ASPCA Hosts Comprehensive Animal Cruelty Investigation Training for Over 80 Law Enforcement Officers and Animal Welfare Professionals in Iowa

Attendees from across the state learned how to effectively identify, investigate, respond to, and prosecute animal cruelty during the multi-day workshop
October 5, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) this week hosted a free comprehensive animal cruelty investigation training for law enforcement, prosecutors, animal control officers, animal shelter and rescue personnel, and veterinary professionals based in and around Iowa. More than a dozen subject matter experts who lead the ASPCA’s lifesaving work rescuing tens of thousands of animals across the country from situations of cruelty and neglect worked interactively with participants throughout the multi-day training.

Over 80 attendees – of which 40 percent said they had no previous training in responding to animal cruelty – learned about animal cruelty laws in Iowa, investigating and responding to animal cruelty cases, including hoarding situations, puppy mills and other forms of abuse and neglect, identifying and collecting evidence, veterinary forensic evaluations, animal behavior, and best practices for sheltering animal cruelty victims. Attendees also participated in mock crime scene processing, a testimony workshop, and other hands-on exercises. In addition to travel reimbursements to help individuals attend the training, the ASPCA offered grants to participating agencies to assist in future casework, ensuring they not only have the expertise, but the resources to respond to animal cruelty in their communities. To date, more than 35,000 law enforcement professionals have participated in over 500 trainings from ASPCA experts on effectively addressing animal cruelty.

“Addressing suspected animal cruelty is a critical component to enhancing public safety. Not only do we have a responsibility to keep the animals in our communities safe, but there is a known link between animal-related crimes and other criminal activity,” said ASPCA Legal Advocacy Senior Counsel Elizabeth Brandler. “Providing expert resources and best practices for law enforcement officers and animal welfare professionals across the country will ensure they can effectively prevent and respond to animal cruelty situations in their communities, saving the lives of even more animals and holding abusers accountable.”

“Animal rescue work is complex and requires collaborative efforts across agencies that each have unique expertise and resources,” said Wayne County Sheriff Keith Davis, who was the keynote speaker at the training hosted by the ASPCA. “This week’s comprehensive training in animal cruelty investigations provided personnel from across the state with the critical tools and experience necessary to successfully respond to animal welfare issues from start to finish, helping us keep Iowa safe.”

“National and local groups are most impactful when we work together. Collaboration is our strength, and providing authorities with the tools and resources they need is our duty,” said Tom Colvin, ARL of Iowa CEO. “Together, we can amplify our impact, saving more animals.”

Collaboration across agencies and disciplines is a critical component to effectively addressing animal cruelty. On Tuesday, a reception sponsored by the Ramsey Subaru of Des Moines allowed participants to engage with colleagues across the state with the goal of building interagency networks.

The ASPCA deploys nationally to assist local authorities with suspected animal cruelty situations and has supported Iowa-based animal welfare organizations in recent years, including assisting the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office with the rescue of more than 500 animals from a puppy mill operation in 2021. In the last 10 years, the ASPCA has directly rescued more than 22,000 animal victims of cruelty and neglect through its national field response efforts and partnership with the New York City Police Department. In addition, the ASPCA provides local communities with resources including grant funding, training, and subject matter expertise to enhance their ability to independently investigate and respond to suspected animal cruelty situations and effectively assist animal victims.

To learn more about the ASPCA’s work to support local law enforcement with situations of suspected animal cruelty, visit