EPPD: Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit seeks better shelter for victims

El Paso News

The Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit under the El Paso Police Department is exploring options to find better shelter for the animals, saying the housing situation is its biggest challenge when pursuing cases.

The ACIU was established in November of 2017 and Sgt. Sandra Zamudio, the unit supervisor, says it is still a young department.

As of now, the ACIU works hand-in-hand with Animal Services for investigations. However, it is searching for proper shelter facilities to house cruelty victims.

 “Animal control is not a rescue it’s not a shelter they’re a municipality, it’s a facility within the city so they’re not ideally the place where you want to house a cruelty victim,” Sgt. Zamudio said. 

The Animal Services Operations Supervisor Gina Ramirez explains why this environment is not ideal for abused animals.

“If you take the shelter environment into account it’s stressful so with any given animal, stray or victim abuse, we would prefer to have them in a foster based home again because the shelter is a stressful environment for them, we would prefer to have animal in a foster based home,” Ramirez said.

The ACIU is a fairly new EPPD unit, it was established in November 2017. Sgt. Zamudio says limited housing is the unit’s biggest challenge when pursuing new cases. 

“As far as the unit hopefully it will grow bigger that way we can handle more cases and that way we can detach more from animal services,” Zamudio said.

The unit serves not just the City of El Paso, but the county as well, giving detectives a larger base to cover, which means more cases to investigate.

“The unit would have less work, less animals would get impounded and turned over to animal control if we realize that we need to take responsibility for the pets we bring home,” Sgt. Zamudio said.

She says the unit is exploring options to find an outside entity to house the victims, but for now, says that it is still in the early phases. 

Animal Services and EPPD rely on the public for help in alternate housing for the victims. 

“Unfortunately the shelter is a last resort of where we want to have the animals so we always try to reach out to fosters, we try to recruit citizens to volunteer their time as well,” Ramirez said. 

If you’d like to become a foster home, click here.

Animal Services says any type of donations helps as well, they ask for food, blankets, crates, even just 30 minutes of time to walk the animals.

If you see an animal that appears to be experiencing animal cruelty you can call the ACIU hotline at 915-212-0800 and speak to a detective Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you call on the weekend or after hours you can leave a message. 

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