Houston Home to Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit

Animal cruelty occurs at an alarming rate according to a local authority, yet there are very few law enforcement officers dedicated to animal cruelty crimes anywhere in the country.

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The Houston Humane Society's animal cruelty investigations division is the only one in this region of the country with full-time law enforcement officers who investigate crimes against animals. The two officers handle a heavy case load.

Sgt Mark Timmers says the advantage of having law officers rather than civilians doing the initial investigations is speed. He says civilian investigators do a great job but they have no power--getting warrants and seizing animals can take days.

Sgt Timmers says he's got a fully equipped truck to help get abused animals out of harms way quicker. But even with this dedicated man power and equipment it is not enough. Sgt Timmers says answering animal cruelty calls has added benefits, because the kinds of people who abuse animals often commit other crimes.

The days are not only busy but the nights are too. Sgt Timmers says he's been in law enforcement for 19 years but no cases have kept him up at night the way animal abuse cases can, pets left behind when people move to be found dead or dying, hoarders and collectors with dozens, sometimes hundreds of animals starving and sick, dogs and chickens killed and injured in organized fights and those abused for fun, like one of the humane societies mascots--a dog named Burnie. Timmers says Burnie is proof an abused animal can be rehabilitated--she often goes with him when he makes presentations at schools.

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