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Big Country authorities learn skills for animal cruelty cases

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ABILENE, Texas - Big Country law enforcement officials arrived in Abilene Tuesday to sharpen their skills investigating animal cruelty cases.

Rescue the Animals organized a class at the West Texas Regional Training Center and brought in 30 officers, judges, and investigators from eight counties in the area.

"We understand the smaller communities, the smaller counties, they don't have the funding to pay for these people to go to school for this type of education," said Lynn Pitcox, an investigator with Rescue the Animals.

Retired police officer Alan Spence has 30 years of experience, most of which in animal control, and is an instructor at the class.

"Animal cruelty sometimes gets put way down in the list because you've got crimes against person that are certainly more of a priority," Spence said.

The participants took notes on the physical signs of an abused animal and how to serve search and seizure warrants for alleged criminals Tuesday.

"It's time consuming," Spence said. "It takes about 12 or 15 hours to sit down and put a case together."

He told his students the hardest part is putting the knowledge learned during the two-day class into action.

"It's important that they have the education to make these cases, because we are the only advocate they will have sometimes," he said.

Before classes finish Wednesday, they will learn how to investigate cases in dog and rooster fighting.

Rescue the Animals covers the tuition for all students attending the classes. They said most of the funding comes from private donors.

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