A year after creating a task force to investigate animal abuse, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office is going even further to find and prosecute those who seek to harm animals.
District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Monday a new campaign called "Look Out, Speak Up" in partnership with the San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) that encourages neighbors to keep their eyes out for animal abuse in their communities.
"Animals don’t normally have voices but they tell us everything we need to know if we observe and watch and know our neighbors," SDHS President Gary Weitzman said.
Stephan said it is important for their office to care about the wellbeing of animals because often child, elder and domestic abuse cases are connected to animal abuse.
The DA's Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit was created last year to streamline the process that can connect these cases. Instead of prosecuting them separately, the new unit will allow one prosecutor to focus on each case from beginning to end while working closely with police and animal experts.
Since the unit's inception, 53 animal abuse cases have been prosecuted in San Diego County. More than 30 percent of those, 17 total, had ties to other types of abuse -- child, elder or domestic, Stephan said.
"We wanted to be able then, because of this connection, to place it in the same division... so we can track data better, we can look at the connections and find ways to prevent the harm early," Stephan said.
- Weitzman said An animal may be the victim of abuse if they:
- have wounds on the body
- have matted coats or do not appear strong and healthy
- are covered with fleas or ticks
- don't have barriers/fencing outside and are allowed to run wild
- are tethered all day or are left alone for extended periods of time, either with or without food and water
- are kept outside in extreme weather like heat or snow
- cower when people come near
Anyone who suspects an animal is being abused should report it to the San Diego Humane Society at (619) 299-7012. All reports of suspected abuse or neglect can remain anonymous.
The humane society has 51 officers that partner with local law enforcement officers across the county to identify and target animal abuse.