For some courts, animal cruelty cases are not given as much time or attention, a complete injustice to animals that have been neglected and harmed. Thus, it is important to continue pushing forward and fighting so that justice that had been denied before can finally be served, and those who commit inhumane treatment to animals be made accountable.
Michelle Welch, the Director of Virginia Attorney General’s Office’s Animal Law Unit is this course’s speaker. Michelle is passionate about animal law and is Virginia’s key resource when it comes to animal cruelty and animal fighting cases where she serves as a prosecutor.
On this course, Michelle will be unpacking the important points in dog fighting prosecutions, going through the evidence, investigation, and case presentation. Some of the specifics discussed include:
- The tale of two cellphones – the case study that served as the core of all prosecution elements discussed.
- Videos, photos and text messages retrieved from cellphones that served as important evidence to the case, the challenge of getting forensics to examine the phones, and the best ways to present such pieces of evidence.
- The importance of securing stipulations of authenticity and that every witness/expert need not be called into the witness stand.
- Strategies for plea agreements where evidence and dogfighting experts’ interpretation of the evidence is reviewed with the Defense Attorney.
- Why it is a mistake to do motions to suppress orally and why it is entailed to be written and not treated as an afterthought.
- Reviewing body cam footage as additional evidence.
- Why overdoing it is never a bad thing when presenting evidence.
- The different pieces of evidence presented and the resources utilized for successful prosecution
- The different experts to consult and get involved in such cases.
- Processing the rugs found in the pit for blood using Bluestar, and how to present the Bluestar findings so that the jury can understand its implication.
- Getting a veterinarian to interpret and highlight the type and pattern of scarring.
- Employing a dogfighting expert that can look at scarring and/or a behaviorist to check on the dogs’ temperament/behavior.
- Various medical supplies that the dogfighters own so they can treat and patch up wounded dogs themselves and avoid the vet.
- Enhancers that are being given to the dogs to build stamina and strength.
- Paraphernalia that is associated with dogfighting operations.
- Certificates that serve as the currency for dogfighters and lineage/pedigree that can be traced back to famous dogfighters.
- Cellphones that may contain content as videos and text messages that can definitely help in incriminating suspects and identifying other dogfighters.
- A wrap up that stresses the information of walking the jury through every single evidence and event that went down, its significance, and why a conviction must be done.
- Some of the questions Michelle addressed include:
- Finding dog-fighting experts and trainings available to be one.
- Funding to get experts on animal cruelty and dog fighting cases.
- Getting started on an animal fighting task force.
- How animal fighting can get addicting.
- “Had a lot of good information to put in for the application for a search warrant.” — Robert
- “I loved the in-depth step by step process on building a single case and how all the evidence flows. Fantastic” — Rachel
- The nuances–little tips like knowing the lingo. So much good info–not all processed yet in my brain!” — Marilyn
- “I think the entire webinar was of great value from start to finish, including the great questions at the end. Thank you !!” — Lynn