State attorney from Central Florida creates new task force focused on animal cruelty

Animal cruelty – Dog chained to pole — Courtesy: Shutterstock — DreamHack

With the help of a brand-new task force covering three Central Florida counties, a state attorney is bringing justice to the victims of animal abuse.

The zeal of Assistant State Attorney Jamie McManus, according to William “Bill” Gladson of Florida’s fifth judicial circuit, was what spurred his agency to establish a new animal cruelty task force.

“What this did was allowed us to create a specialized unit where the focus is going to be on training prosecutors and also training law enforcement and then learning from the law enforcement officers and the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and all the experts sharing that information and getting all that stuff together so everyone can become essentially subject matter experts,” Gladson said.

The task force’s training will concentrate on assisting prosecutors and law enforcement in building compelling cases of animal mistreatment.

“All cases are different,” Gladson said. “Each one is unique. Some cases of course are better than others but with animals, you do have certain challenges particularly, of course, you often only have one side of the story, if anything at all.”

The task force covers five counties, including Central Florida’s Lake, Marion, and Sumter. Prosecutors, local law enforcement, and the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida make up the group. Even though all of these organizations have previously collaborated, according to Gladson, the new animal cruelty task force fosters the exchange of cutting-edge ideas.

“By combining the resources of the entire circuit into one task force, you know whether it’s training opportunities that weren’t available before or learning that there is a subject matter expert in this particular field you didn’t know existed,” Gladson said.

Gladson claimed that by concentrating more on incidents of animal mistreatment, law enforcement would uncover other serious crimes.

“It could be that you’re talking to someone at the door and you realize that person has been the victim of a crime or it might be that you’re at the house and you realize there’s a stolen vehicle in front of the house and you wouldn’t have gotten called there if someone didn’t call in about the animal,” Gladson said.

He stated that he hoped the initiative would increase awareness and improve the prosecution skills of his staff.

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