Fresno County district attorney forms Animal Cruelty Unit

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All kinds of animal abuse and neglect will be investigated. (KFSN)

The Fresno County district attorney has created an Animal Cruelty Unit. The goal is to bring those who abuse animals to justice.
A dog photographed tied hanging in the back of a pickup truck earlier this month is one of the first cases being handled by the Fresno County district attorney's special Animal Cruelty Unit.

Deputy District Attorney Lynette Gonzales is prosecuting the case. She said, "That was brought to our office, brought to the attention of law enforcement and the animal control agency by good Samaritans at PetSmart who observed the dog tied in an unusual way to the pickup truck, and it was put on social media so the information was really put out there."

The dog's owner was just arraigned in court Friday and pleaded not guilty to felony animal abuse charges.

Deputy District Attorney Sydney Ricks says prosecuting animal abuse is often about more than the animals, since animal abusers often abuse people as well. She said, "Approximately 75 percent of domestic violence victims who go into shelters have said their abusers have also abused the family pet."

Gonzales notes all kinds of animal abuse and neglect will be investigated. She said, "It could be horse neglect, it could be dog neglect, cat neglect, any kind of active violent abuse toward animals that gets reported to us, and it would also include the cockfighting and the dogfighting which are prevalent in our county."

Animal fighting is a key target because it is often associated with a host of other crimes, including gambling, prostitution and drug dealing. The special unit is counting on the public to report any signs of animal abuse to the SPCA or local law enforcement, so the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

Ricks told Action News, "I think it's very important because animals have no voice of their own, so unless the community recognizes what animal abuse is and reports it, we don't know."
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