Brute Force: Animal Police and the Challenge of Cruelty

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Purdue University Press


"In one instance, an officer investigated a case on an extremely thin dog - a sixty-pound Rottweiler - that should have weighed about one hundred pounds. 'The dog was skin and bones, so weak he couldn't even get up. The person told me he was minding the dog for his son because his son had been away. He'd go out every night at 5:00 and dump food on the ground, and because it was dark, he really couldn't see if the dog was thin. That was his excuse.' The officer told the respondent, 'Listen, it is your house. You agreed to care for the dog.' He even spoke with the son who said his father had been caring for the dog. So the respondent surrendered the dog and it was euthanized by a veterinarian. "It was too far gone. We had to carry it on a stretcher. It was unbelievable. It was really bad. The dog also had a large abscess on its left ear that looked like it was infected. So I charged him with animal cruelty - failure to provide necessary sustenance.'" -- How do animal cops cope with a doubting public and still face the abuse they see? -- Why do the courts brush aside many cases of cruelty when the link between interpersonal violence and animal abuse is undeniable? -- Why does society view animal cops as wannabes or second-rate cops?Arnold Arluke, a senior research fellow at the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy and a professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University, has produced a book that looks at attitudes in action as he follows animal cops on their daily routes and routines, emotional highs and lows, and from the mundane to the macabre. "[A] richly textured, and at times deeply disturbing, ethnography of the occupational practices, roles, and ideologies of humane law enforcement officers as they encounter, investigate, and prosecute incidents of animal cruelty." -- Qualitive Sociology Review"...offers a crucial perspective that is ignored in the prescriptive calls for animal rights." -- Law and Politics Review