Some of you have written to me about a particularly grisly discovery of tortured animals in a vacant apartment on Wells Avenue. Stray Rescue, the Cityâs strong partner in animal welfare issues, has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the criminal conviction of those responsible.
Your expressed concern is that the City, the police department, and the prosecutor have not taken such cases seriously enough. That used to be the case. But, over the past year and a half that view has shifted, with a measurable increase in emphasis by our staff, the police department, and the prosecutor's office.
But, we need to do more and better. Animal abuse is wrong in itself and is often an indicator of even more dangerous behavior.
For those reasons, most violence and cruelty to animal cases belong in circuit court, not municipal court. For the past several months, the Health Director and Stray Rescue officials have been working with the Circuit Attorneyâs Office and the police department to develop a protocol to treat animal abuse as a crime of violence.
One key to getting these cases into the criminal justice system is an initial report of the abuse through the 911 emergency system â and a willing witness. At a meeting with my Cabinet tomorrow, I will ask every department head to relay to staffers my directive that every City employee report observed instances of animal cruelty through 911. I urge all of you to do the same. The police and prosecutors cannot do this by themselves. They need our help. We should stand up together against all violence, including violence against animals.
Chief Isom assures me that his department is focused on solving this most recent crime. I have asked him to keep me informed. I will pass along to you what he tells me.