Investigating Animal Crimes: What Law Enforcement and Other Justice Professionals Need to Know

Investigating Animal Crimes: What Law Enforcement and Other Justice Professionals Need to Know
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-01-31
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Investigating Animal Crimes
Unit 2 Workbook: Investigating Animal Crimes
Unit 3 Recording: Investigating Animal Crimes

The link between animal cruelty and other forms of violent crimes is being recognized by more and more sectors that are involved in the cases. This awareness is creating an opportunity for everyone involved – law enforcement, criminal justice, human services, and animal control, to intervene and prevent further violence or more severe crimes to transpire.

For this session, Leigh Anne Garrard from the American Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (ASPCA), is our resource speaker. She has an extensive experience dealing with animal cruelty cases having served as an Animal Control Officer, an instructor at the University of Missouri’s Law Enforcement Training Institute and the National Animal Cruelty Investigations School, and the Director for Chatham County Animal Service in 2012. Currently, she works as the Regional Investigator for ASPCA providing support to law enforcement on animal abuse cases and is an Active Duty Reserve Officer for the Pittsboro Police Department in North Carolina.

Some of the specifics Leigh Anne delved into on the course include:

  • The seriousness of animal cruelty as a crime that must be given as much attention by law enforcement.
  • How animal cruelty can serve as a foot in the door for law enforcement to uncover direr crimes that are layered with animal abuse.
  • Statistics that exhibit the likelihood of animal abusers to commit violent crimes, property crimes and drug-related offenses.
  • The significance of persevering when handling animal calls that are often not taken seriously and building strong and well-documented cases.
  • Challenges related to knowledge, option, and resources that an investigator may encounter in animal cruelty calls.
  • Essentials to consider and best practices when responding to animal cruelty calls and working on these cases that stress:
    • The importance of professional behavior when dealing with the people in the scene and working with partner agencies.
    • Collaborating and cultivating positive working relationships with different stakeholders for a successful animal cruelty case.
    • Ensuring that a resolution to a call will be put into place at the soonest possible time.
    • Providing clear requirements and standards for compliance.
    • Thorough investigation regardless of how trivial or severe allegations may be.
    • Continuous training and learning to update with the most recent research and technology.
  • The two most common types of cruelty observed in animal abuse calls and how to handle these.
  • Animal cruelty case studies that illustrate the types of cruelty, and the link of animal crimes to domestic violence and even sexual abuse.
  • What to do in an animal cruelty call including securing the scene, taking statements, recognizing the need for medical intervention, obtaining a warrant, attending to the possibility of housing the animal in a shelter, and deep diving into the case for possibilities of forgery or conspiracy.
  • Working with veterinarians and veterinary schools to document medical conditions and procedures.
  • The link of ownership of vicious dogs that is indicative of domestic violence, narcotics offenses, and child abuse.
  • Leigh Anne explained to the audience clarifications related to:
    • The different paths towards becoming an animal cruelty investigator.
    • What whisper stops are.
    • Using DNA for breed identification.
    • Trainings related to animal care and control.
    • Where an agency can go if there is a lack of initiative from law enforcement and animal control.
    • Getting veterinarians to assist with animal cruelty cases and the effectivity of their license.
    • ASPCA’s involvement in wildlife cruelty cases.



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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.




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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