Webinar presenter Adam Leath answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Engagement of Public-Private Partnerships in Animal Cruelty Investigations. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: The first one is actually a comment that state and local animal community animal response teams might be one additional resource and that these are people with training and experience to do animal handling and seizure and maybe even provide some temporary sheltering. It might be available through statewide mutual aid. I wasn’t sure if you have very much of an experience working with those.
Adam Leath: Absolutely. I can talk about in Florida we have a state animal response coalition in times of disasters for sheltering assistance. That’s not unique. There are a lot of states who have state associations that can provide resources. Some of them are nonprofit. Some of them are municipal. there are a lot of great resources at the local and state level. Honestly, I would argue that almost any case that you see in your jurisdiction can likely be handled with the resources not only in your community, within your neighboring counties or certainly within the state. The question is do you have contact necessary to get it done?
Audience Question: Would a more restorative practice which engages the community and discussion with the offender for long term healing would be something that you would consider?
Adam Leath: I think that it will be very progressive for us to be talking about rehabilitation certainly when we are talking about hoarding with recidivism being where it is and the challenge to present it to a whole host of agencies. It would be very progressive. If you don’t already have one start to start engaging stakeholders in those conversations. What sort of rehabilitation path exists for not only for offenders but what if we are not talking about something that needs enforcement action. We might be talking that could be resolved if you had those partnerships with individuals, NGO’s and your law enforcement. Those types of contacts have developed. You can use those to get those positive outcomes. There’s probably going to be a lot of subject matter expertise. Certainly, there are different rehabilitation paths for different types of offenders. There are different resources that are needed in each unique case so I would say that if you are able to get to the point where you are talking about like a specialized court like a mental health court or something like juvenile justice court with variations of the topic that I think that everyone gets the gist. if you are getting to the point where you can provide targeted, restorative or specific sentencing that involves rehabilitation in offenders that would be very helpful. That new trend is that prosectors are now developing some specialties. There are a lot of districts and judicial circuits that are now having specifically assigned prosecutors for animal cruelty and neglect. Those would certainly be avenues for you to engage and look at what type of rehabilitation is even available. And if it’s not, why not?
Audience Question: Have you had any success presenting to law enforcement officers during their roll call? If so, what information do you share given that very short format of this type of training?
Adam Leath: I have but it is not something that you can call tomorrow if there is a roll call that you want going to attend you are going to need it to be able to go to it. You have to be paragon((?)56:21). Find that decision-makers within your organization. You can engage your directors in conversations with the Sherriff. If I found oftentimes that those kinds of conversation on collaboration, it can certainly grease the wheels of it if decision-makers are talking to one another but certainly if you have those relationships at the local district level as an ACO, engaging them at the local precinct or next time you have an interaction with them on the scene, getting their contact information and asking if they would be willing to come and speak with your group might be an easy way to start. Reaching out the hand and the invitation before imposing on your presence being somewhere necessarily. Understand that sometimes doors are closed. Sometimes only those agencies that are sworn can even be involved in some of those briefings. Really doing the homework of who the decision-makers are and having those decision-makers talk to one another and having that trickle-down would be one tactic to try.
Audience Question: From a community engagement perspective, what lessons can you share when working with the media and reporting on an animal cruelty case?
Adam Leath: That’s a great question. We can spend an entire day just talking about that. One of the particular challenges are what we see for the illegitimate rescues and illegitimate sanctuary type cases is generally the media gets their story told first. That’s what I found to be really challenging is if the individual who you have just charged and served a warrant out at a particular property, it’s going to be the first to tell their story about how awful the organization is or how mistaken they are about what is going on, it makes it that much more challenging for your agency to not only overcome that but also to get factual information out. I would say that if you develop some local coalition or task force or just an interested group of stakeholders. First, getting that information out, developing press releases ahead of when you know you are going to be serving a warrant or developing press releases your programs and services before you are having to be in front of a camera because of specific incidence or a case is certainly helpful.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Engagement of Public-Private Partnerships in Animal Cruelty Investigations.