FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Todd Hallidy
Phone: (302) 577-8314
Date: March 22, 2001
ANIMAL CRUELTY REPORT URGES TRAINING, EDUCATION;
A.G. Brady's Task Force Completes 16 Month Study
(Wilmington, DE) - Attorney General M. Jane Brady today issued the report of the Attorney General's Task Force on Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence. It recommends steps to foster improved responses to incidents of animal cruelty and personal violence, particularly domestic violence and child abuse. The report was released in conjunction with a National Conference on the issue hosted by Attorney General Brady today at the Wyndham Garden Hotel.
According to Attorney General Brady, "Recent studies have clearly established a significant correlation between the incidence of violent behavior against animals and the incidence of violence against people by the same offender. It is my hope that this report, and this conference, will encourage social service agencies, animal health professionals and law enforcement to take action on behalf of victims of these offenses, improve the services available to them, and to intervene before this violence brings tragic results." The Attorney General also publicly thanked the members of the Task Force for their dedication to this effort.
In the report, the Task Force noted that police agencies and the SPCA, under the supervision of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, need to delineate areas of responsibility and determine a protocol for animal cruelty investigations. Law enforcement has traditionally had little role in these matters, and the report found the SPCA to be "grossly understaffed, even for the sole task of animal control." The report urged cooperation between police and DNREC, with the assistance of the Attorney General's office, on an evaluation of staffing, protocol and training.
The report also found a broader need for training and cross-training between a variety of agencies. A multi-disciplinary approach, possibly modeled after one in place in Broward County, Florida, was recommended. On the specific issue of veterinary training, the report recommended that veterinarians be trained in the proper identification of animal cruelty and that they be encouraged to report suspected cruelty.
The report also recommends several changes to the Delaware Code to provide more serious penalties for animal cruelty offenses, and to allow more orderly care of those animals taken into custody in these cases. One proposal would assure the costs relating to the care of these animals are recovered before the end of the long weeks or months it may take to get a case to trial.
The report recognizes that shelter and temporary care facilities for victims of domestic violence or child abuse are unable to adequately care for those victim's pets. It has been shown that some victims will delay reporting abuse because of concern about the care or safety of their pets. The Task Force recommends that a foster care system be established for these pets.
The Task Force also noted a lack of awareness in the general public about the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence. Task force members will be undertaking public education campaigns and work to better inform legislators and other professionals.
The study was undertaken in November, 1999 by a panel of 42 core and associate members representing public and non-profit social service agencies, veterinary and animal care professionals, and prosecutors and law enforcement. The Task Force met monthly during that time, and also accepted testimony from regional and national experts on these issues during a day-long hearing in Dover in October, 2000. It will continue to examine the implementation of the recommendations and any further issues that may surface.
EDITORS: Copies of the Task Force report are available on request from this office. In addition, .jpg photos from today's conference are available on request.