Since its formation in 1868, the MSPCA has been involved in the protection of animals. By the 1870s, when the first animal cruelty laws were enacted, the MSPCA had both paid and volunteer officers working across the state to investigate and prosecute animal cruelty allegations.
In the years to come, the MSPCA would establish a full-time Law Enforcement Department consisting of highly-trained and professional police officers. These officers attend a state-sponsored police academy, followed by 40 hours of annual in-service training and yearly firearms and first responder recertification. They are commissioned as special state police officers to investigate and enforce Massachusetts animal cruelty laws. Across the state these officers execute warrants, file felony charges, and testify in court – all at no cost to taxpayers.
Officers responding to cruelty complaints make every reasonable effort to educate offenders before filing for prosecution. Animals without proper shelter, in need of medical attention, not receiving proper nutrition, and animals abandoned when an owner moves away are only a small sample of the complaints that are investigated. Education is especially important for cases in which the letter of the law has not been broken, but neglect exists through failure to meet an animal’s social and physical needs. The law enforcement department works closely with MSPCA veterinarians and other personnel to provide necessary care to seized animals during sometimes lengthy court proceedings. Annually, the MSPCA Law Enforcement Department inspects many thousands of animals.