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Student studies animal cruelty cases

RUTLAND - Kayla Jones, a senior in her second year in the Stafford Technical Center Public Safety Services Program, has begun a series of three courses in Animal Cruelty Investigation at the Vermont Police Academy as part of her studies. The courses include examinations of various cruelty cases in the state.

Jones, who is a Tinmouth resident, who will be graduating from Mill River Union High School in June, has had a long interest in the law enforcement field, especially as it relates to animals- becoming a canine handler, an animal cruelty investigator or an animal control officer.

Through the Public Safety Services Program's ongoing partnership with the Vermont Police Academy, Jones was allowed to attend Animal Cruelty Investigation Levels I, II, and III. These courses are usually only offered to veteran police officers as in-service training.

The Vermont Police Academy provides many services for the Public Safety Services Program- academy staff members who provide outstanding instruction to the class, the ropes course for team building, and guidance and direction for the program through the academy's executive director, R.J. Elrick, who acts as a program advisory committee member. The Public Safety Program's students assist the Vermont Police Academy by acting as enactors in scenario-based training and as assistants as part of an intern process.

The Animal Cruelty Investigation Courses deal with all aspects of these offenses. Animal hoarding violations, which have recently been widely reported in Vermont, involve people who have large numbers of animals, sometimes including farm animals, and then fail to adequately take care of their animals.

Cruelty cases may involve fighting, like cockfighting and dog fighting, which may become more common as we become more ethnically and culturally diverse, Jones said.

Jones said that people who intentionally hurt household pets sometimes do this as part of a pattern of domestic violence; others, particularly children, who intentionally injure animals, are often demonstrating behaviors that indicate future anti-social behaviors. Almost all serial killers started by torturing animals.

Jone's interest in making a difference in the lives of animals is deep-seated. She will be doing a series of internships with local enforcement agencies as part of her second year in the Public Safety Services Program.

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