Law Enforcement Sessions at 2016 Conference


Join us for this all day MCOLES-certified course on September 16, 2016 in Flint.
Register Now

Registration includes sessions, breakfast, lunch, breaks. Cost is $65 prior to 8/1/16; $80 after August/1/16. Register here

Why Attend? 

Companion animals are increasing as an intrinsic part of American culture.  Society’s views of animals’ value and rights are changing as animals become more integrated into our homes and communities.  This shift is evidenced by changes in our legal system, which is slowly developing to better protect animals.

Detroit Police dog shooting fineAs law enforcement officers you are a key component of the legal system and its relationship to animals.  Your frontline position has the most significant impact on how the laws designed to protect humans and animals are administered.  With the growing number of animals in our communities, your encounters with pets are increasing.

To effectively carry out your duties and protect the public, animals, and yourself, it is crucial to receive special training designed to help you understand the laws that apply to situations involving animals, enable you to quickly interpret animal behavior in face-to-face interactions, and be aware of the special issues that may arise in investigations involving crimes against animals.  This training has not been available UNTIL NOW!  This training course is designed to fill a gap in traditional law enforcement training and provide you the critical information needed to respond to animal-related issues in the field.

Method of instruction will include a combination of classroom lecture and discussion (including PowerPoint presentations) and handouts.  Participants will be evaluated through verbal questioning and group discussion and review.

Animals in the Field:  Law Enforcement Training was developed by the Michigan Humane Society.

Morning Sessions 8:30 a.m. – Noon

Welcome and Introduction – Matt Pepper
Human Violence and Animal Cruelty – Matt Pepper

  • Why is understanding animal cruelty important for law enforcement?
  • Case Studies
  • “The Link”
  • Animal Cruelty – the connection to murder and other crimes
  • What is the likelihood of law enforcement encountering animal cruelty or neglect?
  • Domestic Violence
  • Conclusion

Animals as Evidence – Debby MacDonald

  • Goals
  • Animals as Evidence
  • Processing the Animals at the Scene
  • Processing the Animals at your Facility
  • Cruelty Classifications and the Veterinarian’s Role
  • Testing
  • Chain of Evidence
  • Photographs
  •  Long-term Hold
  •  Zoonoses
  •  Adoption
  • Testifying

Michigan Animal Law – Ann Griffin, Esq. and Dr. Robert Fisher

  • Background
  • Michigan Laws Relevant to Law Enforcement
  • Criminal Penalties for Violating Michigan Law – Penal Code
  • Is it ever legal to shoot a dog?

Afternoon Sessions 1:15 – 4:30 p.m.

Animal Behavior and Handling in the Field – CJ Bentley and Debby MacDonald

  • Site Evaluation
  • Animal Evaluation
  • For Canines, Body Language is the Primary Form of Communication
  • What “Relaxed” Looks Like
  • What “Not Relaxed” Looks Like
  • Your Body Language – What are You Saying/Minimizing Aggression
  • The Bigger Picture
  • Preparations
  • Dogs – Minimizing Bite Damage
  • Equipment and Restraints
  • Cats

     Bloodsport Awareness – Dog Fighting – Debby MacDonald  

  • Historical Background
  • Behavior & Temperament
  • Types of Fighters
  • Betting/Contracts
  • Principal Participants
  • The Keep
  • Vitamins, Drugs & Vet Supplies
  • Fights
  • Internet as an Investigative Tool
  • How Do You Get a Conviction?
  • When to Get a Search Warrant
  • Investigative Recommendations
  • Animals as Evidence
  • Popular Culture

Meet Your Instructors

Matt Pepper

Matt Pepper


Matthew Pepper joined MHS as its CEO in August 2014.  He came to MHS with 15 years of animal welfare experience, including serving as director of Bernalillo County Animal Care Services in New Mexico and holding management positions with Memphis Animal Services in Tennessee, Caddo Parish Animal Services in Louisiana, Kent County Animal Control, and the Humane Society of West Michigan. He holds a B.S. in wildlife biology and has studied with the National Animal Care & Control Association, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute, and Code 3 Associates.








Ann Griffin, Esq.



Ann Griffin, Esq. is a licensed attorney with more than 16 years of experience in legal education administration and teaching.  She is Vice Chair of the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section, and she chairs the Section’s legislative committee.  From 2008-10, she managed a low-cost feline spay/neuter program for MHS.  In January 2015, she returned to MHS to serve as the Law Enforcement Training program administrator and to focus on legislative advocacy.









Dr. Robert Fisher

Dr. Robert Fisher, DVM

Dr. Robert Fisher, DVM: 
Dr. Fisher has been with MHS since 1985.  In his role as Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Medicine, he oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations from both financial and medical standpoints.  He is Chair of MHS’ legislative committee, and he is frequently called upon to testify before Michigan legislators regarding animal-related pending legislation.  His MHS veterinary medicine practice focuses on orthopedic and soft tissue surgery.







CJ Bentley and Rogue

CJ Bentley




CJ Bentley:  CJ Bentley has been MHS’ Sr. Director of Operations for more than 5 years and previously was with MHS as a volunteer and then as a staff program manager for nearly 20 years.  She is the past Executive Director of the Association of Professional Trainers and a current instructor for an Animal Assisted Therapy on-line program at Oakland University.  She has taught dog obedience classes for more than 15 years and is a published author, radio, and TV spokesperson on dog behavior and training.





Debby McDonald (Photo by Carolyn Hendra)



Debby MacDonald:  Debby MacDonald is the Chief Cruelty Investigator and Detroit Shelter Director for the Michigan Humane Society.  She has been with MHS for 24 years and has been a cruelty investigator for 20 years.  Qualified as an expert witness in dog-fighting investigations, she is currently an instructor for Code 3 Associates/Colorado State’s Cruelty Investigations Academy and has taught throughout the US.