Law enforcement agencies attend seminar to combat animal cruelty

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- An Eau Claire County Humane Officer says 115 cases of animal abuse have been reported in the county this year.

Today, area law enforcement and local attorneys gathered to learn how to deal with animal cruelty cases.

A seminar was held at the Eau Claire County Jail to train officers how to respond to animal cruelty cases in the county.

Members of the humane society and attorneys talked about proper procedures, the current laws and the connection between animal fighting and other felony crimes.

"We didn't have adequate training, we trained in many other areas, but in animal cruelty we were lacking in training," says Eau Claire County Sheriff, Ron Cramer when giving his reason for taking advantage of the free seminar.

Cramer says, “We've had a number of cases that we think we could have taken further, we could have done a better job in the assessment on the front end and then at the tail end of holding these owner accountable.”

Director of Cruelty Response, Adam Parascandola, with the Humane Society of the United States says the goal is to give law enforcement agencies and area attorneys the tools to properly deal with the issue.

"We're doing training on animal cruelty investigation and prosecution for a number of law enforcement agencies, humane officers and even some country attorneys and prosecutors. We're trying to give these folks the tools on how to investigate cases of animal cruelty and animal fighting. A lot of time, particularly law enforcement officers, don't receive a lot of training on how to deal with animal crimes, yet they're charged with enforcing the law. So, we try to fill that gap by teaching them on how to investigate those crimes," says Parascandola.

He also says animal cruelty could lead to other issues. Parascandola says, "Animal cruelty is connected to a whole host of other crimes. Animal cruelty can be an indicator of other violence, and it's important as a society that we take it seriously and that we address these issues that come up."

Trial Attorney, Joseph Goode agrees with Parascandola, saying education is the first step in stopping further crimes. "I'd like to see district attorneys in different counties, taking this a little bit more seriously, putting more resources towards animal crimes, I think we'll have a better society as a result," says Goode.

Cramer says the seminar will help them in the future, “This has been a pretty enlightening time for us and we're getting a lot of valuable reference material that we can use for later."

Cramer says combating this issue is a community effort and if you see an animal being abused, you should contact your local law enforcement agency.

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