Date of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Type

Professional Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Service


College of Professional Studies

First Advisor

Leslee Ruscitti


The incidence of animal abuse continues to rise in communities across this nation. The range of animal abuse crimes includes starvation and neglect, dog fighting, sexual abuse to malicious killing. Research indicates that crime against or involving animals often leads to crime against humans, interpersonal violence. Many animal abuse crimes go unreported, and the human victims involved are unidentified. Overburdened with crimes against humans, many police departments do not have the resources available to focus on animal abuse. To address this issue, animal crimes units are being initiated in police departments in some major cities. The purpose ofthis research study is to determine if the development of an animal crimes unit would be beneficial to the community to break the cycle of violence that often starts with crimes against or involving animals. This research also seeks to determine if there is a positive or negative correlation between the investigation of animal cruelty and the identification of interpersonal crimes and future offenders by animal crimes units. The study also serves as a proposal to the Milwaukee Police Department to support the addition of an animal crimes unit to their organization. This qualitative study surveys members and former members of the Chicago Police Department's Animal Crimes Team to identify the strengths and weaknesses of having an animal crimes unit as an arm of the police department. Findings indicate that animal crimes unit investigations of animal cruelty aid in the identification of interpersonal crimes and future offenders. Research limitations include low sample size and the lack of research on the effectiveness of animal crimes unit.