Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton heads the task force with co-chairs councilwoman Thelda Williams and councilman Michael Nowakowski.
The task force started with plans to campaign for public awareness and potential legislative regulations.
Phoenix residents, Phoenix Police Department officers and members of the Arizona Humane Society comprise the task force.
Task force member and Arizona Rep. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, said the “multi-faceted approach” is a three-step process toward preventing animal cruelty issues.
McGee said the first step of reducing animal neglect is establishing potential legislative fixes and city ordinances.
She said regulating animal treatment and generating a campaign to encourage public awareness are also significant goals.
“This is an ongoing problem,” McGee said. “With difficult economic times, animal (rescues are) seeing more and more instances of animal neglect and mistreatment,” McGee said.
Kari Nienstedt, Arizona state director of the Humane Society of the U.S., was contacted to provide background information and educational resources.
“The committee is a group of very passionate people looking to make significant changes,” Nienstedt says.
McGee said there are several types of circumstances the state government is watching out for.
The task force is focusing on pet owners who neglect their pets as a result of financial instability rather than cruelty, she said.
Animal hoarders are an uncommon, but necessary, subject the group will concentrate on as well, McGee said.
“We are looking at these issues from all aspects,” Nienstedt says.
Nienstedt and McGee said students could contribute to the awareness campaign by educating themselves and understanding the severity of animal abuse, and carelessness.
“As a student you should ask yourself, what do you do when you see an animal locked in a hot car?” McGee said. “Students should put it on their radar to be aware of mistreatment issues.”
Public relations sophomore Rachael Coukoulis said the task force is a good program for both ASU and the Phoenix area.
“Abuse is abuse,” Coukoulis said, “Animal abuse and neglect is an issue that’s pushed aside most of the time. It’s great our representatives are finally taking action.”
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