Our Justice for Animals Campaign Director Reflects on 29 Years in the Deep South
It’s been 29 years since our Doll Stanley arrived in Mississippi and she wants to make it clear that, no, the time has not flown by. There have been many uphill battles, but joyously, there have also been many victories won, partnerships forged and nearly too many animals saved to count thanks to your support. Doll tells us her story in her own words.
On February 12, 1993, I flew into Memphis, Tennessee, on a mission to Mississippi. I was to aid locals who had uncovered two Class B animal dealers licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) who were going about their nefarious business of “procuring” dogs and cats to sell to labs across the nation. Our planned two-week work with locals to give them the backing to act locally uncovered genuinely caring people. My undercover days at trade and sell days, gaining access to the kennels of one of the dealers, and more, much more, led to our forcing the USDA to act judiciously and revoke the licenses of Jerry Vance and Jeff Hodges.
After emerging victorious from this amazingly intriguing and often frightening and perilous campaign, I would have returned to our home office in San Rafael, California. However, six months of learning the needs of the region, and having seen and become involved in cruelty cases, rooted both me and my workplace of In Defense of Animals in the Deep South and the Justice for Animals campaign and Hope Animal Sanctuary evolved as my few acres were soon a haven to pigs, spent hens by the hundreds, horses, cows, geese, rabbits. emus, rats seized from a pet shop supplier’s warehouse, cats, dogs (including 54 from one raid on a dogfighter), and other amazingly individual animals.
We shut down a pet shop supplier, puppy mills, hoarders, freed 86 lions, tigers, bears, a camel, a liger, a puma, and 22 stallions from a bizarre hoarder. Our case rendered animal hoarder, Catherine Twiss, the largest fine for animal cruelty in Mississippi history. We’ve held presentations for schools and clubs for both children and adults.
We’ve worked hundreds of cases here and aligned with fellow advocates, animal control officers, shelters, rescues, law enforcement, judges and their clerks, state agencies, legislators, and media, and together our resources, knowledge, and commitment have freed so many animals: from 683 animals in just one seizure to merely one, one precious soul whose pitiful cries and forlorn eyes would transform with care and compassion. Spent hens learned within days that their feet were for more than standing and crouching as they gained strength, and those who perished from swollen head syndrome at least didn’t perish in their cages or the waste channels beneath them. We scrambled in miserably inclement weather to save as many chickens as we could when a truck carrying them to their deaths hydroplaned and caused them horrifying misery, some crushed, some buried in mud, others wandering in a daze.
Our cases have led to progressive legislation. Our first campaign to expose and close Vance and Hodges inspired the Mississippi legislature to pass a law to strictly regulate animal dealers. Our case with exotic animals led to state regulations and restrictions on the keeping of exotic and potentially dangerous animals. We aided with the language for the strengthened dogfighting statute, sued Mississippi State University (MSU) over greyhounds improperly given to the school for research by a defunct track. Our case went to the Mississippi State Supreme Court and we prevailed with a scathing opinion about a lower court ruling.
Our founder, Dr. Elliot Katz would be proud that his mission and legacy of compassion are in good hands with Dr. Marilyn Kroplick and the team at In Defense of Animals.
I could write a memoir on the successes that In Defense of Animals has achieved with your support. Without our family of supporters, we could not function. You are virtually there step-by-step with every single act of mercy that we undertake. We simply could not do it without you.
Doll Stanley, Justice for Animals Campaign