Animal cruelty crackdown
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Animal cruelty crackdown

Officers Ramon Muniz and Kim Lormans of the Los Angeles Police Department Animal Cruelty Task Force walk through the North Central Animal Shelter dog kennels looking for animals that might have been fighting or abused. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Nelia, a pit bull puppy, had several bones cracked by a Reseda man whose girlfriend broke up with him and avoided his calls. “Every time you . . . don’t pick up the phone, I am beating the dog,” Steven Butcher said in a voice mail message he left for her. (Los Angeles Police Department)
Butcher, 23, was sentenced last year to 270 days in jail for animal cruelty. The puppy survived and was adopted. (Los Angeles Police Department)
In 2006, Gene Speer, 34, killed his roommate’s terrier. He said he struck it in self-defense, but police believe he beat it to death after it defecated on the carpet. Speer was sentenced to 16 months in prison. (Los Angeles Police Department)
Muniz lets a dog at the shelter smell his hand. His five-member task force, created by the L.A. City Council in 2005, is part of the city’s crackdown on animal abuse. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The LAPD backed the creation of the task force, citing studies that said animal abusers were often involved in other crimes, such as drug trafficking, child abuse and domestic violence. The district attorney’s office recently selected specially trained prosecutors to handle animal-related cases. (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Lormans leans in for a closer look. LAPD Det. Susan Brumagin, who works with the task force, said suspects often react with surprise, not remorse: “None of the people we arrest think they could go to prison for hurting a dog or a cat.” (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Officers seized about 50 roosters and numerous knives used to attach to the birds’ spurs for fighting. Los Angeles police and prosecutors say they are taking crimes against animals more seriously than ever. (Los Angeles Police Department)
Israel Ramirez was charged last year with felony cockfighting. He had three prior convictions for cockfighting-related offenses, and was sentenced to 360 days in jail and ordered to undergo a year of animal abuse counseling. (Los Angeles Police Department)
Ramirez was arrested at his home in South Los Angeles during what police said was a contest, or “Derby Day.” A district attorney’s official said Ramirez was charging an entry fee and selling refreshments. (Los Angeles Police Department)