June 24, 2014
Resources for Prosecutors
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
- Training Opportunities »
- Help with Cruelty Cases »
- Prosecutor Recognition »
- Publications »
- Guides and Manuals »
- Other Legal Resources »
- Past Seminar Successes »
• 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) »
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.
Congratulations to Delaware County (Ind.) Deputy Prosecutor Joe E. Orick for successfully prosecuting the dogfighting case against Rahsaan Johnson. Orick's unique challenges included a defense motion to dismiss the case, based on "destruction of evidence"—as several of the most egregiously wounded dogs had been humanely euthanized prior to trial. Orrick countered that the extensive photographic documentation and veterinary testimony of the dogs' conditon at the time of seizure was sufficient evidence, and the judge concurred. Read more
- The Implications and Risks of Animal Cruelty, and How the Criminal Justice Community Can Help (U.S. Department of Justice blog)
- Prosecuting Puppy Mill and Other Large Volume Cruelty Cases
- Enforcing State Animal Cruelty Laws: Part I - Interpreting the Laws to Obtain Successful Prosecutions
- Enforcing State Animal Cruelty Laws: Part II - Working with the Laws We Have
- Protecting Domestic Violence Victims by Protecting their Pets: The Overlooked Victims of Domestic Violence
- First Strike [PDF]: The Violence Connection
- Juveniles and Crimes of Animal Cruelty [PDF]
We also offer Illegal Animal Fighting: A Law Enforcement Primer for the Investigation of Cockfighting and Dogfighting (for law enforcement only). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for access, and be prepared to verify your status as a law enforcement officer or officer of the court.
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.
- How to Prosecute Animal Cruelty in Georgia
- How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in N.Y.
- How to Investigate Animal Cruelty in Vermont
- Primer for Investigating Cruelty in Texas
- Pursuing Animal Abuse Cases in Texas
- ACO Training Manual Texas
- Join a Google group of prosecuting attorneys to discuss legal issues and problems in prosecuting cruelty cases, and have access to prosecutors from all over the country.
- Contact The HSUS's director of animal cruelty prosecutions, Sherry Ramsey, Esq.
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.
April 30, 2013: First-ever Department of Justice panel on animal cruelty held in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Department of Justice invited The HSUS's Sherry Ramsey to participate in a first-ever listening session on "The Intersection Between Animal Cruelty and Public Safety." Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary were present.
Ramsey, along with Virginia Commonwealth Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch and Phil Tedeschi from the University of Denver Institute for Human-Animal Connection, led the panel discussion covering the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence, and the link between animal cruelty and organized crime.
In addition to animal welfare advocates (including The HSUS's John Goodwin), attendees included experts that included federal and state prosecutors, forensic scientists and veterinarians, judges, law enforcement officers, and representatives from departments dealing with elder abuse, domestic violence, and children services.
As the U.S. DOJ has charged close to 200 defendants with animal cruelty offenses over the last six years (and has assisted state and local prosecutors in many other cases) there was broad interest in the event within the Justice Department—from research and policy advisors, to criminal prosecutors and civil litigators. This session was the first of its kind in the DOJ and may be part of a broader dialogue on preventing animal cruelty, and its intersection with interpersonal violence and organized crime.
The HSUS would like to thank the DOJ's Mary Lou Leary and Katherine Darke Schmitt (policy advisor for the Office of the Assistant Attorney General) for presenting this session, and for inviting The HSUS to participate.