FBI: Animal Cruelty now a Crime Against Society

Another step has been taken along the road to improved levels of animal welfare and care.  In the United States, a significant shift in the valuation of crimes against animals has been made by the FBI.  One hopes that law enforcement agencies in Canada will follow suit.

 See below for a recent article by S.P. Sullivan, a New Jersey reporter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced this week that it will start reporting crimes of animal cruelty as a separate offense under its uniform reporting system, leading the way for more comprehensive statistics on animal abuse.

Under the changes, animal cruelty would be considered a crime against society and a “Type A” offense with four categories: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse (such as dog and cock fighting) and animal sexual abuse.

According to the FBI, the official definition of animal cruelty will be:

Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or injure an animal. This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing or trapping.

Animal rights groups had been lobbying for the change for more than a decade, according to the Animal Welfare Institute. The FBI adopted the changes after that group and the National Sheriff’s Association proposed animal cruelty be listed as a separate offense in the National Incident Based Reporting System, from which the Uniform Crime Report is generated, according to Stephen G. Fischer, an FBI spokesman.

New Jersey’s animal welfare community welcomed the news.

Victor “Buddy” Amato, chief law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County SPCA, said his agency has been providing statistics to the FBI for years, which were put to use for internal analyses.

An animal is a very easy victim. An animal can’t pick up a phone and call 911.”

“(Now) they’re going to the next level, which is great,” Amato said. “People are taking animal cruelty more and more seriously. It’s a violent crime, and if it goes unchecked, it leads to bigger things.”

Amato said the changes are part of a larger trend toward increased awareness of animal cruelty issues.

“An animal is a very easy victim,” Amato said. “An animal can’t pick up a phone and call 911.”

Last year, Gov. Chris Christie signed “Patrick’s Law,” which upgraded animal cruelty from a misdemeanor to a fourth degree offense. The law’s namesake was an emaciated pit bull found abandoned in a trash chute whose plight drew national attention as an example of animal abuse. More recently, the Legislature took up the issue of banning piercing and tattooing pets.

The FBI will implement the changes in 2015 and begin accepting data in January of 2016, Fischer said.

S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Sandra Pady, founder



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