Law Enforcement Training Program - Michigan Humane Society

Law Enforcement Training Program

Officer training for animal-related issues in the field

January 26, 2016

Law Enforcement Training Program

Companion animals are continually becoming a more intrinsic part of American culture.  Society’s views of animals’ value and rights are changing as animals become more integrated into our homes and communities.  This shift is evidenced by changes in our legal system, which is slowly developing to better protect animals. 

Law enforcement officers are a key component of the legal system and its relationship to animals.  In their position on the front lines, their work arguably has the most significant impact on how the laws designed to protect humans and animals are administered.  With the growing number of animals in our communities, law enforcement officers will encounter animals with increasing frequency. 

In order to effectively carry out their duties and protect the public and animals as the law requires, it is critical for law enforcement officers to receive special training designed to help them understand the laws that apply to situations involving animals, enable them to quickly interpret animal behavior in face-to-face interactions, and make them aware of the special issues that may arise in investigations involving crimes against animals.

The MHS Animals in the Field: Law Enforcement Training program is designed to fill a gap in traditional law enforcement training and provide the information that officers need to respond to animal-related issues in the field. 


Course Descriptions

Recognizing the need for organized and comprehensive formal training in this area, the Michigan Humane Society (MHS) has designed a one-day training program especially for law enforcement officers, whether they are in the academy or already in the field.   The MHS Animals in the Field: Law Enforcement Training program addresses Animal Behavior and Handling in the Field, Bloodsport Awareness, Michigan Animal Law, Animals as Evidence, and Human Violence and Animal Cruelty.  These courses are taught by MHS staff members with extensive experience in these areas, and they are MCOLES approved.

Although originally designed as a one-day course, the components of the training program are available on an “a la carte” basis, and we can design a training session that will deliver the information most needed by a particular department or group.


Animal Behavior and Handling in the Field

This component of the program covers the following topics and more:

  • Site Evaluation
  • Animal Evaluation
  • For Canines, Body Language is the Primary Form of Communication
  • What “Relaxed” Looks Like
  • What “Not Relaxed” Looks Like
  • Your Body Language – What are You Saying/Minimizing Aggression
  • The Bigger Picture
  • Preparations  
  • Dogs – Minimizing Bite Damage  
  • Equipment and Restraints  
  • Cats 


Animals as Evidence

This component of the program covers the following topics and more:

  • Goals
  • Animals as Evidence
  • Processing the Animals at the Scene                 
  • Processing the Animals at your Facility
  • Cruelty Classifications and the Veterinarian’s Role
  • Testing
  • Chain of Evidence
  • Photographs                
  • Long-term Hold
  • Zoonoses
  • Adoption
  • Testifying


Bloodsport Awareness

This component of the program covers the following topics and more:

  • Historical Background
  • Behavior & Temperament
  • Types of Fighters
  • Betting/Contracts
  •  Principal Participants
  • The Keep
  • Vitamins, Drugs & Vet Supplies
  • Fights
  • Internet as an Investigative Tool
  • How Do You Get a Conviction?
  • When to Get a Search Warrant
  • Investigative Recommendations
  • Animals as Evidence
  • Popular Culture


Michigan Animal Law

This component of the program covers the following topics and more:

  • Background
  • Michigan Laws Relevant to Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Penalties for Violating Michigan Law – Penal Code
  • Is it ever legal to shoot a dog?


Human Violence and Animal Cruelty

This component of the program covers the following topics and more:

  • Background
  • Why is understanding animal cruelty important for law enforcement?
  • Case Studies
  • “The Link”
  • Animal Cruelty – the connection to murder and other crimes
  • What is the likelihood of law enforcement encountering animal cruelty or neglect?
  • Domestic Violence
  • Conclusion


Our Instructors

Our courses are taught by MHS staff members with extensive experience in these areas. 

Listed in alphabetical order, our instructors include:

CJ Bentley:  CJ Bentley has been MHS’ Sr. Director of Operations for more than 5 years and previously was with MHS as a volunteer and then as a staff program manager for nearly 20 years.  She is the past Executive Director of the Association of Professional Trainers and a current instructor for an Animal Assisted Therapy on-line program at Oakland University.  She has taught dog obedience classes for more than 15 years and is a published author, radio, and TV spokesperson on dog behavior and training. 

Dr. Shirene Cece, DVM:  Dr. Cece is MHS’ Director of Shelter Medicine.  She has been with MHS for 30 years, and she has worked closely with the MHS cruelty department and has been an expert witness in many cruelty and dog fighting cases.  She has lectured at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and for local law enforcement and animal control.  She has special training in euthanasia and veterinary forensic science.

Dr. Robert Fisher, DVM:  Dr. Fisher has been with MHS since 1985.  In his role as Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Medicine, he oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations from both financial and medical standpoints.  He is Chair of MHS’ legislative committee, and he is frequently called upon to testify before Michigan legislators regarding animal-related pending legislation.  His MHS veterinary medicine practice focuses on orthopedic and soft tissue surgery.

Ann Griffin, Esq.:  Ann Griffin is a licensed attorney with more than 16 years of experience in legal education administration and teaching.  She is the Vice Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section Council, and she chairs the Section’s legislative committee.  From 2008-10, she managed a low-cost feline spay/neuter program for MHS.  In January 2015, she returned to MHS to serve as the Training Academy administrator and to focus on legislative advocacy.

Debby MacDonald:  Debby MacDonald is the Chief Cruelty Investigator and Detroit Shelter Director for the Michigan Humane Society.  She has been with MHS for 24 years and has been a cruelty investigator for 20 years.  Qualified as an expert witness in dog-fighting investigations, she is currently an instructor for Code 3 Associates/Colorado State’s Cruelty Investigations Academy and has taught throughout the US.

Matthew Pepper:  Matt Pepper joined MHS as its CEO in August 2014.  He came to MHS with 15 years of animal welfare experience, including serving as director of Bernalillo County Animal Care Services in New Mexico and holding management positions with Memphis Animal Services in Tennessee, Caddo Parish Animal Services in Louisiana, Kent County Animal Control, and the Humane Society of West Michigan. He holds a B.S. in wildlife biology and has studied with the National Animal Care & Control Association, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute, and Code 3 Associates.

Schedule a Law Enforcement Training Program

If you have questions about the program or would like to schedule a training, please contact Ann Griffin at or (248) 283-5651.

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