GOOD NEWS: FBI to classify animal abusers in same category as murders beginning in 2016. The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced this week that animal abuse will be prosecuted as a “crime against society.”
The change in classification means animal abusers fall into a Group A felony with arsonists and murderers.
Unless you’re a lawyer this probably means very little to you and sounds confusing. Basically, it is the most serious type of crime one can commit; punishments vary by state.
This change was announced by John Thompson at the National Sheriffs’ Association. FBI Investigation Director James Comey signed off on including animal cruelty offenses in the Uniform Crime Report. Local agencies will also track them to report to the FBI.
Just as the FBI tracks hate crimes and other important categories, they will now have critical data on animal cruelty.
What Classifies a Crime Against Society
The crime against society classification is extremely important in prosecuting and tracking animal abuse. Under this classification, the FBI can collect and track information about animal abuse, which will allow reliable statistics to be generated and shared.
Animal abuse will now be a part of the crime reports that law enforcement must complete every month and allow officials to have better insight into trends so that they can more effectively combat abuse.
The HSUS has been pushing for this change in policy for years, along with our affiliates, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and Doris Day Animal League.
According to the FBI, the official definition of animal cruelty will be:
“Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment.
With accurate data, law enforcement agencies will also be better able to allocate officers and financial resources to handle these cases, track trends and deploy accordingly.
A Positive Step for Animals
This shift in law enforcement is an indication of a positive change in how animals are viewed.
The new classification also splits animal abuse into types by which law enforcement must identify incidents.
In addition to these changes, the new classification is likely to help with animal cruelty laws in the United States, in terms of enforcing them and punishing those who abuse animals appropriately.
By reclassifying animal abuse and releasing a clear definition of what implicates abuse, the FBI is taking decisive steps towards changing the way our society views animals.
No longer are animals unfeeling pieces of properties, but they are worthy, sentient creatures that deserve ample protection.
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