Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is co-chairman for a new national animal welfare group that will focus on enforcement of anti-cruelty laws.
The Animal Wellness Foundation and Animal Wellness Action announced the formation Tuesday of the National Law Enforcement Council. The council will support enforcement of local, state and federal laws against cruelty to animals.
Edmondson, a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, helped preserve the state’s 2002 ban on cockfighting from court challenges. He said there are good laws on the books but insufficient enforcement of them.
“The animals can’t talk for themselves,” Edmondson said. “Someone needs to stand up for them, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to do that.”
The AWF is a private charitable organization based in Los Angeles. The AWA is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Edmondson noted the importance of such efforts because a measure of how civil a society is depends on how it treats its most vulnerable, such as animals.
He said helping fund enforcement of certain laws through the U.S. Department of Justice will be a large component of what the group does. An example of a goal is ensuring the federal ban on cockfighting applies to territories, not just states.
“We’re not out to change the landscape dramatically; we’re just wanting to encourage more action to enforce the laws we have,” Edmondson said.
The other co-chairman is Josh Marquis, a former district attorney in Oregon. The news release announcing the council says there is a documented link between animal cruelty and human-on-human violence or criminal conduct.
“Cruelty to animals is not some isolated, easily compartmentalized act of aggression,” Marquis said in a statement. “When we stamp out animal cruelty and apprehend people who have lost empathy for the suffering of others, we make our communities safer for everyone.”
The council largely is comprised of current and former attorneys general and district attorneys.
Edmondson said any current or former prosecutors in Oklahoma interested in becoming involved may contact him through his law office at 405-843-9909.
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