NEW YORK, April 10, 2008Four key staff members of the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) were recognized today for their invaluable assistance in the 2007 federal investigation of former NFL star Michael Vick, in a private award ceremony presided over by United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Chuck Rosenberg.
The ASPCA’s involvement in the investigation began in the spring of 2007, when Dr. Melinda Merck, senior director, Veterinary Forensics, assisted in the recovery and analysis of forensic evidence, including carcasses and skeletal remains, recovered from Vick’s Surry County, Va., property.
Later, when several pit bulls were seized from the property, expert animal behaviorists from the ASPCA developed and implemented an evaluation program for these dogs to determine which, if any, of them could be saved from euthanasia. This team was led by Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, CAAB, executive vice president, National Programs and science advisor, and included Dr. Randall Lockwood, CAAB, senior vice president, Anti-Cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services, and Dr. Pamela Reid, CAAB, vice president, Animal Behavior Center.
“I am extremely proud that not one, but four of our exceptional staff have been so honored by the U.S. Attorney,” said ASPCA President & CEO, Ed Sayres. “Being included in this groundbreaking case was a unique opportunity for the organization, and this is an incredible acknowledgement of their expertise. We are all very proud of them.”
The awards were presented in Richmond, Va., today. There were 14 other award winners, making a total of 18 individuals, all of whom were recognized for their unique contributions to this case. In addition to the ASPCA, they represented the United States Department of Agriculture/Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Virginia State Police, the Chesapeake Police Department, and the Valparaiso University School of Law.
Today, the ASPCA marks 142 years since its charter as the first animal welfare organization in the Americas, a befitting backdrop for this extremely special occasion. For more information on the ASPCA, or to learn more about staying alert to animal cruelty, please visit www.fightcruelty.org.