By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Animal Wellness Foundation (AWF) and Animal Wellness Action (AWA) have announced the formation of a National Law Enforcement Council (NLEC) dedicated to enforcing federal, state, and local laws against animal cruelty. The group will be co-chaired by Drew Edmondson, who served for 16 years as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, and Josh Marquis, 25 year former Clatsop County District Attorney in Oregon.
“One measure of a civil society is how it treats its most vulnerable members, and few are as vulnerable as the animals,” said Edmondson, who served as Muskogee County District Attorney for a decade before becoming Oklahoma Attorney General.
“We have a moral duty to show mercy toward all of God’s creatures.”
Edmondson played a major role in preserving the state’s 2002 ban on cockfighting and served as a former president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Studies show there is a documented link between animal cruelty and other forms of human-on-human violence and criminal conduct. The FBI’s homicidal triad includes early-age acts of animal cruelty.
Animal fights are often precursors for a range of other illegal behavior. Reports conclude in homes where a man harms a spouse or a girlfriend, he will often turn his violent instincts toward a child or an animal.
“Cruelty to animals is not some isolated, easily compartmentalized act of aggression,” said Marquis, who prosecuted numerous cases of animal abuse and neglect that were widely cited in the successful effort to secure passage of Oregon’s felony anti-cruelty law.
“When we stamp out animal cruelty and apprehend people who have lost empathy for the suffering of others, we make our communities safer for everyone,” Marquis added.
The NLEC is currently focused on enforcement of America’s federal anti-cruelty statutes, including laws against animal fighting, and offering assistance to law enforcement authorities as needed.
The NLEC is also urging increased funding for anti-cruelty enforcement at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and also advocating for the passage of the Prevent Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act, which would create a national anti-cruelty statute to crack down on perpetrators of acts of malicious cruelty with a federal nexus.
The National Law Enforcement Council includes a number of prosecutors who have distinguished themselves in their public advocacy and continue to advocate for safer communities for people and animals.
Other members of the NLEC include:
- Dave Aronberg, State’s Attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, since 2012, before which he served eight years as the youngest member of the Florida State Senate.
- Bob Butterworth, Florida Attorney General 1987-2002, former Broward County Sheriff
- Steve Clark, former Attorney General of Arkansas, 1978-1989
- Douglas Gansler, Maryland Attorney General 2007-2014 and State’s Attorney, Montgomery County, DA 1998-2007
- Chris Gorman, Kentucky Attorney General 1992-1996
- Richard Ieyoub, former Louisiana Attorney General 1992 – 2004, Calcasieu Parish district attorney in Lake Charles from 1984 to 1992.
- George Jepsen, former Attorney General of Connecticut, 2001-2018, having spent 14 years as a State Senator and Representative.
- Jerry Kilgore, Attorney General of Virginia from 2002-2005, Secretary of Public Safety, 1994-1998.
- Peter Kilmartin, Attorney General of Rhode Island from 2011-2019, and a former police captain and member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
- Barbara Lawall, the current prosecutor for Pima County. La Wall was recently re-elected to her sixth term for a jurisdiction center in Tucson.
- Bill Lockyer, Attorney General of California, 1999-2007, and also served as State Treasurer, State Assemblyman, and President Pro Tempore of the State Senate.
- Patricia Madrid, former New Mexico Attorney General, 1999-2007, having first served as that state’s first female district court judge starting in 1975.
- Ray Morrogh, current Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney, Virginia, since 2007.
- Jim Petro, Ohio Attorney General from 2003-2007.
- Lee Polikov, Sarpy County Attorney, Nebraska, since 1999. He served in the sheriff’s office prior to that.
- John Sarcone, County Attorney of Des Moines, Iowa since 1991 and just re-elected to 8th term.
- John Thompson, executive director of the National Animal Control Association and former deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs Association.
- Gregg Totten, District Attorney of California’s Ventura County since 2002. Past President of California District Attorney’s Association and Vice President of National District Attorney’s Association.
- Anthony Troy, Attorney General of Virginia, 1977-1978.
The Animal Wellness Foundation is a Los Angeles-based private charitable organization with a mission of helping animals by making veterinary care available to everyone with a pet, regardless of economic ability. The Foundation organizes rescue efforts and medical services for dogs and cats in need and helps homeless pets find a forever home.
Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C. based 501(c)(4) organization that works to help animals by promoting legal standards forbidding cruelty.
To prevent cruelty, AWA works to promote and enforce enacting good public policies. “To enact good laws, we must elect good lawmakers, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our issues and which ones don’t. We believe helping animals helps us all.”