HOUSTON -

Harris County officials named a new animal cruelty specialist to its Special Victims' Bureau.

Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson announced Thursday that prosecutor Belinda Smith was appointed to the position.

The Special Victims' Bureau will provide additional support for investigations of animal abusers and help with the growing case load of animal cruelty offenses, officials said.

"This is a well-deserved honor," said Anderson. "Belinda has done an excellent job working with animal rights groups, the media and the public in raising awareness of this important issue in our criminal justice system."

The bureau includes the family criminal law division, which has three full-time investigators and nine other attorneys, officials said.

"I look forward to working with the investigators, new administration and additional prosecutors to build on our accomplishments," said Smith.