Police learn about animal cruelty laws
by Rachel Davis
Sep 22, 2013 | 3268 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mindy Gilbert
Mindy Gilbert
SUMITON — Officers from the Sumiton Police Department learned about investigating animal crimes and dealing with animals they encounter on crime scenes on Thursday night from Mindy Gilbert, the state director of the Humane Society of the United States.

Sumiton officials felt the education regarding collecting evidence and dealing with animal removal was important due to the overwhelming increase in large-scale animal issues across the country.

“One of the reasons you’re seeing more of these situations is because, in the last decade, public awareness of what happens to animals has reached a new high, but it is a message that has kind of gotten distorted,” Gilbert explained. “People are very concerned about the fact that many animals get euthanized in animal shelters, and they believe that anything is better than that. Very often, that leads to situations in which an individual or group of individuals have in their possession a large number of animals they believe they are saving. But they are living in substandard conditions that are actually so substandard they fit the definition of a crime. That is happening more and more.”

Gilbert said that, other than dogfighting cases, most of the large-scale cases she has worked on with law enforcement have been cases where people thought they were “rescuing” the animals.

“It’s not something we deal with every day, but when we do encounter it, we need to know how to deal with it,” Sumiton Assistant Police Chief Scott Karr said.

Gilbert did touch on the laws related to dog fighting, including the Humane Society’s reward of up to $5,000 for tips that lead to dog fighting arrests.

Dog fighting has gained much law enforcement attention in recent years, as the fights also serve as hubs for illegal activities such as drugs, prostitution, child pornography and human trafficking. The hotline for dog fighting tips is 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). The HSUS has paid out approximately $30,000 in the state of Alabama so far for tips to the line.

In addition to learning about dog fighting and hoarding situations, the officers learned tips on reading dog body language and dealing with dogs on crime scenes to safeguard themselves and others.