In January, the FBI implemented a new system of tracking animal cruelty crimes through its National Incident-Based Reporting System -- the same system that tracks murders and rapes.
For the first time, the FBI began collecting data on animal abuse cases through the comprehensive system, with the data collected in 2016 to be available in 2017.
“I think it’s brilliant that the FBI is recognizing it, finally, and doing something about it,” Humane Society of Greater Kansas City CEO Kate Fields told The Kansas City Star.
The FBI defines animal cruelty as "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning or abandonment.”
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Authorities who respond to animal abuse cases will be required to choose from one of four categories to report to the FBI: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse -- dog fighting and similar abuses -- and animal sexual abuse.
A case of animal cruelty will also now be classified by the FBI as a Group A offense and a “Crime Against Society” -- defined as a crime that “defies values held by society as a whole, rather than individuals or property.” Group A offenses are incident-based crimes like arson and murder, reports The Pioneer.
Animal abuse was previously classified as a Group B crime, which includes such crimes as curfew violations.
Mary Lou Randour, the Animal Welfare Institute’s senior advisor for Animal Cruelty Programs and Training, called Group B crimes a “dumping ground” where cases are rarely analyzed.