A public program in Yuma later this month could lead to the formation of a task force to fight animal cruelty.

"Confronting Animal Cruelty" is the topic for a video and discussion at 7 p.m. March 29 at the Yuma library, 350 3rd Ave.

"The educational video shows the link between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence," said Tammy Snook, an organizer of the Animal Defenders of Yuma, an

animal-advocacy group.

"It explores how both people and animals benefit when crimes against animals are taken seriously and perpetrators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Snook


Snook said the public is invited to the free program, with the goal of creating a task force on animal cruelty, by "facilitating an open dialogue between criminal justice and

animal control personnel, educators, social workers and concerned citizens of Yuma."

During the program, a presentation will address the prevalence of animal cruelty problems in Yuma County, and what city, county and state laws apply to animal cruelty.

"The laws are not always clear on what 'cruelty' and 'abuse' are, and how cases are to be treated," said Jeff Philpot, interim executive director of the Humane Society of Yuma.

"The state law, 13-29.10, has nine subsections to be interpreted.

"We do get calls from neighbors about animals left tied up outside without shade and water, and those living in unhealthy conditions. Abandonment and neglect are other


Philpot said the shelter sees cases of animal abuse. During fiscal year of July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005, shelter officers responded to 541 complaints of cruelty.

"As Yuma and the county grow, so do crimes, and that is the same for animal cruelty," Philpot said.

During that time period, 11,444 animals brought into the shelter overall, Philpot said.

Snook can be contacted at 1-800-801-3652, or e-mail yumanimals@gmail.com.

Pam M. Smith can be reached at

psmith@yumasun.com or 539-6856.

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