Officer Louis Naes, a veteran of the force for the past nine years, has become the city's first animal abuse investigator and a member of the new Animal Abuse Task Force. The task force is a collection of interested organizations and includes the circuit attorney's office, mayor's office, the health department and Stray Rescue of St. Louis.
Designating a police officer to work solely on cases of animal abuse is pretty rare across the country, and comes at a somewhat odd time given the current crime problems the city is facing. The St. Louis Police Department is in the midst of shifting resources to respond to a 19% increase in aggravated assaults with firearms yet has decided to dedicate one experienced officer to animal cases. Though some have questioned the decision, others believe it is a smart move.
Experts believe that there is a direct relationship between animal crimes and domestic violence crimes, both of which involve criminals who view their victims merely as objects. People who abuse animals often go on to commit crimes against people, law enforcement officials say, which is why the police department is expending the resources to dedicate an officer to animal abuse cases full time.
Currently, in St. Louis, all cases involving neglect or stray dogs are handled in municipal courts. More severe cases involving animal cruelty are handled in state courts. The new officer, Louis Naes, is expected to spend most of his time investigating cases where dogs have been shot and left to die. Though this may seem uncommon, the department says such calls come in weekly and sometimes even on a daily basis.
Over the next few weeks police officials have said that billboards will be placed around town in problem areas warning residents of the seriousness of such animals crimes. The billboards will show Officer Naes holding a pair of handcuffs with the tagline, "Wake Up St. Louis: Abuse an animal, lose your freedom."
While officials say that animal abuse can be a strong indicator of other criminal behavior, it is of some concern that the police might presume someone is guilty of more than one crime if they have neglected or abused an animal. It's for this reason that if you or someone you care about is being investigated or has been charged with animal cruelty you will need an experienced defense lawyer to protect your legal rights. Animal cruelty charges can carry serious penalties including jail time, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the St. Louis area contact our St. Louis Criminal Defense Firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: "St. Louis police to dedicate police officer to animal crimes," by Christine Byers, published at STLToday.com.