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September 28, 2009

Honoring Heroes for Animals

Law enforcement awards ceremony

The Humane Society of the United States

  • Monmouth County, N.J., police chief Bud Amato was among the awardees. The HSUS

The good news came on September 26, 2009: almost four months after one of the most significant takedowns of a criminal dogfighting operation in the South, Artis Kyle pleaded guilty to multiple felony dogfighting charges.

For Kyle, the guilty plea means he faces up to 35 years in prison.

A few hours later, The HSUS began its third annual Humane Law Enforcement Awards ceremony, honoring—among others—members of Alabama's 5th Judicial Circuit, whose hard work helped take down Kyle and several other notorious animal fighters in the last year. Representing the Alabama team, District Attorney Paul Jones, Assistant D.A. Amy Newsome, and Investigator Aris Murphy took the podium and accepted their awards.

Real-Life Heroes for Animals

In addition to these real-life heroes for animals, The HSUS also presented Humane Law Enforcement Awards to:

  • Monmouth County, N.J., SPCA Chief of Police Victor "Buddy" Amato, whose persistence in enforcing New Jersey's animal cruelty laws stopped a serial cat killer and garnered the longest prison sentence ever in the state's history for an animal-abuse case
  • New Mexico Attorney General Gary King and Dona Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison, whose  creation and enactment of a precedent-setting Judicial Task Force against animal cruelty in the U.S. was instrumental in breaking up a record number of animal cruelty and animal fighting operations in the state

  • Morrill County, Neb., Sheriff John Edens, who took the reins in the rescue of hundreds of starving mustangs being held captive at the 3-Strikes Ranch, a facility that claimed to be a rescue facility

  • Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Chief Counsel of his Revenue Division, Andrew Swain, for their groundbreaking application of the state's tax laws to permanently shut down a puppy mill,thereby saving more than 240 dogs from lives of misery

In Memory of a Champion for Animals

A posthumous Humane Law Enforcement Award also went to Jennifer Evans, former lead prosecutor for the dogfighting task force in the South Carolina Attorney General's office. Although she had only been appointed to head the division three years before her premature death, Evans' love for animals and the law drove her to make great strides for animal protection in her state.

In her time as lead prosecutor for the South Carolina dogfighting task force, Evans managed to put behind bars at least 30 animal fighting criminals—including the notorious David Tant—a kingpin of the dogfighting underworld whose crimes garnered him a record 30-year prison sentence. Evans' precedent-setting prosecution of a hog-dog fighting operation under the state's animal cruelty law also led the state legislature to pass a law specifically outlawing that bloody form of animal fighting.

The HSUS is proud to have worked alongside Evans to stop blood sports in South Carolina, and we are confident her legacy against animal abuse will be carried on by her colleagues in the South Carolina dogfighting task force.

Recognizing a Real "Amigo"

Rounding out the list of honorees was Jane Berry from Georgia, winner of the "Amigo" award, in honor of a special dog who rose from a starving stray puppy to a magnificent companion and love-of-the-life to his rescuer.

Berry's work as a selfless volunteer for animals focused on the homeless dogs and cats of Georgia and beyond, to surrounding states in the South—in areas where the needs of animals are, at times, monumental. Her love for the underdog perfectly represents the spirit of the Amigo award.

Winning a Humane Law Enforcement Award from The Humane Society of the United States is no small feat, reserved for the most impressive members of the law enforcement community. Their stories of dedication not only touched our hearts but made a tangible difference for animals.  

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