Posted: Oct. 10, 2012, 6:45 p.m. EDT
Four months after the torture deaths of five dogs, St. Louis has formed a task force that aims to increase public awareness about animal cruelty and prosecute more offenders.
“Somebody who does something violent to animals is more likely to do something violent to people as well,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. “So by standing up for animals, we are standing up for our neighborhoods.”
The task force—the first of its kind in St. Louis—brings together city government, prosecutors and Stray Rescue of St. Louis, an independent animal shelter, to work toward making the city safer for companion animals and residents. A police officer, Lewis Naes, was named the department’s first full-time animal abuse investigator.
“This task force is without a doubt one of the most significant steps forward for St. Louis in the battle to end animal abuse,” said Stray Rescue’s founder, Randy Grim. “This is a forceful message to those who are cruel to animals–there will be serious consequences to your criminal actions.”
The actions stem from the case of Darick Dashon Stallworth, 31, who was convicted in August of three felonies and two misdemeanors for torturing, mutilating and killing five adult pit bulls inside a vacant building. Stallworth was sentenced to four years in prison.
The task force, announced Sept. 25, 2012, couldn’t come fast enough for Grim, who estimated that his group rescues 3,000 abused and neglected dogs every year in St. Louis. The abuse ranges from gunshots and burnings to amputations and beatings, he added.
The task force could serve as a model for similar partnerships between government, police and animal welfare organizations nationwide, Grim said.
St. Louis prosecutor Jennifer M. Joyce applauded the task force’s formation.
“Stray Rescue and Mayor Slay have done an excellent job of bringing needed community awareness to the issue of animal abuse, and we’re proud to be a part of the solution,” Joyce said. “When the community gets involved in aiding law enforcement in our efforts to hold offenders accountable for their crimes–against humans and animals–we are much more likely to achieve justice.”
The task force will partner with neighborhoods to follow up on reports of abuse and develop cases against perpetrators.
“We are outraged, we have had enough, and we are making a united stand,” Grim said. “The tide is turning.”<HOME>
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