The public sees or hears reports of animal abuse on a regular basis. But “all the time” is not a statistic. Crime statistics come from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, and starting in 2016, every law enforcement agency in the nation will have to track and report crimes against animals.
“Animal advocates and child welfare advocates have known for many years that there’s a direct correlation between animal abuse and human abuse,” Pinellas Animal Service’s Doug Brightwell observed.
John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriff’s Association, agreed.
“I’ve actually sat on the advisory policy board for the FBI when it came up before us years ago, and I just didn’t see the importance of it at the time,” Thompson told FOX 13 News in a Skype interview from Washington D.C.
The Animal Welfare Institute first requested UCR tracking more than a decade ago. More recently, that request was reinforced by the NSA, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
Thompson said the FBI spent more than a year vetting the request, and its director approved it earlier this week.
The first data will not be collected until 2016, but Brightwell and Thompson both predict it will have an impact.
“It gives us credibility to present some cruelty cases to the states attorney for prosecution now, because it’s being taken more seriously now by the law enforcement side,” Brightwell said.
Thompson pointed out law enforcement resources are increasingly data-driven.
“The bottom line is that being involved in this is going to make their community much safer. The data’s going to be used in predictive policing, community policing,” he said.
Thompson also pointed out the NSA’s website now hosts a National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse.