By Rachael O'Neil | CBS 11 News

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth’s Code Compliance is seeing an uptick in animal cruelty cases in the area. According to Brandon Bennett, the city’s Code Compliance Director, more than 2,500 calls within the last year were reported, which raised concern.

(credit: Getty Images)

“That a lot of times goes hand-in-hand with domestic abuse,” Bennett explained. “It becomes a gateway crime, sometimes with children to where, they start by torturing cats and then later in life, they move up to other crimes against people.”

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That’s why the Fort Worth Police Department decided to add an option of reporting animal cruelty on their online reporting system. The complaints will go straight to a detective. Officers say, the tool is meant for people to easily and safely bring attention to the crime.

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“What we’re seeking is that people don’t approach an animal that they see at someone’s house,” said Fort Worth Officer Tracy Carter. “Reach out to us, contact us, let us go out and let us deal with it because we don’t want to create any type of civil matter there.”

But Carter also doesn’t want violators to get away with animal cruelty. The offense may result as high as a felony and as low as a misdemeanor. Ultimately, people are encouraged to use the new system as much as possible.

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The Fort Worth Police Department online reporting system is fully operational seven days a week, 24 hours a day.