SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — San Diego County officials unveiled a new task force Wednesday aimed at fighting animal abuse.
The Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit will work closely with law enforcement officers, the Department of Animal Services and the San Diego Humane Society to investigate cases across the county.
Officials say since 2014 the district attorney's office has prosecuted about 250 animal abuse-related cases.
Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan says animal abuse is typically an indicator of other violence in a household.
"We know there's at least a 13% connection between victims that suffer from domestic violence that the animals in that home are also being abused," said Stephan.
The unit will reportedly persecute cases "vertically" meaning one prosecutor will handle each case from beginning to end.
Officials cite "early intervention, community education, and public awareness" as keys for a successful roll-out of the new unit.
“The creation of the Animal Cruelty Unit is an important step in holding people accountable for their actions,” said Dan DeSousa, Director of the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services. “Together with the animal control and humane officers, the District Attorney’s Office will now help protect those without a voice, namely the animals in our communities.”
A release by Stephan's office outlined how violence to animals can be a predictor that an abuser may become violent to people; it said in part:
Studies show that animal abuse is more prevalent in homes that experience child abuse and domestic violence, and 43 percent of school shooters have animal abuse in their background. Often, animal abuse crimes also have a nexus to mental illness. Since 2014, the District Attorney’s Office has prosecuted 248 animal cruelty-related cases, many of which resulted in lengthy prison sentences for defendants with previous criminal histories.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has launched the office’s first-ever Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit. We need the community to be our eyes and ears on behalf of animals! To report suspected animal cruelty, call our Humane Law Enforcement at 619-243-3466 pic.twitter.com/6abQy8lLRD— San Diego Humane Society (@sdhumane) May 30, 2018
An infographic displayed during the announcement shows stats about animal abuse in San Diego County.
Dozens of people bearing flowers or stuffed animals attended a funeral for a newborn girl found dead in July along a Southern California highway.
All southbound lanes of Interstate 5 will be closed from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting tonight and continuing through Monday, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.
A winter storm in the southeastern United States was impacting travel Sunday, causing the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights, including some to and from San Diego.
A 27-year-old man suffered non-life threatening injuries despite being shot at least eight times while walking on a sidewalk Sunday morning in the Chollas View community of San Diego.
On December 8th, 2008, tragedy struck in University City after an F-18 fighter jet came crashing down striking two homes.
One person was killed and another injured after a shooting in Mt. Hope late Saturday, but the shooter was gone by the time police got to the scene.
Traffic was snarled mid Saturday morning after an accident involving four military Humvees closed lanes on northbound Interstate 5 near Cannon Road.
This week’s storms caused a major headache for a number of San Diegans with widespread flooding across the county.
Temperatures will begin to rise through the weekend under high pressure and weak offshore flow. Cool temperatures return early next week.
A man drowned while trying to swim across an Imperial County canal after illegally entering the United States on Wednesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said.