On many occasions, I have written about our collaboration with our nation’s law enforcement professionals in our efforts to stop animal cruelty and abuse. So I was delighted to see that this month’s edition of Deputy and Court Officer—the magazine of the National Sheriffs' Association—is devoted entirely to preventing animal crimes.
The impetus for the focus on animal issues comes from John W. Thompson, lifelong law enforcement professional and the current deputy executive director for the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA). He is also a dog lover and considers his dog Mr. PO a member of the family.
But he knows that his responsibilities run more broadly to include the protection of all animals, including those he’s never met. Thompson and the rest of the team at the NSA cover the full range of law enforcement work for animals, from enforcement of anti-cruelty laws to puppy mill raids to dealing with animal hoarders.
Because of this piece, thousands of law enforcement officials in more than 3,000 counties will learn about the importance of animal protection, and the tools used by law enforcement to sniff it out and stop it.
As Thompson notes as a foreword to the edition:
“It is my hope that this information will help you better understand the crime of animal cruelty and give you resources to become an advocate for our animals. Because animals cannot speak for themselves, it’s up to the public to speak for them and report animal abuse. It’s up to law enforcement and prosecutors to bring these criminals to justice and up to our courts to aggressively penalize these abusers!”
Indeed, if we do not enforce animal protection laws, then they are mere slips of paper or platitudes. We’ve been working not just to upgrade penalties for cruelty and to close loopholes in anti-cruelty laws, but also to make sure these laws are fully implemented, defended, and enforced.
In the last few years, we’ve helped train tens of thousands of law enforcement agents on investigating animal cruelty crimes, especially dogfighting and cockfighting activities. And because law enforcement does not always have the resources to penetrate operations where cruelty is occurring, we often share the results of our undercover investigations with law enforcement, and help augment their efforts to stop abuse. Through our collaboration, we’ve helped with the seizure of thousands of animals and the arrests of individuals involved in animal fighting, puppy mills, reckless slaughterhouse practices, and much more.
The sheriffs’ association magazine reflects a deepening commitment within the law enforcement community to partner with animal protection organizations. Nearly 300 law enforcement organizations have endorsed federal legislation to make it a federal crime to be a spectator at an animal fighting venture. And the National Sheriffs' Association also opposes the King amendment because of its sweeping impact on state anti-cruelty laws.
This past April, the Department of Justice hosted a “listening session” on crimes of animal cruelty. That, too, is a major marker in our campaign to see that all of society recognizes that cruelty is a vice and that all of us are custodians of animals. When people turn from protectors into persecutors, then the law must speak.