It will be easier for Syracuse Police to deal with animal emergencies from now on, after a central New York animal cruelty group donated 25 first response kits the the police department.
Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler says cops are often the first to come across an injured animal.
"We are the first to respond to a number of calls for police services, and we take all of them very serious," Fowler said. "And ranking up there with injury and harm to human beings, we take injury and harm to our animals very serious.”
He says the number of animal cruelty cases is increasing, something he attributes to animal watchdog groups in the city.
"They’re going to make sure that those of us who are in authority, that are responsible for doing the right thing by our animals, are making sure that our animals are treated properly. That’s what’s causing the attention here. The well deserved attention I might add.”
Animal Cruelty officer Rebecca Johnson says she could have used these kits in the past.
"One dog, a corso, was involved in a fight," Johnson said. "Artery was cut in the arm and blood was shooting out. I couldn’t do anything. That dog only has a certain amount of time to survive. If I had the proper stuff, I could have stopped the bleeding then and there.”
Johnson has already trained officers in how to use the first aid kits, which contain among other things a muzzle, a blanket and instructions on how to handle an injured animal.
“We went through the kits with them and showed them what they needed to do," Johnson said. "And it was well received by all the officers, and a lot of them were actually happy that they have something that they can use to help these animals.”
These kits are the first actions taken by the new Central New York Animal Cruelty Task Force. Facilitator Nicole Heath says the group is working on other initiatives as well, for example having one judge oversee animal cruelty cases.
"That would help with their knowledge and understanding as well," Heath said. "So that we could work with these cases, especially because the laws can be difficult for some to understand because they fall under the [agriculture] and markets area.”