Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) is dedicated to promoting respect for all animal life. By far, the chief causes of animal abuse, suffering, and loss of life are institutional and legal; the magnitude of suffering is enormous.
APLNJ works toward the elimination of suffering endemic to institutionalized exploitation and misguided or antiquated public policy. Domination, and the arrogant cruelty that goes with it, is indeed a hard nut to crack.
Through education, legislation, and outreach, APLNJ labors daily to:
- Increase public awareness of institutionalized and legalized animal abuse
- Encourage activism in our own communities to halt or prevent cruelty
- Promote lifestyle changes to reduce and eliminate suffering
APLNJ advocates for the rights of ALL animals, but our primary issues of concern are wildlife, animals raised for human consumption, feral cats and animal experimentation.
APLNJ maintains a centrally located administrative office where the director, office staff and dedicated volunteers enable us to keep abreast of and address issues throughout the state.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
APLNJ, established in 1983, is a community based, educational organization working toward a nonviolent coexistence with animals. Through our programs of promoting responsible science, ethical consumerism, and environmentalism, we advocate change that greatly enhances the quality of life for animals and people, and protects the planet.
Angi Metler - Executive Director
Angi Metler co-founded APLNJ in 1983 and serves as its executive director. Angi has overseen its growth to a nationally recognized and highly respected state-wide organization with a staff of motivated, talented, and professional animal protection advocates.
When asked what caused her to become involved in animal protection, Metler responds: “When I was eight years old and playing with rescued kittens, I suddenly realized they were not toys, but individuals whose lives were just as precious as anyone else's. At a family reunion later that same year, my cousins were shooting at tin cans with a bee-bee gun. When a sparrow landed on one of the tin cans, I understood the power humans have over animals, how defenseless animals are, and started protecting them on the spot. Later, as an adult, what I witnessed when working at a pharmaceutical company drew me into the movement. I could not have been comfortable whining about cruelty, and doing nothing about it. I'm an organizer and a doer. Defenseless animals needed, and still need, organizing and doing.”
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Angi has organized hundreds of demonstrations, marches, outreach events, educational conferences and seminars. APLNJ is actively involved in litigation, legislation, and education to promote animal protection objectives. APLNJ’s newsletter publicizes other New Jersey grassroots organizations in the spirit of cooperation and unity. To that end, APLNJ was the proud recipient of the Dodge Foundation’s Scott McVey Unity Award for working with other organizations.
After becoming aware of the typical American eating habit's devastating effects on billions of animals, our planet, and the health of millions of people, Angi became vegan in 1983. APLNJ’s community outreach program, “Food for Life” promotes the health, humane, environmental and economic benefits of a plant-based diet.
Since 1988, Angi has been involved with black bear protection and education and was instrumental in forming the Coalition to Protect New Jersey Black Bears. APLNJ and the Bear Education And Resource Group host the coalition, which represents over 600,000 New Jersey residents, and has been successful in stopping eight bear hunts, and prevented seven others from moving forward. With Susan Russell, Angi also serves as co-chair of the League of Humane Voters of New Jersey. In 2012, the BEAR Group became a project of APLNJ.
Angi lives in Vernon Township, in the heart of bear country, with Guy, her husband of 37-years and their daughter, Sarah.
Janine Motta - Programs Director
Janine's journey with Animal Protection League began in August 1988 when she picked up an APLNJ (formerly New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance) flier supporting legislation to outlaw the infamous Draize test in NJ. It opened her eyes to the issue of product testing on animals as well as the issue of animals' rights in general. Janine recalls the profound effect it had on her.
She started attending our local meetings, learning and absorbing all she could about this issue. Her life turned on a dime. She became vegetarian and shortly thereafter vegan, started purchasing cruelty-free products, and worked the animal-based clothing out of her wardrobe. She knew that her ignorance of the past would be no more.
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Before long Janine became the volunteer coordinator in the then-Northeast District of APLNJ. In that capacity Janine organized monthly meetings, held protests and leafletings, staffed outreach tablings at area shopping malls and orchestrated local campaigns, making the Northeast District a dynamic and active region of the state. Janine's new-found passion brought her to the organization's Woodbridge office as a regular volunteer and in May of 1989, Janine joined the staff as our Office Manager.
Since 1988, Janine has been a staple in the APLNJ office. She has handled almost all aspects of the organization from fundraising to bookkeeping to outreach to public presentations to overseeing our many programs. With an acute sense of purpose, Janine has used her passion, professionalism and dedication to further the mission of APLNJ.
When not working, Janine enjoys musical theatre and outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, kyaking and most recently kiteboarding.
Janine holds a Bachelor of Science from Southern Connecticut State University in Recreation and Leisure, specializing in Community Recreation & Youth Development. But life often takes many twists and turns and Janine's epiphany in 1988 set the course for the rest of her life.
Elaine Dunn - Assistant to the Executive Director
Elaine is assistant to the executive director of APLNJ and serves as the coordinator of the BEAR Program speakers’ bureau. With style, Elaine both educates residents on the true nature of black bears and trains bureau speakers.
Prior to focusing her advocacy efforts on black bear protection, Elaine taught middle school social studies in Mahwah, New Jersey, and earned her master’s in counseling. As peer mediation advisor, she trained students in conflict resolution. Elaine hosted seminars familiarizing staff with the necessary mediation skills and served as mediator between staff members. “I planted the seeds of compassion in my students by consistently demonstrating a love and respect for them as well as for animals.”
Through four decades of teaching, Elaine volunteered at local animal shelters and continues therapy visits with her companion, an amazing Newfoundland named Gretchen. Elaine and Gretchen visit Alzheimer facilities, hospitals, and libraries. “The therapeutic effect of animals upon people never ceases to astonish,” says Elaine. “That bond is as essential as it is natural. Industries that exploit animals, such as the firearms lobby, try to desensitize, to serve their own purposes.” Elaine was an active member of a DVRT (domestic violence response) team serving three towns in Passaic County.
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What led Elaine to working in behalf of animals? Her maternal grandmother had demonstrated a powerful connection with animals. Elaine felt the same way. “From a very early age, I felt compelled to work with those who perhaps needed protection, guidance, or a friend.”
“I became an advocate for black bears when I noticed a ‘stop the bear hunt’ sign on the window of my dog groomer’s shop. I then spoke with several people who lived in ‘bear country’; to a person, all were appalled at the possibility of hunting black bear, as well as hunting any animal.” She discovered the BEAR Group in West Milford and became an active member. Her objective is to stop the bear hunt and to educate New Jersey residents in “Bear Smart” practices. “We can live in harmony with nature,” says Elaine. “With the black bear, ignorance is the worst enemy.”
Doris Lin — Director of Legal Affairs
Doris Lin is an animal rights attorney, the Director of Legal Affairs for the Animal Protection League of New Jersey and a member of the steering committee of the League of Humane Voters of New Jersey.
Doris has worked for a variety of animal groups, including the Animal Protection PAC, Animal Protection League of NJ (f.k.a. NJ Animal Rights Alliance - NJARA), The Bear Education And Resource (BEAR) Group, The Humane Society of the US, and the Animal Welfare Institute. She has also founded two student animal rights groups and served on the Board of the Boston Vegetarian Society.
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As an attorney, she represented NJARA and the BEAR Group in a lawsuit against the state of NJ, successfully invalidating the state's bear hunt plan in 2007. She is also a former chair of the NJ State Bar Association's Animal Law Committee, and is the author of “Bear Hunt Controversy Shines the Spotlight on New Jersey's Wildlife Law,” published in New Jersey Lawyer Magazine.
She has also worked for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Doris has been an animal rights activist for over 25 years, vegetarian for nearly as long, and vegan for over 20 years. She shares a home with three humans, two rabbits and four guinea pigs, and is a life member of the House Rabbit Society.
Doris holds a B.S. in Applied Biological Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center.
Sandra Obi - Project TNR Director
Sandra has had a lifelong affinity, love and appreciation for cats. Family videos show Sandra, a mere child, deftly handling a feisty feral. “I’d sit for hours studying and earning the trust of a community of cats near my grandmother’s house,” says Obi.
A transplanted Australian, Sandra became a resident of Trenton, New Jersey in 2004. She knew that cats roamed the city. Then she saw the kittens. “I realized that the adults had no caregivers and that something had to be done.” Sandra found two, knowledgeable mentors to guide her through Trap, Neuter and Release practices and methodology. Spaying and neutering 75 cats, or 100% of the population, led to a small and stable colony.
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To help other abandoned and feral cats in the city, Sandra founded Trenton TNR. The group arranged weekly transport to a low-cost clinic, transporting 20 felines every week for nearly three years. In 2009, one of her mentors told her about a position at Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ), and the rest is history. Sandra utilizes her teaching degree to educate the public in the benefits of TNR and has created APLNJ’s three-hour training workshop. The workshop is based on the Neighborhood Cats manual, supplemented by Sandra’s own, hands-on experience and recommendations.
Sandra’s achievements are impressive. She has orchestrated a mass TNR project involving 125 cats, remarkably completing the program in two weeks. Sandra has applied TNR to many hundreds of felines, in the process encountering all manner of situations. Sandra’s TNR work is extensive, hands-on, and successful.
Sandra is married with three young children, two indoor cats, and, naturally, a colony of TNRed cats.
Susan Russell - Wildlife Policy Director
Susan Russell, whom the Star Ledger described as “formidable” and “gutsy,” is a veteran wildlife protection professional with nearly thirty years of state, national, and international experience. She is former vice president for wildlife, Friends of Animals, Inc., (New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.), and former legislative advisor for the Animal Welfare Institute’s Society for Animal Protective Legislation in Washington, D.C.
In New Jersey, the late Assemblyman D. Bennett Mazur, sponsor of New Jersey’s landmark laws banning steel-jaw leghold traps and trade in wild-caught birds, praised Russell as “a consummate professional who really knows how to get the job done.” The law's sponsors credited Ms. Russell’s “tireless work” and provision of quality educational materials to the Legislature as the prime reason for passage of the trap law. In addition to spearheading, researching, and lobbying the leghold law and overseeing resultant litigation, Russell directed and lobbied the successful campaign for New Jersey’s Wild Bird Law, which outlaws importation of wild-caught, exotic species for the pet trade.
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Russell has been a repeat NGO (non-governmental observer) at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where she participated in working groups. She wrote the AWI petition brief to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to halt trade in exotic birds from Senegal and participated in lobbying for re-authorization of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Wild Bird Conservation Act.
Russell has researched and written in-depth analyses of the U.S. fur trafficking and trapping trades. Her “Urban Wildlife Series” focuses on three mismanaged species currently under the gun, and exploited for hunter access: white-tailed deer, Canada geese, and the American black bear. (See APLNJ’s “Urban Wildlife Series: The Black Bear”). Russell, whose family arrived on these shores at Jamestowne and on the Mayflower, was deeply involved in the successful campaign to halt Disney’s planned edge city at Manassas National Battlefield. She has been published by the New York Times and other national publications, and has appeared on national, state, and Canadian television and radio.
As a result of her experience with the leghold trap and subsequent litigation, Russell honed her expertise on the coziness of government wildlife regulators - the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and related state wildlife agencies – with ammunition, firearms, archery, and fur trade associations, and the unseemly “partnerships” that dominate U.S. wildlife policy.
Russell’s Urban Wildlife Series: State Wildlife Action Plans and Wildlife-Use Trade Associations (link) focuses on the involvement of partnered corporate conservation groups, trade, and green washing.
When asked why she chose her field, she responds: “A deep and abiding love and respect for animals. I enjoy them, I ‘get’ their ways. A corresponding abhorrence of cruelty. I agree with Twain; animals often put the human race to shame. Secondly, I expect our government to represent everyone, not solely special interests. In the United States, wildlife is managed for commercial imperatives; our government, state and federal, is partnered with firearm, archery, and equipment manufacturers. Trade defines the terms, designs the policies, even drafts federal reports. Manufacturers and loggers have renewed old and unseemly alliances with two large conservation groups. It’s all done under the rubric of “conservation,” a term distorted beyond recognition by commerce, burgeoning partnerships and deals, and politics. At the state level, state wildlife departments ‘serve’ game councils, which are in turn comprised of state hunting clubs. The highly evident conflict of interest would not be tolerated in any other sector of government. Thirdly, a low tolerance for what is euphemistically called 'bunk.’ Put those three together, and it was a given.”
Russell attended Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and was graduated with an education degree from Monmouth University. Her other interests are books, politics, wildflower and perennial gardening, Nantucket, colonial American history, and of course, her beloved wild Canada geese, ducks, and swans. She lives on the Navesink River in Fair Haven, New Jersey.
Photo credit: Bob Bielk/Staff Photographer / Bob Bielk/Asbury Park Press - used with permission/licensed.
In 2003, APLNJ lost Matt Fancera - a friend, colleague and Advisory Board member. Click here to learn more about Matt's activism and his legacy for the animals.