StubbyDog Hero: Barbara R. Paul

October 27, 2011  

Assistant District Attorney of Philadelphia

(from L-R, Kim Wolfe, Sarge the Elderbull, Barbara Paul)
Q: What made you decide to use your legal talents to prosecute animal abusers?

A: While I have always loved my work at the Philadelphia DA’s office, when I turned 50, I decided that I wanted to devote at least some of my work to prosecuting cases for which I have a great amount of passion. I grew up with animals and have always had and loved companion animals. It is a huge gift to be able to use my skills to prosecute individuals cruel enough to harm animals and to attempt to prevent further animal cruelty.

Q: You’ve prosecuted a wide variety of crimes, from family violence to sexual assault and even elder abuse. How do these compare with animal cruelty cases? Any similarities or differences?

A: Animal cruelty cases are a lot like family violence and elder abuse cases used to be in that a huge part of the role of the prosecutor is to educate the judge about the issues surrounding these crimes and to make them comprehend that they are serious. It is often difficult to get serious sentences in these cases. As in the other cases, judges are starting to better comprehend animal cruelty cases and are starting to sentence accordingly.

However, unlike in other cases in which I have prosecuted, most of the investigations are conducted by the PSPCA, which does a great job in the preparation and the support of these cases in court. The humane law enforcement officers always appear for hearings with photographs and veterinary reports and other supporting evidence, always prepared and willing to testify.

Q: Is there a particularly rewarding case that has stuck with you?

A: Any case in which we are able to get an animal out of an abusive situation is hugely rewarding. But, in one case in which the PSPCA seized 32 fighting dogs from an evil man, an older pit bull, Sarge, was adopted by two amazing people. Despite the fact that we had gotten all the dogs surrendered, we did not get a conviction against the abhorrent defendant. For years after the case was completed, I was able to see the love and affection that Sarge got in his amazing new home, and the love that he gave to his parents and siblings. That was hugely rewarding.

Q: In your job you see the worst of the worst offenses against animals. What inspires you to continue?

A: It is because I see such horrendous treatment of animals that I continue prosecuting cases of animal cruelty. I want the courts and the community to understand the value and contributions of companion animals and the evil that it takes to harm them.

Q: Some people believe that banning pit bull type dogs will make communities safer. In your experience, what creates a safe community for people and their pets?

A: I think the same sentiments that create a safe community for people make a safe community for their animals – the understanding that they are sentient beings capable of getting and giving great love, the recognition that every animal has its own needs and behaviors based on its personality and not its breed, and the understanding that animals contribute a great deal to our lives.

Q: We think you’re a hero. If you could have one superpower to make a difference for animals, what would it be?

A: If I had one superpower to help animals, it would be to be able to time-transport them from neglectful, abusive situations to sanctuaries where they can get the love and care they so greatly deserve.

« « Mack Studies for the CGC – Part IV | Everyday Heroes: Good Samaritans » »


One Response to “StubbyDog Hero: Barbara R. Paul”
  1. Luvs Bostons says:

    She is my hero. She should be part of a group that teaches other judges. Judges should have continuing ed like many others, and learn from other compassionate judges. I’m not talking about a course in “law” in which words are written and they can “interpret”. I am talking about the effects the decisions they make on the community and learning things like how bad BSL is and not to judge a book by its cover.