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An important message from our Executive Director

By Peggy Cusack

From Happy’s historic hearing to the first animal rights law in the country, the NhRP has accomplished so much this past year and a half–even more than our founder and president Steven M. Wise ever thought possible when, nearly 40 years ago, he decided to dedicate his career to securing legal rights for nonhuman animals.

But it has been a painful and difficult time, too.

In 2021, Steve was diagnosed with cancer. As in everything he does, he resolved to fight it. He has been fighting it every day since his diagnosis. Until very recently, he has continued working throughout his illness–guiding our strategy, pushing us forward, and readying us for the many legal fights we have ahead of us.

Earlier this year, Steve made the difficult decision to officially step back from his NhRP responsibilities so he can focus on his health and spend time with his family. Since then–with new habeas corpus petitions in California and Colorado (and two more on the way), the introduction in New York of the first elephant captivity ban in the country, and the enactment in Ojai, California of the first animal rights ordinance in the country–we have honored his life’s work by continuing our fight for nonhuman rights with the same tenacity Steve has brought to it from the beginning.

These are all pathways to our–to Steve’s–vision, roads that will lead nonhuman animals out of the darkness and suffering of rightlessness and into a legal system where they are truly seen and where their needs and interests matter, too. At the NhRP, we are all fully committed to this vision. That’s why, this spring, I was honored to step into the position of Acting Executive Director to ensure the seamless transition of day-to-day organizational operations during times when Steve needed extra support. I am supported in this role by our Litigation Director, Elizabeth Stein, who has been with us since the filing of our first lawsuit, as well as an extremely talented and dedicated team that has been aggressively implementing the strategic plan Steve set out for us at the beginning of last year.

Please know that Steve and the entire NhRP team have the deepest appreciation for supporters of the NhRP, which remains today the only organization in the US dedicated solely to securing legal rights for nonhuman animals. Thank you. Now and always, we couldn’t do this without you.

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