ASPCA Announces Formation of Legal Advocacy Department

Team will further nationwide efforts to achieve positive legal change for animals
April 30, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has announced the creation of a Legal Advocacy department to increase legal protections for animals across the country. The department will provide “second chair” legal support through the coordination of legal and other expert services vital to the effective handling of animal cruelty prosecutions, as well as conduct selective, affirmative civil litigation in cases with the potential to effect substantial change in animal protection laws nationwide. The team will also provide legislative analysis and bill drafting expertise to the ASPCA’s Government Relations department.

The Legal Advocacy department will be led by Stacy Wolf, who adds this position to her current role as vice president and chief counsel of the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department. Wolf, who was a career public defense attorney before joining the organization’s Legislative Affairs department in 1998, was responsible for spearheading the passage of New York’s felony animal cruelty law, dog shelter law, exotic pets ban, veterinary reporting law, and dangerous dog law. Ms. Wolf also served as legislative chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee on Animals and the Law.

“The formation of the Legal Advocacy department is an essential step toward fulfilling the ASPCA’s mission of providing effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States,” said Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “Stacy has a wealth of animal law experience and possesses the necessary tools to implement significant legal change for the benefit of animals.”

Wolf has already appointed two people to the department: Jennifer Chin, who will serve as Legal Advocacy counsel; and Sandy Christiansen, who will serve as director of case development. “I am thrilled to have Jennifer and Sandy join the ASPCA in this capacity,” said Wolf. “Their exceptional backgrounds are unique, yet complimentary, and both will play a vital role in helping to shape stronger animal welfare laws through the judicial system.”  

Chin will provide second chair legal assistance to prosecutors handling animal cruelty cases across the country; assist in affirmative civil litigation cases brought by the department on behalf of the ASPCA; and provide legislative analysis for the ASPCA’s Government Relations department. Chin comes to the ASPCA from the United States Attorney’s Office in Newark, N.J., where she served as Assistant United States Attorney since 2008 specializing in criminal appellate work. She worked on complex civil litigation at two private law firms prior to her time at the U.S. Attorney’s office. Chin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, her Master’s from Stanford University, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.

Christiansen will focus on affirmative outreach to identify and develop potential litigation opportunities; working with prosecutors and investigators on Legal Advocacy cases; and conducting legal research and legislative analysis. Prior to joining the ASPCA, Christiansen was the president and CEO of the Spartanburg Humane Society in Spartanburg, S.C. since 2005. In this role, he was responsible for supervising a staff of 41 employees and helping to grow such programs as humane education, anti-cruelty initiatives, behavior and training, and animal transport. During his 19 years working for the welfare of animals, Christiansen has also gained extensive experience in conducting cruelty and animal fighting investigations.

The Legal Advocacy department is part of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group, which is also comprised of Humane Law Enforcement, Field Investigations and Response, Anti-Cruelty Behavior, Strategy and Campaigns, Forensic Sciences, and Anti-Cruelty Projects.