an injured dog

Animal crimes proliferate alongside domestic violence and neglect of children, gang activity, and mental illness. A proactive and comprehensive response to animal neglect and abuse is foundational to building or rebuilding healthy communities and restoring public trust and goodwill. As in so many other areas of policing, collaborative relationships and community partnerships are filling gaps and offering solutions that result in appropriate outcomes for communities and enforcement agencies.

For over 40 years, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been providing support to prosecutors and working to advance animal protection laws. In today’s law enforcement landscape — with budget cuts, staffing shortfalls, and redistribution of service priorities — animal cruelty investigations may be deprioritized. Animal cases can be complex and time and resource intensive, placing additional strain on agencies. In response, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is launching the Collaborative Response Project which will support a multidisciplinary response to animal crime through a partnership between local law enforcement agencies and a community veterinarian.

A veterinarian plays two primary roles in animal cruelty cases:

  1. identifying evidence of cruelty which contributes to a strong case that can support prosecution
  2. providing education and access to services for individuals for whom criminal charges are not appropriate

The 2022 Collaborative Response Project team will receive:

  • Building a network of local experts to respond to reports of animal cruelty, with a focus on veterinary support
  • One year of funding for veterinary services in animal cases
  • Hands on training for veterinarians, law enforcement, and prosecutors
  • Expert individual case consultations
  • a strong, lasting foundation of processes and materials to continue successful investigation moving forward

If you would like to learn more about how your community can be considered for this groundbreaking pilot program, please fill out this brief application and our project coordinators will contact you with additional information.

Collaborative Response Project Application

The Collaborative Response Project supports a multidisciplinary response to animal crime through a partnership between local law enforcement agencies and a community veterinarian.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the application process like?

Interested prosecutors, veterinarians, or enforcement officers may complete our online application. The application vetting process will include contacting the heads of each entity participating in the program (enforcement agency, veterinary clinic, and prosecutor’s office). Eligibility is contingent on interest and participation by all entities.

Who is eligible to apply?

A representative from any entity is eligible to apply, but we strongly recommend you gauge the interest of your agency prior to completing the application. The application vetting process will include contacting the heads of each entity participating in the program (enforcement agency, veterinary clinic, and prosecutor’s office). Eligibility is contingent on interest and participation by all entities.

How long does the project run?

12 months

How is the veterinary funding distributed?

The veterinary funding will be distributed through multiple grants over the course of the project.

What additional benefits does the project offer?

Participating agencies will receive dedicated training and individual case consultation in addition to process training and materials such as forms and templates throughout the year which you are encouraged to continue utilizing after the project end date. Our project leads will work with your agencies to build ways to sustain the collaborative relationships and operational processes into the future as well. Participating animal care agencies will be eligible for expedited cost of care grants related to protective custody sheltering of evidence animals.

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