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February 28, 2014

In Our Opinion: Animal cruelty officer worth the money

Few things seem to capture the public’s imagination — and outrage — as a story about a neglected or abused animal. 

The cynics among us might wonder why we do not always seem to extend the same outrage to stories about neglected or abused humans. But there is something about the vulnerability of animals, and their inability to speak up for or defend themselves, that inspires a unique degree of pity. 

And sadly, we’ve had ample opportunity to reflect on this recently. High-profile cases such as the seizure of dozens of dogs from a Worcester kennel have strained Otsego County’s resources in past years and left many asking how such things can be allowed to happen. 

So we were pleased to hear that the county is looking into creating an animal cruelty investigator post. 

As county Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, told The Daily Star, the position would help the county respond more quickly and effectively when abuse reports are made. 

Animal cruelty cases are investigated by the sheriff’s department and other police agencies, but as Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond opined, “It’s important to have someone with expertise in animal cruelty” to handle these cases, which can be a strain on law enforcement resources. 

And when animals are seized during an investigation, they often wind up spending weeks or even months in the Susquehanna SPCA animal shelter, at considerable expense to the nonprofit. Creating an animal cruelty office could relieve some of these pressures.  

Of course, there would still be a price tag attached to that expertise, and it may seem foolhardy to talk about hiring someone new when the county has been struggling in recent years just to avoid cuts. 

But we are poised to enter a post-MOSA, post-Manor future where some of the county’s debt burdens could be lifted. And as Otsego County Sheriff Rich Devlin noted, “we’re in the very early stages with this.” 

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