Colorado Bureau of Animal Welfare Director Rebecca Niemiec said her department facilitated the first of several trainings for law enforcement. The first was in Lincoln County for the Sheriff’s Department where they learned how to better identify signs of animal abuse and neglect.
The goal of the trainings, Niemiec said, is to introduce BAP and to recognize and respond to cases of animal neglect and abuse.
“The purpose of these trainings is twofold,” she said. “We want to provide law enforcement with information about the BAP program and when to call us and how we can help, but also provide law enforcement with guidance in identifying and responding to cases of livestock and horse abuse. to these cases.”
A state veterinarian leads part of the training with information on determining body score status, emaciation, signs of dehydration, and recognizing safe living conditions. BAP staff also provide training on how to move an investigation forward and how to offer assistance or education to the homeowner. Another important aspect of training is animal handling and training for when animals are handed over or removed and need to be moved to another facility.
“In addition, we will bring animals or have our partner BAP officers bring animals to perform hands-on handling and body condition assessment,” she said. “We are also taking this opportunity to introduce some of our BAP agents as well, in addition to our CDA staff.”
Niemiec said investigations begin with a conversation with the reporting party, and as often as possible, a discussion with the pet owner and their veterinarian. Identification of emaciated or dehydrated animals, unsafe or unsanitary living conditions, untreated injuries or illnesses, and lack of food and water are addressed through education and warnings, and if the case requires further measures, the state veterinarian and BAP investigators will be on site to view the animals, in cooperation with local veterinarians and law enforcement. Investigations often take weeks and months, as they also involve follow-up with support and education to ensure pet owners take the appropriate action.
EDUCATION AND TRENDS
One of Niemiec’s goals is to collect data on the nature of cases and changing trends and patterns, but she said few involve production agriculture.
“A lot of the cases we see and deal with involve hoarding or barnyard animal owners who really lack education on proper care or who have really fallen on hard times,” she said. “That’s really the majority of the cases we deal with. It’s not really about traditional production and breeding.
Niemiec said the BAP website offers a number of species-specific pet care resources and plans a partnership initiative with industry and community partners to provide awareness and education to pet owners. backyard cattle.
She said one of the goals is to partner and share existing resources from industry experts to help livestock owners learn best practices and to help law enforcement identify and deal with cases of abuse and neglect.
Mental health issues, she said, play a role in many cases of animal abuse and mistreatment. Recognizing these challenges can help address them as they arise, but also be essential in preventing the situation.
Niemiec said there is a growing body of research on the link between mental health and animal abuse, and the BAP sees a general trend in that direction.
“One of our priorities in our strategic plan for the coming years is to explore how we can provide animal care resources and mental health support to people in crisis to prevent animal neglect and abuse. “, she said. “It’s something we’re actively working on to best address the link when we’re in the field, but also think about prevention efforts and providing resources to people ahead of time.”
The BAP Conference for BAP Officers and Law Enforcement will take place February 2-3 and this agenda will be posted in the coming weeks.