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Classes show cops animal, human abuse go hand-in-hand

An abused dog is shown an animal cruelty investigatienforcement seminar. | Special Sun-Times Media

An abused dog is shown at an animal cruelty investigation and enforcement seminar. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 22, 2013 2:42AM

Authorities believe that animal cruelty is just one step away from human abuse and the Lake County animal control office is working with police to make sure they are all on the same page when it comes to dealing with the problem.

“This is something new for us,” said Renee Wright, a warden with the Health Department’s Animal Care and Control. She said in 2010, officials held a countywide conference for police officers, but now they are holding classes to get police officers more familiar with animal welfare laws.

Wright teaches the class with Cindy Williams, another warden, and Sandy Wisniewski, a licensed humane investigator with Animal Education and Rescue based in Libertyville. Wisniewski is a state-approved investigator who looks into allegations of abuse or neglect of domestic animals.

“We’re providing them with knowledge and tools,” said Wright, noting that the police academy does not spend too much time on the issue.

The Round Lake Beach Police Department held four classes last month so all officers could attend the class.

“They gave us training and explained what they do and how they can help us,” said Deputy Police Chief Richard Chiarello. “It was a good exchange of information. This clearly identified the resource available to both of us.”

Some of the topics included: Introduction to the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act, Companion Animal Hoarder, Owner’s Duties and Notification to Violator — Impoundment Upon Refusal or Failure to Take Corrective Action, Confinement in Motor Vehicle, Cruel Treatment and Aggravated Cruelty /Animal Torture, Arrests and Seizures; Penalties, Notice of Impoundment, and Correlation with Domestic Violence.

The last topic is one that many people don’t even think about.

“We had a case where we confiscated animals and when police did a follow-up they found the animal owner’s mother in the house was being neglected and the animal owner ended up being charged with elder abuse,” said Wright.

Another case involved a person who kept their animal outside until someone in the neighborhood complained. They found the animal was being starved. The animal owner was forced to relinquish the pet to animal control.

“This was the same guy whose ex-wife took the kids to Arizona; he beat the new boyfriend in bed with a baseball bat and took the kids,” she said.

She was referring to David Walker, 29, who was living out near Cary. Previously from Lake County, Walker followed his wife to Phoenix in October 2012, broke into the home and took a baseball bat from the garage and killed the boyfriend, Adam Moring, 29, while he was sleeping. Walker reportedly assaulted his ex-wife and then forced her and the children to drive to Tempe where he threw away the bat and fled on foot. She went to a nearby business and called 9-1-1.

“Some of the officers are very enthusiastic and ask a lot of questions afterward,” said Wright.

“We definitely get their attention. It’s amazing to see the faces on some of them when they realize, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’” she said.

“Sometimes, something may not be that minor and we want them to know they can do something about it,” she said. “Where you have one, you usually find the other,” she said of animal and human abuse.

“We can help save some animals and save people as well,” she added.

Wright said any department in the county can schedule a class by calling her at (847) 949-9925.

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