Shari Crouch Kosel is the co-founder and chair of South Dakotans Fighting Animal Cruelty Together (SDFACT). In 2008, Shari’s neighbor’s dog was tortured and murdered, which inspired Shari to begin a crusade for a felony penalty for animal cruelty at the state level. Years of letter writing, media outreach, and contacting legislators and law enforcement led to connections with advocates Sara Parker, Heidi Hunter, and Darci Adams. Together, they formed SDFACT, a small, grassroots nonprofit, whose sole mission was to pass felony-level penalties for animal cruelty.
In 2013, SDFACT worked with the Senate Agriculture Committee, the state veterinarian, and other agricultural entities. Months of meetings and passionate discussions in 2014 led to an agreement: a felony bill was born. Ultimately, it gained wide support from all entities in the state. In large part thanks to Shari’s dedication and hard work, in 2014 South Dakota became the 50th and final state to make malicious animal cruelty a felony.
In addition to her work with SDFACT, Shari has testified against the hunting of mountain lions and the use of horse-drawn carriages. Shari is an amateur wildlife photographer that developed out of a lifelong appreciation of animals. Her parents Terry and Malanie Crouch, a PGA golf pro and an amateur ornithologist, taught Shari and her sister Lisa how to care for and humanely manage encounters with wildlife. Shari also volunteers for her local animal shelter and Oglala Pet Project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Shari received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She works as an independent contractor/consultant for various organizations and groups throughout the state. Shari lives in the Black Hills National Forest in western South Dakota with her husband Joe, and four furry children, Wrigley, Payton, Gracie, and Bear.