Specific Task Forces to Handle Animal Cruelty: Reasonable Or Not?

Emily Indriolo

            Upon first look for information on horse cruelty I found this post from Equine Advocates. It presents a very interesting theory: specific task forces within police departments to handle animal cruelty. It was surprising because it was something that never came to mind before. Why are there so few specific task forces to handle animal cruelty? It seems like a very good and efficient idea so one would think it would implemented across the country. A quick google search will inform you that not many states have them, let alone counties, and even if they do they don’t seem to be funded very well. So that leaves the question, are animal cruelty task forces a reasonable thing to implement? Or are they just too difficult to achieve and more of a dream than a reality? I would say that I stand somewhere in the middle.

            The post I found from the Equine Advocates website takes a very strong stance. They believe that an animal cruelty task force should be implemented in every county in every state but especially in the ones that have farms. They preface this argument by telling the reader about Skye’s Amendment, a New York State law that makes it a felony to abuse any animal in New York. We are told that the law has helped greatly with training police in the matter of animals and for putting dangerous people behind bars. They believe that stronger animal cruelty laws combined with specific animal cruelty task forces is the way handle the ever-growing issue of animal cruelty. Skye’s Amendment was only implemented in 2010. It took a horse being stabbed eighteen times with a butcher knife until she bled to death for the state to decide that animal cruelty should be a felony. Interestingly, it was surprisingly difficult to actually find the law in question but its actual title is N.Y. Afri. Mkts Law § 353-a. Aggravated cruelty to animals.

            I agree with Equine Advocates that stronger animal cruelty laws and an animal cruelty task force for every county would certainly make drastic changes in the country but I do not think it can realistically happen. I imagine that the sole reason for this is money. As they say, money makes the world go round, but apparently no one wants to use it to protect animals. Just recently, due to the call for action to defund the police in the Summer of 2020, the LAPD cut a portion of their animal cruelty task force and defunded it in general. It is quite clear that money is the biggest motivating factor in the decision to either help or ignore the plight of animals and while our world cares more about money over morals it will probably always be this way.

            However I do believe there can be a happy medium solution. Creating an animal task force for every county, while sounds lovely, is just unrealistic but creating an animal task force for every state is a very reasonable and good place to start. Once there is one there is room for more to grow. As the Equine Advocates post suggests there should be task forces in counties with heavy farm populations. Another thing that could help to move around the money issue is to take volunteers for the task forces. I am sure that many people in every county in the United States care about preventing animal cruelty and would be more than happy to help. Is it really necessary for the task forces to be made up completely of police officers? I don’t think so. I believe they should be made up of people who actually want to help and are not just doing it “because it is their job.” A little expense on training volunteers is nothing compared to having to pay a police officer’s salary every week for the same job. If money really is the issue then this is a good workaround. Although, police officers are the only ones with the power to make arrests but placing one or two on the task force is probably sufficient. Most animal protection teams are run by humane societies rather than the local law enforcement anyway so why not have the team created by law enforcement also have citizen members? It seems to work out well for them.

            Most people are willfully ignorant to the plight of animals. They know but they prefer not to see what is happening to them. If this wall of ignorance is removed then changes may start to happen. If the general public were educated more about animal cruelty they would probably want to help more and then maybe money won’t be such a barrier between humans and helping animals anymore.

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