KFOX14 Investigates: EPPD's animal cruelty unit takes on 250 cases in first year


    KFOX14 Investigates: EPPD's animal cruelty unit takes on 250 cases in first year<p>{/p}

    A year ago, the El Paso Police Department dedicated a unit to animal cruelty.

    KFOX14 Investigates took a look at what the unit's done so far.

    “We are speaking for them,” said EPPD Detective Vanessa Acosta.

    The victims Acosta tries to save every day cannot speak a word.

    “We needed a unit like this,” said Acosta.

    Since the beginning of the year, the unit has received more than 650 complaints on its tip line, resulting in 248 cases and 76 arrest warrants.

    “A lot of these cases were falling through the cracks prior to this unit coming into effect. The animal has no voice,” said Acosta.

    KFOX14 Investigates obtained about a year's worth of records from the district attorney’s office.

    They show the majority of convicted offenders have received community service.

    Two have received jail time; one woman was sentenced to four days in jail, another to 100 days.

    Of more than 70 cases, 20 have been closed. Two-thirds resulted in conviction or community service, and about a third were dismissed.

    “We need people to report, to be a good witness,” said Acosta.

    Acosta said there's a direct link between those who abuse animals and those who go on to commit violent offenses against others.

    This year, 18% of the animal cruelty arrests involved family violence, and 40% involved other violent crimes.

    Recently, the police department added a place on its website for animal abuse mug shots.

    It just launched, so there aren't any yet, but those arrested for animal cruelty will soon have their photo up for all to see.

    Acosta said arresting offenders is only half the job.

    “The challenge is saving our victims. These animals are seen as broken. A lot of people don't want them. They're not adoptable,” said Acosta.

    She says the unit is looking for grants and funding to better protect the rescued animals as the unit grows.

    The animal cruelty unit has also given more than 70 community outreach and training presentations this year as it strives to educate the public on animal welfare.

    You can report animal cruelty by calling 915-212-0800.

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