Mark Arballo is charged with animal abuse in California for the death of the reining horse, Bella.
The FBI is expanding its crime reporting to include animal cruelty as an offender category. Previously, those who abused or neglected animals were included in a catch-all “other” category.
FBI Director James Comey announced the change this week that provides an additional tool for law enforcement. Prior to the expansion of the FBI’s focus, there was no process for capturing animal cruelty data on a statewide or national basis.
“The change instituted by the FBI formally recognizes the seriousness of animal abuse crimes and their negative impact on the welfare of society,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).
“The data that will become available as a result of this change will help law enforcement better understand and respond to these types of crimes, which occur alongside many other forms of violence and criminal activity.”
Animal cruelty crimes will be classified as distinct Group A offenses. Also included in the category are other major crimes such as arson, assault and homicide. Incidents and arrests require reporting.
The reported crimes will be categorized as simple/gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse; and animal sexual abuse. The data collection begins in 2016 and will be available to the public the next year.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR) Program is the prime source of information on crime in the United States.