National Justice for Animals Week 2015 BeginsPosted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 23, 2015
ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week gives everyone the tools to stop animal abuse, and urges law enforcement, prosecutors, and lawmakers to protect animals from abusers. From ALDF action alerts, adoption campaigns, spreading the message with social media, to signing the Animal Bill of Rights; ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week makes it easy for you to speak up for animals.
Every year, ALDF highlights our dedication to protecting animals from criminal acts of cruelty by telling the story of one special animal. This year, National Justice for Animals Week 2015 (February 22-28) celebrated animal hero Gracie the alpaca and drew attention to the plight she and 174 other alpacas suffered at the hands of an abuser—who is facing serious jail time for his crimes.
Gracie is one of 175 emaciated and starved alpacas seized by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office from “Jocelyn’s Alpaca Ranch” (near Portland, Oregon). The alpacas were so neglected, 50 animals perished from lack of nutrition. ALDF dedicated a $5,000 grant to help with the costs of care and the sheriff’s office kindly fed the remaining animals until they were safe to move. That’s when Shari Bond from Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue stepped in and provided a safe haven to rehabilitate the remaining alpacas.
Just two years old, Gracie weighed only 35lbs at the time she was rescued. She had been severely deprived of nutrition as a baby, and her growth was stunted as a result. 230 animals had been forced to share a mere three acres. “The trees were all the animals had to eat,” Shari explained.
“Gracie broke my heart from the moment I first laid eyes on her. She had ‘checked out and had the vacant stare animals get when they have given up. At one point she fell down and did not have the strength to stand again. I promised her I would do everything to get her out of there and protect her.”
Gracie has since made a full recovery, and is even making friends at Shari’s rescue. And she has doubled in weight, in just the last few months! Gracie palled around with her friend Iris, and later moved in with two small males, Puck and Dallas. You can see their adorable friendships and learn more about their story here!
National Justice for Animals Week also celebrates the human heroes who fight to better protect animals. Like Oregon deputy district attorney Jake Kamins, who—with ALDF’s support—has become the first-ever funded prosecutor totally dedicated to putting animal abusers behind bars, where they belong. Jake successfully prosecuted Gracie’s legal case and secured a criminal conviction of Robert Silver, co-owner of the ranch that starved the alpacas. Silver was charged with two felony counts and 16 misdemeanor counts of animal neglect, and he was sentenced to three years in prison.
National Justice for Animals Week 2015 also celebrates America’s “Top Ten Animal Defenders.” These heroes have gone above and beyond to protect animals, like Sgt. Lindsay Herron, an animal crimes investigator for the Minneapolis Police Department, who has made a huge dent in shutting down dogfighting rings in that area, in addition to educating schoolchildren about safety with animals, and in her spare time rescues dogs too.
Other heroes include former Illinois governor Pat Quinn, who repeatedly passed such strong animal protection laws he kept Illinois at the top spot of ALDF’s state rankings, year after year. Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves, but these extraordinary people are taking a stand in seeking justice for abused and neglected animals. During National Justice for Animals Week 2015, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is delighted to announce America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders.