Spotlight on Animal Heroes:
NYSHA Recognizes Julie Tanner – Fearless Animal Advocate
Julie Tanner, who lives in Niskayuna with her son Thom and her treasured cats, has dedicated her adult life to helping animals, and she has indeed made a positive impact.
One of her achievements was the creation of “Julie’s List” in which she compiles news stories of animal cruelty in the state and emails them to subscribers. She urges followers to contact the judges or DA’s office dealing with the charges to advocate for serious punishment for the crime.
NYSHA regularly peruses the cases and often reaches out to the organizations dealing with the crimes to offer support by providing rewards to find the perpetrators, rendering assistance with security bond posting applications, or emailing reference documents to police.
To promote participation of animal activists in the legislative system, Julie has been actively involved with Animal Advocacy Day (AAD) since its inception seven years ago through her efforts with NYS Senator Jim Tedisco, along with advocates Steve Caporizzo, Donna Farnsworth and Valerie Lang Waldin. AAD provides animal protection groups and individuals the opportunity to meet with state legislators and advocate for humane legislation. Julie also works with Senator Tedisco’s staff to maintain the AAD Facebook page.
A legislative accomplishment which she is most proud of is the role she played in the passage of the “Buster Bill” which makes acts of heinous animal cruelty a felony. The law was named in memory of Buster, a cat who was doused with gasoline and set on fire in Schenectady. Julie worked tirelessly along with many animal advocates to collect hundreds of names on numerous petitions supporting the bill and presented them to the legislature. In Julie’s words, “Animals feel pain just as people do, so they deserve the same protection.”
Julie does not restrict herself to quiet advocacy; she can also engage in fearless hands-on involvement. For example, she confronted an animal abuser who used a cord to strangle a cat to death on the street right in front of her and her son, and who then placed a cord around the neck of another cat. She yelled at him to stop as he ran to his apartment with the cats. Julie called police but since they were unsure of the appropriate laws, she rushed to the nearby office of then Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, obtained a copy of the animal cruelty laws, and brought them to the police. They went to the man’s apartment where the cat was found with the cord around its neck, thankfully still alive, and arrested the abuser. Julie and Thom subsequently testified at his trial.
As a result of her effective advocacy, Julie has received awards from NYSHA, the Mohawk and Hudson Humane Society, and Whiskers, and letters of recognition from Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, Senator Jim Tedisco, and Senator Phil Boyle.
In addition to her animal work, for many years Julie worked as a teaching assistant for special education children in the Schenectady school system. When students told her about domestic violence that often included animals, she conveyed that information to the proper authorities, since she knew both the animal and family members were in jeopardy. Julie used every opportunity to raise awareness among teachers and administrators about the connection between animal abuse and human violence.
Though she has wrestled with serious health issues over the past few years and was forced to retire from work, Julie has not allowed her health to curtail her determination to do all she can to combat animal cruelty. She said she would network at any time with anyone who wants to help stop it. “It’s all about team work,” she frequently says, “working together as a team to accomplish our goals. With increased public awareness, education, and tougher laws, the goal of preventing animal cruelty and neglect can be accomplished.”
Julie is a fearless fighter for animals, and we look forward to spending many more years working with her as an extended member of the NYSHA team.
Remembering Julie Tanner
Sadly, Julie Tanner passed away in April 2018, but her legacy lives on.
It is especially fitting that we feature some of her artwork now in this newsletter. Julie was a teacher’s aide who found beauty amidst all the cruelty and sadness she saw every day, and made it her goal to change whatever she could. She was an “ordinary” person whose extraordinary commitment made a huge difference to everyone she came in contact with, both in the human and animal worlds. She used her position to help students, colleagues, and their pets, spreading the word about humane education. Yet her day and her mission did not stop when she left school — she tirelessly continued teaching kindness everywhere she went. In fact, after we profiled Julie, she was awarded the NYS Senate’s highest honor, the Liberty Medal, presented to her by Senator Jim Tedisco.
Rest in peace, Julie. We will always miss you, and dedicate this newsletter to you, with gratitude for the example you set and for all that you did. We, and especially animals, live in a better world because of you.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXXI Fall 2017