To get law enforcement officials to treat animal abuse seriously is an important part of the fight to enact animal cruelty laws.
There’s reason to be optimistic about animals’ legal status — many states (like Massachusetts) have recently enacted laws that create stronger penalties against animal abuse, and some states have even created laws that protect farm animals.
Getting the right animal cruelty laws on the books is only half the battle.
For anti-cruelty laws to have an effect, the people who enforce the law — police, prosecutors, judges and other government officials — must take animal cruelty laws seriously.
An anti-cruelty law will not have an effect if it allows for the imposition of high penalties on abusers, but prosecutors refuse to enforce it, or courts do not impose adequate penalties upon people who abuse animals.
Unfortunately, some law enforcement officials still do not believe that animal mistreatment is a real crime worthy of their time and attention.
That’s Where You Come In
Law enforcement officials care about what citizens think.
Many government officials serve in elected positions and want to keep the public’s approval. Others simply want to enforce the animal cruelty laws that citizens believe are important.
To find the name and address of your local District Attorney or prosecutor, check this list of U.S. prosecutors.
To help show law enforcement officials that people do care about animals, consider using these tips to help you write an effective letter to a police officer, prosecutor or judge who is involved in an animal abuse case.
Keep it Short
You’re writing a letter to a law enforcement official, not a novel, so try to keep it short.
Law enforcement officials are very busy and often handle many cases at once.
To keep the government official’s attention and to be sure that they will read your entire letter, try to keep your letter under a page.
Organize Your Thoughts
You should identify the animal cruelty law or case your letter is about at the beginning of your letter.
Provide as much information about the case or incident as you have, including the offender’s full name, case number, and date and description of the crime.
You should also briefly describe yourself and your connection to the issue, whether you are writing as a concerned citizen or as a representative of a local animal advocacy organization.
Tell Them Why It’s Important to Follow Animal Cruelty Laws
While you may take it as a given that stopping animal abuse is important, you shouldn’t assume that the recipient of your letter shares the same view.
Accordingly, your letter should explain why you care about this case or issue.
Here are three ways you could show why preventing the mistreatment of animals is important:
- Write about the connection between animal abuse and abuse of humans.
- Describe what volunteering with animals has taught you.
- Explain how science shows that animals experience pain and suffering the same way that humans do.
Tell Them What to Do
Your letter shouldn’t just talk about why animal cruelty is bad.
It should also include a call to action.
Once you’ve explained why the animal-related topic of your letter is important, show the law enforcement official how he or she can help by stating what action you would like taken.
A suggested call to action is to ask the DA or judge to establish the Promote Animal Welfare course as a requirement for animal cruelty offenders. Be sure to include the course link (PAWedu.com).
Another example is if you’re writing to a prosecutor about someone who is hoarding animals, you could state that you hope the prosecutor will charge the hoarder with a crime.
If you are writing to a judge about someone who has abused an animal, you could ask him or her to impose a sentence that acknowledges that animal abuse is a grave crime.
Proofread Your Letter Before You Send It
Your letter will be more credible if it is typo-free.
You should proofread your letter before you send it.
Consider asking a friend to double-check it for you as well.
Be extra careful to correctly spell the law enforcement official’s name — they don’t like having it misspelled any more than you do!
Remember to Say Thank You
You should conclude the letter by thanking the official for reading your letter and considering your request.
You should also ask the official to write back to you to let you know what action he or she will take to resolve the animal-related issue that is the topic of your article.
If the law enforcement official writes back or takes action to help animals, be sure to say thank you!
Consider writing the law enforcement official another letter to say thank you, or write a blog post or letter to the editor of your local newspaper praising the official’s actions.
One Additional Step to Take
Sign the petition to District Attorneys.
Promote Animal Welfare Education (PAWedu) is working on this too.
Thank YOU for caring about the welfare of animals.