The humane society reports that more than 3,000 animals are abused each year in North Carolina. Investigators in Jones County said they respond to at least 125 cases a year.
NewsChannel 12 spoke with the county’s only animal crime investigator to find out what recent help they received to fight animal cruelty in their area.
Investigator Thomas LaBuda has been working with an animal crime unit for more than 23 years. He said the Jones County Sheriff's Department has zero tolerance for two things, drugs and animal cruelty.
LaBuda said from puppy mills, to animals being starved and neglected, it's a growing problem in Jones County.
He said the department recently received funds from the Humane Society of the United States and another philanthropic organization to stop this crime in its tracks.
“The vehicle is equipped with lights and sirens like a patrol vehicle but i need specialized equipment. Before I had a car, but almost no equipment at all. This is the difference between day and night," LaBuda explained.
He said until now he didn't have any of this gear to do his job.
"I have what is called a catch pole, a forensic kit, food, a set of incredibly powerful binoculars and a portable cage that opens up to transport animals to a shelter," LaBuda said.
He said another part of his job is education, to teach people how to spot this crime when it happens and know the laws against animal cruelty.
"If you can stop it now you may very well have stopped it from growing," LaBuda said.
Officials said if you see animal abuse happening call your local law enforcement agency. All calls are anonymous.