With the Rapid Response program, the ASI has expanded our AniCare
program to include outreach and education to the criminal justice system
and the general public, in addition to the training of therapists.
We monitor media outlets and animal cruelty Web sites to learn about
cruelty cases and then respond by sending letters to the editor and to
the judges presiding over each case. We note the relationship between
violence toward animals and other violence, and the need for specialized
treatment for offenders (not just punishment or nonspecific "anger
management") in addition to other punishment provided by law. AniCare
is not intended to take the place of a jail or prison sentence, but is
to be used to prevent recidivism.
Rapid Response both educates the public about the seriousness of
animal cruelty and offers to professionals in the criminal justice
system resources that can be used in sentencing both juvenile and adult
perpetrators. The ultimate goal is to stop such behavior before it is
repeated or escalates, thus making the entire community safer.
A few of the cases in which we have contacted judges before sentencing include:
A Michigan woman who locked her young spaniel in an apartment closet until the dog starved to death
A Minnesota man who threw a kitten against the wall during a fight with his girlfriend
A Michigan man who bludgeoned his girlfriend's rabbit to death during a domestic dispute in which he also assaulted the woman
California man who stabbed his family's puppy to death in front of a
child, allegedly after killing the family cat several weeks earlier
Letters to the editor help educate the general public about the
seriousness and larger implications of animal cruelty crimes, and
promote awareness of the AniCare program. For example, we've had
letters printed about a case where a man taped his dog's mouth shut and left her alone to suffocate, as well as a case of a woman who let her dog's collar become embedded in the animal's neck.
Our Rapid Response letters also reach a national audience. O: The Oprah Magazine
published an ASI letter in response to an article that discussed animal
abuse and domestic violence. An editorial explaining why football
player Michael Vick should be ordered to undergo psychological
counseling for his dog-fighting crimes was originally printed in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and later reprinted in other newspapers across the country.
We thank the following foundations for funding our Rapid Response program:
- Shumaker Family Foundation for work in Albuquerque, NM, Denver, CO, Kansas City, KS, and Kansas City, MO (2011-2012)
- Anonymous gift for work in Washtenaw County, MI (2011-2012)
- The Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust for the AniCare/Rapid Response Program in the Great Lakes Region (2012)
- James A. & Faith Knight Foundation for work in two southeast Michigan counties (2010)