KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Animal control officers from across the country were at Horse Haven of Tennessee in Knoxville Tuesday for advanced training on how to investigate animal cruelty cases. Horse Haven sponsored this event and almost 30 officers from nine different agencies were on hand to earn the national certification.

Roane County Animal Control Officer Jeff Smith was one of almost 30 officers receiving the training.

“Really, really helps out when you get into the livestock situations other than just the cats and the dogs, which the basic training covers,” said Smith.

Nina Margetson founded Horse Haven of Tennessee in 1999 and has since cared for over 850 horses. When officers confiscate horses from abusive situations, Horse Haven steps in at no charge to the counties to shelter and care for the horses. Horse Haven is currently caring for 45 horses at the Knoxville location. The rescued horses are being used to train the animal control officers.

“They will be able to get a good first hand look at what would be considered a cruelty case or neglect case,” said Margetson.

Margetson says this is the first advanced training in this area. In the session, officers are shown how to determine the body score of a horse, learning just how underweight the horse is compared to what the proper weight should be. They are also learning how to record those facts.

“The goal by having these people trained properly, that way a case will be done correctly,” said Margetson.

Horse Haven of Tennessee wanted to have this training to help educate additional officers on equine cruelty hoping the additional training will help prosecute more cases in the courtroom.

“The training we are getting right now, once we complete all of this, we are recognized as an expert in any courtroom in the United States,” said Smith.

Animal control officers from as far away as New Mexico and Wisconsin were in attendance, as well as local officers. There are three levels of advanced animal cruelty investigation training the officers must complete before becoming certified.