ASPCA Partners with Florida International University to Provide Comprehensive Animal Cruelty Investigations Training for Law Enforcement Officers

June 24, 2022

LARGO, Fla.–The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the Florida International University Global Forensic Justice Center partnered this week to host a comprehensive animal cruelty investigation training for Florida-based law enforcement and animal control professionals from across the state.

During the two-day, hands-on training, attendees learned about animal cruelty laws in Florida, investigating and responding to animal cruelty cases including hoarding situations, puppy mills and dogfighting, identifying and collecting evidence, veterinary forensic evaluations, and the link between animal cruelty and other major crimes. Attendees also participated in mock crime scene documentation and other hands-on exercises.

“The ASPCA recognizes the importance of ensuring law enforcement officers across the country are equipped with the tools and resources they need to effectively prevent and respond to animal cruelty situations,” said Howard Lawrence, vice president of ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “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, and addressing suspected animal cruelty is an essential step in enhancing public safety. We thank the Global Forensic Justice Center for partnering with the ASPCA on this vital training opportunity.”

“When we say justice through science, we mean all the sciences, including veterinary. Animals who face cruelty deserve justice as well," said Max Houck, graduate program director at GFJC. “Partnering with ASPCA to provide high-quality training and education to law enforcement officers, forensic veterinarians, and animal cruelty case workers gives them the tools they need to apply the science to the law for animals who cannot speak for themselves.” GFJC worked with ASPCA to add a Professional Science Master’s in veterinary forensics that will start in 2023. 

The ASPCA deploys nationally to assist local authorities with suspected animal cruelty situations and has supported Florida-based animal welfare organizations in recent years. Last month, the ASPCA was on the ground in Jacksonville assisting law enforcement with the rescue, examination, and care of animals from a suspected dogfighting operation. In addition, the ASPCA provides local communities with grant funding to help enhance their ability to effectively assist animal victims of cruelty. 

In 2020, the ASPCA opened the ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Science Center, the first-ever forensic laboratory to support law enforcement across the country with suspected companion animal cruelty cases, which is based in Gainesville, Fla.


About the Global Forensic and Justice Center
The Global Forensic and Justice Center at Florida International University was founded in 2018 as a collaborative endeavor that demonstrates extraordinary success in providing unique learning opportunities, pioneering research and engagement. Building on more than two decades of experience from its founding partners - the Center seeks to engage the forensic science and criminal justice industries from the crime scene to the courtroom. For more information on the GFJC, visit