ASPCA Honors NYPD Officers, Assistant District Attorney, and a Veterinary Neurologist at Fifth Annual Appreciation Luncheon

Thirteen honorees celebrated for their dedication to helping NYC’s most vulnerable animals
December 12, 2019

NEW YORK – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) honored eleven members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), an Assistant District Attorney, and a veterinary neurologist last week for their commitment to improving the lives of animals.

The thirteen honorees attended a special luncheon held at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center, where they were presented with appreciation awards for the critical roles they played in the enforcement, investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases as well as providing critical care for animal cruelty victims throughout 2019.

“The ASPCA is proud to recognize these thirteen recipients for their instrumental work and commitment to improving the lives of animals throughout the five boroughs this past year,” said Howard Lawrence, Vice President of ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “Through the dedicated efforts of professionals across the NYPD, prosecutors’ offices and the veterinary field, we’re able to continue our lifesaving efforts to tackle animal cruelty in New York City.”

This year’s honorees are:

Assistant District Attorney Danit Almog

Kings County District Attorney’s Office

ADA Danit Almog is being recognized for her dedication and expertise in handling animal cruelty cases in Kings County. She works hand-in-hand with the NYPD and the ASPCA to review, investigate, and ensure all animal-related arrests are properly charged and drafted. ADA Almog provides a critical first step in the successful prosecution of all animal-related crimes in the county, and her hard work and commitment have been invaluable in protecting the animals of Kings County.

Dr. John McCue, Staff Neurologist

Animal Medical Center

Dr. John McCue is a staff neurologist at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan, one of the ASPCA’s partner hospitals that provide care to animal cruelty victims in collaboration with the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Dr. McCue and the neurology team have consulted on and provided care for many animal cruelty victims who have experienced brain and spinal cord injuries. Dr. McCue’s expert knowledge has provided animals with severe nervous system injuries a chance to recover and additionally provided essential medical evidence to support criminal prosecutions. Dr. McCue has established himself as an invaluable partner in the fight against animal cruelty in New York City.

Police Officer Michael Pascale

Strategic Response Group 3

Late last year, while on patrol in Brownsville Brooklyn, PO Michael Pascale observed a dog tethered to a fence in the freezing rain. The dog was tied in such a way that he was forced to sit in a puddle. PO Pascale immediately cut the rope from around the dog’s neck and took him back to his warm squad car, where the two quickly bonded. It didn’t take long for PO Pascale to decide he wanted to adopt the dog, now named Joey, and he now lives on Staten Island with PO Pascale and his family.

Police Officer Claudia Pardo

106th Precinct

In April, PO Claudia Pardo responded to a call for animal abuse at a residence in Jamaica, Queens. Upon arrival, PO Pardo observed two emaciated dogs in a fenced yard exposed to rain and with no shelter or food. The house was vacant, and the dogs appeared to be abandoned. PO Pardo went to the store to buy dog food with her own funds and returned to the residence numerous times over a three-day period to feed the dogs. During her last visit, PO Pardo noticed a third crated dog in the fenced-in area. Neighbors told PO Pardo that they saw the residents load a U-Haul truck, pack up their remaining belongings, and leave the third dog. PO Pardo obtained a search warrant to seize all three dogs; they were brought to the ASPCA Animal Hospital for treatment and examination. PO Pardo is being recognized for her determination and commitment to the welfare of those three dogs.

Police Officer Andre Gomez, Police Service Area 7

Police Officer Angel Romero, Police Service Area 7

PO Andre Gomez and PO Angel Romero are animal liaisons assigned to PSA 7 in the South Bronx. Their area of responsibility is the housing developments in the 40th and 42nd precincts, where they collaborate regularly with the ASPCA to combat animal cruelty. POs Gomez and Romero are credited with creating the very first “Doggie Day” in PSA 7, a successful vaccine event that reached hundreds of pet owners. Both officers are integral to the success of the ASPCA’s ongoing work to address animal welfare in the Bronx.

Police Officer Stephanie Perez

79th Precinct

PO Stephanie Perez is being recognized for her dedication and ongoing assistance with all animal-related matters occurring in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. PO Perez is the animal liaison officer for the 79th Precinct where she follows up on all animal cruelty related 311 calls to ensure they are properly managed. In September, PO Perez, acting on a tip from a concerned community member, effected an animal cruelty arrest for a medically compromised dog being kept in a neighborhood backyard. Notably, PO Perez is a former ASPCA employee, and she continues to work to improve the lives of animals in her current role with the NYPD.

Detective Christopher Ward

Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad Detective

Det. Christopher Ward is a 26-year veteran of the NYPD, with 15 of those years in an investigative capacity. In the three years he has been assigned to the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, his experience has been an asset to the animal victims of New York City. This was on display when Det. Ward was able to obtain a confession wherein the defendant confessed to killing his girlfriend’s dog. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Det. Ward was also fundamental in a two-year cruelty investigation that brought forth the first conviction for conspiracy to breed and sell with the intent to train and fight dogs.

Detective Kevin Connors

Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad

A 24-year veteran of the NYPD, Det. Kevin Connors in a valued member of the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. In 2017, the first year he was assigned to the unit, Det. Connor's tenacity and dedication were shown when he was able to obtain the conviction of George Reid for killing his dog without ever recovering the dog's body. As a result of Det. Connor’s thorough investigation and the expertise of Dr. Robert Reisman, Forensic Sciences Supervisor, ASPCA, Mr. Reid was sentenced to four years in prison, and this case later played a key role in a custody hearing in family court, making it the first time an animal abuse case played a role in this capacity.

Lieutenant Rafat Awad

Patrol Borough Staten Island

Lt. Rafat Awad is the Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Staten Island’s Community Affairs Unit. He is being recognized for his commitment to improving police/community relations and raising awareness of animal welfare concerns in the borough. Lt. Awad is a key facilitator for the now annual “Let’s Paws for Earth Day” event on Staten Island, and his continued support of this event has provided residents in Staten Island an opportunity to connect with police officers, human service agencies, city agencies, and various animal welfare groups.

Deputy Inspector Kathleen Walsh

19th Precinct

Deputy Inspector Kathleen Walsh is the Commanding Officer of the 19th Precinct. This precinct serves residents and businesses in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, including the ASPCA Animal Hospital. Whether helping pet owners, or responding to calls of possible animal cruelty, the 19th Precinct police officers always display great professionalism and sensitivity discharging their duties. Deputy Inspector Walsh is being recognized for her leadership and dedication to improving animal welfare in New York City.

Deputy Inspector Joseph Kertsing

Special Investigations Division

Deputy Inspector Joseph Kertsing is the Executive Officer of the Special Investigations Division. This Division is comprised of the Detective Bureau’s elite investigative units, including the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. Deputy Inspector Kertsing is being recognized for his commitment and dedication to the ASPCA/NYPD Partnership. Through his many duties and responsibilities, Deputy Inspector Kertsing has been an integral part of the growth and development of the program. His presence at trainings and other venues has a great impact on ensuring animal welfare is a priority with all members of the NYPD. His oversight of the Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad has resulted in a significant impact on animal fighting as well as other cruelty related crimes in New York City.

Deputy Chief Charles Scholl

Executive Officer Patrol Borough Staten Island

Deputy Chief Charles Scholl is a 40-year veteran of the NYPD. Since graduating from the police academy in 1979, Chief Scholl has spent his career patrolling the streets of Brooklyn and currently serves as the Executive Officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, where he ensures that police officers assigned to Brooklyn South precincts are properly trained to address complaints of animal cruelty. Chief Scholl is being recognized for his unwavering support of the mission of the ASPCA/NYPD Partnership. Through his efforts, police officers working alongside members of the ASPCA have had a significant impact on improving animal welfare in the borough.

About the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership

Launched in January 2014, the NYPD and ASPCA citywide partnership continues to have a considerable positive impact for New York City’s vulnerable animals. Since its launch, more than 3,900 animals have been treated through the partnership.