The Real Vegan Police

Satya Magazine is a monthly publication focusing on vegetarianism, environmentalism, animal advocacy, and social justice. In Sanskrit, "satya" means "truth," and formed the basis of Mohandas Gandhi’s Satyagraha or "truth action" movement for Indian self-sufficiency.

Satya Magazine is committed to continuing Gandhi’s legacy by increasing dialogue among activists from diverse backgrounds and engaging readers in ways to integrate compassion into their daily lives
Catherine Clyne from Satya had a chance to talk with Special Agent Kristi Adams about being a Humane Law Enforcement officer in New York City.

How did you get interested in working with animals?

Ever since I can remember I have loved animals. Growing up we had all types of critters, dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, ducks. My parents were a big influence. Before I was even born, my dad was a cop in upstate New York and he used to rescue dogs. Back then a lot of small towns didn’t have animal shelters and wayward dogs were usually euthanized in ways I don’t even want to think about.

So dad would bring home the dogs he found during his shift and we would try to adopt them out—quite a few stayed. Two of our goats were rescued from a horrible roadside zoo. We once rescued 13 rabbits on their way to slaughter, and spent a day fencing in part of the yard, complete with converted dog houses and a little wooden sign that read ‘Bunny Meadow.’ We also rescued wildlife, and when I turned 16, I received my wildlife rehabilitator license. We had a big barn and a section of it was converted into a ramshackle hospice.

And at one time or another every bathroom in our house has been turned into a nursery—litters of baby squirrels, rabbits, a fawn, even skunks have all passed through the Adams house. And there is still nothing quite like going home to visit my parents and seeing all the critters, some of which I have literally grown up with. It’s funny, a lot of people think I am this naive farm girl growing up on an animal sanctuary, but it all led me to become a very compassionate, liberal and progressive person. By growing up the way I did, I learned to identify and understand the suffering of others.

All the animals we adopted, rescued, and rehabbed were our friends, our family. I mean we had chickens, and we did eat their eggs, but we never ate the chickens. People don’t realize that chickens can live to be in their 20s. I think we had the oldest chickens in the state.

What made you choose a career as a Humane Law Enforcer?

My passion for animal welfare. I became a vegetarian when I was 12 and a vegan at 15. And I have been an avid animal activist since elementary school.

The fact is, animals don’t have anyone to speak up for them. I began watching Animal Precinct from day one, and it has always been my dream job. I was simply amazed and thought they were the luckiest people to go out and investigate animal cruelty—to arrest people who abuse animals.

I started taking all sorts of classes on animal rescue, and attended the University of Missouri-Columbia Law Enforcement Training Institute. I spent years working in veterinarian hospitals, and in various animal shelters as an animal control officer. I have been working hard to get where I am today and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Of course there are things I don’t like about it. It can be frustrating. I feel the punishments should be harsher.

Very rarely do people get jail time.

But I feel I am now able to really help push for such changes.

What are the most common cases that you investigate?

Skinny dogs. People, for whatever reason—can’t afford it, can’t be bothered with it, or they feel the animal is simply not worth their time or money—starve their dogs. Those are the most common cases: emaciated, starving dogs.

Hoarders, people who literally collect animals, are also very common. To follow that up is a range of things, from neglect and abandonment to the fighting of dogs or roosters to intentional physical abuse. It’s all a crime.

Although regulations vary, I believe 31 states now have laws that make certain acts of animal cruelty felonies, while the rest are treated as misdemeanors.


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