Animal control officers attend specialized training

Experts with the humane society met with animal control officers from 14 different Central Texas agencies. The group, which gathered at the Del Valle Corrections Center, looked at documented cases of abuse and neglect- as well received updates on new laws and investigative techniques.

"Even veteran officers sometimes are not familiar with the intricacies of Texas animal cruelty laws, we see that every single day,” said Katie Jarl Texas Senior State Director with the HSUS.

Detective Charles Smith attended the training seminar with his new partner. He told FOX7 many of the cases they’ve work in Travis County do not begin with bad intentions.

"Do I think it’s a big problem, yes. I think there are many people who decided to get animals and they are not educated. And one of my main focuses is educating people who are not educated,” said Smith.

Among the cases discussed- was the seizure this week of more than 400 animals from a home in Caldwell County.  Deputies had initially responded to a call regarding a dog attacking a chicken. But once they looked in the house- and under tarps covering several crates - they realized the call was anything but routine.

"We have seen time and time again, whatever is reflected outside of the home is often times much, much, worse inside the home,” said Jarl.

Those taking part in this seminar are also being reminded that an animal cruelty case can also lead to a larger organized crime operation. It’s like peeling back a rotten onion. Blood sports using chickens and dogs may not be limited only to illegal gambling.  Investigators say some of those taking part in the abuse -- could also be linked to things like drug running and car theft.

"Two years ago the FBI started tracking cases of animal cruelty and animal violence specifically as its own category because they saw the link to the other crimes of human violence, they know most times when you are out there abusing an animal your chances of going on to abuse a child or commit domestic violence or being involved in other crimes against humans in your community are much, much, higher,” said Jarl. 

A lesson and a warning, that the victims of animal cruelty may not be limited just to those with four legs.

Last month - the animal legal defense fund released its ranking of states with the best laws that protect animals. Texas was ranked 29th - Illinois was at the top of the list with Kentucky at the bottom.

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