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The HSUS and VHF Launch

Posted on Aug 25, 2008 - 2:35 PM
The HSUS and VHF Launch

HSUS Press Release

(Aug. 25, 2008)--The Vermont Humane Federation, in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States, has launched, the final element in a year-long, ground-breaking initiative that will serve as a model for other states across the country.

“Vermont’s Cruelty Response System project is an unprecedented statewide effort successfully bringing together all of the necessary parties to ensure our animal welfare laws are enforced. This collaborative program sets the standard for supporting law enforcement and animal welfare agencies in their efforts to address animal cruelty and neglect,” said Jill Tucker, the humane enforcement consultant from CrossPaw Solutions leading the project. is supported by a statewide coalition of animal welfare and law enforcement resources responding to complaints of animal cruelty and neglect in every county in the state. The website is user-friendly and confidential. Citizens can enter complaints that are then disseminated immediately to the leading enforcement and investigative agencies in each county.

“The collaborative efforts and streamlined process of the CRS strengthens the effectiveness of Vermont’s animal welfare laws and supports the more efficient use of both public and private resources. Spreading humane enforcement responsibilities across several agencies helps ensure that no single organization or individual is overburdened and that every abused or neglected animal receives help,” Tucker said.

Additionally, cross reporting relationships have been established between humane agencies and social service agencies to make sure help is available for all victims of violence and neglect in the home.

“Enforcing animal protection laws and prosecuting these cases is imperative,” said Joanne Bourbeau, The HSUS’ New England regional director and Vermont Humane Federation president. “Considering the documented link between animal abuse and domestic violence, we will thwart the cycle of abuse that ultimately extends to humans when we address animal abuse.”

The strong correlation between violence against animals and violence against humans was recognized by the state legislature when Vermont became the second state (after Maine) to pass a law in 2006 allowing judges to issue “protection from abuse” orders for animals living in abusive households. A large percentage of domestic violence victims will delay leaving their partner or refuse to leave an abusive situation because they fear their abuser will retaliate against their pets.

The maximum penalty for misdemeanor animal cruelty is one year in jail or a fine of $2,000 or both for a first offense. Second and subsequent misdemeanor convictions can yield a sentence up to two years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. Aggravated animal cruelty is a felony and is punishable by a maximum three-year prison sentence and/or a $5,000 fine. Second and subsequent convictions on the felony charge carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $7,500 fine.

Additionally, the CRS provides services to animal victims that law enforcement agencies are unable to offer. It provides animal sheltering facilities and follow-up visits intended to monitor the situation and see how it has improved.

The CRS for each county is modeled after the system used effectively by Addison County for the past four years. The beauty of the system is that it provides a sustainable process that will survive the inevitable turnover of various participants. The process itself is simple and activities are all documented in “Animal Tracks,” a web-based case management system accessible to humane societies and law enforcement agencies. This program has already begun to improve Vermont’s response to animal cruelty complaints, and will serve as an example for other areas of the country that lack similar resources. The New Hampshire Federation of Humane Organizations has recently voted to have their state be the next to embark on a statewide CRS project.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Vermont Humane Federation supplied funding and staff for this initiative. Additional funding was provided by the Leonard X. Bosack and Bette M. Kruger Charitable Foundation, the Edith Goode Foundation, the William and Charlotte Parks Foundation, the Rudolph Steiner Foundation, the Nancy Boardman Foundation, the Vermont Community Foundation, the Maverick Lloyd Foundation, individual sponsors Bonnie Reid Martin through the Vermont Community Foundation, Gloria and Peter Lonergan, Anne Patterson, and a private donor. and its support application called “Animal Tracks,” were developed by Burlington based Qvault, Inc. specifically to support this collaborative model of humane enforcement.

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