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.
A woman was transported to the hospital Sunday after being bitten by a rattlesnake on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, according to a spokesperson for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
There was a special reunion in La Jolla on Sunday with surf dog Ricochet jumping on a surfboard with quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison. Ivison surfed with Ricochet 10 years ago and they got to chance the ride the waves together once again.
Weekend temperatures were mild at 0-7 degrees above average. Mountain and deserts humidity will decrease through Monday as high pressure moves over Southern California.
The investigation continues into the tragic killing of a pregnant mother and her two young daughters in Colorado. The girls' father remains behind bars accused in their deaths.
At least two children had to be hospitalized Sunday as a result of a major crash that blocked multiple lanes of Interstate 8 in El Cajon.
On Saturday, the community of Alpine turned out to help the victims of the devastating West Fire. Dozens packed the Alpine Community Center for a special fundraiser hosted by News 8’s Shawn Styles.
A suspected drunken motorist in a Mercedes Benz on Sunday suffered "numerous serious facial injuries" in the Skyline community of San Diego when he crashed his vehicle into a house, which sustained minor damage, a police officer said.
Military officials on Saturday identified the San Diego- based Marine at the center of a search in the seas southeast of the Philippines that was called off earlier this week.
As the heatwave continues to torment people, shockingly high electricity bills seem to be an added annoyance this summer.