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The Best Friends Podcast Episode 37

All Dogs are Individuals
October 29th, 2020

Thirteen years ago, dogs seized from dogfighting busts were considered by most organizations to be too dangerous, too damaged, too traumatized to be rehabilitated. So it was no surprise that the effort to save the dogs from the Michael Vick dogfighting case was controversial. Some in our line of work called it reckless, and others believe it to be a waste of resources.

But it is the stories of those 47 dogs that have helped millions of people understand that all dogs are individuals. They have proven that breed discrimination laws are ineffective and costly. And these misguided bans may force people to have to give up their family members. Pets who have done nothing wrong; their only crime is their appearance.

How far have we come on these issues? What is the status of the legislative efforts to ensure no dog faces discrimination for the way they look? And how successful have we been at changing the public’s perception?

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Guests this week
Ledy VanKavage Best Friends Animal Society

Ledy VanKavage

senior legislative attorney, Best Friends Animal Society

Ledy VanKavage is the senior legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society. In 1985, she organized the Madison County Coalition Against Pound Seizure, successfully stopping the sale of pets for research in her county. She then founded the Madison County Humane Society (now Metro East Humane Society) and was its president for eight years. In 1992, she co-founded the Illinois Federation of Humane Societies and was a co-founder of Operation SPOT (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today).

Before coming to Best Friends, Ledy was the senior director of legislation and legal training for the ASPCA. She has spearheaded the passage of more than 30 humane state bills during her lobbying tenure and is a past chair of the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. The recipient of the ABA’s Excellence in Animal Law Award for 2014, she has been interviewed by MSNBC, NPR, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Ledy and her husband, Cliff Froehlich, have an adopted pit bull terrier, Karma Korn. They also oversee a community cat colony.

Sue Cosby Best Friends Animal Society

Sue Cosby

senior director of lifesaving centers, Best Friends Animal Society

The goal to achieve no-kill nationwide by 2025 and Best Friends’ commitment to helping those organizations across the country with the greatest lifesaving need is what brought Susan Cosby to Best Friends. As the Senior Director of Lifesaving Centers, Sue provides leadership for Best Friends locations in multiple cities, from New York to Los Angeles and places in between, including the beloved sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where she’s based.

Throughout her career, Sue has led organizations providing humane law enforcement; animal control; high-performing adoption, fostering and transfer programs; and high-volume sterilization clinics and full-service veterinary clinics. In her most recent position, she served as the Director of Lifesaving for the Petco Foundation, supporting grantmaking of $30 million annually and the national adoption program in Petco stores. In that role, she saw firsthand the incredible lifesaving progress being made across the country and was excited at the opportunity to once again use her animal sheltering knowledge to assist in that forward momentum.

Sue has nearly two decades of progressive animal sheltering experience. Prior to the Petco Foundation, Sue served as the Executive Director and founding employee of the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly), which was an outgrowth of her management of animal control services in Philadelphia under two other contract providers. That included serving as the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania SPCA while they held the contract, and previously serving as Chief Operating Officer at the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association. In addition to municipal animal sheltering, her private sheltering experience includes serving as the Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Association in New Jersey.