SC Law Enforcement receive animal cruelty and fighting training - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

SC Law Enforcement receive animal cruelty and fighting training

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LANCASTER, SC (WBTV) -

Animal cruelty is a growing crime in some our South Carolina viewing area, but one national organization provided training for numerous South Carolina Law Enforcement agencies to combat this crime.

11 law enforcement agencies showed up in Lancaster, Wednesday, to learn more about animal cruelty, the signs of it and how solving these cases may help crack down on other crimes.

Investigators from agencies all across the upstate region got a crash course on dog fighting, cockfighting, and illegal animal abuse.

"Unfortunately, we're starting to get more dog fighting cases in different areas, so this was an opportunity for them to come in and give us that training," said Lt. Jeff Meeks with the Lancaster Police Department.

Officials from the state's Humane Society were on hand teaching proper animal cruelty procedures for investigations and the connection between animal fighting and other felony crimes.

"It's not uncommon for people to start hurting animals and then escalate into human violence as well," said South Carolina Humane Society Director Kim Kelly.

"We also know there is a very high correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence and in a state where domestic violence is prevalent, that's a serious issue," she continued.

Kelly also discussed current animal abuse and fighting laws.

She's currently working with sate leaders to increase penalties for offenders.

"Compared to other states, South Carolina cruelty laws are actually fairly weak. We have a good dog fighting law but our cockfighting law is particularly weak, especially considering the fact we're surrounded by states where it's a felony, but in South Carolina it's a misdemeanor," said Kelly.

Although Wednesday's training was for law enforcement, officials say the public can also play a part in cracking down on these types of crimes.

"If they see something that they think needs to be brought to our attention, whether abuse or the animal isn't being cared for properly, give us a call and we'll come out and check the situation," said Lt. Meeks.

All 50 states have laws that make dog fighting and some forms of animal cruelty punishable as a felony offense.

Cockfighting is a felony in only 41 states.

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