New animal cruelty crime lab stops in Richmond

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The new Humane Society of the United States Animal Crime Lab was in Richmond today as investigators showed off their newest tool in the fight against animal crimes.

The pictures are images etched into our minds: The investigation into Michael Vick's dog fighting ring, at his home. Some of those same crimes are happening right in our backyard here in Richmond too.

For more than a decade, Chris Schindler, with the Humane Society of the United States, has been investigating these crimes.

"It's heartbreaking to see the things people can do to animals but at the same time it's rewarding," says Schindler. That's because he helps rescue the dogs and other animals. Now, he's hoping the new mobile animal crime lab, will help save even more animals.

"We want to make sure the vehicle was as versatile as it can be to be used for animal fighting, cockfighting so we make sure all the equipment as necessary is there for anything that can come up," says Schindler.

Inside, there are two examining rooms that investigators can use to check out the animals right on the scene, and there is several types of forensic tools; tests to gather evidence of the crime right away.

For Robin Starr of the Richmond SPCA, this new crime lab comes at a perfect time. "We do see the really sad results of cruelty and neglect right here in Richmond and we are just so delighted that HSUS is providing this wonderful unit so these crimes can be more successfully prosecuted."

With the added bonuses this lab provides, investigators think this will stop the significantly growing trend of animal fighting nationwide.

"With this vehicle, if we are able to get stronger prosecution and people actually going to jail, people will think twice about getting involved in these acts," adds Schindler.

The crime lab was funded through a grant. It will be stationed up in Washington, D.C., and will travel across the country whenever needed.

You can also cash in by calling the tip line, 877-TIPS-HSUS with any information on a possible animal cruelty case. You could be eligible for up to a $5,000 reward for your information.

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