America’s Top 10 Animal Defenders

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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 2014, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is delighted to announce America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders.

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Allie Phillips is the director of the National Center for Prosecution of Animal Abuse at the National District Attorneys Association. She founded the network Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) to help families with pets flee abusive homes and find safety. She is a nationally-recognized author, attorney, and legal advocate for animal protection.

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Sergeant Lindsay Herron of the Minneapolis police department was selected to work closely with the Animal Care and Control office as the animal crimes investigator for Minneapolis. She has investigated more than 80 cases involving animal fighting and/or cruelty and has rescued more than 200 animals. Sergeant Herron also created a dog safety education program, taught by Minneapolis police officers, for elementary-age students in local public schools.

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David Alex is assistant district attorney and the chief of the Animal Cruelty Unit (ACU) at the Dallas County district attorney’s office. He has earned “Prosecutor of the Year” twice for his work in criminal law. He holds a J.D. from Thurgood Marshall School of Law and served four years in the U.S. Navy.

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David Soares is serving his third term as district attorney in Albany County, New York. He founded the Animal Abuse Taskforce, which utilizes a multi-agency response to animal abuse cases and combines law enforcement prevention with public education outreach. David received the 2014 Humane Leadership Award from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society for his work in the field of animal protection.

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George Turner is chief of police for Atlanta, and a 33-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Chief Turner has committed the Atlanta PD to train officers in nonviolent resolutions to animal conflicts. At least 200 officers have taken the Law Enforcement and Animal Encounters class through the Atlanta Police Academy. By August 2015, they will have trained almost 2,000 officers.

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Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn served as a public servant for more than 30 years. In his tenure, he delivered education reform, abolished the death penalty in Illinois, improved nursing-home conditions for the elderly, legalized civil unions, and prioritized animal welfare. In 2014, he supported legislation to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs who come from commercial breeders “puppy mills.” Through his leadership, Illinois remained #1 in the nation for animal protection laws for more than seven years.

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John Thompson is the deputy executive director and chief of staff for the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA). He has served as chief of police for Mount Rainier, Maryland, and as an animal control officer. In 2014, John led a movement to establish the National Coalition on Violence Against Animals. In addition, he successfully petitioned the FBI to include animal abuse crimes in the Uniform Crime Report.

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Deputy Lee Bartholomew has served Douglas County, Oregon since 1990, and his service has been the foundation of animal control in that county. In 2013, he executed a search warrant involving the seizure of more than 70 neglected cats. That same year, Lee assisted in co-authoring a proposed state felony animal neglect law, and testified before the Oregon State Senate about how this law would close loopholes and better protect animals.

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Shari Crouch Kosel is the co-founder and chair of South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together. In 2008, Shari’s neighbor’s dog was tortured and murdered. After this tragedy, Shari began her crusade to instigate a felony penalty for animal cruelty at the state level. Because of her hard work, in 2014 South Dakota became the 50th and final state to make malicious animal cruelty a felony.

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Stacy Parks Miller is Centre County, Pennsylvania’s first female district attorney. In this elected position, she has made it a top priority to fight for the voiceless and the vulnerable. She has prosecuted animal abusers with the same determination she demonstrates in prosecuting child abusers and other violent offenders. She has achieved several impressive criminal convictions against animal abusers.

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