Heeding the Call to Work for Animals

Posted by Dana Campbell, ALDF's Chief Contract Attorney on January 14, 2008

My husband doesn’t want to hear about my work at the end of the day. Oh sure, he is proud of the work we do here at ALDF, but he doesn’t want to–cannot bear to–hear about the heartbreak of animals suffering and dying due to illegal cruelty and neglect occurring in the cases we work on all across this country. On the occasions when he inadvertently steps into the room as I am reviewing photos of dogs with missing eyes or broken jaws sitting in unbelievable filth, or horses so thin you can count every bone on their skeleton while they chew on a wood fencepost for food, he turns tail and runs back out again and talks to me from the hallway. Sometimes I start telling him about a new legal strategy we are thinking of using and in the course of the discussion I slip into a description of the torture an animal has endured and he slaps his hands over his ears. Oops.

Animal cruelty is hard to hear about, even harder to witness in person or in photos, especially the first time you come across it. As a former prosecutor and now an animal advocate I’ve seen my share of gore and learned to deal with it in order to do my job. But it isn’t an easy thing to get to that point, and every once in a while a photograph of a hurt whiskered face or a written investigative report of an animal’s lengthy death process breaks through my crusty shell and breaks me down. Frequently when people find out what I do for a living, they say they don’t understand how I can do it, face all that horror every day. My response is always that it’s easier to face it and try to do something to help these poor creatures than to do nothing at all.

However, I certainly do understand that many folks want to help without having to endure seeing the things we see here, and we appreciate all of you who do so by either writing to us or to the officials listed in our Actionline cases, or by donating your legal expertise or dollars so we can be your eyes and ears in the field. So go ahead, avert your eyes if you must, just do something else constructive instead. The animals will thank you, and so will I.