Tippecanoe Co. prosecutor creates board to handle increase in animal abuse

The Tippecanoe County prosecutor says there has been an increased number of animal abuse cases this year.

Posted: Nov. 21, 2017 5:05 PM
Updated: Nov. 21, 2017 5:15 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The Tippecanoe County prosecutor says there has been an increased number of animal abuse cases this year.

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The uptick has inspired a partnership between several agencies in the area.

The sight of 64 dogs hoarded and neglected inside a Tippecanoe County home is what inspired Prosecutor Patrick Harrington to take action.

"The look on their face, it's heartbreaking," said Harrington. "It so overwhelmed our resources we decided that we needed to form this advisory board to bring all the partners in the community together that work on this issue."

So, Harrington gathered animal control officers, Crystal Creek, Almost Home, Purdue's Veterinary School and his own deputy prosecuting attorney to meet and discuss more efficient ways to handle animal abuse cases, like this one. It's becoming a bigger problem in the county.

"We've seen an uptick in the number of animal cases each year. Normally we see two or three. I think this year we are at almost ten," said Harrington.

The advisory board is not a new concept. It's similar to the county's Child Fatality Review Team.

"That model of cooperation among police, law enforcement, prosecutors, and doctors,” said Harrington. “I thought we could take that model and apply it to our animal cases."

Harrington says there's a lot to consider when an officer arrives on the scene of animal abuse.

He said, "They're trying to take care of the animals in the medical emergency and are also trying to start a criminal investigation."

Through conversations and training, the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor's Office Advisory Board is coming up with best practices to not only keep the animals alive and well, but to make sure the person responsible for the abuse is held accountable.

In this case, 66-year-old Dennis Hansen was sentenced to 180 days in jail followed by 18 months of probation.

"Just want to try and help them as quickly and as best we can,” said Harrington.

He says the board will meet once every three months.

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