is being paid to animal abuse is the creation of The National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse within the National District Attorneys’ Association. This new organization, which will partner with the ASPCA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, will “educate and train prosecutors and allied professionals on the effective handling of animal cruelty and neglect cases, including cases involving the co-occurrence of animal abuse and violence to people.”
The organization’s first webinar will be held on September 8. Hosted by the Center’s Executive Director, Allie Phillips, this free webinar will serve as an introduction to handling animal cases and a guide to some of the services and resources that the Center will provide for prosecutors and others in law enforcement, as well as animal control and humane investigators, veterinarians, shelter staff, and rescue organization volunteers.
The Center sounds like it could be an invaluable resource for prosecutors and others in law enforcement who need additional resources and guidance in handling animal law cases and who, perhaps, wish to expand the narrow scope of enforcement of these laws, which generally purport to prohibit “unnecessary suffering,” but clearly fall far short of that mark. If you are in such a position, be sure to tune in. If not, perhaps you want to pass this information along to your favorite law and order folks.