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Macomb County task force hosts first law enforcement training

Unit created in May

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 29, 2019

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MOUNT CLEMENS — Two months after its inception, a Macomb County task force held its first law enforcement training.

An animal abuse training with local law enforcement was held July 19 at the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office in Mount Clemens. The training was hosted by the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, the Humane Society of the United States and the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

A May 13 news conference was held in Mount Clemens to introduce a county-wide animal abuse task force and an animal protection unit within the Prosecutor’s Office.

The task force is called Macomb County P.A.W.S. — Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety. P.A.W.S. is the first multi-jurisdictional animal abuse prevention task force in the state.

“The purpose of the task force was to bring together key stakeholders representing law enforcement, government officials, animal welfare professionals and animal rights enthusiasts to better fight the difficult nature of animal abuse,” a press release states.

The July 19 training was exclusive to members of the law enforcement community.

Task force members include Humane Society of the United States Spokesperson Molly Tumalevich, Sen. Peter Lucido, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Michigan Humane Society Representative Andy Seltz, Humane Society of Macomb Representative Ken Kempkens, and Brian Pylar, Detroit Pit Crew board member and Eastpointe Animal Control chief.

“At our first task force meeting last month, everyone agreed that training must be a critical element in the fight against animal abuse.” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said. “Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our first responders have the necessary tools to investigate these crimes so that we can successfully prosecute anyone that would abuse our beloved companions.”

Macomb County Animal Control through the Sheriff’s Office has handled a number of high-profile cases in recent months involving abuse, specifically hoarding.

“Resources are always a matter of concern when law enforcement is dealing with the welfare of large quantities of animals,” the release states.

Wickersham said he’s excited to offer the important training to members of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Tumalevich said animal cruelty crimes have been documented as connected with other violent crime, specifically domestic violence, child abuse and elder abuse.

“We know addressing these cases keeps our community safe,” she said.

A Chicago study regarding animal abuse found that, of 332 animal cruelty arrests, 70% of suspects had arrests for other felonies, 86% had multiple arrests, 59% were gang members and 70% had narcotics arrests.

Legislation was recently introduced by Lucido to help curb animal hoarding through proper oversight of rescues. The first proposal would require veterinarians in the state to report suspected animal abuse. The second bill would regulate animal rescue operations to help prevent them from breeding animals.

Lucido hopes the new bills will be formally introduced soon.