Yesterday the announcement came from the national nonprofit association, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), that Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Illinois, had been named one of America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders. It was quite appropriate since National Justice for Animals Week (NJAW) 2014 will be celebrated February 16th through the 22nd.
NJAW is an annual event that is dedicated to raising awareness nationwide about how citizens can work within their communities to achieve real justice for animal victims; to honor law enforcement, prosecutors and legislators who focus their full attention on deriving laws to protect animals. There are ways for individuals to get involved, too.
Charlotte Ross, better known for her rolls as an actress on NYPD Blue and Glee, is also an animal advocate. She will be the 2014 spokesperson for the week and will kick off the campaign with a special video message.
One way that ALDF will promote this year for individual people to get involved within their communities is with their ALDF Crime Tips application. This app allows users to report cruelty they have witnessed directly from their smartphones.
Sheriff Tom Dart is a role model for individuals to follow! He has brought an aggressive, yet innovative, approach to law enforcement. Dart is a former prosecutor and state legislator. He believes in fighting for the rights of others and protection of the most valuable members of our society.
Time Magazine recognized Sheriff Dart in 2009 for his groundbreaking efforts as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. The Sheriff led the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in founding the first Animal Crimes Unit in the United States. That led the United States Humane Society to also honor him and the Animal Crimes Unit with the “2009 Humane Chicago Award.”
The week also honors animal heroes like Logan, a sweet-tempered eleven-year-old Husky who became the victim of a horrible burn in 2012, when an unknown assailant entered Logan’s Michigan yard and threw an acid-based chemical into his face. Logan later passed away from the treatments required to heal his wounds, and he has been named the official mascot of National Justice for Animals Week 2014.
“Animal victims cannot speak for themselves—so concerned citizens, and our legal system, must speak for them,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. “Sheriff Dart has gone above and beyond to earn his place among America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders during National Justice for Animals Week 2014.”
The American Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the 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.
Let’s make a concerted effort to thank innovators like Sheriff Tom Dart for his influential ability to help those that are unable to help themselves. One way to make certain that his efforts don’t go unnoticed is to personally get involved by reporting any animal abuse you may witness. Together we can all make a huge difference for those without a voice!