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Law Enforcement Receive Animal Cruelty Training

By Staff | Jun 28, 2017

Pictured, from left, are Rosie Cozart, Wetzel County Animal Shelter; Heather Severt, West Virginia State Director of The Humane Society of the United States; Dustin Bickerstaff, Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office; and Pam Ferrell, Wetzel County Animal Shelter. These individuals gathered Thursday, June 8 for a law enforcement training on animal cruelty.

Law enforcement from five different counties gathered at the Wetzel County Mollohan Center on Thursday, June 8 for a free law enforcement training on investigating animal cruelty, puppy mills, and animal fighting. The full day free course was provided by The Humane Society of the United States.

Specific topics covered were as follows: interviews, warrants, and evidence collection as related to animal crimes; knowing, interpreting, and appying cruelty and fighting laws; differentiating between puppy mill cases and other animal cruelty crimes; large scale breeder/puppy mill laws; large scale seizure preparedness; investigating a cruelty or fighting complaint, from first response to filing charges; background on animal fighting and illegal animal abuse; how animal fighting ventures are associated with other felony crimes; and recognizing evidence of animal fighting and illegal cruelty.

Notably, though everyday folks may not realize it, cruelty investigations can also include cows and other livestock animals, which the training covered.

Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dustin Bickerstaff noted that the training was “very helpful,” specifically citing information sheets The Humane Society provided.

As for the public, The Humane Society recommends the following if animal cruelty is suspected: “Call law enforcement and be persistent. Tell the officer as many details as you can, including the location, date and time, and descriptions of the people and animals involved. Video and photographic documentation can help bolster your case. It’s also useful to give names of others who may have witnessed the incident.”

Animal cruelty can include intentional abuse, like beating or mutilating an animal. Cruelty can also include neglect, such as failing to provide proper shelter, food, or medical care.

Also, those who might have trouble feeding, or providing shelter for their animal, are urged to call the Wetzel County Animal Shelter, which will help provided straw, cat food, and dog food. The shelter can be reached at 304-455-5348.

The Humane Society of the United States is planning a future training in Fayetteville, West Virginia.