PHOENIX - The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has announced a new crackdown on suspects accused of animal cruelty crimes.
Interim County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says prosecuting criminals who abuse animals could potentially prevent future crimes.
The office recently hired a specialized prosecutor and investigator whose focus will be on convicting suspected animal abusers.
Studies have shown that animal cruelty crimes often serve as a precursor to more violent crimes, including domestic violence, rape, assault and homicide.
"Whether it’s keep dangerous sex offenders off our streets, I am not willing to look the other way and let the ripple of offenses become a tidal wave of dangerous crimes," Mitchell said.
In Maricopa County, officials have seen an increasing trend of animal abuse cases. In 2020, the attorney's office prosecuted 34 animal cruelty cases.
Last year, authorities prosecuted 38 of these cases. So far this year, they've seen 44 incidents.
Animal crimes committed by kids may also be a sign that the child is being abused.
Mitchell says that targeting those who harm animals is one way to prevent violent crimes against humans.
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