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Advocates calling for animal cruelty unit changes at Las Vegas police department

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Posted at 6:10 AM, Apr 12, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Animal activists are calling for changes at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department when it comes to its Animal Cruelty Unit.

Nevada Voters for Animals says felony animal cruelty cases are going too long unsolved. The nonprofit created a petition asking LVMPD to add another detective to its Felony Animal Cruelty Unit.

Currently, the department has one detective in the unit. The other detective left and budget restraints have delayed a new hire.

The petition was sparked after a surveillance video surfaced showing a dog named Goliath being dragged down the street by a leash in January. NVFA President Gina Greisen says Goliath was brutally beaten and left for dead.

Goliath has now recovered, but the question of who did it remains unsolved.

“I doubt anyone else would have gone out there and found the surveillance video. They don’t have time to go out there to knock on doors and talk to people like we spent all day doing, they already only have one and it’s been months,” Greisen said.

RELATED: Stricter animal protection ordinance passes in North Las Vegas

The nonprofit Vegas Pet Rescue Project says Goliath is just the tip of the iceberg. Volunteer Tina Hayes says many cases they report go without justice.

The group cited a pitfall named Honey who lost her life after allegedly being intentionally starved, Mojito, who died after being sold with Parvo, and Harrison, who was malnourished and neglected.

“When we reported it nothing has been done, we’re still in the system with Harrison,” Hayes said. “It’s not fair to the animals, it’s not fair to us who severely care about these animals.”

Animal control is the first line of defense. It gathers evidence and handles misdemeanor offenses.

Robert Sigal is the sole detective for the LVMPD's Felony Animal Cruelty Unit. He says he handles about 10 cases of felony animal cruelty a month but helps with cases in other units.

“Having one doesn’t mean cases aren’t investigated. Does it sometimes delay a case getting to the prosecutor? It might. But it doesn’t mean a case is being forgotten or left behind,” Sigal said. “When we have cases that are truly egregious where animals are in danger and we need to remove from home, we do that day, that moment. We do the back-end investigation to make sure the person is properly prosecuted.”

RELATED: Man who tortured dog on the Las Vegas Strip sentenced

Soon, Sigal will have some critical help. He says the department received more money from the federal government, which will allow them to hire another detective in October or November.

Greisen says October is not soon enough.

“I feel like that’s too late. How long is Goliath’s case going to wait? How long are these other cases going to wait? They are our family members. We want their status elevated and taken seriously when crimes against them are happening,” she added.

EXTRA: Daily Debrief with Jason Dinant and Kelsey McFarland

Daily Debrief with Kelsey McFarland | April 12, 2021