ASPCA study shows we have work to do in educating the masses about animal cruelty

The Unleashed blog on the Baltimore Sun website noted Wednesday a study by the ASPCA concerning animal cruelty – “Public and Professional Perspectives on Animal Cruelty.” While I believe the public is becoming more aware in issues involving animal welfare, this study shows we’ve got some distance to go in raising awareness.

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1. The public and law enforcement rank animal cruelty below nearly every other sort of crime — only above white-collar crime and traffic violations.

2. Only about a third of the public say they’re familiar with animal cruelty and animal welfare issues.

3. Only two in five law enforcement officers say they are familiar with cruelty laws in their jurisdiction.

4. 74 percent of law enforcement offices have not had training to handle animal cruelty cases.

5. When investigating an incident unrelated to animal cruelty, only 25 percent of law enforcement say they are likely to incorporate animals or animal remains as part of the evidence.

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Only a third of the public is familiar with animal cruelty and animal welfare issues? I hope this percentage is somehow not very accurate – along with other numbers in the study.

ASPCA president Ed Sayres offered his take on the report on Sayres reports the study found “only 19 percent of law enforcement officers stated they received formal animal cruelty training.”

The report focused on law enforcement to a large degree and it seems this is an area where better training and more resources are needed. Again from Sayres’ Huffington Post piece –

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The study also defines the three major obstacles that law enforcement professionals face in responding to animal abuse cases:

• Animal cruelty cases are considered a low priority by leadership;
• Law enforcement lacks staff with special knowledge in animal cruelty cases; and
• No facilities exist for long-term impoundment of animals kept as evidence.

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As we’re learning more about the correlation between animal cruelty, domestic abuse and other violent crimes against innocent people, this study should set off some alarm bells and some really serious attention from law enforcement agencies everywhere.


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