Animal cruelty cases rising in Maricopa County as top prosecutor announces new efforts to combat trend

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she’s hired a prosecutor and a specialized investigator who will coordinate with police to investigate the cases.
Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 1:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The Maricopa County Attorney says new efforts are underway to combat the increase in animal cruelty cases, with numbers in 2022 that have already eclipsed last year’s.

County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says her office handled 34 animal cruelty cases in 2020. In 2021, there were 38 cases. So far in 2022, she says there are currently 44.

Arizona’s Family has covered a number of cases this year already. In March, a Surprise man was arrested for animal cruelty after police rescued a dozen dogs from his apartment. In June, Phoenix police say a woman threw her own dog into a canal after it bit her. In July alone, a man was arrested for the alleged neglect of 33 livestock animals on his Phoenix farm, a dog was found with its muzzle and front legs duct-taped at a church, and dozens of chihuahuas were rescued from severe hoarding conditions at a home in Tempe.

What’s more is that Mitchell says animal cruelty is a gateway to more violent crimes. “If criminal elements get away with small offenses, and let me be very clear — I don’t consider animal abuse to be a small offense — they become emboldened to pursue bigger crimes or crimes against human beings,” she said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

She says that one prosecutor who focused on animal cruelty cases for years is leaving the office after being appointed as a judge. To fill that gap, Mitchell says she’s hired a seasoned prosecutor along with a specialized investigator who will coordinate with law enforcement to support investigations and successful prosecutions.

If you suspect an animal is being abused, you have a few different ways to report it:

  • City of Phoenix Crime Stop at 602-262-6151
  • Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at 602-876-1681
  • Arizona Humane Society at 602-997-7585, ext. 2073 or submit a report online

Otherwise, contact your local police department.