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Bar News - February 22, 2013

Animal Cruelty Investigation Manual Unveiled


The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals recently published an online investigation manual, with the goal of providing law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts with a comprehensive guide to animal cruelty cases.

Completed in December 2012, Animal Cruelty Investigation and Prosecution: A User Manual for N.H. Law Enforcement sets forth an analysis of current New Hampshire laws related to animal abuse and neglect and recommended procedures and guidelines for the various stages of animal-related investigations and prosecutions.

Animal cruelty cases are of great public importance and concern, not only for the harm caused to animals, but also as predictor and indicator crimes. Both the National District Attorneys Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys have recognized the link between animal cruelty and human violence.

Animal neglect resulting from hoarding is the most common type of animal abuse in New Hampshire. It is also the most costly type of animal cruelty case. Two recent hoarding cases (Winchester and Candia) resulted in costs to the towns of about $10,200 and $15,000, respectfully. These costs are incurred for the care, custody and control of the seized animals and do not include veterinary services.

The Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals is charged with evaluating animal abuse in New Hampshire and analyzing related statutes, administrative laws, and community and private programs, as well as providing recommendations to the governor on how to prevent and address animal abuse in the state.

The 20-member commission includes representatives from the police chiefs’ association, sheriffs’ association, NH Department of Fish and Game, state veterinarian, the House and Senate, the public, NH Bar Association and Attorney General’s Office.

In 2009, the commission analyzed three New Hampshire animal cruelty cases and identified several concerns common to all of the cases, including cost, difficulty in providing care for seized animals, and the length of time necessary to try the cases in court. These and other issues are addressed in the new investigation and prosecution manual.

To download a copy of the manual, please visit

Patricia Morris, chair of the NH Governor’s Commission on the Humane Treatment of Animals, is a solo practitioner based in Barnstead whose practice focuses on animal law. She can be reached at

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