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Hundreds of law enforcement personnel gather to learn how to combat animal cruelty

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of law enforcement personnel in Oklahoma gathered Wednesday to learn how to combat animal cruelty.

The Humane Society of the United States put together an event to teach officers about puppy mills, dog fighting and other types of animal cruelty.

"They rely on us for protection, for nourishment, for love," said Lt. Mark Reynolds, Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

At Francis Tuttle Technology Center, hundreds of law enforcement members attended the training.

"Talking about all kinds of animals, horses, cattle," Reynolds said.

According to The Humane Society of the United States, there's a growing problem in Oklahoma.

"Oklahoma is ranked number four in terms of puppy mills in the United States," said Chris Brosan, Manager of Strategic Campaigns and Special Projects for The Humane Society of the United States.

This training focused on how to combat animal cruelty and to recognize different types from overt acts to neglect.

"There's only one inspector for the Department of AG who oversees puppy mills in the entire state," Brosan said. "It's the reason why we want law enforcement involved - to know how to deal with these things, because it's a huge issue here."

In addition to awareness, everyone got a 511 tactical bags, worth $500.

The tactical bags included a digital camera, batteries and tools needed to investigate animal crimes.

"Disposable gloves, zip lock bags for containing evidence. It's got multi-colored index cards for labeling evidence."

Event organizers also wanted officers to understand the link between animal cruelty and human violence.

"We want to make sure that these crimes don't escalate to perpetrators of human violence. That connection is really critical," said Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma Senior State Director for The Humane Society of the United States.

The training lasted from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

A total of five cities in Oklahoma participated in the training.