A new unit launched by the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office will work with law enforcement and community partners to investigate and prosecute animal abuse.

The Animal Cruelty Unit will also work to educate the community regarding animal issues, according to a news release from the prosecutor’s office.

The goal of the specialized unit is to help deter future violent crime from taking place by recognizing the link between animal abuse and violent crimes, in particular child abuse and domestic violence.

“Data has shown that those who abuse or harm animals are far more likely to commit other violent crimes, and if we can quickly and effectively address animal abuse as it occurs and deter it from happening in the first place, we have a better shot of getting in front of violence before it has an opportunity to escalate,” Prosecutor Justin Coleman said.

The unit’s members will meet at least quarterly to discuss animal abuse trends, specific cases, work to create standardized prosecutorial norms and sentencing recommendations for animal abuse cases.

“The group will also develop metrics based on data and national studies that will help identify those individuals who are more likely to increase their criminal behavior and develop strategies to deter them,” according to the release. “The ACU will also work on community outreach and educational activities centered on proper care of animals and animal abuse.”

The unit will be led by Deputy Prosecutor Joey Parker. It’s comprised of community partners in law enforcement, animal shelters, the YWCA, area veterinarians and other community groups, like Zeus and Friends. In addition, there will be an investigator and victim-witness advocate from the prosecutor’s office.

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