SAN FRANCISCO – Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Susan Dannelly is being named one of America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) during National Justice for Animals Week 2011, February 20 – 26. 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.
Why are America’s animals lucky to have Dannelly on their side? Last year, Dannelly secured the high-profile conviction of a man who had been engaging in the staging of pit bull fights. Juan Carlos Olivero organized a dog fight that resulted in the deaths of at least 7 dogs. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a very significant sentence. Dannelly is committed to teaching her community about the horrendous crimes against animals and encourages participation in the prevention of these atrocities.
Among the other top animal defenders being recognized this year by the Animal Legal Defense Fund are:
- Suffolk County, New York Legislator Jon Cooper, who sponsored the historic “Justin’s Law,” passed by a unanimous vote last October, which creates the nation’s first mandatory public registry for criminals convicted of animal abuse;
- 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;
- 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;
- Joshua Crain, who sought felony charges in a jury trial in Tennessee against a man who, after his 2-year-old Alaskan Husky chewed on some wiring in his home, beat him and then used a metal file to grind down the dog’s teeth.
“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. “Susan Dannelly has gone above and beyond in earning a place among America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders during National Justice for Animals Week 2011.”
ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing interests of animals through the legal system. ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program provides free legal assistance—including legal research and strategy suggestions, location of expert witnesses, and sample pleadings—to prosecutors handling cruelty cases and works to strengthen state anti-cruelty legislation.