A little bit of information goes a long way when it comes to helping animals. So imagine what can happen when a lot of information gets to the right people.
Take, for example, the 26 emaciated dogs rescued by sheriff’s deputy Dru Davis in Creek County, Oklahoma. Davis used a dog body scoring chart he received just six days earlier from HSUS experts to identify the dogs’ level of starvation, as well as information the HSUS shared on search warrants to seize the dogs.
Davis saw a puppy who looked like he wouldn’t survive without immediate help, so he found the contact information for the Humane Society of Tulsa in his training packet and enlisted its help. Training for deputies on animal crimes is scant, he says, and his county has limited resources for such calls. Had it not been for the HSUS training, Davis says he likely would have given the owner a warning and checked back in a week. Davis’ case is one of the first victories of The Humane State Program, a donor-driven HSUS initiative launched this year to help train law enforcement, shelters and rescues, wildlife rehabbers, prosecutors and even judges in animal-related issues. It draws on HSUS experts in fields such as animal fighting and investigations, dangerous exotic pets, wildlife protection, spay/neuter and disaster response.
The Humane State Program connects the dots between animal protection laws and the people who enforce them. Shelter and rescue communities can knowledgeably report issues, while law enforcement officers, prosecutors and state agencies can confidently enforce the laws.
1. Strengthening the front lines
Law enforcement training topics include investigating puppy mills and animal fighting; recognizing and investigating animal cruelty; handling interviews, warrants and evidence collection; and interpreting and applying animal protection laws for rescue and criminal prosecution.
Attendees receive information packets with crime-reporting tip lines and resources as well as cruelty investigation kits valued at $500 each. The kits included a tactical bag from the company 5.11, a digital camera, a state-specific animal-law handbook, animal handling and investigative equipment, and dog, cat and horse body condition scoring charts.
The animal law handbook is an easy-to-reference guide to a wide range of laws that enforcement officers would typically encounter.
Few states publish handbooks such as these, says HSUS senior attorney Leana Stormont, who combed through law codes for two months to create the Oklahoma booklet.
2. Empowering the sheltering community
The pets-focused training for shelters and rescues includes topics such as compassion fatigue, social media strategies to help increase adoption, feral cat communities, rescue and disaster response and working with law enforcement. Attendees receive animal care and control equipment and an information packet with local and national resources.
3. Equipping wildlife responders
Wildlife protection training includes presentations on safe wildlife capture and handling and how to resolve wildlife issues such as helping orphaned and injured animals. Oklahoma still allows the possession of dangerous exotic animals as pets, so attendees in that state will also learn about related laws and resources.
Imagine what the Humane State program could do in your neighborhood. Help your state become a safer place for animals by donating today.
The immediate impact: Saving lives
In the weeks after training in Oklahoma, calls rolled in alerting the HSUS about cruelty cases and other illegal activity such as animal fighting. Rescues and investigations ensued—a direct result of the Humane State Program.