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, presented 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 welcoming the guests to the event, held at the Hill Center in Washington, D.C., AWI President Cathy Liss recalled Dr. Schweitzer’s words exhorting humans to greater compassion for animals. She recalled that Dr. Schweitzer believed that we must watch “for opportunities to bring some sort of help to animals in recompense for the great misery that men inflict upon them....” The Schweitzer medal itself is engraved with the image of the doctor and his dog, along with his statement: “We need a boundless ethics which will include the animals also.” Liss introduced Assistant Attorney General Robinson by acknowledging her leadership in addressing violence in the community by addressing animal cruelty.
In remarks before presenting the awards, Assistant Attorney General Robinson spoke firmly of the connection between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence and of the need to "instill in practitioners - law enforcement officers, victim advocates, animal control officers - a heightened sense of urgency about violence against animals."
The recipients spoke movingly of their commitment to their work and to instilling that sense of urgency in their colleagues and the community.
The 2011 Schweitzer Award Recipients with Congressman Sam Farr.
(L-R: Amy Slameka, Raj Prasad, Michelle Welch, Congressman Farr)
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 was the first time that AWI has honored members from this branch of law enforcement. The first honoree to come 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.
Animal Welfare Institute Announces 2011 Schweitzer Awards
-- AWI Press Release (November 2011)
Cases Prosecuted by 2011 Schweitzer Award Recipients
-- AWI Press Release Additional Resources