Butterball’s poor training and pay for turkey farm workers is a ‘recipe for disaster,’ says Mercy for Animals

Butterball is “incapable of preventing egregious animal abuse at its factory farm facilities,” says animal protection group. / Photo: Mercy for Animals

By Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

“Butterball expects a few untrained workers to move thousands of crippled turkeys into transport trucks, and pays workers by the load, not the hour,” Director of Investigations Matt Rice told Animal Policy Examiner in an email interview this week. [Please see full interview below.] “It is a recipe for disaster, and as our investigation proves, it results in horrific suffering for thousands of animals at the hands of Butterball workers.” Read the rest of this entry »


Who’s in control? Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

Fresh AIR from D.C.:  AIReporter Catherine Cowan is in Washington to fill us in on , a conference organized by .

By Catherine Cowan

ASPCA and NYPD cooperated on a dogfighting bust in the Bronx in June / Photo: ASPCA

When it comes to the role of law enforcement in handling animal crimes, Sherry Schlueter has heard it all. Bringing a perspective built through a 30-year career in law enforcement, Schlueter provided tips to animal advocates on the first day of TAFA during a half-day session on “How to Work with Local Law Enforcement and Animal Control to Address Animal Cruelty.”

After working as a humane agent in her 20s, Schlueter graduated from police academy in 1980, then created the first ever animal crime unit in law enforcement.

Reflecting the correlation between crimes against animals and vulnerable people, her unit expanded to investigate crimes against children, the disabled, and aged people, then expanded again to address crimes involving any dysfunction in the family that results in violence.

Now executive director of the HSUS South Florida Wildlife Center, Schlueter said one perspective from some law enforcement officers is that animal crimes are not their responsibility but should be handled by shelters.

Police often abdicate authority at animal crime scenes to the animal control officer, which is uncharacteristic of a profession whose job is to take charge, she said.  But while animal control officers may know more about the species, they lack police academy education on matters such as search and seizure and rules of evidence.

“In every state animal abuse is a crime, and criminal matters are the purview of law enforcement,” Schlueter said.  Instead of handing over a case to animal control, it should be handled as a team effort, much like child abuse cases are handled by both law enforcement and child protective services.

Some see animal abuse as ‘a victimless crime’                               

Another perspective heard from law enforcement is that animal crimes are low priority when they have murders, rapes and burglaries to investigate.  “In fact, these investigations should be higher priority because they are in progress and easier to solve,” Schlueter said.  “The level of crime may also be higher.  For example, dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, which ranks higher than graffiti.”

Some police officers think animal crimes require a specialist, but even uniformed officers can do an initial investigation, she said.  Having a detective can help if there are multiple interviews or surveillance of suspects, but the initial investigation can act as an early intervention.

Some members of law enforcement see animal abuse as a victimless crime.  This perspective ignores the role of the state, county or city prosecutor in bringing charges against a defendant, Schlueter said.  It also ignores the sentiency of the animal victim as well as the complainant who witnessed the abuse, and it dismisses the intent of the legislature that enacted laws to protect animal victims.

Some agencies say they have no budget to investigate animal crimes, but they have no budget specific to many other types of crimes either, Schlueter said.  Just as police may confiscate a car used in a hit-and-run or boat from a drug dealer, so they also should confiscate animals from cruelty situations.

There is a lot of public support for investigating animal crimes, she said, and law enforcement should care about public perception.  People rarely complain about the police unless they don’t investigate.

Catherine Cowan has 18 years of experience in writing, editing, and communications.  Starting as a reporter at a small-town newspaper in Indiana, she worked her way up to nation and world news editor at a top newspaper in Kentucky before moving into an editing role at a magazine on issues facing state governments.  She has also done communications for a non-profit health care company and a state university research center.  She is owned by four rescued and adopted cats and has a long-standing interest in animal issues and human-animal interactions.

Want more fresh AIR from TAFA?

See these articles from AIReporter Catherine Cowan:

‘Never give up’: Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

‘Not everyone is a villain’: Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

Top 13 tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

Please respect copyright law. Sharing AIR links really helps! But copying more than a couple of paragraphs of content without permission is a no-no. If you’d like to use one of AIR’s articles or one of our photographs, kindly contact us at [airinfo AT yahoo DOT com].

Copyright © 2012 Animal Issues Reporter and AnimalIssuesReporter.org.
All rights reserved.

 


‘Not everyone is a villain’: Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

Panelists in the TAFA workshop on working with local law enforcement included (left to right) Kimberly Alboum, HSUS state director for North Carolina; Michelle Welch, assistant attorney general for the state of Virginia; Sherry Schlueter, executive director of the HSUS South Florida Wildlife Center; and Tim Rickey, senior director of field investigations and response for the ASPCA / Photo: Catherine Cowan and Paul Becker

Fresh AIR from D.C.:  AIReporter Catherine Cowan is in Washington this weekend to fill us in on , a conference organized by

By Catherine Cowan

“Not everything is black and white,” an animal welfare investigator warned attendees on the first day of TAFA.

During a half-day session on “How to Work with Local Law Enforcement and Animal Control to Address Animal Cruelty,” Tim Rickey, senior director of field investigations and response for the stressed knowing the statutes.  “For example, sanitation—animals may be living in filthy conditions.  Most laws do not cover the conditions, but there are requirements for clean water and good health.”

While many animal control deputies want to remove animals from cruel situations immediately, Rickey said, search warrants are important.  They are hard to get, but without them evidence may not make it into court.  Without a conviction, the perpetrator can go on to abuse other animals.

Dogfighters ‘thrive on the brutality’

Rickey discussed several scenarios for animal cruelty: domestic violence in which animals are abused or killed as a form of control or revenge, mental disorders such as animal hoarding, and intentional abuse for profit such as through dog fighting and puppy mills.

is “much a more prevalent industry than most people realize,” Rickey said. Dogfighters “lead what appear to be normal lives—they have wives, kids, take part in community activities.  Then they go watch animals fight.  They turn into monsters who thrive on the brutality.”

Animal fighting operations are dangerous because they almost always involve other illegal activities, Rickey said.  Advocates should report anything they see to law enforcement but should not get involved.

Educating owners

Other forms of cruelty are not intentional, such as a person who acquires a horse and has no idea about basic horse care, Rickey said.  The goal in these cases is to educate the owner and get the animal healthy in its environment. “Not everyone is a villain,” he said.

Some cases may look like cruelty but turn out to be something else; for example, an animal that appears to be starving may not be getting the right kind of food or may have a medical condition.  “You don’t want to get to court and say the person starved the dog only to find out it has cancer documented by vet records,” Rickey said.

Documenting cruelty

Rickey also discussed the process of documenting evidence from the animals themselves in cruelty cases.  A crime scene involving animals is processed in the same way as any other crime scene using the same rules of evidence, he said.  Investigators secure the scene, including any loose animals, then do a walk-through to collect evidence, take photos and video, and provide emergency triage.

A detailed sketch of the scene including where each animal is located can provide important evidence for a later court case.  Each animal is given an ID number and photographed, and measurements are used to document conditions in the living environment such as amount of food and water.

Animals are then taken to a temporary shelter, which may be hours away.  Each animal gets a transport manifest documenting departure and arrival and condition throughout the trip.  Rules of evidence require that someone is with the animals at all times.  “There’s no going in to a restaurant for a leisurely lunch and leaving the animals alone for two hours,” Rickey said.

At the temporary shelter, each animal is given a medical exam and photographed with his or her ID number from multiple angles with additional photos for areas of interest such as injury or infection.  More documentation is created of daily care, ongoing medical treatment, and, if necessary, euthanasia.

Catherine Cowan has 18 years of experience in writing, editing, and communications.  Starting as a reporter at a small-town newspaper in Indiana, she worked her way up to nation and world news editor at a top newspaper in Kentucky before moving into an editing role at a magazine on issues facing state governments.  She has also done communications for a non-profit health care company and a state university research center.  She is owned by four rescued and adopted cats and has a long-standing interest in animal issues and human-animal interactions.

Want more fresh AIR from D.C.?

See AIReporter Catherine Cowan’s other articles on how to work with law enforcement:

‘Never give up’: Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

And coming up soon…

  • Who’s in control’? Tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement
  • Top 13 tips for animal advocates working with law enforcement

Please respect copyright law. Sharing AIR links really helps! But copying more than a couple of paragraphs of content without permission is a no-no. If you’d like to use one of AIR’s articles or one of our photographs, kindly contact us at [airinfo AT yahoo DOT com].

Copyright © 2012 Animal Issues Reporter and AnimalIssuesReporter.org.
All rights reserved.

 


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