By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 23, 2018
LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Law enforcement and animal advocates across South Georgia are making a new effort to protect animals.
Animal rescue agencies across South Georgia are asking officials to take animal cruelty cases more seriously. Ending animal abuse is an effort that takes the whole community, from advocacy groups to law enforcement and prosecution.
On Thursday, a training seminar was held in Valdosta for all of these groups to learn about animal abuse laws and how to investigate animal cruelty cases.
Fosters with the Humane Society of Valdosta-Lowndes County Pet Adoption Program give animals a second chance at life. Over the last four years, Nikki Nelson has fostered nearly 100 dogs, but the need continues.
"It's amazing when you watch them come in to your home that first night and they know they're safe, and it's almost like they just make this big sigh, this exhale, because they know they're safe," Nelson said. "It breaks your heart that they were ever in a place that they did not feel like that, but it warms your heart that you're making a difference for them."
Officials with the Atlanta Humane Society were called in by the Valdosta Police Department for the training. The focus was on animal laws, what to look for when investigating potential animal abuse cases and recognizing the link between animal abuse and other violence.
Jessica Rock, Director of Legal Advocacy and Law Enforcement at the Atlanta Humane Society, says there is a common connection between animal abuse and other violence.
"Often times by investigating an animal abuse case, not only could you save the animal's life, but a human's life as well," Rock said.
The goal is for better collaboration and team work between advocates, law enforcement, all the way to prosecution and the judge, and getting everyone involved in the whole case.
"As a community banding together, all the professions coming together and communicating about these cases early on," Rock said.
The Atlanta Humane Society has resources to help people all across the state better understand animal cruelty, what to do about it and how to end it.