YET THE ANIMAL CRUELTY TASK FORCE WHICH WAS UNDER THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT FOR 15 YEARS HAS BEEN DISBANDED!
Please sign this petition asking Mayor Garcetti to restore funding to the Animal Cruelty Task Force NOW! He is the only one who can change this!! We must send it to the Mayor immediately before the City Budget is finalized! Please post this petition on your social media and send to all your contacts! We need to show the Mayor that we want animal abuse stopped!!
In 2006, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) joined with the L.A. City Attorney, District Attorney, and Animal Services department to create a remarkable new task force: the L.A. Animal Cruelty Task Force, the first such task force in the entire world! The need was urgent, yet despite city laws against animal cruelty, few perpetrators of abuse were being investigated or prosecuted.
The Animal Cruelty Task Force changed all that. For nearly two decades detectives, attorneys and police officers worked together to reduce animal abuse in L.A. They investigated and prosecuted criminals by overseeing hundreds of horrific cases of animal abuse. It was such a tremendous success that cities around the U.S. as well as around the world started forming their own task forces based on this model. The ACTF was the gold standard!
Research has shown time and time again that people who abuse animals often go on to commit heinous crimes against humans. This includes child abuse, spousal abuse, and even mass shootings. Nearly half of school shooters started by abusing animals. Animal abuse is the beginning of this cycle of violence. Many people who beat, torture, and murder animals are dangerous, violent criminals. Keeping track of who these people are is important for both the welfare of animals and humans.
The FBI counts acts of cruelty against animals alongside felony crimes like arson, burglary, assault, and homicide in the FBI's expansive criminal database. The FBI has classified animal abuse as a class A, Gateway crime. It is a known indicator of many perpetrators' inclination toward committing other forms of violence. The police are the ONLY ones who can handle these dangerous criminals, who are often armed.
The City of Los Angeles is working on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2021-22. We are well aware of the fiscal and political pressures that led to the LAPD budget to be cut during the current fiscal year, but unfortunately that cut led to the suspension of the police participation in one of Los Angeles' most meaningful innovations, the Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF). Eliminating a program that actually prevents even more serious crime makes little sense.
During the pandemic, severe cases of animal abuse have increased dramatically. With the number of incidents exploding and both the moral and financial costs of inadequately responding to the need, the Animal Cruelty Task Force is more necessary than ever. Other jurisdictions across the country and around the world have seen ACTF as a role model. We believe that what has happened to it is a major mistake and we call on Mayor Garcetti and Chief Moore to reinstate ACTF in the upcoming budget.
For the sake of the animals, as well as the safety of all the residents of our city – both human and animal, we are asking Mayor Garcetti to include funding for the ACTF in his budget for FY 2021/2022.
Voice For The Animals is one of the founders of the ACTF. We worked for many years to make sure it became law and in 2007, it did. Since then, Melya has expanded the program internationally to Greece and Cyprus. Ivy was shot in the leg. It had to be amputated.
My name is Melya Kaplan. I am the founder and executive director of Voice For The Animals.
The following is the mission statement of the Animal Cruelty Task Force written by the LAPD in 2007:
"The mission of the ACTF is to break the connection between animal abuse and human violence. It is also to educate the community about the significance of animal abuse. It is imperative that the City pursues an aggressive effort to prevent, reduce and prosecute animal abuse in Los Angeles."
From 2005 to 2007, the ACTF was fully funded and made 45 arrests, 31 were felonies and 14 misdemeanors. That is the number of arrests made by the ACTF. What we don't know is the number of lives that were saved because of their intervention.
While I understand that today the city lacks the funds, I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the importance of a fully funded and functioning ACTF. The ACTF saves lives.
The link between animal abuse and school shooters, mass shooters and domestic violence is well documented. I have sent an email to each of you with documentation on the cycle violence that begins with animal abuse.
Many of these acts of violence can be prevented. The ACTF has done it before. But it will take a fully funded ACTF to respond to the amount of requests for help.160,000 people worldwide signed a petition in support of the ACTF. We are asking you to understand the importance of fully funded and functioning ACTF. To make Los Angeles a safer and more compassionate city, we must make this a priority.
May 11, 2021
Re LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit
Dear Councilmembers, Krekorian, Blumenfield, Rodriguez, Price and de Leon:
I am one of the co-founders of the LAPD Animal Cruelty, co-founder of the L.A. Animal Cruelty Task Force and founder of the L.A. City Attorney Animal Protection Unit. I am writing to strongly urge you to restore funding for a fully staffed LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit.
Before the Animal Cruelty Unit had been formed, there were few, if any, prosecutions of animal abuse in Los Angeles. The dog that starved to death, the cat that died a slow death for lack of veterinary care, the owner who beat his dog to death, the neighborhood cats being poisoned…all went uninvestigated…or if the offender was caught, they were given only a verbal warning. Most shocking of all, both LAPD and Animal Services both claimed the other was responsible for blood sports and other violent acts against animals, in effect legalizing animal cruelty…and it was reflected in the number of cockfights, dog fights and incidents of brutal crimes against dogs and cats (and even wildlife) occurring weekly throughout Los Angeles!
When I successfully lobbied the City Attorney in 2002 to be the first full-time animal cruelty prosecutor in the nation, I was a prosecutor without cases! That's because there was no one to turn to in law enforcement to investigate these crimes. LAPD said it was the responsibility of Animal Services. Animal Services, quite properly said, dealing with violent individuals, often with outstanding warrants and being in possession of drugs and weapons, was a police matter.
Responding to this, a coalition from the Mayor's Office, LAPD, City Attorney, and community activists lobbied the City Council to fund an LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit. Initially, the Council expressed little interest in even a single cop... budgetary reasons. But after viewing graphic images of maimed and tortured, pictures of family pets stolen to be torn apart to "train" fighting dogs, testimonials from police officers and residents about inner-city children witnessing, first-hand, animals bleeding to death in the streets while police cars drove by, the City Council quickly funded two detectives. That made possible the formation of the nationally-recognized LA City Animal Cruelty Task Force. Each participating agency agreed to designate special investigators and prosecutors whose sole responsibility was the investigation and, when appropriate, prosecution of animal abusers. Soon Chief Bratton realized that two officers was clearly insufficient to handle the volume and complexity of complains and expanded it. I, and other prosecutors, soon had our hands full with prosecutions and convictions, not only sending a strong message to potential abusers but also making sure convicted abusers were on probation and could no longer even be near another animal. And the celebrated LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit was a respected entity admired by all those who cared about animals and people.
Over the years, the Unit investigated and prosecuted hundreds of cases of animal abuse, both felony and misdemeanors, that otherwise would have been ignored. Although judges initially resisted, saying they had more important cases involving human victims, the link between animal abuse and violence against people persuaded judges to take these cases seriously. Worth noting, the commitment by LAPD was a key factor in influencing judges to take animal abuse seriously, as a crime against society, not just an animal-lovers issue.
And thanks to the commitment by each participating agency, particularly LAPD, cities around the country began modeling our Task Force and police departments nationwide began to recognize animal abuse as a police matter, thanks to our efforts. Los Angeles had become a national model for combating animal abuse and neglect. No matter what the economic situation, no matter what budget cuts there were, no matter what other crimes needed attention, the "untouchable" Animal Cruelty Task Force ensured that those who hurt animals would be held accountable.
So, I was understandably shocked and dismayed when I learned that the Unit, which already had been stripped of most of its staff in recent years and could barely respond to the countless complaints of cruelty and neglect, now was completely disbanded late last year.
What the Council MUST understand is that specialized units like the LAPD Cruelty Unit are necessary because there will always be efforts to pull these resources away for other tasks. There will always be budget cuts, always efforts to move resources away from those who are protecting the victims who can least protect themselves. Only a specialized team of officers and detectives, specially trained and insulated from any other responsibilities, can ensure that these voiceless victims are protected, and the abusers held accountable. Instead of disbanding the Unit during these tough economic times, the City should be reasserting its commitment to animal and human welfare and crime reduction and fund an effective, fully staffed Unit.
I know more than most what works and what doesn't work. I've been in the trenches from the beginning. I worked with so many others to propel Los Angeles from a City that cared little for victims of animal cruelty, to a City that became the model for cities and even other countries. It makes me sick to watch us move from being a model for the nation to what can only be labeled a local disgrace.
Even if any one of you don't particularly care for animals or their welfare (which I know is not true!), a fully staffed and effective Animal Cruelty Unit is essential considering the well-documented link between animal abuse and violence against people. People who hurt animals also hurt people!!! By protecting animals and holding abusers accountable, you are protecting people and effectively preventing future acts of violence. I know you all know this.
So how can you possible expect to reduce crime and make LA neighborhoods safer when animal cruelty occurs with little or no consequences???
And with a force of almost 10,000 police officers, the amount saved by disbanding this already pitifully small unit is infinitesimal and will do nothing to repair the City budget. Instead, it sends a dangerous message that violence in Los Angeles against those least able to defend themselves, whether animals, children or the elderly, will continue without consequences. Some may suggest regular officers can still handle animal cruelty calls, but experience has proven this dead wrong! Only a dedicated, specially trained and fully staffed Unit can do the job
LA's previously strong commitment to combat animal cruelty and violence in our communities has now been shamefully undone. Now special victims like animals no longer "deserve" police protection. Now when you call LAPD to report dogs fighting in front of neighborhood children, birds tearing themselves apart in a backyard cockfight or an abandoned building with families looking on, family cats being poisoned and neighborhood dogs being beaten to death…LAPD and the City's response is now "Sorry, we don't do that anymore."
I appeal to your stated commitments to your constituency to reduce crime in their communities and protect the voiceless and I implore you to fund a fully staffed LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit of five LAPD officers and detectives. Then, when people in Los Angeles see a dog being violently beaten, an alley full of poisoned cats or a dog fight in progress, the response from the LAPD "animal cops" will be "we're on our way"!
Robert Ferber, Esq
(Deputy City Attorney, Retired)
Founder and former Supervisor of LA City Attorney Animal Protection Unit
Co-Founder LA Animal Cruelty Task Force
Co-Founder LAPD Animal Cruelty Unit