In our team spotlight series, we sit down with members of the AWHC Team to help you, the reader, get to know us a little better!
How did you come to work for animal protection on Capitol Hill?
My entire life, I have always had a concern for the welfare of animals and felt a deep connection to them. Even as a small child, I was quite an advocate! Through my work on animal cruelty cases, I saw the connection between animal cruelty and violence toward people, and I discovered that animal abuse was frequently overlooked. It became apparent to me that animals needed a strong voice to advocate for better laws and enforcement, and advocating on these issues on Capitol Hill was the way to make a significant impact. I was inspired to attend law school to specialize in Animal Law. After law school, I led the anti-horse slaughter campaign at a large animal protection organization for several years. My role heavily focused on federal legislation, and I built broad bipartisan support for protecting horses from slaughter. In 2013, I worked to pass legislation in Appropriations to defund horse slaughter operations in the U.S., effectively stopping three slaughter plants from opening. My portfolio quickly expanded to include other animal protection issues.
What are your proudest accomplishments so far?
My proudest accomplishments so far include the passage of three critical laws for animals: the federal Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act in the U.S. Congress to protect victims of domestic violence and their pets (which I worked fiercely to pass in honor of my beloved dog who passed away, Jupiter); the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act that established the first federal anti-cruelty law; and the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act to ban the slaughter of dogs and cats for food. In 2019, I saw a critical need for ensuring that animal welfare laws are enforced, since animal welfare violations are far too often viewed as a lower priority. With no other organizations focused on that issue, it was a visible gap that needed to be addressed. I then conceived a federal bill to create an animal cruelty crimes section at the Department of Justice, and as part of this effort, I worked with lawmakers in Congress to secure legislation in Appropriations to direct the Department of Justice to prioritize enforcement.
What draws to the wild horse and horses in general, issue?
This issue speaks to me deeply. It’s an injustice for wild horses and burros to be taken from their homes, separated from their families, and cruelly chased by helicopters. It’s animal abuse conducted by the government with our own tax dollars. Furthermore, the BLM’s “management” is simply wasteful and defies all common sense. Equines have stood by us throughout history, they are a symbol of American freedom, and they deserve better. Congress is heavily focused on many large issues impacting our nation, like health care and immigration, and there are so many lobbyists and special interest groups working on these issues. Now our equines need their own passionate, dedicated advocates on Capitol Hill fighting for their interests.
Why are you excited to work with AWHC?
AWHC is a stellar organization that stands out among the rest. I’ve worked with many different organizations, and AWHC is a rare find in the animal protection field. The team has a strategic, focused approach and polished professionalism paired with a passion that shines through in the most amazing way. I’m honored to join such a talented group.
What do you think we can accomplish for wild horses in 2021?
I believe we will accomplish great things in 2021. I’m looking forward to raising the profile of AWHC as a major player on Capitol Hill and keeping our issues in front of lawmakers with a consistent presence. Our arguments for humane management are strong, and we will make great strides through legislation and our work with lawmakers to increase protections and change the roundup and removal status quo. We will undoubtedly continue to grow our support among lawmakers and develop more champions on this issue. I’m excited to take our work to the next level and make wild horse protection a political force on Capitol Hill that cannot be ignored.