DPD to partner with SPCA for animal cruelty cases

The Dallas Police Department will now be partnering with the SPCA to prosecute animal cruelty cases. It comes six months after a FOX 4 investigation exposed the system to investigate animal cruelty in Dallas was broken.

Deputy Chief Rob Sherwin said they decided to start the partnership with SPCA animal cruelty investigators after discovering a number of cases that they could have handled better.

A FOX 4 investigation in May exposed failures in the system to investigate cruelty with no one group tracking all cases in Dallas from start to finish.

READ MORE: Animal cruelty investigation falls through the cracks at DPD

One of those cases involved Khaleesi. Firefighters found her with her throat slit, but DPD never looked into her case until FOX 4 started asking questions. Investigators didn’t start looking five months after the fact. By then, it was too late. No evidence could be found to develop a suspect.

Now, DPD will partner with the SPCA in a new pilot program to investigate animal cruelty.

SPCA of Texas President James Bias says without the partnership, they've been doing double work.

“SPCA would receive a complaint. DPD would receive a complaint. Dallas Animal Services would receive a complaint. Suddenly you have three agencies who don't have the resources to handle it all,” Bias said.

The pilot program will begin in the southeast division.

“Eventually, when they're ready, we will give them the entire city,” said Sherwin. “That's about 300-400 cases per year."

SPCA investigators are peace officers so they don't have authority to make arrests but will file their cases with the district attorney, who can then press criminal charges.

Bias says his investigators are up to the task.

“This is what they do every day. They don't do traffic. They don't do murders. This is what they do every day,” he said.

In May, Stephanie Timko showed the gruesome routine she and other volunteers go through every week, collecting dogs dumped on Dowdy Ferry Road.

“We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “This is the beginning, not the end."

Timko is cautiously optimistic about the new arrangement.

“When I drive Dowdy Ferry and I don't see any more bags of dead animals, then I'll know we've turned a corner and made a change,” she said.

Since SPCA is a non-profit, they are not subject to open records laws. But in order to have transparency, Chief Sherwin said SPCA will be required to file their cases with DPD. SPCA is not asking for any money from the city.

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