Today, the Baltimore Mayor's Office signed into law the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission, a board that will work to help the city of Baltimore prevent and prosecute animal cruelty, including dog fighting.
This is the first anti-animal abuse advisory commission of its kind, and we hope this will be a model for other cities to follow. We have long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes, and this commission is poised to go a long way toward eradicating crimes toward animals and humans alike.
The commission, which started out as a task force more than a year ago in response to the fatal burning of a dog named Phoenix, has already made great strides. Phoenix's horrific ordeal thrust Baltimore into the limelight, and instead of dodging the issue, the city decided to confront animal cruelty head-on by creating a task force to address animal abuse. Representatives from the State Attorney's office, Baltimore City Council, the Mayor's office, BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter), and MDSPCA (Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), along with the ASPCA (the only national animal welfare organization to have a seat on the commission), have met and drafted a report that outlines a campaign to eradicate animal abuse. The 64-page report includes recommendations for investigating animal cruelty cases, training law enforcement and other professionals who respond to animal cruelty incidents, and drafting anti-animal cruelty legislation.
The ASPCA is eager to help turn the new Commission's goals into reality. We are impressed by the strong commitment made thus far by everyone involved in this commission, and we are especially appreciative of Caroline Griffin, who chaired the commission through its year as a task force -- her leadership and perseverance helped see this through.
The ASPCA has long recognized that animal cruelty is not just an animal control or law enforcement problem. It is something that requires the skills and resources of many members of a community. As Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake summed up during today's signing of the commission into law: "Animal cruelty is more than just a legal issue, it's a community issue. If you improve animal welfare in a community, you improve public safety for everyone."
As horrified as we were to learn about what happened to Phoenix, we know that she did not die in vain. The city of Baltimore has shown its commitment to stopping these violent injustices against animals, and the ASPCA will continue to provide both local and national resources to help Baltimore meet its commitment for a more humane world.