Her parents told her that they noticed it about her when she was quite young—around four years old. They characterized their observation this way: “We should have bought you a soap box.” Some would call her opinionated, or even stubborn. Luckily, the times changed and these kinds of people became known as “activists.”
Mary Lou Randour has been an activist in one way or another since she can remember. Her introduction to the animal protection movement, as it was for so many, was Peter Singer’s book, Animal Liberation. The year was 1992 and she cannot forget the disruptive—and then transformative—effect it had on her. Confronted and overwhelmed by the enormity of animal suffering at human hands, she knew she had to act. At the time, she had been practicing clinical psychology for about 15 years.
At first, she volunteered at the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF), arranging her clinical practice to make time for that. Then she was introduced to Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, where she served on the Board and worked part time. Continuing to volunteer at the DDAF, Mary Lou gradually transitioned from volunteer status to full-time animal protection employee. She worked at DDAF for 10 years, then another five years with the Humane Society of the US before joining AWI in January, 2011.
Mary Lou uses her training and skills as a psychologist to focus on the link between animal cruelty and other crimes, especially interpersonal violence. She networks with other professional groups to identify common goals for policies and programs that address this significant relationship. For example, during her time with DDAF, she partnered with AWI’s Nancy Blaney (then with the Doris Day Animal League, a sister organization to DDAF), initiating an effort to require the FBI to include animal cruelty crimes in that agency’s national crime reporting database. Nancy and Mary Lou continue that work at AWI.
Mary Lou co-authored the handbook, A Common Bond: Maltreated Children and Animals in the Home, with Howard Davidson, founder and head of the American Bar Association’s Center for Children and the Law. She also is involved in projects with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and domestic violence prevention groups.
Some of Mary Lou’s “extracurricular” activities include leading a seven-year effort to establish a division of human/animal studies in the American Psychological Association (APA), which concluded with the creation of a Section on Animal-Human Interaction in APA’s Society of Counseling Psychology. Currently she is working with a small non-profit group, Casa de Orientacion y Desarrollo Real in the Dominican Republic, which this summer—in partnership with the Veterinary School of Universidad Autonoma and World Vets—is leading a rabies-spay-neuter campaign in Santo Domingo.