Webinar Video Clip: Working with Your Local Vet
There is value in having an expert witness to prove a case beyond reasonable doubt. This is particularly true in animal cruelty cases where the victims cannot testify to share and confirm the type of abuse or neglect they have been subjected into. It is therefore imperative that law enforcement establishes and fosters working relations with veterinary professionals who can provide expert insights on the condition of animals.
Back on the Justice Clearinghouse to talk about working with your local vet is Jake Kamins. Jake is Oregon’s Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney, a specialized role representing the State of Oregon in animal cruelty cases. He is regarded as a subject matter expert communicating with the media and providing training and consulting services to law enforcement, veterinarians, animal rescue workers, and attorneys.
In this session, Jake provides a comprehensive discussion on the importance of partnerships between law enforcement, prosecution, and the veterinary community. Points covered include:
- General definitions of concepts and terms that will be covered throughout the session.
- The importance of having working relationships between law enforcement, prosecution, and veterinarians to:
- Prove the case by having an expert explain scientific facts, disclose the condition of the animals, and prove elements of the case beyond reasonable doubt.
- Encourage future reporting by familiarizing them with the law and standards that allow them to be more discerning of possible issues and report future concerns.
- Strengthen community ties and seeing them as partners instead of just mere ‘means’ in proving a case.
- A look into the issues that hinder communication and fostering relationships between law enforcement, prosecution, and the veterinary community
- The business side of the veterinary profession and their workload, financial, and client obligation considerations.
- The language barrier between law enforcement, prosecution, and veterinary professionals.
- The overpolicing that veterinary professionals may experience as they work on these cases.
- Ways to address these challenges by:
- Understanding their business, and working based on their availability and convenience.
- Addressing the language barrier by:
- Speaking their language through learning the basics of veterinary science and trade.
- Fostering animals who have been abused or neglected to understand how sufficient care changes an animal’s condition.
- Offering training to veterinarians on topics of legal nature that they’re likely to be involved in.
- Utilizing communication tools that will bridge the gap between veterinary medicine, criminal justice, and law enforcement.
- Demonstrating a fair and open system though community presence and connections with multiple veterinary professionals.
- A step-by-step rundown on best practices for law enforcement when responding to animal cruelty calls for service and subsequently investigating it.
- Guidelines on establishing that first contact with the veterinarian for the case.
- Protocols when bringing an animal in for veterinary examination.
- Tips on what to take note of and document in your report once the exam findings are available.
- The evidence, reports, and other documentation to collect as part of the case file.
- Working with the prosecutor – from submitting the case to facilitating the case progress.
Some of the questions raised during the Q&A were on:
- Requirements to qualify as an expert witness.
- Building a better reputation in the veterinary community.
- How veterinary professionals are expected to be compensated for their assistance.
- Online resources to introduce veterinarians to becoming expert witnesses.
- Other ways that veterinary professionals can assist in prosecutions.
- Requirements and training in veterinary schools and continuing education related to animal cruelty.
- Working with veterinarians and resources for veterinary training on animal cruelty cases.
- Doing case and witness preparations with veterinarians.
- The creation of Jake’s specialized role as Animal Cruelty Deputy District Attorney.
- “I truly loved how the speaker reiterated coming to meet the vet with respect and by educating themselves. I think there are some prosecutors who treat vets otherwise and forget about how busy they are, and how much time they are giving up. I truly appreciate how much the speaker reiterated a collaborative effort for all agencies involved.” — April
- “The flow charts and vet info summary were gold! I am going to try to replicate them for my state’s law enforcement officers. Thanks for another excellent webinar!” — Ann
- “As a veterinarian, I found it valuable to learn what was most important to prosecutors and law enforcement as far as cases go and what is required of me. I would love to learn more about how to get law enforcement more on board with animal cruelty cases as currently, it seems to be a low priority in my experience.” — Alison
- “Very informative webinar. The handouts were also very beneficial. Thank you for having it!” — Chris
- “There are many trainings that address what law enforcement and prosecutors need from veterinarians but very few trainings on what vets need from those entities. This was a refreshing reversal from the standard.” — Emily
- “Great topic and the presenter did a fantastic job explaining the steps involved in investing and prosecuting these cases. As a Probation Officer, I’ve supervised a few animal cruelty Probationers in the past and they usually present themselves as victims by stating that the animal was terminally ill and that they were wrongfully charged. I gained such knowledge today I know for sure that they underwent a strict investigation and incriminating process and are almost certainly guilty as charged.” — Marie
- “I found it very informative and the instructor was interesting to listen to.” — Terry