MHS Cruelty Investigation
The Michigan Humane Society investigates more than 5,000 animal cruelty complaints each year in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park.
For nearly 100 years, local animals suffering abuse and neglect have shared a source of hope in the Michigan Humane Society’s cruelty investigators.
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A legacy of tireless work, limitless compassion and unwavering dedication formally began in 1913 when Michigan’s governor dubbed Arthur C. Curtis as Humane Marshall, giving him the authority to investigate animal cruelty.
As the first cruelty investigator for the organization (then known as the Animal Welfare Association), Curtis set a course for justice and protection that MHS continues today.
MHS cruelty investigators - demonstrate the same commitment to animal welfare each day through their unique role, which is equal parts educator, detective and crusader.
Most situations are reported by compassionate neighbors or passersby, and other leads come from the Detroit Police or Wayne County Sheriff’s Department.
On days with extreme weather conditions, the average number of incoming reports easily can triple the team’s workload. To dispatch help as quickly as possible, office coordinators pinpoint the exact location for each complaint, gather key details, and prioritize the cases for the east-side and west-side cruelty investigation teams.
With the most common Cruelty Hotline complaints concerning companion animals lacking the food, water or shelter necessary to maintain their state of good health - matters covered by Michigan’s anti-cruelty statutes - these professionals often serve as front line humane educators.
Clear, yet tactful, communication is their primary instrument and is used effectively in encouraging pet owners to provide for their animals’ physical and emotional requirements. Follow-up visits also play a major role in protecting these at-risk animals to ensure they continue receiving proper care.
When necessary, the investigators will seek to have an individual surrender animal “ownership” to MHS. If an animal is in immediate peril, the investigators can seek to remove the animal and pursue a prosecution when enough evidence is available.
It’s certainly true that the MHS cruelty investigation team has witnessed the worst in humankind as it pertains to the intentional mistreatment of companion animals.
Upon tendering care and compassion to animal victims, the team turns to carefully and thoroughly investigating the environment, circumstances and people involved in these criminal acts.
Legal procedure and protocols inclusive of requesting warrants, reviewing and handling evidence, and interviewing witnesses are necessary skills and tools required to ensure that those who seek to harm animals are brought to justice.
In the field of cruelty investigation, walking into the unknown is an everyday reality. Whether rescuing an animal from a dangerous situation or dealing with unpredictable animals - and their often more-unpredictable owners - these individuals put their personal well-being on the line.
Each year, MHS responds to approximately 150 calls related to dog fighting, a cruel practice in which dogs are bred, trained and fought for the entertainment and monetary gain of their owners and other spectators.
In addition to exploiting and abusing the dogs involved, this brutal “sport” often is accompanied by activities that can put others in the community at risk, such as illegal gambling of large sums of money, and the selling and possession of drugs and firearms. However, through their expert collection of evidence and testimony in court, the investigators often are able to remove these dogs from their lives of fighting and pain, and bring those responsible to justice.