The Animal Crimes Investigations Unit remains one of the only units of its kind inside a law enforcement agency. The unit currently leads the way in enforcing animal cruelty laws and has helped create case law and served as an example for other law enforcement agencies in this groundbreaking area.

The work done by this unit is critical for a number of reasons not the least of which is this fact: there is a significant correlation between those individuals who perpetrate violent crimes against animals and those who eventually commit crimes against people.

Every year, the unit receives thousands of animal cruelty reports to our hotline. Specially trained detectives investigate every call. These investigations have resulted in the rescue and seizure of thousands of abused and neglected animals and produced hundreds of arrests.

When an animal is seized from an abusive or neglectful owner, unit investigators turn over care and custody of the animal to MASH (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Safe Haven). MASH utilizes an innovative program of supervised inmates to care for the animals, thus providing the inmates with animal care training and therapy.

MASH 1 is located in the old First Avenue Jail Building and houses cats, dogs, and small animals.

MASH 2 is located adjacent to the jail complex at 35th Avenue and Gibson Lane. MASH 2 is dedicated to the care of farm animals and livestock.

During the history of this unit, many notable investigations resulting in arrests have garnered local, state, national, and even international attention including:

  • The successful felony prosecution of a celebrity who, until his run in with this Sheriff’s Office, had eluded felony conviction for decades
  • Record single animal seizures in the hundreds (animals ranging from dogs, cats, and horses to reptiles and monkeys)
  • Mass arrest of 69 people for blood sport/animal fighting (cockfighting)
  • Investigations resulting in jail sentences for animal cruelty
  • Arrests for bestiality
  • Charges for associated crimes discovered during cruelty investigations including drug possession, child abuse, and fraud
  • Booking single suspects for in excess of 100 felony animal cruelty counts

Many of these cases set precedence for being the first of their kind arrests. When probable cause is established in an animal cruelty investigation, the suspect is booked into our Jail. Exceptions to this are only made in extenuating circumstances when the booking is not in the best interest of the community.

The Animal Crimes Investigations Unit is constantly asked to consult with other law enforcement agencies throughout the nation on how to properly conduct successful animal cruelty investigations.

The Animal Crimes Investigations Unit is proud to lead the way in this field and as such, has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards.

Animal Crimes by the Numbers: 2015: 289
2014: 269
2013: 304
2012: 522

If you are suspicious that an animal is being neglected or abused,
call our hotline number: (602) 876-1681
or email us at: animal_cruelty@mcso.maricopa.gov