The Use of Social Media to Investigate Animal Crime: Considerations for Law Enforcement Professionals
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We live in a world surrounded by social media. Those who perpetrate animal abuse are all too eager to share information on numerous social media sites. The trained investigator should include this information as part of their case file. Probable cause of a crime can be obtained by utilizing social media. Photographs, videos, geotags, affiliates, and co-conspirators are readily available utilizing many social media sites. Utilizing this information, law enforcement and animal control are poised to step inside the world of a perpetrator in ways never thought possible.
This presentation will illustrate the use of social media in the investigation of an animal fighting investigation that took place in Defuniak Springs, FL in May of 2015. This case example will cover the cultivation of probable cause using social media posts and end with the review of the scene response by law enforcement and the ASPCA. This case highlights also highlights the importance of public-private partnerships between law enforcement and non-governmental organizations.
Based out of Fort Myers, Florida, Adam Leath investigates and responds to situations involving animal victims of natural disasters and animal cruelty cases in the Southeast Region for the ASPCA. Since starting in this position, Leath led one of the largest operations in ASPCA history with the seizure of over 1,000 animals in August of 2016. Leath also successfully investigated one of the largest cockfighting cases in Florida history, resulting in the seizure of more than 650 birds and numerous arrests. Leath has responded to multiple dogfighting operations throughout his time at the ASPCA, including the second largest dog fighting bust in U.S. history in 2013, resulting in the seizure of more than 400 dogs.
Leath holds a bachelor's degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee and a Graduate Certificate in Veterinary Forensic Science from the University of Florida. He is the President of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association and is a Certified National Animal Cruelty Investigator through the University of Missouri. He has also been certified in Equine Cruelty Investigation through the University of Colorado. Leath has been certified as an expert witness in animal fighting and animal cruelty in the state of Florida and in New York. He currently consults with law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels on cases of animal abuse.