The Task Force routinely conducts workshops on the investigation of animal cruelty complaints for humane agents and law enforcement officers. Training is currently not mandated in order to become a cruelty investigator in Vermont, but there is still a great need for it. It is vital that humane agents be trained in the unique skills they need to do their jobs properly and safely.
How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in Vermont: a Manual of Procedures, is a new 200+ page resource from the Task Force that outlines the basics of a good investigation, from start to finish. This book is filled with valuable information for cruelty investigators, from real-life case examples, to sample forms, fact sheets and articles, to a layman's interpretation of Vermont's criminal animal cruelty statute. You can download an electronic copy of the manual or order a printed copy for $20.
Not every community has an animal shelter or police department, and investigating complaints is sometimes left up to municipal officials who may not feel qualified for this highly specialized-and sometimes dangerous-task. The Task Force maintains a network of professionals that includes law enforcement officers, veterinarians, lawyers and animal care specialists who stand ready to assist with cases when local resources are lacking. Private individuals can also help by volunteering their time, expertise and equipment during the course of an investigation or fostering seized animals. Click here to download a membership application to the Vermont Animal Cruelty Response Network.
Money is one of the scarcest resources when conducting animal cruelty investigations. When animals are rescued by private agencies or municipalities, it is the rescuer (not the alleged abuser) who foots the bill. Animals are sometimes held in "legal limbo" during cases, which could mean months of animal care, housing and veterinary costs. The Humane Society of the United States' (HSUS) New England Regional Office (based in Jacksonville, Vermont) maintains an emergency assistance fund from which Vermont non-profits and municipalities can draw to help pay for some of these expenses. Click here to find out how you can make a donation to help the animal victims of abuse.
Members of the Task Force act as a resource for legislators and other policy makers in Vermont. We also support and actively lobby for state and local legislation to protect animals from abusive situations, like the recently enacted law that allows municipalities to create civil ordinances to address animal cruelty violations. By allowing municipalities to issue civil tickets and impose fines, they have yet another tool (besides criminal prosecution) to successfully rectify problems. Click here to download a copy of the Task Force's model animal cruelty ordinance in PDF format. You can go to the Manual's New Laws to see what other laws affecting animal welfare have recently passed in Vermont. To find out how you can help, go to the Make a Difference page.