Annemarie Lucas, Supervisory Special InvestigatorApril 10, 2008
ASPCA Daythe birthday of the first humane organization in the Americas (that’s us!)comes every year on April 10. It’s a chance for everyone to celebrate the victories achieved on behalf of animals. Many of these victories resulted from the lifesaving work of our ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement officers, whom you’ve probably seen in action on Animal Planet’s hit series, Animal Precinct. Well, on ASPCA Day 2008, one of our finest, Supervisory Special Investigator Annemarie Lucas, joined us for a live chat to talk about how to prevent cruelty and what it’s like to be a New York City animal cop.
After the chat, Officer Lucas sent a message to all who participated.
Thanks so much for joining our chat today. It was so inspiring to read your kind words and I am psyched that you all care so deeply for our furry friends in need. They really do deserve all of the respect and protection that we can give them. I’m sorry that I couldn't answer all of your questions. I wish I could have gotten to everyone, but it’s time for me to get back to what I do: saving animals from their abusers. Don't forget to "Go Orange" for ASPCA Day on April 10th. I am! It’s a great way to show our unity in the fight against animal cruelty. Hope to chat with you all again. Take care.
Let the questions begin!
How are you? I just wanted to say hello and that I would love to do what you are doingsaving animals and getting justice done for them.
Thanks for asking. I am doing great. I am gearing up for Thursday in NYCASPCA Daywhen I get to go hang out with lots of people who love their pets. Quite a change from what I usually see on a daily basis. I hope that everyone checks out our website and participates in "Going Orange" on April 10th. It is a great way to support the birthday of the ASPCA and to show support for animals everywhere. I have all of my orange bandanas ready for my dogs to wear on that day. Luckily they all look great in orange. Take care.
First of all, THANKS FOR WHAT YOU DO!! I am interested in becoming an investigator, either in the illegal wildlife trade or in animal cruelty. I'm more interested in wildlife than domestic animals. Any tips on how to start up my career? I'm a senior in college, majoring in wildlife science.
You’re on the right track. You should probably try to contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife in your area and chat with an investigator. We have arrested several people for unjustifiably killing wildlife. Just because a wild animal crosses your path doesn't mean you get to kill him. I am not talking about legal hunting. We have had people catch wild animals in traps and leave them there to starve, and we just recently arrested a man for beating an opossum to death just for walking into his yard. There was no threat to the man or his family. Unacceptable! Best of luck. Wild animals need protection, too. Thanks for caring.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this live chat. Love the show!
There is a situation with another member here who lives in a rural area south of St. Louis, Missourishe has neighbors who are shooting at animals. She has reported this to animal control and the police, and with the exception of one police officer, all of her reports have been ignored.
What she needs now is evidence, which is where I come in. I live in St. Louis and because she doesn't have a digital or video camera, I have agreed to go out there on Saturday to photograph and film the dogs and cats who were killed.
I am aware that ideally the animal control officers should be handling this, but these officers just seem like they don't care.
This is new territory to me! Can you give me any advice on the best and safest way to go about this? Thank you so much!
Well, it sounds like a very difficult situation. I would advise you to be very careful while you are helping out and not to break any laws by trespassing if the location of the animals is on private property. Maybe you can lend the officer your equipment and let him or her investigate the case. Also, in order to prove a cruelty case they will need medical evidence and a necropsy on the dead animals to show a cause of death. The animals have to be linked to the person who supposedly killed them by either a witness or the weapon that killed them. It is probably too complicated to discuss everything here, but if the officer wants to contact me through our department for some advice, please feel free to let him or her know. Thanks for caring.
Why does the state of New Hampshire do nothing about animal cruelty? We need the ASPCA in our state!
Well, I hope that is not the case in New Hampshire. It’s against the law in every state to abuse an animal, so complaints of abuse should be taken seriously by the police and local officials. I am sure that there are animal agencies in New Hampshire that are trying to do whatever they can to protect the animals in your state. Can anyone out there help with some specifics on New Hampshire?
I’d love to hold a special assembly for the students and any parents who want to come. The assembly would be all about animal education: informing people of the proper way to house a petlike having a doggie door or at least proper shelter outsideand whom to call and what to do if you see cruelty. I was wondering if you and the other ASPCA members there in NYC do that. Do you go around to schools educating the next generation of pet parents?
Yes! The ASPCA does provide literature to schools on the humane treatment of animals. It is very important to teach children that animals should be respected and treated kindly, and that it is not OK to neglect or physically abuse an animal. Thanks so much for caring about animals. Take care.
Thank you for standing up for animals and inspiring others to do the same!
Thanks so much, Traci. I really appreciate that. Thanks for caring.
My daughter is 15 years old and wants to become an officer like you. She has been around animals all her life and enjoys them. How can she become an officer for the ASPCA?
I applaud your daughter's desire to help animals. This career is very specific to each state and each organization. If she wants to come to NYC and work for the ASPCA, we have the requirements listed on our website. I would strongly recommend that she get lots of experience at an animal shelter and either pursue a career in animal husbandry or law enforcement. Best of luck.
I believe that being a good neighbor is a start to helping animals. It means that when you get out of your car and go into your house, you smile at your neighbors. It doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends, but be civil. If my neighbors know that I’m watching out and will defend their animals, they are more likely to act on my behalf. Do you agree, Annemarie? If an animal is in a crisis, I voice my opinion and actI don’t ignore! Take care and know there are thousands of fans that are with ya!
I totally agree with you. A little kindness goes a long way in this world. My mom always told me to treat others the way you want to be treated. My mom is a very wise woman. Take care. Thanks for your support.
You are an inspiration to me! I watch Animal Precinct when I can. I love animals and I do everything in my power to make sure they are safe. My question to you is, how do you become an animal cop? I would really like to do this if my veterinary career does not work out as planned!
Thank you so much!
Thanks so much, Amy. Become a vet! We need you out there. Thanks for watching the show and study hard. Take care.
Thank you for what you do! You inspire me to start helping to protect our furry friends!!
Thanks, Rachel. I have always believed that if everyone did just a little something every day to help people (and animals) in need, the world would be a much better place. Take care.
Hello Annemarie Lucas! You are my heromy all-time hero, who helps the ones who cannot speak for themselves. You give a voice to them and I highly, highly admire that. I hope that one day I end up just like you.
Thanks so much. You are very sweet. Best of luck. I see your profile photo is of a ferret. I love ferrets!
It tears me apart every time I see an animal on the program who has to be euthanized because of some owner’s poor treatment. It is so heartbreaking to know this has to happen to a poor defenseless animal. I love animals sooooooooo much and just cannot understand how people can be so cruel. If they treat their animals this way, I would hate to see how they treat their children.
Unfortunately, it is often not only the animal who is being abused in the household, but also a child, a spouse or an elderly person. The link between animal cruelty and domestic violence is very strong and it is very important for investigators or police to understand this fact. Violence should not be tolerated against people or animals. We all feel pain and we are all capable of suffering at the hands of an abuser. Thanks for caring.
I applaud you for the difference you make for both the animals and the families that adopt them. On Saturday I attended Paws For A Cause in Albany, NY, and spoke in depth to professionals from both the HSUS and ASPCA, and I learned a couple of things that seem to make no sense. According to the HSUS, we don't see higher prosecution rates for cruelty to animals because police are not receiving the training. That said, laws are enforced/controlled by the Agriculture and Markets laws. Personally, I can't see how any animal would fit into these categories. Why is it that animal cruelty is enforced/controlled by Agriculture and Markets? I have the animal cruelty lawsall 406 pages! If these are the laws, why isn't this training mandatory?
That is a great question! I am not sure why the animal cruelty laws are not in the penal code like all of the other crimes out there, but they should be. Most police departments teach the laws listed in the penal code only and that is probably why the animal cruelty laws are not enforced properly. However, in New York, the police no longer have that excuse. The state requires that they receive training on the animal cruelty laws in the police academy, and the ASPCA conducts training throughout New York State through DCJS (Department of Criminal Justice Services) for officers already on the job.
Hello! You are my hero and role model. I always watch Animal Precinct and want to be like you. I am in 7th grade and I’ve always wanted to be an HLE Officer, but I don’t know if I can do it. Do you have to be born in NY? Because I’m from Michigan and I don’t know if they will accept me.
If you want to be an animal cop, you should get lots of experience with animals by volunteering at an animal shelter (when you are old enough). Find out what the requirements are in your state. In NYC we work for the ASPCA, but in Michigan it might be the police department or the humane society. This is a very specific type of job and every state or agency does it a little bit differently. I wish you the best of luck. Check out the ASPCA website for additional info. Thanks so much.
As a guy who spent a lot of time as a police officer, God bless you. I couldn't do what you do, because I think I like animals a lot more than I do humans. (Ha ha!) Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love the show. Thank you!
It’s funny that you say that about animals because my husband, who is a retired NYPD Detective, has said that to me many times. Thanks for the support. Take care.
Your job must be very mentally and physically stressful. Have you ever been bitten or injured during a rescue?
Sure, lots of times. I have the scars to prove it! But, I must say, I never blame the animals. They’re usually miserable and hurting due to some sort of abuse. I blame the people who mistreat them. Take care.
I truly believe that some people are put on this earth for special things. Some work with the elderly, some with sick children, some with the homeless. And then there are those who are chosen to spend their lives caring for animals. It is both a blessing and a curse. Your heart shatters when you see the sick, mistreated abused animals, the puppy mills, the tortured animalsthings so horrible that you can't imagine what kind of person could even think of them. Then we see all of you on Animal Precinct and suddenly there is hope again. I say, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Thank you for all the hope you give to us and for all the hard work you do.
That was so eloquently written. You have said it all. Thanks so much for your support. I really appreciate it. Take care.
How do you advise people who want to assist a possibly abused dog or another animal, but are concerned about retaliation from the animal's owner?
Great question! You can always make an anonymous complaint to the police and/or the humane society or SPCA in your area. We also receive email complaints and letters all the time from the public, alerting us to a situation. We are always grateful when someone takes the time to call us to help an animal in need, otherwise we would not know about the situation. I encourage everyone to make the call, but don't put yourself in harm’s way. If you provide detailed descriptions and document everything that you witnessed, that is the best help that you can provide to an investigator. Thanks for joining the chat. Take care.
Even though I have agoraphobia (a fear of crowds), you have inspired me to work on leaving the house and volunteering at the local shelter. Thank you for that!
That's very cool. I hope you do make it to your local animal shelter. And remember, animals never judge youthey just love you. Best of luck!
What would you say was your most trying case? How about the most emotional? And how hard is it for you to not bring a new animal home after every shift?
I am disturbed by any act of cruelty toward an animal, whether it is neglect or physical abuse, but it is heartbreaking when people starve their animals. If you can't provide at least food and water for your pet, than you should not have an animal in your home. It drives me crazy when I get to a house and I see that the animal has no food and someone gives me a lame excuse.
I have taken animals home with me, but my house is full at this point. They keep me and my husband very busy, but we adore them all. Thanks for joining our chat. Take care.
Why are the punishments for animal abuse so small? I used to watch your show all the time, but I haven't been lately because I started getting so angry about the sentences. How can someone who kills six puppies get five days probation and a stern talking to?! Why aren't the courts taking this more seriously?
I agree. It’s unfortunate that some police officers, district attorneys and judges don't take crimes against animals more seriously. It can be very frustrating for those of us who do our best to protect animals on a daily basis. However, it is getting better out there, and the more society demands that these cases be taken seriously, the more animals will be saved.
My husband got me started watching your show. He and I both are grateful to you for standing firm in the cases you investigate. It is great how you stand up to people and take nothing from them. I hate it when they lie to you and say things like, “I have been feeding this animal” or they don't think there is anything wrong, or there are grooming issues and so on. Keep making them fidgety and nervous because they certainly deserve it.
Thanks so much for the support. I must say that I really have no tolerance for people's excuses when it comes to abusing animals. I have no problem with someone who doesn't want to have an animal, but I do have a problem if you bring an animal into your home and you neglect or physically abuse him or her. Unacceptable!
You are an incredible woman and an inspiration. My husband and I are working toward opening our own shelter in Dell City, Texas. Right now we are living in Iowa and are active in our local humane society. The ASPCA is an inspiration for us, especially since my husband is from Queens. Thank you for all that you do!!!
Thanks so much. I applaud you and your husband for all of your efforts. Texas is a very big state and there are lots of animals in need of help. I rescued one of my dogs, Chet, from a shelter in Corpus Christi and he is such a great little guyhe’s a Chihuahua mix. What a personality! I think what a lot of people don't realize is that there are so many amazing animals sitting in shelters across the country who are in desperate need of homes. We all know what happens when shelters run out of space. If I hadn't rescued Chet, he would have been euthanized. So, I wish you the best of luck with your efforts. Take care.
You have attended ASPCA Day festivities at Union Square in the pastwhat stands out in your memory as something someone did that was inspiring or just plain fun and cool?
ASPCA Day is a blast! I really love seeing people and their pets walking around and enjoying all of the festivities. We have a band, booths, advice for pet owners and lots of ASPCA experts on hand to answer all sorts of animal-related questions. Just seeing how much people adore their companion animals is the best part of the event. I encourage everyone to go orange on April 10th and show your support for animals everywhere by wearing orange and helping the animals in your community who are in need.
Hi, Annemarie Lucas! I just want to say that I am a HUGE fan! I admire you so much and I've wanted to become an ASPCA Officer ever since I saw your show and what you were willing to do for those animals! I was just wondering, how do you become an ASPCA Officer? I've already had six years worth of experience with horses and I'm trying to volunteer at local animal shelters.
Thanks so much for your kind words. You are off to a great start. The more animal experience you have, the better. I would recommend taking some classes in criminal justice. Depending on where you decide to live will determine what further training you will need. Every state and every humane society or police department has different requirements, so you need to do some research on who handles animal cruelty investigations in your area. I hope that makes sense to you. Best of luck.