East Tenn. law enforcement officials tackle growing animal abuse

East Tenn. law enforcement officials tackle growing animal abuse issues

Posted:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was on hand Thursday to help agencies tackle the problem and to also try and stop animal fighting rings in East Tennessee. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was on hand Thursday to help agencies tackle the problem and to also try and stop animal fighting rings in East Tennessee.
Animal cruelty cases vary from neglect to animal fighting. Investigators in Knox County say they see it all. Animal cruelty cases vary from neglect to animal fighting. Investigators in Knox County say they see it all.
By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Several law enforcement agencies are working together to combat animal cruelty in our neighborhoods.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was on hand Thursday to help agencies tackle the problem and to also try and stop animal fighting rings in East Tennessee.

In Knox County, animal cruelty investigators say they mostly see cases of animal neglect and hoarding, but they say they have seen cases of dog fighting and larger cruelty cases.

They say the first step to solving these cases is education both for the animal owners and for the animal control officers.

"Animal cruelty is rampant and unfortunately many times it's intentional," said Naomi Charboneau with HSUS.

Charboneau met with groups of law enforcement officials from several East Tennessee counties to talk about animal cruelty cases.

"We're training them so they can remember when they come across a situation like this or they get a complaint now they'll know exactly what's required," said Charboneau.

Animal cruelty cases vary from neglect to animal fighting. Investigators in Knox County say they see it all.

"Animal fighting is occurring in Knox County but it is not out in the open. It's not just dogs fighting each other or roosters fighting each other. You're dealing with drugs and gambling and all sorts of other things going on with that," said Frankie Byrne, Family Justice Center animal cruelty investigator

They say spotting the issues can be difficult, and they tend to rely on tips from the public.

"I think that we're getting more complaints about those not because it's happening more often, but i think people are becoming more aware that it is a problem," said Byrne.

They say sometimes it is not intentional cruelty, and that is where it is key to educate not only the animal owners but also the officers coming in contact with the situation, which is where Thursday's seminar comes in.

"What may sound like common sense for some people is just not always common sense for everybody," said Charboneau.

Animal cruelty investigators say most of the cases they have are misdemeanor charges, but sometimes, like some dog fighting cases, they can be felonies.

"Animals are considered property in the state of Tennessee, but they're also living feeling creatures, and there are laws that are put in place to protect them," said Byrne.

They encourage people to call them if they see something that seems out of the ordinary so they can investigate the situation.

If you need to report an issue of animal cruelty you can call the Knox County Sheriff's Office at (865) 215-2243.
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