and deserve our help
Commission Approves a Dedicated Unit
"Animal Cruelty Division" gets six month pilot program
by Judi Baylor
February 17, 2005
At the Police Commission on February 15 the Los Angeles City
Police Department, the Department of Animal Services and the
City Attorney vowed to work together on a six-month pilot program,
creating a special unit to expand the City's law enforcement
in the investigation of animal abuse, "blood-sport"
and animal fighting. The District Attorney may also join them.
believed that Los Angeles is the country's only large municipality
that doesn't have a dedicated unit solely devoted to investigate
some of the thousands of crimes that are reported each year against
the animal population. These cases include infiltration and destruction
of dog fighting rings, the closing down of cockfighting facilities,
and the arrest of perpetrators who are starving and abusing their
has been linked to many other criminal acts such as gambling, narcotics
abuse and sales, domestic violence and other activity. There's also
a correlation to a de-sensitivity to violence in general to those
who are exposed to "blood sports."
In a meeting
between LAPD Assistant Chief Sharon Papa and representatives of
the Department of Animal Services (DAS) the roles of the agencies,
and how they could compliment and cooperate with each other had
found that there is increasing evidence of a relationship between
violence involving "blood-sport" animal abuse and violent
crimes involving human victims. Many major cities have initiatives
in place that deal with animal abuse crimes and their relationship
to other crimes. At this moment there has only been small interest
in this matter in Los Angeles.
The City Council's
Public Safety Committee will now look at the issue, and will explore
asking the full Council for the necessary resources to dedicate
a unit to investigate crimes which involve dog-fighting rings, cockfighting
facilities, and arrest perpetrators who are starving and abusing
It was decided the LAPD's Investigation Analysis Unit, Detective
Bureau will be given this task.
Animal fighting is often linked to gangs, narcotics, and weapons.
DAS has no experience in this. DAS has always responded to any animal
cruelty complaints and these cases are then referred to the Office
of the City Attorney for prosecution. Few cases are prosecuted.
ask very little
of humans ...
will investigate animal-cruelty cases that come to its attention
during other investigations such as ritualistic animal-cruelty
in connection with a homicide, crimes committed against animals
of the LAPD's K-9 or mounted units. But until now there has
not a special unit within LAPD that is responsible for any investigation
in blood-sport cruelty cases. And LAPD does not currently track
Currently the Department of Animal Services law enforcement
efforts are limited to animal cruelty complaints, animals traps,
barking dogs problems, dangerous and sick or injured animals.
has not been any way to record the number of "blood-sport"
complaints it has been recommended that the LAPD and DAS expand
the City's law-enforcement role in the investigation of animal abuse
and "blood-sport" animal fighting.
In a six-month
pilot period it will be necessary to create data exchange protocols
between the LAPD and DAS to gather the needed information to support
or contradict the anecdotal relationship between animal abuse and
violent crimes in the City of Los Angeles. The resources that will
be needed for this pilot program are at a minimum, one Detective
III or Sergeant II. The Office of Support Services (OSS) has been
recommended as the Department lead for this pilot program.
The original City Council motion that got the ball rolling on the
issue was made by Tony Cardenas and seconded by Alex Padilla, and
asked that LAPD and Animal Services report to the Public Safety
Committee on resources necessary to dedicate a unit to investigate
these crimes. It was furthermore requested that this report include
information on whether there are grants available for such a program,
and explain how the LAPD and Animal Services are now handling these
complaints without a dedicated unit.
of the plan approved by LAPD and DAS might occur at the Public Safety
Committee as soon as next week.
NOTE: The following also appeared as a special article in the February
24 editon of the LA Daily News:
Animal abusers may be warming up for more
By Phyllis M. Daugherty, Guest Columnist
The Los Angeles Police Commission's recent approval of a task
force of police and animal control officers to address animal
cruelty and illegal animal fighting is a major step to increased
safety for humans and pets all over the city.
In his 1995 book, "The Mind Hunter," FBI criminal
profiler John Douglas states that a "new type of violent
criminal has surfaced -- the serial offender, who learns by
experience and tends to get better and better at what he does."
Douglas notes that the criminals' earliest act of violence
is often the torture and/or killing of pets or wildlife, graduating
to brutalizing younger siblings before taking intensified
perversities into the streets or engaging in domestic violence.
Unimpeded acts of violence beget acts of increased violence.
To the depraved person who feels powerful and in control only
while inflicting pain or death, that "high" must
continually be sustained by more heinous or morbid acts.
Until recently, law enforcement rarely related serial sniper
shootings or the bludgeoning, rape and murder of multiple
women as the latest in a chain of escalating crimes by someone
who practiced on animals first. Today, arrests for prior acts
of animal cruelty are regularly used to corroborate patterns
of violent behavior.
It is also recognized by criminal psychologists that participating
in or willingly viewing acts of repeated animal cruelty desensitizes
the perpetrator or spectator.
The sordid and barbaric world of dog fighting and cockfighting
is so abhorrent to the average person that it is routinely
discounted as something that happens only in "other"
neighborhoods or as a "cultural tradition." In fact,
national experts estimate that within two miles of everyone
living in any metropolitan area is someone who is actively
involved in illegal animal fighting, either owning, breeding
or training the animals themselves or attending or betting
on bloody bouts where animals are forced to fight to death.
Recently a condominium owner reported leasing out two high-rent
units in an upper-class building. When the second month's
rent was overdue, the landlord came to the building to discover
that the carpets were soaked with blood and the walls covered
with bloody paw prints of dogs trying to escape. Pit bulls
-- the dog of choice of both professional and amateur fighters
-- can be conditioned to fight and suffer so silently that
even adjacent neighbors are not aware a match is taking place.
Ignorance of the pervasiveness of animal fighting by legislators
-- and even some animal-protection advocates -- has allowed
it to burgeon unabated in L.A.'s gang-infested areas, where
owning the "baddest" dog generates gambling income
and fear in the community. Merritt Clifton, editor of the
worldwide publication Animal People recently wrote, "Many
activists don't have a clue how much harm the pit bull proliferation
is doing to minority communities."
Dog fighting and cockfighting affect us all. They bring a
ruthless criminal element into unsuspecting neighborhoods
where innocent children are at risk. Beloved pets are stolen
from yards and cars for "blood bait" to train fighting
dogs and to rev up lust for the main event at staged fights.
Absentee owners of rental property being used to raise and
train fighting animals or conduct fights may have unexpected
liability. Animal-fighting operations anywhere diminish surrounding
Young boys are frequently present at animal fights to gather
bets from spectators, creating a generation of youths in our
city who believe maiming and killing is the mark of a man.
It is an easy step from executing an animal to shooting a
rival gang member -- or anyone else.
L.A.'s anti-cruelty task force can be successful only if everyone
who suspects animal fighting or abuse immediately reports
it for investigation. When you read about a sadistic crime
against an animal, remember that the perpetrator is just warming
up. The next victim could be someone you know and love.
Phyllis M. Daugherty is director of the Los Angeles-based
Animal Issues Movement.
Here's the direct link to the LA Daily News article, Feb 24:
Animal abusers may be warming up for more
by Phyllis M. Daugherty, Guest Columnist