**The investigation by the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office directly resulted in the arrest of Hal Parker. When citizens become aware of animal abuse in any form, it’s imperative that people go to their local Sheriff’s Office and report the incident so that it can be properly recorded and compared with whatever other records have been created. It is through the dedication of these professionals that criminal activity is stopped or curtailed. It is this critical link to the proper authorities [courts and, more specifically, prosecutors] that serves to prevent ongoing animal abuse without endangering those people that have become aware of its occurrence.
The National Sheriffs’ Association has launched the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA)
Reports of animal cruelty and officer-dog encounters appear in the news on almost a daily basis and those are only the instances that are reported. With the rise in animal abuse crimes and increase in officer-animal encounters, the need for greater law enforcement understanding of animal cruelty and animal behavior is more apparent than ever. Awareness and understanding of the nature of animal abuse is imperative in creating safer communities due overwhelming scientific research demonstrating the close relationship between animal cruelty and other types of crimes, including interpersonal violence, property crimes, and drug offenses.Law enforcement officers play a unique role in the prevention of, and response to, animal abuse. As a result, steps are currently being taken by law enforcement to better protect communities from animal cruelty offenders. Last month, FBI Director James Comey signed off on the inclusion of animal cruelty offenses in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). It’s the first time animal cruelty data will be included in federal crime reports and it affirms, at high levels of law enforcement, that animal cruelty is a serious crime.
Recognizing the serious nature of animal cruelty crimes and implications to public safety the National Sheriffs’ Association founded the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse. NLECAA was created to serve as an information clearinghouse and forum for law enforcement on animal abuse issues, including the link between animal cruelty and other crimes, and officer-dog encounters. The goal of the center is to provide law enforcement with the resources to develop a better understanding of animal cruelty and animal behavior. By having a greater understanding of animal cruelty, law enforcement officers with have the tools to be proactively involved in the prevention of animal cruelty and enforcement of animal abuse laws.
A variety of state and local resources, including animal cruelty and protection laws, best practices, and training opportunities with be available through NLECAA.
An important aspect of the center will be resources to better understand animal behavior and deal with canine encounters. Dog shootings by law enforcement officers are on the rise and with that comes potential erosion of public trust. There is a strong likelihood that a law enforcement officer will encounter a dog when responding to a home. It is important that law enforcement officers understand animal behavior to ensure, both, the safety of the officer and the safety of the animal. With NLECAA, Law Enforcement officers will have access to a variety of state, local and national resources designed to aid in understanding animal behavior and non-lethal options.
With the assistance of local and national partner organizations like the Humane Society of the United States, American Humane Association, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, National Animal Care & Control Association, National Canine Research Council, National Children’s Advocacy Center, National District Attorney’s Association, National Link Coalition, Native America Humane Society, The George Washington University Animal Law Program, The Michigan State University Animal Legal and Historical Center, and the University of Florida Maples Center for Forensic Medicine law enforcement officers across the nation will have access to resources that will help in the fight against animal cruelty and increase public safety.
The National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse can be accessed at www.sheriffs.org/nlecca.
NLECAA ADVISORY BOARD
Phil Arkow, Coordinator
National Link Coalition
Elizabeth Arps, Manager of Research and Public Policy Services
National Canine Research Council
Cynthia Bathurst, Executive Director
Safe Humane Chicago
Sheriff Mike Brown
Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, VA
Sheriff Keith Cain
Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, KY
Stacey Coleman, Executive Director
Animal Farm Foundation
Arizona Coalition for Equines; Humane Society of Southern Arizona and Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona
Lora Dunn, Staff Attorney
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Dumb Friends League and Colorado Humane Society
Ann Graves, Executive Director
Seattle Animal Shelter
George W. Harding, IV MBA CAWA, Manager
Antioch Animal Services
David LaBahn, President/CEO
Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Donna Mathews, Associate Director
Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc. (DVIS)
Ashley Mauceri, Manager of Animal Cruelty Response
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
Chris Newlin, Executive Director
National Children’s Advocacy Center
Allie Phillips, Founder
Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T)
Officer Sonia Pujol, President
Association of Police Officers for Animal Defense (APDA)
Dr. Mary Lou Randour, Senior Advisor for Animal Cruelty Programs and Training
Animal Welfare Institute
Justin Scally, National Director
American Humane Association
The George Washington University Animal Law Program and Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Andrew Silverstone DVM, Veterinarian
Animal Care Clinic of Virginia Beach
Sheriff Donnie Smith
Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maine
Claudia Swing, Chief, Bureau of Administration
San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, Animal Cruelty Task Force
Dr. Nuria Querol Vinas MD, President
Group for the Study of Violence Towards Humans and Animals (GEVHA)
Diana Webster, President and Founder
The Native America Humane Society
Sheriff Carolyn B. Welsh
Chester County Sheriff’s Office, PA
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