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What's Happening: Animal Cruelty

Animal cruelty affects everyone in a community, from the individual who witnesses it to the humane agent who investigates it to the animal care and control staff who house and care for the victims. And of course there are the victims themselves, who aren’t always sufficiently protected in a way that would allow humans to legally intervene on their behalf. How many of us have fielded phone calls from someone complaining about an inappropriate living situation for an animal or a dog tied up all day, only to have to answer, “I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do”?

The HSUS New England Regional Office (NERO) is proud to be a partner in the Vermont Animal Cruelty Task Force, a unique collaboration of professionals who work together to combat animal cruelty on all fronts—through public education, training, enforcement, and legislation. Only by working together can we effectively resolve animal cruelty complaints, and we’re dedicated to providing the resources and networking opportunities that will help make this happen; collectively, the state’s law enforcement, veterinary, animal welfare, and animal control communities can work toward the betterment of Vermont’s animal and human populations alike.

NERO has developed several resources that we hope will assist in this endeavor. In January, we launched the task force’s animal cruelty website, The site is filled with useful information for both humane agents and private citizens, explaining how to recognize, report, and rectify animal cruelty situations. It features an electronic version of the 200-page-plus training and resource manual, How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in Vermont, which was produced by our office with funding from The HSUS, the Vermont Humane Federation, and the Vermont Sheriffs’ Association. The site allows visitors to easily navigate the manual and the state’s animal cruelty laws, along with sample investigation forms, fact sheets, and articles on a variety of animal welfare topics.

To address the need for training in this field, cruelty investigation workshops have been developed in order to cross-train both police officers and humane investigators. We’re also building support for a statewide response network of professionals in the law enforcement, veterinary, social service, and animal care fields; these people will stand ready to assist with local complaints when resources are lacking.

The old adage “It takes a village” can be applied to caring for animals as well as caring for children in a community. We hope the combined efforts of this coalition will be the first step toward making Vermont a safer place for both.

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