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Government, Politics & Issues

Animal abuse task force leads to progress in St. Clair County

Jamie Case, the executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians, plays with Elvira, one of the dogs rescused by her organization.
Caleb Codding for St. Louis Public Radio
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Jamie Case, the executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians, plays with Elvira, one of the dogs rescused by her organization.

Law enforcement officials and animal welfare agencies say a new animal abuse task force in St. Clair County is working well.

St. Clair County state's attorney Brendan Kelly developed the protocol with the assistance of the Belleville Area Humane Society and Gateway Pet Guardians, a rescue organization that works primarily in East St. Louis and surrounding communities. It was first announced last March.

"Basically, there was a process, is the new process," said Jamie Case, the executive director of Gateway Pet Guardians. "They wanted to crack down on animal abuse, and they wanted to have a formal process with the state's attorney and the sheriff's department to report them, and the proper procedures to convict someone."

The process has been in place for 10 months. Though it hasn't led to a big increase in prosecutions for animal abuse or neglect, Case said, it's still had an impact.

"We’re keeping it on top of the state’s attorney’s mind, we’re keeping it on top of the board chairman’s mind that the animals are important to the county, and I think that in and of itself is a huge step for St. Clair County," she said.

Kelly, the prosecutor, said the task force has improved the quality of animal abuse cases he has taken to court.

"If we simply have an animal that’s been abused or neglected, but not a substantial amount of evidence to support charging a person who was responsible for the abuse or neglect, that puts us in a weaker position," he said.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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