QUEENS — The victims of animal cruelty can’t speak for themselves, but Queens District Attorney Richard Brown wants to make sure their suffering won't go unpunished.
Brown has just created an Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit, which will serve to pursue “allegations of animal cruelty, abuse and neglect in Queens County,” according to the Queens DA’s office.
The goal of the unit — the first of its kind in New York City — is also to educate the public about how to prevent and detect animal abuse, the DA’s office said.
“Acts of animal cruelty can range from neglect and abandonment to serious physical injury and even death and include such organized blood sports as dog and gamecock fighting ... in which the animals are encouraged to fight to the death,” Brown said in a statement, adding that studies have shown that animal abuse "can be a precursor to crimes against people."
The new unit will work closely with the NYPD’s recently formed Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, which was established in 2014 after the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals closed its investigative division.
Until now, Brown said, animal cruelty cases have been prosecuted by different sections of his office, but he decided to create a unit dedicated to such incidents amid numerous instances of animal abuse in Queens.
On Monday, shortly after Brown announced the creation of the unit, a man was arrested and charged with killing his girlfriend’s dog by slamming the animal against the floor in front of the woman’s 11-year-old daughter in Forest Hills.
Brown has appointed Queens prosecutor Nicoletta Caferri, who handled numerous animal cruelty cases, as the first chief of the unit.
Caferri is currently working on a case, in which a Jamaica man was charged with aggravated animal cruelty after he was seen kicking, punching and choking his pit bull puppy.
“Aggressive prosecution of crimes against animals is critical to ensuring the safety of New York City residents, both human and animal,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti Cruelty Group, in a statement.
She added that the creation of the unit will send “a strong message that crimes against animals will not be tolerated in our city.”