The concept of ‘The Link’ establishes the correlation of animal cruelty to other crimes. Collateral crimes run the gamut from interpersonal violence, gangs to gambling, drugs and even homicide. This requires diversity in the knowledge, experience, and skills of the people who’ll be responding to and working on the cases which can be done by forming task forces and/or multi-disciplinary teams designed to address animal abuse and its link crimes.
To help understand the goals and the role of an Animal Abuse Task Force is Jessica Rock. Jessica is the Assistant District Attorney with the Towaliga Judicial Circuit. She also serves as the Georgia Statewide Animal Crimes Prosecutor and Trainer. In these roles, she provides animal crime case assistance and training for law enforcement and prosecutors in Georgia.
Areas that Jessica deep-dived into on this course include:
- The developments in the field of animal law with more stakeholders giving it attention, more information on the issue, and how it affects humans and communities, not just the animals.
- The concept of the task force and the types of task force that may be formed depending on the resources available and involved.
- Jessica’s experience prosecuting animal law cases.
- How animal law cases are typically handled and processed in Georgia and their challenges.
- How she headed a task force in its infancy stage and the growth into a statewide initiative.
- How the task force dynamics were like to address challenges and accomplish goals.
- The main reasons to have a task force that is expected to:
- Standardize investigations and prosecutions through experts from different disciplines as members.
- Protect all possible victims from violence.
- Raise awareness and educate the public about animal cruelty and its link to other crimes.
- What the link is, statistics that support it, and the different types of interpersonal violence and crimes associated with animal cruelty.
- Specifics on how and what a taskforce must do
- Putting protocols in place to standardize evidence collection, investigation, and prosecution, and if applicable cross-reporting to other concerned agencies.
- Protecting the vulnerable by identifying all possible victims and providing cross-referral to resources and services.
- Training the involved agencies/stakeholders and educating the public on the reasons why a multi-disciplinary initiative through the task force is required.
- A walk-through on how to set-up a task force by understanding the framework that must be put in place and the roles and responsibilities of its members.
- Best practices for an animal abuse task force
- Familiarizing with applicable laws and protocols laid out through the task force.
- Focusing on the mission statement and maintaining rules of order.
- Working on having members available in case of emergencies.
- Other things to consider such as the member’s commitment and accountability, the importance of confidentiality and communication between members, and celebrating successes in an otherwise draining job.
- Guidelines in building inter-agency cooperation
- The key agencies that must be involved in the task force and to make cross-reports to.
- The triage process for calls for service related to animal cruelty.
- Entities and individuals that must be restricted from task force membership.
- Drafting a formal inter-governmental agreement outlining the end to end process of an animal cruelty investigation.
- Building an effective inter-agency private communication system and public information system.
- Setting up a fundraising mechanism to cover the costs of housing and treating abused and neglected animals.
- Topics addressed during the Q&A were about:
- Holding animals as evidence.
- Setting up a special court for animal crimes.
- The applicability of restitution for animal care costs.
- Coordinating with your local Fire Department if they have FLIR cameras.
- Working with stakeholders that don’t quite grasp the importance of dealing with animal cruelty cases.
- Identifying and labeling live evidence.
- Having an advocate program for animal law crimes.
- “Great Presentation” 🙂 — Carrie
- “Loved everything about this webinar!!!!” — Dawn
- “I did learn a great deal from this webinar and hope to implement this knowledge in the near future.” — Shannon
- “…There is hope and that in order to get something accomplished regarding animal cruelty my county will have to be creative.” — Melanie
- “Breath of information, covering multiple critical areas rather than just focusing on one agency’s role to play.” — Nathalie
This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.