Animal Welfare Institute Announces 2011 Schweitzer Awards

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- On Monday, November 14, 2011, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson, who heads the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, will present the Animal Welfare institute’s (AWI) Albert Schweitzer Award to three outstanding prosecutors. Michelle Welch, Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys Raj Prasad and Amy Slameka from the Wayne County (MI) Prosecutor’s Office, are leaders - indeed, pioneers - in aggressively pursuing animal cruelty and animal fighting cases and raising awareness about the need to take such cases seriously.

In 1951, Dr. Albert Schweitzer gave his permission to AWI to strike a medal in his honor to be presented for outstanding achievement in the advancement of animal welfare. In granting his permission, Dr. Schweitzer wrote, "I would never have believed that my philosophy, which incorporates in our ethics a compassionate attitude toward all creatures, would be noticed and recognized in my lifetime."

This is the first time that AWI has honored members from this branch of law enforcement.  The first honoree from law enforcement, in 1964, was, interestingly, also from Detroit: Patrolman John Mobley of the Detroit police department, who was recognized for his prompt reporting of the suffering and neglect of animals in an experimental laboratory, which led to improvements in their care.  In 1965, Associate Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas received the award for his previous work as author of the first bill requiring the humane treatment of animals in research.

Event Details:

Date: Monday, November 14, 2011

Time: 5:30 p.m.; program commences at 6:15 p.m.

Location: The Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. (1 block up from the Eastern Market Metro station)

Contacts:
Cathy Liss, (202) 446-2121; cathy@awionline.org
Nancy Blaney, (202) 446-2141; nancy@awionline.org

 

GUEST PRESENTER:

Laurie O. Robinson
Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice

The Honorable Laurie O. Robinson is Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). Since joining OJP in January 2009, she has overseen the award of $2.7 billion in Recovery Act funds, launched an agency-wide initiative to integrate evidence-based approaches in OJP programs, and held a series of listening sessions with state, local, and national constituents. Ms. Robinson also served as OJP’s Assistant Attorney General from 1993 to 2000. Prior to her current appointment, she directed the Master of Science Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Criminology.

AWARD RECIPIENTS:

Rajesh Prasad
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Wayne County Prosecutor's Office

Raj Prasad has been an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney at the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office since 2005, currently assigned to the Homicide Unit. Raj co-founded the Animal Protection Unit with Amy Slameka. The Animal Protection Unit is a volunteer unit now consisting of four attorneys and an advocate who review and handle every animal related case from warrant stage to completion. Amy and Raj also work closely with local Humane Society investigators and animal control officers in training and advising them for their investigations. The Animal Protection Unit has achieved a 98 percent conviction rate over the past three years.

Raj is currently on the State Bar of Michigan's Animal Law Section. He is the chairman of the Animal Law Section's Prosecutor's Committee, and on its Legislative Committee. Prior to coming to Michigan, Raj was an Assistant State Attorney for five years in Tampa, Florida. He received his JD from Washington and Lee University School of Law and his BA from the University of Pennsylvania. Raj is a proud owner of two humane society dogs, Han Solo and Scout.

Amy Slameka
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney
Wayne County Prosecutor's Office

Amy Slameka has been with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office since January 2001. She has been assigned to the felony trial division for the majority of her career. Amy is currently assigned to the Special Prosecutions Unit on a grant involving energy theft. Throughout her ten-year career, Amy has been paying special attention to all animal cases in the office. This culminated in her co-founding the Animal Protection Unit in 2008 with Raj Prasad. The Animal Protection Unit is a volunteer unit now consisting of four attorneys and an advocate who review and handle every animal-related case from warrant stage to completion. Amy and Raj also work closely with local Humane Society investigators and animal control officers in training and advising them for their investigations. The Animal Protection Unit has achieved a 98 percent conviction rate over the past three years.

Amy is an executive member of the Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, a Character and Fitness Committee Member of the State Bar of Michigan and a board member of the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society. Amy received her J.D. from Michigan State University Law and her B.S. from Michigan State University.

Michelle Welch
Assistant Attorney General
Virginia Attorney General's Office

Michelle Welch is an Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. She is the Assistant charged with taking all animal law questions in Virginia. She is called on by agencies all over the Commonwealth to act as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. She has been appointed a special Assistant U.S. Attorney to aid in dogfighting prosecutions. She frequently gives advice to local law enforcement authorities and prosecutors all over Virginia and across the nation. She also trains prosecutors and animal control and law enforcement officers on the state of Virginia animal law.

Michelle is a frequent speaker at many conferences, including the Virginia Animal Control Association, Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and the Florida Animal Control Association. She also has spoken at ABA Animal Law Conferences and is asked to speak frequently at vet schools and many other groups. She is the vice president of the Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce and a board member of VFHS. She is a vice-chair of the Animal Law Committee of the ABA. She frequently works with many animal organizations, including the Animal Welfare Institute. She is a senior faculty member for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), and chairs the Animal Law Curriculum Advisory Committee for the APA. She is adjunct faculty for Animal Law at the University of Richmond Law School. She has served as adjunct faculty in the Criminal Justice Program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Welch also served as Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in the City of Richmond in charge of all animal abuse and dogfighting prosecutions, among other cases. She has testified before a Congressional caucus examining the enforcement of animal laws and the cooperation between state and federal partners. She has many other responsibilities in her current role with the AG’s Office, including agency work and civilly committing sexually violent predators under Virginia’s civil commitment statute. She is the point person for all animal law questions and is considered an expert on animal law.

 

View case examples from the 2011 Schweitzer Award Recipients here.

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Media Contact:
Nancy Blaney, AWI, (202) 446-2141