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For many years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has filed animal abuse crimes under the “other” category alongside a variety of lesser crimes, making these cases a low priority in the eyes of federal law.
Now, however, the FBI has re-classified animal abuse as a top-tier felony offense, categorized with as much importance as arson, burglary, kidnapping, and even homicide.
When this change goes into effect in 2016, crimes against animals will be given more priority, more resources, and those convicted harsher sentencing. The FBI hopes these changes will weed out animal abusers and help to bring more cases to federal prosecution.
Since animal cruelty is considered a more serious crime under the new rules, reports will now be documented in the National Incident-Based Reporting System. This action will advance how law enforcement officials understand how to prevent these often violent crimes.
It’s been proven that those same persons lacking the moral capacity to treat animals kindly and with care tend to also or eventually commit crimes against other humans. Those in favor of the new classification of animal abuse are not only thrilled that animal abuse cases will now be taken more seriously, but are also confident that catching abusers early and often will prevent or reduce the likelihood that they’ll commit additional crimes.
For now, cities and states will continue to have their own classification for animal abuse crimes committed in their jurisdictions, but those crimes that cross state lines – like a dog fighting ring that covers multiple states or a puppy mill selling to a buyer across a state border – will now be treated as top-tier federal felonies.
Advocates hope these changes will eventually trickle down to state and city levels as well, with those jurisdictions upping the ante, making animal abuse a felony, as well.