SPCA officers need a lift

She said the group is more aimed at community welfare now and besides offering an animal abuse hotline they provide programs, such as a responsible pet ownership class, detection and prevention of animal cruelty class and humane education training geared towards law enforcement officers. Also, SPCA is pursuing opportunities to partner with other community groups.

"If you think about animal abuse in the larger context of community welfare, I think it is considered a gateway crime and can be an important indicator," said Wyczawski. "There is a correlation to animal abuse and domestic violence, she said, with early detection of the problem leading to a greater chance for a positive outcome through family counseling, diversion programs or community service.

"It is a kind of a cause and effect thing, you can't address one thing without the other," said Wyczawski. "We are doing it in such a way that we are considering our impact on the general welfare of the entire community."

A new task force the group is trying to put together will deal with the issue of animal hoarding. In order to deal with the problem they are reaching out to the mental health community for help.

"There is escalating incidents of animal hording and we have a little bit of a controversial stand on it, but basically animal hoarding can be a part of some sort of mental illness," she said. "Mental health tends to be involved, so right now we are reaching out to members of the mental health community to participate in the task force we are forming to provide a more comprehensive solution."

Currently the group is comprised of 12 law enforcement volunteers and there are civilian volunteers trying to raise awareness about animal cruelty through education and fundraising efforts. SC SPCA is also a relatively new group, which formed over two years ago.

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