I am pleased to be introducing the 2nd edition of this manual for the state’s animal cruelty investigators. More than 8 years after the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force was formed, we have made measurable progress in the field and in the law books to better protect animals from neglect and abuse. We have trained hundreds of animal control officers, shelter staff, municipal employees and law enforcement officers on how to investigate animal cruelty. Even the full-time Police Academy now regularly holds a 3-hr module on investigating animal cruelty featuring our materials. We have put more than 500 manuals into the hands of investigators for their use in the field. Our website receives hits from all over the country, and even the world. We’ve passed laws that better define animal cruelty, give pets protection during domestic violence disputes, and give law enforcement officers the authority to write civil tickets for certain animal cruelty infractions. And we continue to be a resource to humane agents from all over the state.
But even with the many resources and alliances we’ve created, there is still much work to be done to perfect our system of response to animal cruelty complaints. I am especially proud and excited to introduce a new concept (and chapter) on creating Cruelty Response Systems in this edition. The beauty of this project is its simplicity. The concept is one of building the local capacity to respond to complaints utilizing existing public and private resources. The Vermont Humane Federation and the Humane Society of the United States are partnering on this pilot project, funded by the Bosack Krueger Foundation, the Edith Goode Foundation, the Rudolph Steiner Foundation, the William and Charlotte Parks Foundation, the Maverick Lloyd Foundation, the Bonnie Reid Martin Charitable Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation, the Nancy Boardman Foundation, and a private donor. Utilizing a similar successful model created by the Addison County Humane Society (ACHS), and headed by consultant Jill Tucker (ACHS’s former director), the goal is to create county-wide task forces covering every corner of the state. Cruelty and neglect happens at the local level and requires a local response. Each county will have one lead agency responsible for taking animal cruelty complaints, and following up with local investigators to make sure they have the resources they need to respond. We hope this will mean less confusion for those wishing to make a complaint, and a speedier resolution to possible problems. We’ll be offering more training workshops, and continued guidance to each CRS as they grow.
Another exciting component of this project is the development of a state-wide database for tracking cases developed by Q-Vault, a private technology and consulting firm, which will provide important insight into the types of complaints we’re seeing, the animals involved, and any other relevant trends. We expect this to lead to more strategic problem-solving and targeted campaigns and programs. A state-wide publicity and marketing campaign will round out the year so that once the systems are up and running, community members will be educated about what constitutes animal cruelty, as well as how they can make a complaint.
I hope you will all join me in supporting and participating in this innovative project. Only by working together can we ever come close to tackling the difficult and multi-faceted problems associated with responding to crimes against animals.
New England Regional Director
The Humane Society of the United States