MOUNT CLEMENS, MI – Today, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric J. Smith brought together key stakeholders representing law enforcement, government officials, animal welfare professionals, and animal rights enthusiasts to announce the newly created animal abuse task force – P.A.W.S.
P.A.W.S., or Protecting Animal Welfare and Safety, is the first multi-jurisdictional animal abuse prevention task force in the State of Michigan. Task Force members include: United States Humane Society spokesperson Molly Tumalevich, Senator Peter Lucido, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Michigan Humane Society representative Andy Seltz, Humane Society of Macomb representative Ken Kempkens, and Brian Pylar, Detroit Pit Crew Board Member & Chief of Eastpointe Animal Control. Additional instrumental law enforcement officials attending the press conference included Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski, Roseville Police Chief Ryan Monroe, and the Utica Police Chief Sean Coady.
“A significant increase in the number and severity of criminal animal abuse cases throughout Macomb County played a critical role in the creation of P.A.W.S.,” Prosecutor Smith stated. “During my tenure as Prosecutor, I have not seen a case that has touched a community more than the heinous stabbing-murder of Sterling.”
Molly Tumalevich, of the HSUS, echoed much of what Prosecutor Smith said, and added, “Animal cruelty crimes have been documented as connected with other violent crime, specifically domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse. We know addressing these cases keeps our community safe.”
“Macomb is a community built on family, grit, and resilience,” commented P.A.W.S. Task Force member State Senator Pete Lucido. “We must fight to protect all members of our family, including our pets, who provide us so much love.”
Also in attendance was State Senator Michael MacDonald who, along with State Senator Paul Wojno, recently introduced a package of legislation that would expand the criminal code to allow for the prosecution of individuals that conspire to commit animal abuse.
Prosecutor Smith concluded, “Without the activism of the community, we would not be here today. Sterling’s tragic death was not in vain; it demonstrated the benefit of bringing all parties together to see the justice is truly done for some of our most vulnerable victims. This Task Force will continue to advance this mission.”