While Humane Society Police Officers (HSPOs) enforce and investigate the anti-cruelty laws in our state, they rely on the expertise of veterinarians to determine the extent of abuse and neglect as evident by the animal’s medical condition. A mutual relationship between officers and veterinarians is vital to the success of the case and any court proceedings.
With the passage of Libre’s Law (Act 10) in 2017, Pennsylvania’s anti-cruelty laws were strengthened. Under the prior law animal cruelty was largely a summary offense.
Increased penalties for animal cruelty include the following:
- The possibility of 90 days to seven years in jail and fines ranging from $50 to $15,000.
- Mandatory forfeiture of the animal upon conviction of felonies with options for forfeiture in misdemeanor and summary offenses.
- A new grading system for animal abuse that includes aggravated cruelty for cases in which the animal suffers serious bodily injury or death.
- New laws on tethering and sheltering of outside animals.
With increased penalties come increased scrutiny of investigations and an increased need for training of HSPOs and veterinarians.
To further our understanding of crimes against animals and ensure we are using our laws to the extent allowed, Animal Friends is partnering with the Humane Society of the United States and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office to host a free webinar, Veterinary Forensics Training for Law Enforcement.
Veterinary forensics plays an important role in both animal and human-related crimes. This course will review animal-related evidence documentation and the critical role it plays in an animal crimes investigation. Specifically, crime scene analysis, differentiating types of animals, blood stain pattern analysis, forensic entomology, forensic botany, trace evidence, time of death assessments and measurements and key steps for the investigator will be reviewed.
The virtual training is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 7 at 1:00 PM and is open to Law Enforcement, Animal Control, Humane Investigators, Code Enforcement Officers, Veterinarians, Judges and Prosecutors.
The training is approved for two (2) hours of RACE approved continuing education credits for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.
Presenter Dr. Melinda Merck is the owner of Veterinary Forensics Consulting in Austin, Texas and a Law Enforcement Trainer with the Humane Society of the United States. She is a nationally recognized expert and provides case consultations, assistance with crime scene investigation examinations of live and deceased victims and frequently testifies as a veterinary forensics expert.