New Macomb County task force, office unit announced

Focus on animal abuse prevention

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published May 20, 2019

 Michigan State Director of the Humane Society of the United States Molly Tamulevich speaks at a May 13 press conference introducing a county-wide animal abuse task force, and an animal protection unit within the prosecutor’s office.

Michigan State Director of the Humane Society of the United States Molly Tamulevich speaks at a May 13 press conference introducing a county-wide animal abuse task force, and an animal protection unit within the prosecutor’s office.

Photo by Alex Szwarc

Advertisement
Advertisement

MACOMB COUNTY — Dogs have paws and Macomb County now has P.A.W.S.

A press conference was held May 13 at the Macomb County Administration Building 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.

“We believe it’s the first multi-jurisdictional animal abuse prevention task force in the state of Michigan,” Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said.

Smith thanked animal welfare professionals and animal rights activists for their support in the creation of the task force.

“Your efforts have made us very aware that there’s an increase in animal abuse cases in Macomb County,” he said. “We’ve seen a 76% increase in animal abuse cases over the past two years.”

Michigan State Director of the Humane Society of the United States Molly Tamulevich said the Humane Society is proud to be part of the groundbreaking task force and to partner with the Prosecutor’s Office.

“Part of my job is to help augment and assist local organizations with protecting animals,” she said.

Tamulevich serves as a task force member, along with state Sen. Peter Lucido, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Michigan Humane Society representative Andy Seltz, Humane Society of Macomb representative Ken Kempkens, and Detroit Pit Crew Board Member & Chief of Eastpointe Animal Control Brian Pylar.

Members of the Prosecutor’s Animal Protection Unit are Macomb County Assistant Prosecutors Andrea Irons, Lisa Lozen and Melissa Simmons.

The Humane Society of the United States, or HSUS, can help by connecting law enforcement with contacts and resources, such as animal rescue teams, shelters and rescue partners, and a law enforcement training center.

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.

“We also know there is a correlation between the abuse of animals and other forms of illegal activity,” Tamulevich said. “There’s been study after study proving the link between violence toward animals and violence against human beings.”

One criminal case that sparked the task force into motion, Smith said, was Sterling.

In April, Alexander Gerth, of Utica, was sentenced to at least three years and up to six years in prison for stabbing Sterling and leaving him to die in Grant Park in Utica.

Sterling, a pit bull mix, was found with multiple stab wounds under a picnic table, in below-freezing temperatures on Jan. 24. There was a trail of blood from a nearby waste receptacle to the location where Sterling was found.

“It might be the worst and most brutal case of animal abuse we’ve seen,” Smith said. “The only silver lining in this case is I’ve never seen anything bring a community together like Sterling has.”

As part of the task force, Sheriff’s Office investigators will receive additional training and education on animal investigations.

To contact the task force with reports of suspicious activity, neglect, abuse and more, call (586) 469-6701.

Advertisement
Advertisement