America’s Top 10 Animal Defenders

The Animal Legal Defense Fund would like to honor law enforcement, prosecutors, and legislators who make and enforce tough laws protecting animals. The human heroes of 2016 include:

Rep. Witt-250pxOregon State Representative Brad Witt: Witt was the sponsor of the 2015 nuisance abatement bill, HB 2888. The statute gives citizens legal standing to file a lawsuit to stop ongoing criminal animal abuse. Oregonians no longer have to wait for law enforcement to work on a case, rather, they can file suit to stop the suffering of victimized animals immediately.

Owens_A-250pxJudge Andrew Owens, Bradenton, FL: Judge Owens recognized that dogs who bite after being provoked should not necessarily be euthanized. He declared part of a state law requiring that any dog who causes severe injury to a human be automatically put down regardless of the circumstances “arbitrary and oppressive.”

Lisa Smittcamp and Cleo-250pxDistrict Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, Deputy District Attorney Sydney Ricks, & Deputy District Attorney Lynette Gonzales, Fresno, CA: Smittcamp established a new Animal Cruelty Unit to pursue crimes against animals. Deputy District Attorneys Ricks & Gonzales volunteered to take on the extra work so that animal crimes would be prosecuted, even though they are assigned to different units. The Animal Cruelty Unit was officially formed in July 2015, and unit obtained its first conviction in November 2015.

Sydney Ricks and Dog Rusty-250pxDistrict Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, Deputy District Attorney Sydney Ricks, & Deputy District Attorney Lynette Gonzales, Fresno, CA: Smittcamp established a new Animal Cruelty Unit to pursue crimes against animals. Deputy District Attorneys Ricks & Gonzales volunteered to take on the extra work so that animal crimes would be prosecuted, even though they are assigned to different units. The Animal Cruelty Unit was officially formed in July 2015, and unit obtained its first conviction in November 2015.

Lynette Gonzales and Cat Junebug-250pxDistrict Attorney Lisa Smittcamp, Deputy District Attorney Sydney Ricks, & Deputy District Attorney Lynette Gonzales, Fresno, CA: Smittcamp established a new Animal Cruelty Unit to pursue crimes against animals. Deputy District Attorneys Ricks & Gonzales volunteered to take on the extra work so that animal crimes would be prosecuted, even though they are assigned to different units. The Animal Cruelty Unit was officially formed in July 2015, and unit obtained its first conviction in November 2015.

AG Mark Herring headshot-250pxVirginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring: Herring created the nation’s first attorney general’s Animal Law Unit. Staff attorneys work with local law enforcement and state agencies on issues involving animal welfare, animal fighting, or abuse. The team will be led by veteran Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch, a Top Ten Animal Defender in 2013.

RichardBrown-250pxQueens District Attorney Richard A. Brown: Brown created New York City’s first Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit which investigates and prosecutes animal cruelty crimes, and educates the public about how to prevent and detect animal abuse.

Nicoletta J Caferri-250pxQueens District Attorney Nicoletta Caferri: Caferri, a veteran prosecutor, oversees the New York City’s first Animal Cruelty Prosecutions Unit which investigates and prosecutes animal cruelty crimes, and educates the public about how to prevent and detect animal abuse.

Dave Aronberg-250pxState Attorney Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County, FL: Aronberg personally prosecuted a neglect case in which a man deprived his pit bull named Bella of food and water for weeks, rendering the dog “skeletal.” Bella could not stand or walk when she was discovered by law enforcement. The man was sentenced to nine months’ jail time.

Jason Allswang-250pxDirector of Code Enforcement and Animal Control Jason Allswang, Clark County, NV: In addition to ensuring the vigorous prosecution of a number of serious animal cruelty cases, Allswang was instrumental to the passage of Clark County’s first exotic animal ordinance. Nevada is one of only a few states with no statewide regulation of exotic animals kept as pets.

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