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August 21, 2014

Resources for Prosecutors

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Sherry Ramsey is The HSUS's director of animal cruelty prosecutions. Grant Aleksander

  • Acting Associate A.G. Tony West and Acting Asst. A.G. for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary attended U.S. DOJ's seminar on animal cruelty. Matthew Nichols/U.S. DOJ

  • At the U.S. Dept. of Justice seminar, Sherry Ramsey opened the first panel discussion, "Links Between Animal Cruelty and Interpersonal Violence: Victimization." The HSUS

  • Alongside forensic vet Dr. Dana Miller and USDA-OIG agent Beth Dinkins, Sherry Ramsey presented an animal cruelty and fighting seminar for the FBI. The HSUS

The HSUS has a long history of collaborating with and training prosecutors to successfully prosecute animal cruelty cases.

Prosecutors are the key to ensuring that animal protection laws are enforced and abusers are punished.

Please browse this page and take special notice of our training opportunities and resources to help you win your case!

Sherry Ramsey, Esq., Director of Animal Cruelty Prosecutions

Read "The Implications and Risks of Animal Cruelty, and How the Criminal Justice Community Can Help" »

View the Nov. 2013 issue of Deputy Magazine (dedicated entirely to enforcing animal cruelty laws) »

Help with Cruelty Cases

Request assistance from our cruelty prosecution experts to help your office put together a successful case. We can provide:

• Legal research and writing—The HSUS provides detailed and reliable memoranda of law directly to prosecutors on specific cruelty cases. This includes advice and assistance with research on case law or legal issues as you prepare for trial in important cruelty cases.

• Expert witness advice and testimony—The HSUS maintains a substantial network of animal cruelty experts who can testify in animal cruelty cases, including:
     • species-specific veterinarians
     • animal scientists
     • animal behaviorists
     • psychologists versed in the links between:
            • animal cruelty and human violence
            • children and the effect of animal cruelty on children
     • experts in investigations, cruelty laws, animal fighting, animal hoarding, and beyond

• Media assistance (to generate favorable media coverage), amicus assistance (to give the court a new perspective), and research reports to ensure a successful case.

• In conjunction with the Animals and Society Institute, we also maintain a list of psychologists and counselors trained to provide targeted treatment to animal abusers.

Prosecutor Recognition

Congratulations to Assistant District Attorney Rob Freyer of Montgomery County, Texas, for obtaining a conviction in a cruel animal dragging case. A.D.A. Freyer charged that the defendant used a motor vehicle as a deadly weapon in the commission of an offense, which elevated the animal cruelty charge to a 3rd degree felony. After overcoming several hurdles in this prosecution he succeeded in getting a conviction that resulted in a five-year prison sentence for the defendant. Read more »


We also offer Illegal Animal Fighting: A Law Enforcement Primer for the Investigation of Cockfighting and Dogfighting (for law enforcement only). Please email jgoodwin@humanesociety.org for access, and be prepared to verify your status as a law enforcement officer or officer of the court.

Guides and Manuals

The following investigation and prosecution guides are linked by permission and are for informational purposes only. They are the work of experts in the states specified, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The HSUS. Nevertheless, they are excellent resources for cruelty investigators and prosecutors.

Other Legal Resources

Prosecutor Training

The HSUS provides prosecutor training in many different forms. We work with prosecutor training organizations to provide expert legal training on prosecuting cruelty cases. For example, we offer:

  • Training for prosecutors in coordination with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys as well as the National District Attorneys Association and other state prosecutor training institutes
  • Training for prosecutors, individualized at state and county levels around the country by our experts in cruelty prosecution
  • JAG training for animal cruelty cases charged under the uniform code of military justice

See a listing of upcoming and recent training seminars »

Contact us to set up a training for your office or group.

Past Training/Seminar Success

Jan. 30, 2015: JAG Officer Training

In late January, Sherry Ramsey was invited back to the Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) School in Charlottesville, Virginia, to teach a class on Prosecuting Animal Cruelty Crimes under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and to go over a new proposed animal cruelty provision.

This proposed provision would finally establish a specific animal abuse offense under the UCMJ. Currently, general crimes of animal abuse are being charged under Article 133 for Conduct Unbecoming an Officer or under an assimilation of state law when applicable. However, there is a legal loophole when soldiers are overseas that may allow service members to go unpunished in these cases.

The proposed provision would remedy that and is hoped to reach the President's desk as an Executive Order sometime this year. Once signed by the President, the UCMJ would be consistent with state laws around the country on crimes of animal abuse.

The JAG School class was made up of graduate level officers and included other branches of the military in addition to Army officers. "This was a terrific opportunity to reach the attorneys who will handle these cases all over the world and to hear their first-hand experiences in dealing with cruelty cases," Ramsey said. "I greatly appreciate the opportunity to return to Charlottesville and am grateful to Maj. Aimee Bateman for inviting me to teach on this important subject."

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