On Tuesday, July 12, 2016, local and national experts will offer a seminar on combatting animal abuse, proper procedures for investigations, current laws and the connection between illegal animal fighting and other felony crimes. Officers will also receive training on interviewing suspects and collecting evidence as it relates to animal cruelty and fighting. All 50 states have laws that make dogfighting and some forms of animal cruelty punishable as a felony offense. Cockfighting is a felony in 42 states. Animal fighting is often associated with other crimes such as gang activity, drug dealing and illegal gambling. In a 2008 study done by the Chicago Police Department, those arrested for animal-related crimes were also connected to arrests for human crimes such as battery-related offenses or sex crimes.
Of 332 animal cruelty arrests:
- Seventy percent of suspects had arrests for other felonies, including two homicides.
- Seventy percent had narcotics arrests, of which 68 percent were for sales or trafficking.
- Sixty-five percent were arrested for battery-related violent offenses.
- Twenty-seven percent were arrested for firearm violations.
- Thirteen percent were arrested for sex crimes.
- Fifty-nine percent were gang members.
There are increasing interventions against animal cruelty and fighting in the U.S. as police and sheriffs’ offices recognize the gravity of these crimes and their association with crimes against people. The federal Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act enacted felony level penalties for bringing a child under 16 years old to an animal fight and misdemeanor level penalties for attending an animal fight.
Teaching the seminar will be the following: Janette Reever, Manager of Animal Fighting Rescue and Animal Cruelty and Fighting Investigations trainer for the HSUS; Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The HSUS. The seminar will be held at Santa Fe College Institute of Public Safety- Room 101
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