The HSUS Presents its 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Awards in Seven States

Awardees include law enforcement, prosecutors and state agencies committed to rescuing animals from harm and enforcing animal protection laws 

The Humane Society of the United States is presenting its 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Awards to authorities across the country who have taken an exemplary stand against animal cruelty. It is the fourth year The HSUS has presented Humane Law Enforcement Awards and this year’s awardees are from Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, California, Florida, Virginia and West Virginia.  

“The Humane Society of the United States celebrates the work of law enforcement to crack down on animal fighting, puppy mills, the illegal wildlife trade, poaching, and other forms of cruelty and abuse,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Award recipients exemplify the best of law enforcement in protecting animals from needless violence and harm, and we are privileged to honor them.”

Awardees for 2012 are Caldwell County, N.C., Animal Control; Alachua County, Fla., Animal Services and Alachua County, Fla. Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Hunt; Galveston, Texas, Police Department Sgt. Joel Caldwell; Calhoun County, W.Va., Sheriff Carl Ballengee; Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the California Department of Fish and Game for Operation Cyberwild.

The 2012 Humane Law Enforcement Awards recipients:

About the Caldwell County, N.C., Animal Control award: Caldwell County Animal Control Officers Greg Greene and Shanon Foster received an anonymous tip in June 2011 reporting the possible neglect of dogs living at a Hudson, N.C., residence. Greene and Foster investigated, called on The HSUS for help removing the animals, and seized about 300 dogs–mostly Pomeranians and other small-breed dogs–from crowded, feces-encrusted enclosures. Rescued animals were placed in shelters, rescues or homes, and the owners of the puppy mill pleaded guilty to 104 counts of animal cruelty.

About the Alachua County, Fla., Animal Services and Alachua County Assistant State’s Attorney Deborah Hunt award: In July 2011, Alachua County Animal Services led the successful raid of pseudo-sanctuary Haven Acres, which resulted in the rescue of about 700 cats who were found living in deplorable conditions. After the rescue, which was supported by The HSUS, Alachua Animal Services provided ongoing veterinary and staff support for the animals. Both Haven Acres owners pleaded no contest to 47 counts of felony animal cruelty and both were sentenced to 15 years of probation, prohibited from owning or rescuing cats and ordered to pay restitution to The HSUS. All adoptable and treatable cats were placed up for adoption and were paired with loving caretakers, including 258 cats adopted at an HSUS adoption event in Gainesville.

About the award for Galveston, Texas, Police Sgt. Joel Caldwell: Caldwell organized a Dec. 15, 2011 raid in Santa Fe, Texas, of a facility that was illegally breeding roosters for cockfighting. Police and HSUS staff, who provided the tip to local authorities, found more than 350 fighting roosters on the property; Caldwell charged the owner with two counts of felony cockfighting and one misdemeanor charge alleging he bred the birds with the intention to fight them—the first officer to use a just-enacted anti-cockfighting state law. Caldwell also helped to create a bigger animal services department for the county and brought together city, county and state animal protection officials for a forum to discuss improving animal welfare in the community.

About the award for Calhoun County, W.Va., Sheriff Carl Ballengee: In December 2010, Ballengee, who was, at the time, a chief deputy for the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department, discovered 19 neglected dogs behind a rural home in Arnoldsburg, W.Va. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the property owner had died, inadvertently leaving the dogs to starve and suffer in severely cold temperatures at what turned out to be  a massive dogfighting organization. With no animal shelter in his county, Ballengee made pleas to numerous animal organizations and stayed with the dogs while providing food and care. After The HSUS helped rescue the animals, Ballengee continued to sniff out other dogfighters in his community, leading to the state’s first felony arrest for dogfighting.

About the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks award: In January 2012, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks seized three tigers, three cougars, two leopards, two wolf hybrids, and a Macaque monkey from Collins Zoo in Collins, Miss. The action came after a 2009 HSUS undercover investigation of the roadside zoo and legal petitions filed by HSUS. The agency worked with The HSUS for months on addressing the illegal display of dangerous animals, and arranging placement for animals they planned to seize. A few of the rescued animals now reside in permanent sanctuary at The HSUS’ Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas.

About the award for Operation Cyberwild, an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the California Department of Fish and Game; Prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office: In summer 2011, U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agents and a California Department of Fish and Game warden made undercover purchases of wildlife, including endangered species, being sold illegally over the Internet. Forty-six items were seized including an endangered tiger skin rug, a migratory bird mount, a live migratory bird, an elephant skin foot stool, a leopard skin and a bear skin. In an innovative, first-of-its kind partnership, six California-based volunteers from The HSUS assisted with the operation by producing some of the leads that enabled investigators to quickly make contact with sellers, saving significant time and agency resources for field investigations. 

About the award for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has made a significant difference for the enforcement of animal protection laws in the Commonwealth. Since 2011, his office responded to more than 80 requests for assistance from Virginia animal control, law enforcement and commonwealth’s attorneys in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. He is also helping to develop an animal cruelty and fighting curriculum with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; participates on the animal cruelty committee of the National Association of Attorneys General; and committed resources to combat the illegal sale of wildlife, animal fighting and animal cruelty. 

The Humane Society of the United States looks forward to future collaborations with law enforcement across the country. We are privileged to assist those who serve to make our communities safer, and together, we can help end the needless violence and neglect inflicted upon the creatures who share our world.

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