Cedar Rapids Police Department seeing increase in animal abuse investigations

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Police Department is seeing an increase in animal abuse investigations, with numbers from January 1, 2021, through July 2021 more than doubling the entire year of 2020.

In a meeting of the City Council Public Safety & Youth Services committee, police chief Wayne Jerman reported the department was involved in 11 cases of animal abuse in the first six months of 2021. That’s up from four in 2020. Nine of those 11 investigations this year led to an arrest. The department also saw four additional arrests for animal neglect.

Officer Chris Collins is involved in the animal abuse and neglect cases the department investigates. He said the increase is partly due to new state law opening doors for investigations.

“That’s given the police department more of an opportunity to investigate and charge at a state level rather than a city level,” Collins said.

The department gave several reasons for the high number of investigations, including special training for officers and getting more reports of those cases.

Collins also mentioned the importance of people making reports when they see abuse.

“Some of the online social media presence that we’ve put out has kind of helped increase reports,” Collins said.

Iowa passed a bill earlier this year increasing punishments for animal abuse. It states if an animal was seriously injured or killed as a result of abuse or neglect, the crime would be an aggravated misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Jan Erceg sees abused animals come through Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids on a monthly basis. One of the higher-profile cases this year, which was a success story, is that of Kimble. He’s a puppy who came to the non-profit with two fractured legs from his owner throwing him to the ground and kicking him.

“Kimble really solidified people in wanting to prosecute these cases, wanting the legal entities to look into it,” Erceg said.

That owner, Jayden Cliff, received a two-year prison sentence in May for animal abuse.

Erceg says she’s encouraged to see the increase in investigations.

“It gives all of us in the animal welfare and rescue world a lot of hope. That there are more good people out there than bad. But we have to hold people accountable for their actions,” Erceg said.

Cedar Rapids police encouraged anyone who sees animal abuse to speak up and report it- by calling 319-286-5993.

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