Long Beach, CA - March 21, 2013 Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert and Long Beach Animal Care Services hosted their second annual Animal Care and Cruelty Prevention Conference. This important and informative community event focused on educating the public regarding what is the proper way to care for cats and dogs and how to recognize inappropriate conduct towards pets by other pet owners.
(Please be prepared some photos are graphic)
Several key speakers at the event represented Long Beach Animal Care Services and the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. The speakers shared an abundance of information on pet care while speaking of their personal experiences with animal cruelty cases in addition to animal rescue stories.
Dr. Margaret Lee, DVM spoke about the importance of animal care. Lee discussed the three key essentials dogs and cats need to live: quality food, fresh water, and adequate shelter to protect them from outdoor elements. As with humans, food, water, and shelter are not enough to live long healthy lives. Dogs and cats need regular grooming maintenance for a healthy coat and nails. They need vaccinations to prevent various types of diseases, and they require regular
dental care to prevent dental problems. Also, dogs and cats not spayed or neutered are at a higher risk to develop certain types of cancer.
To convey a stronger message of inadequate pet care and animal cruelty, Lee shared photos and stories of several animals that suffered disheartening consequences. One such photo was of an obese cat that could not clean himself. The hair was long and matted causing the cat constant pain. She states "for both dogs and cats when their hair becomes this matted it collects feces, urine, parasites, bacteria, and more; holding infection very close to the skin. At this point it becomes more than a hygiene issue, it becomes a medical issue."
Lee shared another photo of a dog that had not had his nails trimmed and they had curved and became imbedded into the pads of the dog's paws. She said, "At this stage the dog could not walk properly, and the wounds were severely infected from the collection of particles, bacteria's, and parasites from the outdoors.
She shared more stories of severe animal neglect and cruelty cases but also shared several stories of animal rescue. Lee has saved numerous cats and dogs from severe situations and has placed them in homes of responsible pet owners.
Alexandra Macias, Animal Behavioral Specialist of Long Beach Animal Care Services inspired the audience with the importance of dog training. She shared heart-wrenching stories of dogs becoming victim to human abuse and neglect by pet owners. To no fault of a dog, many become unruly, aggressive, and unmanageable, and they are surrendered to an animal shelter. After the dog is surrendered, temperament tests conducted by a shelter's staff are used to determine if a neglected or abused dog may be rehabilitated or euthanized.
Dogs as well as people need to be educated. Dogs in general aim to please a pet owner so the more a dog is provided guidance, training, and companionship the more the dog will strive to be man's best friend. Macias said "The essential training commands for a pet owner to teach a dog are sit, stay, come, down or
lie down, wait, heel, off, and leave it, along with several other commands. "These commands are necessary for a pet owner and the family to live in a cohesive household with the new pet companion. For additional basic training tips click on the following link: Basic Dog Training Tips 101
Taking center stage, Deborah Knaan, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and Animal Cruelty Case Coordinator stated in her presentation, "Animals cannot speak. They cannot get away and they cannot defend themselves. They cannot pick up the phone to call 911. They are completely helpless, vulnerable, and completely dependent upon us. These animals rely on us to help them as we are the ones who are seeing it, suspecting it, or hearing it, to actually step up and do something about it."
Animal cruelty comes in different forms such as neglect, intentional cruelty, animal hoarding, organized crime (dog fighting or cock fighting), and ritualized abuse. The most common form of animal abuse that many prosecuting agencies see are those animals suffering from neglect. The reason is because these animals are subject to long and painful suffering until either rescued or laid to rest. Also, many animal abuse cases have been linked to people who have or are mistreating human beings. Knaan spoke of many high-profile criminal cases to where the perpetrators were also identified as inflicting abuse onto animals. She says, "A lot of our animal cruelty cases are somehow related to domestic violence." She continued by sharing a few stories to where victims of domestic violence would not surrender to the request of their abusers and in retaliation, the abusers inflicted terrible acts of violence onto the victim's pets to emotionally torment the victim.
The next speaker at the event was Rebecca Johnson, Sergeant of Investigations for City of Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau. She has worked for Animal Care Services since 1996 and thirteen of those years, she has worked as a field officer. During her tenure she has experienced thousands of animal
Johnson discussed that many people are not aware that the Animal Care Services provides a 24-hour service. During office hours (Long Beach area) the office phone number is 562-570-PETS. After hours people are encouraged to call 911. Although the police dispatch may not send a patrol unit to the place reported, dispatch will transfer the call through to Animal Care Services, and send an officer to investigate.
Johnson explained when reporting an alleged cruelty case please try to collect any type of evidence as possible. Depending on the type of scene, i.e. animal abandonment, neglect, abuse, and so forth, information on a vehicle and license, photos, videotape, recording, or an eyewitness is beneficial. The more information that can be provided when a crime is reported will help forward the case to be presented to a prosecuting attorney.
Concluding the conference Doug Haubert, City Prosecutor for the city of Long Beach discussed the three objectives addressed in the conference: celebration, education, and delegation. He said, "Everyone in the room has been deputized on how to recognize various types of animal cruelty in addition to, what is necessary to report alleged animal cruelty situations." Haubert closed the conference as he told the audience, "You have been empowered to call when you see something you identified as potential neglect or potential abuse."
To learn more about Doug Haubert the Animal Care and Cruelty Prevention Conference visit http://cityprosecutordoughaubert.com/