WASHINGTON (September 28, 2017) —The Humane Society Legislative Fund, the nation’s leading political advocacy organization for animals, is announcing its endorsement of Mark Herring for reelection as Attorney General of Virginia. Herring is one of the nation’s foremost attorneys general for animal protection, and he has made protecting animals and cracking down on abusers who victimize them and their families a priority concern. He, like so many other officials who have looked into the issues, recognizes that there is a correlation between animal cruelty and human violence, and that cracking down on abuse makes our communities safer.

Herring launched the nation’s first animal law unit within an attorney general’s office, led by the leading animal law attorney in the state, Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch. Due to the complexity of animal criminal enterprises, which often involve thousands of animals and millions of dollars, local prosecutors often rely on the expertise of the unit’s attorneys to bring criminals to justice and to save animals’ lives.

“Attorney General Herring’s foresighted creation of an animal law unit is a model for other attorneys general around the nation to emulate,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of HSLF. “This work will make our communities safer for people and animals.”

Since its inception in 2015, Herring’s animal law unit has undertaken more than 400 matters, ranging from training law enforcement agencies around the world to special prosecutions. The unit has:

  • Worked with local, state and federal authorities to investigate, shut down and secure convictions for the 5,000-member Big Blue Sportsmen’s Club cockfighting ring, which had operated for more than 30 years. This special prosecution resulted in the convictions of numerous individuals and the forfeiture of more than $1 million in assets;
  • Prosecuted seven Tyson employees who severely abused chickens by “punching and kicking live birds, birds crushed to death by transport crates and being run over by forklifts, chickens swung by their wings and thrown across sheds and being shoved and slammed into transport cages,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch;
  • Secured the release of 20 abused horses and successfully defended their release up to the Virginia Supreme Court;
  • Assisted in the prosecution of a pet store that preyed on puppies and families by selling dozens of severely ill puppy mill dogs.

“Concern for animals is a universal value among Virginians,” said Amundson. “We want voters to understand that Attorney General Herring has made fighting animal cruelty a priority, and that’s one particularly good reason why animal lovers should support him in November.”

Media contact: Samantha Miller, (240) 672-2361, [email protected]


HSLF is a nonpartisan organization that evaluates candidates based only on a single criterion: where they stand on animal welfare. HSLF does not judge candidates based on party affiliation or any other issue.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at, on our blog at, on Facebook at on Twitter at

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