Animal abuse investigations the new focus of Manhattan DA program

An animal cruelty investigation program was launched by the Manhattan district attorney's office on Nov. 9, 2017. / iStock

A new program calls upon Manhattan’s prosecutors to focus on investigating crimes against animals, including neglect and hoarding, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced on Thursday.

The Animal Cruelty Program, which will be led by Assistant District Attorney Tanisha Palvia, aims to crack down on and prosecute animal cruelty cases, while training other ADAs to follow suit, according to the district attorney’s office.

Vance lauded Palvia’s efforts to combat animal cruelty, highlighting a recent case when she prosecuted Anthony Pastor, a man who beat his girlfriend’s dog to death in May. The felon received a two-year sentence in state prison, a 10-year animal ban, and a spot on the Animal Abuse Registry, the district attorney added.

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“The successful prosecution of crimes against animals goes beyond protecting four-legged or feathered New Yorkers — study after study has found a strong correlation between animal abuse and other crimes, including domestic violence,” Vance said. “We are committed to aggressively prosecuting these cases to better protect the animals — and people — of our city.”

Research shows that 71 percent to 83 percent of domestic abuse victims entering shelters report that their partners also abused family pets, according to “The Care of Pets Within Child Abusing Families.”

“Animal cruelty is a gateway crime to further violence,” Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals, said. “[The] NYPD is pursuing animal cruelty, so [it’s] wonderful to see the next step in the criminal justice system will also vigorously prosecute such cases.”

In 2013, the NYPD's Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad combined efforts with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to dedicate manpower towards protecting the rights and safety of animals.