Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Animal cruelty case training given to North Dakota law enforcement

DICKINSON -- Area law enforcement officers learned how to be better equipped to deal with an animal cruelty call on Thursday with a trainer saying officers should respond just as they would to any other type of crime.


 DICKINSON -- Area law enforcement officers  learned how to be better equipped to deal with an animal cruelty call on Thursday with a trainer saying officers should respond just as they would to any other type of crime.

Michael Gabrielson, an animal cruelty and fighting investigations trainer and consultant for the Humane Society of the United States, led the training specifically designed for law enforcement officers.

Dickinson and Bismarck officers joined in the course at the Southwest Crime Conference in Dickinson.

Gabrielson emphasized there is a link between animal abuse and other forms of crime, including domestic abuse and other crimes against people.

Gabrielson, who is also a law enforcement officer in Ohio, said 99 percent of people who are arrested for animal cruelty have had previous criminal activity on their records and said it is important for officers to treat an animal cruelty call just as they would any other type of crime.


“When you do find people who are involved in animal cruelty, you will often find if you run their criminal history that they have assaults, domestic violence and occasionally homicides,” Gabrielson said. “... It’s not a big step for somebody who abuses animals to hurt you (an officer) or another person.”

Officers learned warning signs of possible abuse and how to implement proper procedures for investigating those types of crimes.

Capt. David Wilkie of the Dickinson Police Department said while egregious cases of animal cruelty have not been a major problem in Dickinson, animal abandonment has been. He said that when people left as oil business began to decline, the city experienced an increase of animals running loose in the streets and being abandoned in apartments and homes.

Kim Wills, an animal control officer for the city of Dickinson, said the Dickinson Animal Shelter currently only has two dogs, but people will sometimes leave animals tied up outside of the shelter because they can no longer care for them.

“When the oil boom first decreased, we picked up a lot of animals because they were being left behind in the apartments,” Wills said. “People know we don’t really take surrenders and so they just throw them out.”

Wilkie said he found the seminar to be informative and important to him because animals are important to him as well. He said the training allowed him to learn what abuse and cruelty is when he comes across it.

“Even though we don’t see it a lot here, it’s important to be able to identify it when you do see it,” he said.

Wilkie said the training can also be beneficial for other officers.


“A lot of those cases (animal cruelty and abuse) are developed from other cases,” Wilkie said. “So if an officer responds to a theft call and notices something at the home with an animal then it gives you reason to look a little more into what’s going on there.”

According to the Humane Society, some of the most common signs of possible animal abuse or cruelty are hoarding animals, lack of veterinary care, animal abandonment, inadequate shelter and chained dogs.

TJ Jerke, the Humane Society's North Dakota director, encouraged people to contact law enforcement if they believe that someone may be abusing their animals.

“If somebody believes an animal is being abused, neglected or has some inhumane treatment they should contact their local police department or their county sheriff’s and describe the situation to whomever they’re speaking with and ask for an animal welfare check,” he said.

Jerke also said there are many local resources for people to use across the area if there may be troublesome, but not necessarily illegal, behavior occurring.

“If there’s an issue that may not be animal neglect, someone just needs a helping hand, there are organizations across the state that phenomenal and willing to help out in some capacity,” Jerke said.

What To Read Next
Get Local