A new training manual to help criminal justice officials investigate and prosecute animal cruelty cases includes extensive sections on the links between animal abuse and other crimes, particularly domestic violence, with guidance on how law enforcement officers should approach these cases. Animal Cruelty Investigation and Prosecution: A User Manual for New Hampshire Law Enforcement includes a history and analysis of the Granite State’s animal cruelty laws, background on various types of cruelty, and recommended procedures for handling all stages of the process from investigation through sentencing.
The 113-page Manual, a product of the Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals, also includes extensive resource lists including sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking support services.Observing that “an act of animal cruelty can be a precursor to more violent crime towards humans as well as animals,” and that “violence towards animals is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, warning signs that a young child might have the potential to become a violent offender,” the Manual states that “acts of animal cruelty are linked to a variety of other crimes, including violence against people, property crimes, drug crimes and disorderly conduct offenses. Reporting, investigating, and prosecuting animal cruelty can help take dangerous criminals off the street.”The Manual advisesthat if animals are being abused in a family, a child or other family member may also be hurt or threatened. Animal control officers, the Manual notes, often have easier access to homes than do representatives of other law enforcement or social service agencies, and neighbors may witness and report the abuse of animals sooner than they report abuse of human family members.Officers dispatched to domestic violence scenes are urged to be cognizant of animals in the household and those kept outside.Human victims who are interviewed should be asked about animal ownership and actual or threatened injuries to the animals. If injuries are reported the officer should observe the animals for evidence. If a protective order is in effect, the officer should ascertain whether no-contact provisions extend to the animals. Even if there is no protection order, injuring or threatening the pet may constitute an act of stalking under New Hampshire statutes. If a domestic violence arrest is made, officers should consider whether there is sufficient evidence to bring an animal cruelty charge as well. Officers are encouraged to advise survivors that emergency plans should be made for the animals, either.
Visit The New Hampshire Governor's Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals