By Pat KRAMER
“It’s been proven that animal cruelty can be an indication of domestic violence in the home,” said Nelson Picardo, legislative aide to 39th District Assembly member Patty Lopez at a workshop held on Sept. 16 in Sunland-Tujunga. “While these are difficult subjects for most people to talk about and hear about, it’s very important that the community have this information so these issues can be addressed.”
The workshop, which was attended by 35 people, took place at Sunland Foursquare Church, 10602 Sherman Grove Ave. in Sunland and included information from representatives of the LAPD, the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, and the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health. In addition to Picardo, attending the meeting were Brenda Fortune and Olga Torrejon, who serve as legislative aides to Assemblywoman Lopez.
LAPD Officer Jean Lamas, who leads the domestic abuse response team (DART), started the meeting by describing the different ways domestic abuse is perpetuated: on partners and spouses, the elderly and children. Often, police arrive on the scene only to be told that it was all a “misunderstanding.” Lamas attributed this response to fear of the perpetrator, who may threaten to harm others in the family if a complaint is made. Knowing this, Lamas said his team has special training to ask questions of those involved in an incident of domestic abuse.
Unfortunately, companion animals are also targets for the abuser, both before and after assaulting an individual.
Knowing about animal abuse and not reporting it is a contributing factor to ongoing, repeated cases of domestic abuse. Lamas encouraged those who suspect or have witnessed any form of animal abuse to call or text the incident in so that animals can be taken to a secure location while the alleged crime is being investigated. To report a case of animal abuse that is occurring, call 9-1-1 or, if after the fact, call (818) 756-8861.
The next speaker was Wendy Monge, a registered nurse from Nurse Family Partnership, who talked about the resources offered through the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health. Monge works primarily with first time mothers and pregnant teens or young women (aged 15 to late 20s) who are living in at-risk situations. By visiting them in their homes, she is able to provide nutritional information on what a baby will need and how to prepare for the arrival of a newborn. By helping at-risk mothers prepare for a new baby, sometimes situations that can otherwise cause frustration or anger can be alleviated. For more information, visit www.nursefamilypartnership.org.
When to file a restraining order and what a restraining order can do was the next subject, which was addressed by Attorney Vanessa Martinez from the County of Los Angeles. A restraining order is a temporary or short-term legal document that can provide police protection at a moment’s notice whenever a person is being threatened by the abuser. In cases of domestic violence, restraining orders can be obtained for free from the Los Angeles Police Dept. if there is reasonable proof to support one’s case. Restraining orders are issued when an adult or child has injuries or is in imminent danger. Once the restraining order is filed, it must be served by a sheriff (or another party over the age of 18) to the defendant within 24 hours. For more information on retraining orders, contact LAPD.
Eugenia Pensel, a certified batterer interventionist, then talked about her job that involves working with defendants in jail or prison who have been convicted of committing a battery. By providing assessments and behavioral coaching to these individuals, the chances of them committing a similar crime are lower.
Kassandra Perez, prosecutor for the City Attorney’s Office, ended the workshop by reviewing the link between domestic violence and cases of animal abuse and encouraged those who have witnessed such events to report them to LAPD. Being involved and coming forward – even by using the anonymous tip line – is critical to stopping the cycle of abuse.
To report animal abuse or other crimes in the City of Los Angeles area, call (877) 527-3247 (877-LAPD247).
Tips can be made anonymously to 2-7-4-6-3-7 (which spells out “Crimes”). In the body of the text, type the word “LAPD” then leave a space, then type the crime tip and send it. A confirmation from TipSoft will be sent after a tip is submitted. For the purpose of one’s own protection, LAPD suggests deleting both the outgoing text and the incoming response from 274637.
To send an anonymous tip via email, go to www.lapdonline.org and follow the link for “Anonymous Web Tips.” Tipsters will be asked to fill in a form and submit it via the internet.
For more information on any of these subjects, email Assemblymember Patty Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Brenda Fortune at her office (818) 365-2464. The office of Assemblywoman Lopez is located at 302 S. Brand Blvd., San Fernando, CA.