Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 15, 2014

Falls police look to take a bite out of animal abuse with a new cruelty investigator

Falls police take bite out of animal abuse with new cruelty investigator

Niagara Gazette — Sometimes his cases have a happy ending.

Other times, they're heartbreaking.

But for Falls Police Officer Dave Bower, the department's new animal cruelty investigator, there's no other post he'd rather fill.

"I really enjoyed my time out on patrol," Bower, a more than 23-year veteran of department, said. "But this, I'm loving it. You know, the animals don't have a voice, but now I can help them."

The idea for a full-time animal cruelty investigator sprang from ongoing talks between the Falls and the SPCA of Niagara over plans for the city to take over the job of animal control.

"We identified that we had an exorbitant number of animal cruelty cases," Falls Police Superintendent Bryan DalPorto said. "And they were falling by the wayside because no one was investigating them. They needed some follow through."

The SPCA of Niagara, at one time, had an animal cruelty investigator. But SPCA Executive Director Amy Lewis said there's no money for that now.

"Our budget doesn't allow for an animal cruelty investigator on staff," she said. "It's great that (Falls police) have dedicated an officer to that purpose."

Bower, who serves on the SPCA's Board of Directors, had been doing animal abuse investigations, along with fellow and former board members Bryan Barish and Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert, on a volunteer basis. Lewis said the amount of work involved in animal cruelty cases makes a full-time investigator a much smarter approach.

"Especially in the summer, when the volume of (cruelty) cases tends to increase," Lewis said. "Falls police picked the perfect time to transition (Bower) into that role."

DalPorto agreed that Bower was a perfect choice for a tough job.

"He had done some animal cruelty investigations for the SPCA and we thought we could use that expertise," DalPorto said. 

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