Getting the tools to prevent animal abuse

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - Cadbury, one of 140 animals rescued from horrible conditions at a St. Lucie County animal sanctuary, was the guest of honor Wednesday at a workshop to tackle animal abuse at the Martin County Sheriff's Office.

Susan Hargreaves of the organization "Help Us Help Them" put together the event.

"All of the animal abuse investigators and the law enforcement that are dealing with these extra cases are getting the training that they need," said Hargreaves.

Sherry Schlueter was the featured speaker.  She is known in some circles as the first "animal cop".
She spent 30 years with the Broward County Sheriff's Office, and helped craft the first law on the books making certain animal cruelty cases felonies.

"Hoarding cases are particularly troublesome for law enforcement because there is perception that people are kind hearted and people have simply gotten in over their heads but there are some severe pathologies involved in true hoarding cases," said Schlueter, who now works with the South Florida Wildlife Center.

For Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder, this is a personal issue.  He owns two large Bernese Mountain Dogs.  Max and Zip had the run of the office.

"I like more of the dogs I've met than the people I've met," laughed sheriff Crowder.

One thing the Sheriff pointed out was that with any case of animal abuse neglect, or cruelty, it could lead to something more serious.

"Many mass murderers, serial killers have started acting out in their youth torturing animals, being cruel to animals, just showing those negative tendacies," said the sheriff.

While that's only a minute percentage of animal abusers, the sheriff adds it's important for law enforcement to have the tools to protect our four-legged friends.

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