SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is taking steps to better prosecute people accused of animal abuse.

They created a new unit and task force to curtail a growing problem. It’s a move that people in the community say has been long-awaited.

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For more than a decade, Lacey Carroll has fostered about 75 forgotten, abused or mistreated animals.

“Animals make you feel good,” said Carroll, “I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like.”

All of her animals come with a troubled backstory of neglect and abuse.

It’s an unfortunate reality for hundreds of animals in Sacramento County.

“It’s becoming more prevalent,” explained Hilary Bagley Franzoia, a deputy district attorney, “far more egregious in recent years.”

Franzoia is heading up a new prosecution unit specifically tasked with crimes against animals.

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“There is felony neglect, and there is felony intentional abuse. We have both in Sacramento County,” said Franzoia.

Those crimes typically correlate to violence against people.

According to research from the United States Humane Society, they found animal abuse in 88 percent of domestic and child abuses investigations.

In a recent high profile mass shooting; the gunman who killed 26 people at a Texas church was previously charged with beating a dog with his fists.

“The community is shocked and appalled at these despicable things,” said Franzoia, referencing crimes against animals.

She says the new unit will allow law enforcement to locate offenders and prosecute them more efficiently.

“They really require that type, that level of investigation skill,” explained Franzoia.

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A step forward for the protection of animals and potentially people too.