New Castle News

May 26, 2013

Police to handle animal abuse calls

Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Animal abuse complaints over the next few months should be directed to police — local or state.

Complaints which go to the county will be referred to them because Lawrence County’s humane officer position is currently vacant following the death of Detective William “Jerry” McCarthy.

The position was part of District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa’s office and Lamancusa said he expects to place ads this week seeking a replacement.

However, he said it will take time to fill the post because applicants have to go through background checks and the county hiring process. Once hired, they also must undergo training for the position.

John Altman, president of Lawrence County Animal Relief Fund, said that fortunately, Lawrence County’s Pennsylvania state police station also has an animal cruelty investigator.

Trooper Shawn King has held the post, which is new with the state police, for approximately five months. King, who took a week-long training for the position, is available to any local police departments, as well as residents in areas not covered by local departments, for animal abuse and neglect calls.

King said he has worked with the county humane officer and will continue to do so. He also provides advice and assistance to several other state police stations.

His training taught him to recognize neglect and abuse indicators and King said part of his job is also to educate animal owners about the needs of the animal in cases where abuse is not intended.

King added that while he is available to provide assistance for animal problems, any police officer can enforce animal cruelty laws.

For animal complaints, he said, residents should first call their local police department or contact the state police if they don’t have police in the community or no one is on duty.

Until a new county humane officer is hired, Lamancusa also is forwarding calls received on the Animal Abuse Hotline to local police departments.

Altman told the Lawrence County Commissioners that his organization is ready to assist in any way needed to get another county humane officer, including “footing the bill for training and equipment.”

Altman commented that when McCarthy was hired, it was the fulfillment of Lamancusa’s promise to hire a county humane officer and the animal relief fund was also founded to help hire, equip and train such an officer. McCarthy was the first humane officer in the county who was a police officer with arrest powers, Altman said.

In addition to being the county humane officer, McCarthy was an investigator the district attorney’s office and a part-time Shenango Township police officer. He was killed in a traffic accident while on duty for Shenango.