Animal Crimes: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement (Part 1)

Animal Crimes: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement (Part 1)
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-05-26
Unit 1 Slide Deck: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement
Unit 2 Transcript: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement
Unit 3 Workbook: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement
Unit 4 Recording: The Issues and Problems Facing Small, Rural and Tribal Law Enforcement

Animal crimes can be tedious to investigate and prosecute but for small and rural law enforcement agencies, there are unique circumstances that make these even more challenging.

Michelle Welch is back on the Justice Clearinghouse to unpack these issues and how agencies can best deal with them. Michelle is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Director of its Animal Law Unit. She is Virginia’s primary resource when it comes to animal law questions throughout the commonwealth.

Specifics of the webinar revolve around:

  • How animal issues can create unwanted publicity for law enforcement or animal control agencies and the people working within it.
  • The often-uncooperative mindset of people living in rural areas when it comes to animal law.
  • Conditions in small and rural law enforcement agencies that make it challenging to enforce animal law effectively.
  • Best practices when responding to complaints that emphasize treating every call as urgent and documenting thoroughly.
  • Issues that create conflict between hunters and property owners prevalent in agricultural and rural areas.
  • Problems that arise from incidents where dogs kill livestock.
  • Animal complaints that turn into longstanding neighbor disputes.
  • The lack of code enforcement in rural areas that allows some people to turn into hoarders and how to provide these people with the resources and help they need.
  • Looking at suffering and lack of adequate care as the two elements that can help distinguish simple neglect from gross neglect.
  • Tips to recognize animal fighting operations in rural jurisdictions.
  • Animal control and law enforcement officers’ options to gain compliance from individuals who violate animal cruelty laws.
  • Determining the adequateness of animal shelter during winter and summer.
  • Hunting dumping grounds that occur when hunting season is over and the hunters don’t want to provide care for the hunting dogs.
  • Unique cases of animals ending up in places where they should not be and how ACOs handled these situations.
  • Complex investigations with tips on how to best navigate, investigate, and enforce.

Points covered during the Q&A were about:

  • Tips on how to handle and investigate puppy mills.
  • Intricacies of the jurisdiction in tribal lands.
  • Where and how to access additional resources for smaller agencies.
  • The link between animal cruelty and other collateral crimes as domestic abuse, child abuse, and other violent crimes.
  • Utilizing social media for proactive efforts to educate the community about animal law.


Webinars in this Series


Click here to view and register for other upcoming SRLEEA webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources Mentioned During the Webinar:


Audience Comments

  • “This was beyond my typical wheel-well, so most of it was new and valuable. I am interested more in the prosecution of these kinds of cases.” — Aaron
  • “Informative webinar regarding animal care. What to look for when investigating neglect.” — BARBARA
  • “I recently moved to a rural area, and this webinar helped me better understand the many animal-related issues that occur here.” — Jaclyn
  • “Excellent instructor and glad to hear her repeat to not turn your back and look the other way on animals!” — Lori
  • “I love the topics covered. The open honest points you cover are great. I am happy there’s a part 2 coming Thank You.” — Tiffany



This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.




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