Brute Force looks at people having the most contact with everyday animal abuse: humane law enforcement officers who are charged with enforcing anti-cruelty statutes. The author spent one year studying 30 "animal cops" and dispatchers in two large cities. They see themselves as a power for the helpless, a voice for the mute. On-the-job experience changes this view. Rather than "fighting the good fight" against egregious cases of cruelty, they are overwhelmed with complaints that are ambiguous and must be "stretched" to qualify as legally defined abuse or with complaints of "barking dogs" or "thin" pets that are used in interpersonal disputes to get neighbors or spouses into trouble. Even more discouraging to officers are clear-cut and extreme cases of cruelty that do not lead to guilty verdicts or stiff penalties in court. Resulting cynicism is aggravated when rookies realize that they are seen as second-rate "wannabe" cops or closet animal "extremists." With little legitimate authority to enforce the law, animal cops become humane educators who try to make people into responsible pet owners.
Introduction: The Rookie’s Dilemma
1. Pecking Order
2. The Cruelty-Finding Exercise
3. Sizing Up Situations
4. Brute Force
5. It’s Just a Dog
Conclusion: Humane Realism