Edmonton, Alberta – The Edmonton Police Service has officially launched the first Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit (ACIU) in Canada.
Last year, EPS members handled upwards of 400 animal cruelty investigations, a majority of which also exposed some form of criminal activity, says EPS Staff Sgt. Anna Sinclair, of the Domestic Offender Crime Section (DOCS), which will oversee the Service’s newest unit.
“Research has shown there in an unequivocal link between animal cruelty, domestic violence, child and elder abuse investigations. Offenders who abuse animals are likely to commit other violent crimes causing harm to persons and society in general”.
“I’m excited that our service gets it, our leadership gets it, and it wants to continue to evolve how EPS polices the vulnerable in our society, and without question animals are part of that equation.”
The ACIU is lead by two officers, 13-year EPS member Const. Ilka Cunningham and 15-year EPS member, Const. Ted Dyck. Both members have committed themselves to animal cruelty-focused training over the last several years and have since been responsible for training EPS members across the service through various workshops.
“Without question, we see a tangible link between animal abuse and criminal activity,” says Const. Cunningham, who has been tirelessly working animal abuse investigations off the corner of her desk while responding to regular patrol calls for service over the last three years, along with her partner, Const. Dyck.
“We all want our community to be healthy and happy,” said Const. Dyck adding, “It starts with focusing on the most vulnerable in our society, and that includes animals. These investigations are most always linked to other criminal activities that target human beings, whether it be domestic violence in the home, firearm offences, drugs, frauds, the latter of which has kept us very busy throughout the pandemic. Individuals running puppy mills have been preying on families, often selling sick and malnourished puppies for thousands of dollars to families anxiously looking to purchase a puppy during the pandemic.”
Animal Cruelty investigations typically include situations of severe neglect, starvation, failure to provide veterinarian care, physical abuse, puppy mills and bestiality.
The number of animal cruelty investigations in Edmonton jumped from close to 270 in 2017 to almost 400 in 2020 often the result of:
Animal cruelty calls/files have increased significantly since Const. Cunningham and Const. Dyck commenced their animal cruelty training.
In 2019, the two constables trained all frontline officers in all divisions regarding animal cruelty investigations and procedures and the link to broader criminal behaviour.
Increased public awareness and the expectation that police will investigate these incidents.
As of July 2019, all Veterinarians and Veterinarian Technologists are mandated by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association to report suspected abuse and/or neglect to authorities.
The EPS Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit works closely with the City of Edmonton Animal Care and Control Centre, Animal Protection Act Team Peace Officers, various veterinarians, the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service and the Government of Alberta.
For more information on the ACIU visit:
Edmonton Police Service
MRU #: 21R052
“Dedicated to Protect, Proud to Serve”
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