ACO Training & Education
Animal Fighting Investigations
Join us April 23rd – 25th, 2024 from 0800 – 1700 hours, at the Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien, WA.
- Federal Animal Fighting
- Washington State Fighting Laws
- Levels of Animal Fighting
- Animal Fighting Investigations
- Animals as Evidence
Assistant Attorney General
Washington Attorney General’s Office
Meet the Instructors!
Richard Samuels is a Master Deputy with the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and has been in service for 24 years. Samuels has spent his time in the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office as an Animal Control Officer. Samuels has been certified as a National Cruelty Investigator, a Field Training Officer, and a Department of Criminal Justice Services General Instructor and Subject Matter Expert.
Samuels has completed over 1700 hours of training and often lends his expertise in crisis negotiation, electronic surveillance, interviewing and interrogation, and animal fighting to law enforcement throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as other states and federal agencies.
Samuels has been qualified as an expert in animal fighting and cruelty to animals 15 times in the courts of the Commonwealth and once in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Samuels is a founding member and current Vice President of the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force and the current President of the Virginia Animal Control Association.
Samuels has worked undercover and infiltrated large-scale cockfighting operations and through this work several active cockfighter’s were successfully prosecuted and a large pit, “Big Blue,” was shut down and bulldozed after a federal court order was handed down.
Samuels is the recipient of several awards throughout his service. More recently, in 2019, Samuels was awarded the Humane Law Enforcement Award by the Humane Society of the United States and the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force was awarded the Agency of the Year award by the Virginia Animal Control Association in 2023. Samuels is a United States Air Force Veteran who lives in Spotsylvania County with his wife and their cats.
A. K. Taylor has been working in animal welfare for over 20 years. Taylor is the first Animals Crimes Investigator for the Office of the Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Taylor assists law enforcement and animal control throughout Virginia.
Ms. Taylor completed her undergraduate studies in Forensic Crime Scene Investigation, she continued her studies and achieved a Master of Science and Post-Baccalaureate degree in Criminal Justice. Ms. Taylor is a Department of Criminal Justice Services General Instructor and a Subject Matter Expert. Taylor is also a Nationally Certified Animal Control Officer.
Ms. Taylor has investigated 100’s of animal fighting cases and has been on scene for more than 100 animal fighting search warrants. Taylor has been qualified as an expert in animal cruelty, animal neglect, and animal fighting 22 times in Virginia courts. Taylor has also been qualified as an expert in dogfighting and animal cruelty in two United States District Courts. More recently Taylor was qualified as an expert in dog fighting in a Maryland court.
Ms. Taylor was the honored recipient of the City of Richmond Meritorious Service to Law Enforcement Award in 2006. Taylor also received the Compassion Award in 2004 and the President’s Award in 2014 from the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and was voted one of Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2011. In 2019, Ms. Taylor was honored with the Humane Law Enforcement Award presented by the Humane Society of the United States and the National Sheriffs Association.
Ms. Taylor is a regular guest instructor at both William and Mary School of Law and the University of Richmond School of Law. Taylor is a faculty instructor for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Crater Criminal Justice Academy, and lends her expertise to Justice Clearinghouse and several other academies serving animal control and law enforcement, to include the Virginia State Police. She is a member of the National Animal Control Association, the Virginia Animal Control Association, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and the Virginia Gang Investigators Association.