Legislator Jon Cooper Co-sponsors National Justice for Animals Week, February 20-26

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on February 18, 2011

Suffolk County Sponsor of Nation’s First Animal Abuser Registry Is Named One of America’s “Top Ten Animal Defenders”

San Francisco–Suffolk County, New York Majority Leader Jon Cooper is joining the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in sponsoring National Justice for Animals Week 2011, February 20 – 26. Named one of America’s “Top Ten Animal Defenders” by ALDF, Cooper has a long history of fielding animal-friendly legislation, including the historic “Justin’s Law,” passed last October, which creates the nation’s first mandatory public registry for criminals convicted of animal abuse. The week is an annual event dedicated to raising awareness nationwide about how citizens can work within their communities to achieve real justice for animal victims–and honoring law enforcement, prosecutors, and legislators who give real teeth to laws protecting animals.

Justin after his rescue.The inspiration behind Cooper’s “Justin’s Law” is a 2-year-old Doberman mix who was locked inside a bedroom in a foreclosed home last May. Weighing just 19 pounds and covered in feces and urine when he was discovered, the dog was not expected to survive the night. Renamed because he was rescued “just in time,” the now-55 pound pup was adopted by Suffolk County SPCA Officer Regina Benfante and is the mascot for National Justice for Animals Week 2011.

Among the other top animal defenders being recognized this year by the Animal Legal Defense Fund are:

  • Deschutes County, Oregon’s Sheriff Larry Blanton and Lieutenant Shane Nelson , who in an unprecedented move created a 23-acre livestock rescue and shelter to care for neglected, abused, and abandoned large animals seized in criminal cruelty cases–setting a gold standard model for county sheriffs when it comes to seeking justice for abused farmed animals;
  • Tannaz Kouhpainezhad, a Los Angeles prosecutor who went after an abuser who tortured two Schnauzers to death and was caught by police when neighbors reported hearing whimpering from inside his home. The conviction of the abuser was upheld on appeal in the first case of its kind in the nation, when the Court agreed with Tannaz’s argument that law enforcement can legally enter a residence without a warrant to aid an animal;
  • Joshua Crain, who sought felony charges in a jury trial in Tennessee against a man who beat his 2-year-old Siberian Husky after the dog chewed on some wiring in his home and then used a metal file to grind down the dog’s teeth;
  • Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Susan Dannelly, who, while known for taking on high-profile murder and rape cases, fought hard to see to it that a dogfighting kingpin who organized a fight in which at least seven pit bulls died was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

 ”Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves–so concerned citizens and our legal system must speak up for them,” says ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We’re honored to have Legislator Cooper–and his inspiration, Justin–representing the face of our nation’s top animal defenders and the animal victims they are fighting for during National Justice for Animals Week 2011.”