Preparing for Court: Tips for Effective Testimony about Animal Crimes. Q&A with the Presenters

Preparing for Court: Tips for Effective Testimony about Animal Crimes
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-11-11
Unit 1 Presentation Materials: Preparing for Court
Unit 2 Transcript: Preparing for Court
Unit 3 Workbook: Preparing for Court
Unit 4 Recording: Preparing for Court

The criminal justice system and its procedures are inherently complex. It requires anyone working within and those who find themselves dealing with it to be as comprehensive when it comes to the information that they’ll be presenting and providing. This webinar aims to guide those involved in the investigation and prosecution of animal crimes on how to effectively traverse the system and uphold the welfare and rights of animals.

This session’s instructors are Erin Aiello and Janette Reever. Erin is a Law Enforcement Trainer with the Humane Society of the United States and has been an Assistant District Attorney for eight years in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Janette is the Senior Specialist Global Anti-Dogfighting Expert for Humane Society International with 23 years of experience in the field and is a recognized expert on animal fighting in the US, Puerto Rico, and Australia.

Erin and Janette’s discussion include:

  • The unique challenges in animal crimes due to the victims’ inability to speak for themselves and the danger involved in these cases.
  • Things to consider when preparing for court.
    • Maintaining close communication with the prosecutor to provide all pertinent files to help build a robust case.
    • The key points for case evaluation.
    • Report writing essentials and guidelines to ensure comprehensiveness and clarity.
    • Important information to update the prosecutor with.
    • Preparing for the testimony by reviewing the written report and the most important elements to remember.
    • Familiarizing with common defenses that will potentially be used in the case.
    • The expertise that animal welfare professionals and veterinarians can provide to establish a strong case.
    • Motions in Limine that may be used in animal crime cases.
    • Additional guidance provided for first-time witnesses.
  • Tips during the day of trial.
    • Making a great first impression through one’s behavior, words, body language, and even clothing – in and out of the courtroom.
    • How to effectively engage the jury during a testimony.
    • Qualifying as an expert witness and questions that will be directed to an expert witness.
    • How to present one’s self and speak once in the stand.
    • How to effectively answer the direct examination questions.
    • Navigating the pressure of the cross-examination and common defense tactics.
  • Pointers for dogfighting cases.
    • The experts that are likely to be present in dogfighting cases.
    • Information about witnesses that the prosecutor must be made aware of and how the defense will scour witnesses’ online publications and activities to subdue witness credibility.
    • Evidence of abuse: What to look out for, how to find and document them, and what it can provide insights to.
    • Handling and transporting animals for necropsies, and case-related information that may be gleaned from necropsies.
    • Other considerations and components to look for and take note of that support prosecution in dogfighting cases.
    • Common excuses and defenses that dogfighters are likely to provide and how to prove these otherwise.

Questions raised by the webinar attendees are about:

  • How to get seized animals rehabilitated and placed if a state does not have bond laws.
  • Preparing for clerk magistrate hearings.
  • Leveraging before intervention and after seizure photos to prove neglect or abuse.


Other Webinars with HSUS:


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming NACA  webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts
  • Resource mentioned: Animal Legal Defense Fund legal assistance for Animal Welfare agencies email:


Audience Comments

  • “Everything about how to testify, what to expect and how to act was extremely beneficial.” –Brittany
  • “It was a good combination of training for non-prosecutors in the audience re testimony tips but also training for the prosecutor audience members on how to make the best use of your veterinary expert! Presenters clearly were experienced in the subject and were compelling to listen to. Case studies are always so helpful in driving home the important training points.” — Emily
  • “Fantastic information, especially for us organizations who have humane officers who have to write good reports and testify in court! Thank you!” — Marilyn
  • “On the scale of 1 – 10, this webinar was a 50+. So much valuable info, can’t list all.” — Marie Louise



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.





** This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Current NACA Members who attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo.
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