The Atlanta Police Department has created a sworn police officer position for investigating animal cruelty crimes and reducing incidents of officer-involved dog shootings and dog attacks on people.
Senior Police Officer Amy Soeldner was announced Monday as the first Animal Cruelty Liaison Officer. Soeldner has worked for the APD since 1995 and conducted animal cruelty training at the Atlanta Police Academy since January 2015, according to a press release.
The need for such a position intensified after a January dog attack in which a 6-year-old boy was killed and a 5-year-old girl was injured while walking to school in southwest Atlanta, the statement said. The owner of the dog is facing criminal charges regarding the attack.
Chief Erika Shields said she believes there is a “direct correlation between how a person treats animals and their propensity toward violence against humans.” Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith worked with the APD and the community to create the position, the press release said.
In June, City Council unanimously approved changes to its animal control ordinance, including harsher punishments for owners of “vicious and dangerous dogs.”