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EPPD launches Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit

Sweet Pea was rescued by Detective Vanessa Acosta.

The El Paso Police Department officially has its first Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit.

The unit is composed of six officers and detectives who have years of experience with animal cruelty cases.

“A lot of these cases go unreported. It leads to bigger things, bigger crimes, a lot of these people that hurt animals end up hurting children, elderly,” said Vanessa Acosta, detective with the unit.

Detectives are asking anyone who sees a case of animal abuse or neglect to call 3-1-1 or El Paso Crimestoppers before calling 9-1-1. The phone call will be directed to Animal Services, which will then decide if police will have to be involved with the case, according to EPPD.

Depending on the officer’s report, EPPD will judge if it’s necessary to assign a detective with the Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit.

“We need to learn how to share the Earth that we have with animals. It’s not ours. The Earth is not just for humans; we need to learn how to respect and share everybody that is here,” said Sgt. Sandra Zamudio.

The Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit will be in charge of training other officers so they can know how to respond better to an animal cruelty call, according to Estela Roberts, detective.

“We’re going to be working hand-to-hand with the animal control officers. Also with the veterinarians of the shelter,” said Arturo Gutierrez, officer.

“We can acquire a more proper way to [gather] the evidence so it can be utilized in court,” said Gutierrez.

Detectives say it’s a third-degree felony if someone tortures, hurts or poisons animals.

It’s a Class A misdemeanor if the animals are being neglected.

Through their experience working animal cruelty cases, detectives say finding foster parents who are open-minded to caring for different breeds of dogs is important.

“We started seeing a need for a housing of victims of cruelty, because right now Animal Services is overwhelmed with the animals that they already receive, either surrender or stray,” said Zamudio.

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