Public outcry after 8News investigation reveals abuse in animal shelters

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Public outcry is gaining momentum following an 8News investigation of abuse in state animal shelters.

Last month, we showed you the horrific abuse a state inspector discovered inside the Russell County animal shelter.

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According to documents from that investigation, animal control officers denied dogs veterinary care and in one case even food and water. Those ACOs never faced any criminal charges, even though animal neglect and cruelty are against the law.

Now the organization which supports and educates animal control officers is taking a public stance. The Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) issued a statement which reads, in part (you can read the entire statement at the bottom of this article):

“If an animal control officer, who is sworn to protect animals, commits such crimes, his or her behavior is even more reprehensible. Such officer no longer deserves to be part of our profession and his or her crime demands prosecution to the fullest extent allowed by law.”

758fd6af3a554d54a07057f29d94ca9d“If you are breaking the law, then you need to be held accountable for it regardless of who you are. Whether you are somebody in the community or you are an animal control officer yourself,” adds former VACA President Rob Leinberger.

He adds that his organization is very concerned about what happened at the Russell County shelter. Leinberger believes localities need to hold their animal control officers accountable for any animal cruelty or abuse.

Here’s the entire statement from the Virginia Animal Control Association:

The Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) is committed to providing a united voice for animal control professionals in Virginia. We are dedicated to the protection of the public and animals, humane law enforcement, and the highest standards of care for the animals in our custody.
Our mission is to advance these precepts by developing and providing quality training to animal control officers throughout their careers, by facilitating communication between public and private agencies, and by initiating and supporting responsible legislation for the protection of the public and animals.
It is possible in every profession to have a certain few individuals who do not behave ethically nor abide by the standards of their peers. VACA maintains that abuse, neglect or cruelty to animals is criminal behavior that should merit appropriate punishment under the law. If an animal control officer, who is sworn to protect animals, commits such crimes, his or her behavior is even more reprehensible. Such officer no longer deserves to be part of our profession and his or her crime demands prosecution to the fullest extent allowed by law.
VACA sincerely hopes the many dedicated and caring animal control professionals will not be judged nor have their service tainted by the actions of a few.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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