Until now, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) didn’t track animal cruelty crimes on statewide or national levels. Extreme cases of animal abuse and neglect were placed in an “Other Offense” category.
But that is finally changing. FBI Director James Comer has approved including these cases in the Uniform Crime Report, thanks to the years-long efforts of the National Sheriffs’ Association, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Doris Day Animal League.
The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, created in 1929, is “the starting place for law enforcement executives, students of criminal justice, researchers, members of the media and the public at large seeking information on crime in the nation,” according to the FBI website.
As the FBI has previously done for offenses including hate crimes and the killings of law enforcement officers, it will now also collect critical information on animal cruelty crimes. This means there’s now “a real incentive for law enforcement agencies to pay closer attention to such incidents,” wrote HSUS President Wayne Pacelle on his blog today. “With accurate data, law enforcement agencies will also be better able to allocate officers and financial resources to handle these cases, track trends and deploy accordingly.”
Animal cruelty crimes to be tracked by the FBI include intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, sexual abuse and simple/gross neglect. The FBI defines animal cruelty as “Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutiliation, maiming, poisoning or abandonment.”
The tracking of these crimes “is a practical way of cracking down on cruelty,” Pacelle wrote.
“The decision is also significant in affirming, at the highest levels of our government, that animal cruelty is a vice just like so many other violent crimes. It is the latest tangible gain in our effort to make opposition to animal cruelty a universal value in our society.”
Photo credit: angela n.