Key stakeholders come together in hopes of curbing animal cruelty in Vanderburgh County. By forming a task force, officials hope to reach their goal through prevention, protection and prosecution.
The Animal Cruelty Task Force is a joint effort between the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office, the Sheriff's Office, Animal Care and Control and Evansville Police. Susan Odoyo of the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office will serve on the task force as a special prosecutor.
"Animals don't have voices a lot of times," Odoyo said. "That was one of the purposes of forming this task force is to make sure that we are all working together to advocate and give voice to the animals. I think it resonates with citizens because it's a personal connection to us because we think about our own companion animals and we don't want them to see them abused or neglected."
Community awareness of the task force coupled with a concerted effort to protect animals will aid in the prevention aspect of the program, Odoyo said. Education also plays a major factor, said Kelly Yarde of Animal Care and Control.
"When an animal starts to overheat, they can't sweat like we do," Yarde said as he demonstrated the dangers of leaving an animal inside a locked car. "They start cooking from the inside out."
The task force will have an officer or deputy assigned to it from the county's two major law enforcement agencies. Sarah Brown from the Evansville Police Department and Det. Kerri Blessinger from the Sheriff's Office will be active in investigations and working with animal control, officials said.
"We've already successfully received guilty pleas on two animal cruelty or neglect cases," Odoyo said. "We have several that are currently pending. We look forward to making sure that we work together to ensure that those are also prosecuted."
If you see animal cruelty happening or believe an animal's well-being is in jeopardy, contact 911 right away. If it's not happening at the moment but you suspect neglect or abuse, call the WeTip hot line.