Legally Brief: FBI Takes Animal Cruelty SeriouslyPosted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on September 25, 2014
At the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we are often asked for statistics about animal cruelty crimes—which for too long have been unavailable: until now. Animal cruelty will now be tracked and recorded by the FBI in the National Incident Based Reporting System as a separate offense. This important development will allow the FBI to better allocate resources to solve animal cruelty cases and provide valuable insight into the scope of animal abuse nationally. With this new inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report—the most comprehensive source of crime statistics—law enforcement is given the tools to allocate resources to fight animal cruelty and an incentive to prosecute animal cruelty to the full extent of the law.
Recently, ALDF sent a letter of support for this change, which the National Sheriffs’ Association presented to the FBI. The Animal Legal Defense Fund applauds the tireless efforts of the National Sheriff’s Association, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (of whom ALDF is a member), who worked hard to help make this change happen.
But it’s also more evidence that our society as a whole wants its law enforcement to take animal cruelty seriously. Armed with this data, law enforcement can better respond to cruelty cases that previously may have gone ignored. The report provides the FBI with statistics on when and where animal crimes happen so they can dedicate more time, training, and funding to solve these cases. The changes will be implemented in 2015 and collected data will be accepted in 2016.
With this change, crimes against animals become crimes against society, legally speaking. Four categories of animal cruelty will be monitored: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, and animal sexual abuse. As ALDF supporters know, the work we do involves aiding in the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases as well as helping to fund forensic evidence collections and even offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators. We work with police officers, investigators, district attorneys, and other officers of the law to ensure crimes against animals are met with justice. But we are also creating a national Do Not Adopt database that shelters and rescue organizations can use nationwide to prevent convicted animal abusers—who have a very high likelihood of repeating their crimes—from adopting animals.
Of course, there’s more work to be done, but this is an important step forward to securing criminal justice for animals through the legal system and recognizing that animals deserve legal protection, too.