Anatomy of a Raid

The ASPCA is commonly called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend assistance and expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations. Here’s an inside look at how we execute these life-saving raids.

Investigation

Anatomy of a Raid

When the ASPCA receives a request for assistance in situations of animal neglect or abuse, the wheels of a raid are set in motion. Once we agree to take on a case, we meet with local law enforcement and begin conducting an investigation. We visit facilities and use research to determine if the situation is likely a criminal one. We must establish that local law enforcement has legal grounds to conduct a raid. Just like with human crime, we need to have probable cause.

Planning and Set-Up

Anatomy of a Raid

Every case poses unique logistical puzzles and may require a variety of supplies, vehicles and responders, as well as shelter and bedding for rescued animals. Once we have a plan in place, the team springs into action and begins staging the raid. In addition to preparing supplies for the animals—crates, pens, cleaning supplies, medical supplies, and a temporary shelter—we must get our team members there. This means flights, rental cars and lodging must be booked as well.

Raid and Forensics

Anatomy of a Raid

Once our team is ready to carry out a raid, we follow strict protocols. The team arrives on the property and immediately begins conducting a full inventory of the animals, taking care to note any scars or injuries they have—all evidence to share with prosecutors for any future criminal proceeding. The team also collars and tags the animals. Our Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit arrives to help local law enforcement with evidence collection and forensics. Evidence technicians walk through the property and take notes, photos and videos, as well as draw a site map and label all the cages or areas of the property. The Forensics team deals with evidence like blood spatter, gravesites and medications.

Transport

Anatomy of a Raid

As soon as possible, we bring the animals to a temporary emergency shelter using state-of-the-art Animal Transport Trailers. Our team is capable of removing up to 400 animals in a day.

Sheltering and Treatment

Anatomy of a Raid

At a temporary shelter, the animals are greeted by a medical team, animal handlers and general staff. After exiting the Animal Transport Trailer, they go through Sheltering and Treatment: At a temporary shelter, the animals are greeted by a medical team, animal handlers and general staff. After exiting the Animal Transport Trailer, they go through triage—where vets examine them and administer any necessary emergency treatments, as well as take notes on the animals’ overall condition and lay out a treatment plan. Then they are put in a carrier or enclosure to settle in before any additional treatment. During their time at the emergency shelter, the animals receive continual treatment and care, and their behavior is evaluated by professionals. In addition, the animals’ improvement in health is documented as evidence.

Placement

Anatomy of a Raid

When the ASPCA becomes the legal guardian of rescued animals, we aim to place them into loving homes through our extensive network of shelter partners and rescues. Before placing cruelty victims with rescues, the ASPCA makes sure the animals have been thoroughly examined, both medically and behaviorally. In addition, we occasionally host local adoption events to help find forever homes for rescued animals.

Long-Term Commitment

Anatomy of a Raid

When our dramatic rescue work is done, the ASPCA sees all the details of a case through to the end. Our commitment to each community never ends; the ASPCA focuses on leaving local law enforcement agencies and local animal welfare organizations with the know-how and supplies they need to take on any future animal cruelty cases. We also remain heavily involved in the legal process of any criminal case.