County task force says “neigh” to animal cruelty

Photo by Katherine Clark.

Afterwards, they hope to supplement these procedures with community outreach and awareness programs and, if necessary, fundraising campaigns.

“We’re going to harness the lessons we’ve learned in the past and move forward with specific objectives so we can accomplish something,” said Gillilland. “We’ll then move suggestions up the board of supervisors for approval.”

Prior to the task force, the county didn’t have a set blueprint in place for dealing with animal abuse, a gap that became increasingly evident during the lengthy struggle when authorities grappled with allegations of abuse on an Essex farm before finally seizing 41 sickly horses and arresting the owners.

That case is still winding its way through the county court system, as are several others.

“Animal abuse is a nationwide issue, not just at the county level,” said task force member Major Dave Reynolds of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

Reynolds said since Jan. 1, his office has deemed 24 citizen reports of animal abuse to be credible and dispatched officers out to all of them to investigate.

He said his staff looks forward to advising the task force how to move forward from a law enforcement perspective, a role that includes dispensing advice and making recommendations as to how his department would like to see abuse addressed from a legislative standpoint.

“There is very promising legislation currently making its way through Albany, including the Consolidated Animal Crimes Bill, that the task force is excited to support,” said Jessica Hartley, Executive Director of the North Country SPCA, the official who help spur the creation of the task force after an impassioned presentation to the board of supervisors in August of 2012.

“The more we educate people about the proper treatment and care of their animals, the bigger the impact we will have on reducing the cases of animal cruelty and neglect that we see in our communities,” she said.

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