(originally posted by lakehighlandstoday.com)

Dallas County is getting tough on animal cruelty by starting the Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit at the Dallas District Attorney’s Office. © Suzanna Smith

With over 2,500 cases already reported in 2012, Dallas County is getting tough on animal cruelty cases by starting the county’s first ever Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit at the Dallas District Attorney’s Office.

On December 4th, a proposal for the creation of the new prosecution unit dedicated to fighting animal abuse was presented to the Dallas County Commissioners Court for consideration.

This past Tuesday, December 11th, the specialized unit was unanimously approved.

Seeing a gap in the County’s efforts to fight animal cruelty, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia brought together Safer Dallas Better Dallas, the Dallas County DA’s Office, fellow Commissioner Maurine Dickey and animal advocates to create the Animal Cruelty Unit.

“While we have had dedicated efforts to fight animal cruelty, so often prosecution would be delayed and evidence lost because the District Attorney’s Office simply did not have the resources to handle the volume of cases,” Commissioner Garcia said.

“The Animal Cruelty Unit is the missing piece that is needed to make sure that those who hurt or neglect animals in Dallas County are held to account for their crimes.”

Commissioner Garcia went on to praise the public-private partnership.

“This is a great example of what can be done when the public and private sectors partner to solve problems facing our community.”

“I am proud of the DA’s office, my colleagues, especially Commissioner Dickey.”

Commissioner Garcia added, “We are very pleased that Safer Dallas Better Dallas has stepped forward to lead our effort to fund the first year costs of the new unit.”

To start the fundraising efforts, Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, along with her husband, Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Chairman, Roland Dickey will personally make a donation of $40,000 to Safer Dallas Better Dallas to lay the groundwork for a unit dedicated to ensuring that no animal cruelty cases fall through the cracks.

The Dickey Family donation was presented at a news conference on December 4th in the Commissioner Court chambers immediately following the court’s adjournment.

“It breaks my heart to see how these animals are treated and knowing how many other cases are never fully investigated and brought to justice,” said Maurine Dickey.

“We felt compelled to help this cause move forward.”

“We take animal abuse cases seriously, and we want to have the resources to be able put a defendant before a jury if there is strong evidence showing a defendant tortured an animal or even severely neglected one,” said District Attorney Craig Watkins.

“We thank Commissioner and Mr. Dickey as well as Safer Dallas Better Dallas for their support to make this happen.”

The Dallas District Attorney’s office is striving to become the first District Attorney’s office in North Texas to have a prosecutor unit fully devoted to this task.

“Safer Dallas Better Dallas is delighted to lead the effort to raise the $200,000 to fund the creation of the Animal Cruelty Unit,” said Gary Griffith, President of Safer Dallas Better Dallas. “Small donations on-line will add up quickly with broad based public support.”

The Animal Cruelty Unit will address offenses such as intentionally killing or causing serious bodily injury, torture, abandonment, dog fighting and cockfighting.

Donations will help the Dallas County District Attorney uphold this mission by providing a dedicated prosecutor and investigator. This commitment will enhance the safety for both the citizens and animals in Dallas County.

This cause is bringing together many organizations in the support of animal justice.

Speakers who presented testimony at the December 4th Commissioner’s Court Meeting on the initiative included Jonnie England and Yolanda Eisenstein from Texas Humane Alliance, James Bias from SPCA of Texas, Jody Jones with Dallas Animal Services, Skip Trimble with Texas Humane Legislation Network, as well as District Attorney Craig Watkins.