BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — In the wake of reports of dogs being placed in dumpsters and puppies being set out in crates in Raleigh County, Raleigh County Commissioner Greg Duckworth said on Thursday, January 4, 2023, that citizens may report abandoned animals to law enforcement so that those responsible may face criminal charges.

Duckworth said the typical pattern is for people to call Raleigh County Animal Control to report a stray dog.

Animal control officers cannot make arrests for suspected cases of animal cruelty, he said.

Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office deputies have authority to charge those who force animals into the elements, without food and water, with animal cruelty, under federal and state law.

A bi-partisan federal law passed under former President Donald Trump imposes fines of up to $10,000, along with possible jail time, to those who abuse animals.

“It would help law enforcement if the call came in as ‘animal cruelty,'” said Duckworth. “Animal cruelty’s a big deal, and when those calls come in as animal cruelty, and there’s starvation, things like that, we take those very serious.”