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EPS launches animal cruelty investigation unit

The Edmonton Police Service has launched what it says is the first animal cruelty investigation unit. Getty images

The Edmonton Police Service has launched what it says is the first animal cruelty investigation unit (ACIU) in Canada, police announced Tuesday.

Last year, EPS handled around 400 animal cruelty investigations and a majority of them exposed some sort of criminal activity, according to Staff Sgt. Anna Sinclair.

“Research has shown there (is) an unequivocal link between animal cruelty, domestic violence, child and elder abuse investigations,” she said.

“Offenders who abuse animals are likely to commit other violent crimes causing harm to persons and society in general.”

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The creation of the unit is being applauded by the Edmonton Human Society.

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“EHS wholeheartedly supports the move by EPS to have a dedicated unit for investigating concerns of animal cruelty,” the organization said in a statement.

“Animal abuse persists in our community and we see firsthand in our work caring for animals the unfortunate lasting effects that it can have on those involved.”

Two officers will lead the ACIU: Const. Ilka Cunningham and Const. Ted Dyck.

According to the news release, both constables have “committed themselves” to animal-cruelty training and have trained EPS members through various workshops. In 2019, the two trained all front-line officers in all divisions about animal cruelty and its link to broader criminal behaviour.

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“We look forward to continuing working with Const. Ilka Cunningham, Const. Ted Dyck, the newly formed ACIU team, as well as our partners at the City of Edmonton’s Animal Care & Control Centre to provide our services in whatever way we can to help with these cases, ensuring the welfare of animals in our community is protected,” the EHS said.

In 2017, Edmonton police saw about 270 animal cruelty investigations. This type of investigation usually involves situations of severe neglect, starvation, failure to provide veterinarian care, physical abuse, puppy mills and bestiality.

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