D.A.’s office creates animal cruelty task force

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office has taken a major step in addressing the escalating issue of animal cruelty.

Last week, Suffolk County DA announced the creation of the county’s first Animal Cruelty Task Force.

Hayden, a dog owner, said the task force will improve the quality of information and methods used among the participating agencies in investigations of crimes against animals.

“Anyone who has ever loved or owned a pet knows the joy and happiness they bring to our lives,” Hayden said. “All these pets ask in return is to be sheltered, fed and cared for when they’re sick or hurt. Sadly, too many animals and pets end up getting hurt through malicious intent or conscious neglect. 

Area police, officials gather for the Suffolk County DA announcement of the creation of the county’s first Animal Cruelty Task Force.

“This task force will improve our ability to investigate, charge and prosecute these cases and, hopefully, reduce them.”

The task force will centralize the various agencies involved in animal abuse cases into a group of designated individuals with animal law knowledge.  This streamlined approach will improve information flow, create a more proficient understanding of animal cruelty investigations and prosecutions, and identify necessary legislative improvements to the state’s animal protection laws.

The task force will be chaired by Assistant District Attorney Amelia Singh, chief of the DA’s office in Chelsea District Court, and will include members of the Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere police departments, the Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture and the animal control departments in Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere. 

The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) handled 684 investigations involving animal abuse in 2023. 

Last year, 17 individuals were charged in Suffolk County with at least one animal cruelty related offense.  Sixteen of the defendants were adults and one was a juvenile.

The owner of a dog training and boarding facility in South Boston was charged last May following an investigation by the Animal Rescue League after three dogs lost significant amounts of weight and/or were injured during their stay at the facility.

A Revere man was charged with assaulting his roommate and killing his dog in August. First responders entering the man’s apartment found a dog covered in blood, suffering from at least five stab wounds.

According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, up to 70% of domestic violence victims have pets and of those with pets, 48% to 71% report that their pets have been abused or killed.

A Boston man was charged after a neighbor noticed a strong odor emanating from his Chelsea apartment. A well-being check led to the discovery of a feces-covered apartment and a decomposing dog. 

In November, a Boston woman was charged after multiple witnesses reported seeing her punch, kick, and strike her dog with a glass bottle in the Boston Common area.  

Animal cruelty cases are increasing in Suffolk County and statewide. According to the Massachusetts Trial Court, animal cruelty cases have increased more than 70% from 2019-2022.

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