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FBI Rolling Out A Plan To Track Worst Animal Cruelty Cases

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tracking animal cruelty. The FBI is rolling out a plan to keep an eye on the worst animal abuse cases around the country.

Animal rights groups in Baltimore are applauding the move.

As Gigi Barnett explains, sometimes violent crimes against people can be linked to animal abuse.

Back in August, Baltimore police bust up one of the largest-dog fighting rings discovered in the city. Many of the dogs were abused and forced to fight to the death.

Officers uncovered a gory scene.

"Blood splattered on carpets and walls, an actual ring where the dogs were being fought," said one officer.

Two months earlier, Animal Control officers hit a property on Patuxent Road in Odenton. They seized more than 250 birds that were allegedly being raised to participate in cock-fighting.

Police say Ethan Samuel Harmon posted photos and bragged on social media websites about his winnings.

Both of these cases will now go into an FBI database, along with thousands others across the country.

The agency says it will begin tracking animal cruelty cases this year.

The move couldn't come any sooner for animal-rights groups, like the Maryland SPCA.

"We are just very glad that this is happening. And everything takes time, we're just glad that it's happening now," said Katie Flory, Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission.

Until now, many animal cruelty cases were shuffled into the FBI's broad national database. Many of them got lost.

Now, agents will be able to see the link between where it happens, who does it, and maybe even how to stop it.

"The hope is by collecting this data, different jurisdictions--law enforcement--will be able to use it as a tool for intervention and prevention," said Flory.

Experts say many times there's a clear connection between cruelty against animals and violence against people. They say many times someone who abuses an animal will escalate to harming people.

The FBI says it will require all police departments to begin reporting animal cruelty cases, starting this month. The FBI will then categorize them under its "Crimes Against Society" division.

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