The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has announced a grant of $22,000 to the Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) in Fort Myers.
The funds will be used to purchase equipment such as a professional camera to better document crime scenes and provide continuing education training to help animal control officers with cruelty investigations in the community as part of its newly established Anti-Cruelty Task Force team.
"Professional tools and continuing education are essential to successful crime scene investigations," said Adam Leath, operations manager and chief of animal control with LCDAS. "With the proper tools and resources, our animal control officers will be equipped with the new techniques and training to improve the quality of investigations handled by our task force."
"Many animal control agencies across the board have had cuts due to the economy, and continuing education is often first to go," said Kathryn Destreza, Southeast director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response.
"Our goal is to help by providing resources that assist animal control officers in building strong cases that result in successful prosecutions."
Animal cruelty investigations oftentimes lead animal welfare agencies and law enforcement to other crimes such as weapons and drug possession.
In September, the ASPCA was contacted by LCDAS and the Lee County Sheriff's Office to assist in the forensic evidence collection and removal of more than 650 fighting roosters from two properties in Lee County.
In addition to animal fighting and cruelty, law enforcement also successfully charged one of the suspects with drug possession.
"Animal cruelty is not just an issue that affects animals, but the community as a whole," said Leath. "This grant will make a significant difference in the fight against animal cruelty and potentially prevent other serious crimes."