Three wags for San Bernardino! This California county has just established a special unit within its district attorney’s office, dedicated to prosecuting animal cruelty.
The Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit is part of the office’s Family Violence Unit, and consists of seven lawyers and a senior investigator.
It’s one of just a handful of similar dedicated animal cruelty units across the country.
These cases involve abused pets, mistreated farm animals, and animals forced to fight—as well as growing awareness about the link between violence toward animals and domestic violence.
The number of such cases is so vast, an ABC 7 story described them as “epidemic.”
This includes the horrific local story of Victor Lopez, who killed the family’s dog in front of his wife, Lorna, and their children. Lopez went to jail for 30 days for this crime—two years later, he allegedly strangled Lorna. Lopez is expected to go to trial next month.
Lora Dunn, a lawyer with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, tells BarkPost that she is heartened to see San Bernardino join a small but growing number of prosecutors’ offices.
For example, the Queens District Attorney’s Office’s Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit started up in January of this year—the first, in New York City. Staten Island’s chief prosecutor just announced that his office will be next.
These are important because animal cruelty cases are “extremely complex and resource-intensive,” Dunn said. “So having a dedicated animal cruelty unit ready to address these cases head-on helps protect all of us from violent offenders and keeps our communities safer.”
Ramos said in a statement that his commitment is to protecting all members of the San Bernardino community—the county’s humans its and animals.
“As District Attorney, I believe the time is now to take the next step in our fight against animal cruelty,” Ramos said. “We must do a better job of investigating and prosecuting these cowardly and heartless abusers of helpless animals.”
Featured image via Flickr/Neha Viswanathan, used under a Creative Commons license