The Animal Protection League of New Jersey (APLNJ) is dedicated to promoting respect for 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.
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
Issues of concern include testing and experimentation on animals, the killing and management of wildlife for the firearms industry and for sport, the fur industry, animals raised for human consumption, animals used in entertainment, companion animal overpopulation, and more.
APLNJ, established in 1983, is a community based, non-profit, and educational organization working toward a coexistence with non-human animals that is non-violent, and that is moral. Domination, and the unthinking, arrogant, or insensible cruelty that goes with it, it indeed a hard nut to crack. APLNJ intends to chip at the façade, one day, one bill, one op-ed at a time. Through our programs of promoting non-commercial, objective science, ethical consumerism, and environmentalism, we advocate change that greatly enhances the quality of life for animals and people, and protects the planet.
APLNJ maintains a centrally located administrative office. The director, office staff and dedicated volunteers enable us to keep abreast of and address issues throughout the state in a timely manner.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:
APLNJ, established in 1983, is a community based, nonprofit, educational organization working toward a peaceful, nonviolent co-existence with our earthly companions both human and nonhuman. 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 earth.
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 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 immediately 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 (formerly NJARA). 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 - a Jack, or Jill, of all trades. 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, cycling, hiking, camping, canoeing, swimming, dancing, singing and amateur horticulture.
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
In addition to being the Assistant to the Executive Director and the myriad responsibilities that go along with that position, Elaine also serves as the coordinator of the speaker’s bureau our BEAR Group project. In this position, Elaine educates New Jersey residents about the true nature of black bears as well as train others to become speakers.
Elaine developed her love of animals at a very young age while observing her maternal grandmother demonstrate a powerful connection with animals which was passed on to Elaine at birth! She knew at a very early age that she was compelled to work with those that perhaps needed protection, guidance, and/or a friend.
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Before focusing her advocacy efforts primarily on black bear protection, Elaine taught middle school social studies in Mahwah, New Jersey and earned her MA in counseling. She was the peer medication advisor training her students in conflict resolution. Elaine also offered seminars to the staff familiarizing them with the necessary skills. She sometimes served as mediator between staff members. She was adept at planting the seeds of compassion in her students by consistently demonstrating a love and respect for them as well as for animals. Throughout four decades of teaching she also volunteered in local animal shelters and continues to do therapy visits with her phenomenal newfoundland, Gretchen. They visit Alzheimer facilities, hospitals and libraries in order to continue connecting people and animals. Elaine was an active member of a DVRT team (domestic violence response team) for three towns in Passaic County where she focused on offering choices and suggestions to victims of domestic violence.
Elaine was introduced to black bear advocacy when she noticed a “stop the bear hunt” sign on the window of her dog groomer’s shop. She spoke with several people that lived in “bear country,” and all were appalled at the possibility of hunting black bear, as well as hunting any animal. After inquiring more extensively, she discovered the already existing BEAR Group in West Milford, New Jersey and made it her business to join and become an active member. She is in this for life and becomes more determined every year to end the abuse of all animals. Her objective is to stop the bear hunt and to educate New Jersey residents to become “Bear Smart” so that they can live in harmony with nature.
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 with and love and appreciation for cats. As a child she would sit for hours outside earning the trust of the community cats at her grandmother's house. Family videos show her handling a very feisty cat with natural instincts enabling her to avoid injury when the cat was getting ready to strike! Sandra maintains these good instincts and remains unscathed by any of the cats she has met.
Originally from Australia, Sandra found herself living in the city of Trenton, NJ in 2004. Like most people, she had seen cats roaming around but did not think there was a problem until the kittens started showing up. It was then she realized these adults had no caregivers and something had to be done. She was fortunate enough to find two wonderful mentors to guide her through the process, and 75 cats later she saw how spaying and neutering 100% of a population leads to a very small and stable colony.
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She wanted to help other community cats in Trenton in this way and she formed the group Trenton TNR, which arranged weekly transport to a low cost clinic, transporting 20 or so cats every week for almost 3 years. In 2009 one of her original mentors told her about a position at Animal Protection League of New Jersey and she has been with us since then. Trained as a teacher, Sandra has a way of speaking to people that allows them to realize they can do TNR too! She has fashioned our own 3 hour training workshop based on the manual by Neighborhood Cats but with a wealth of her own experiences thrown in.
Sandra has orchestrated a mass TNR project of 125 cats, which was completed in 2 weeks and she has personally TNR'd countless numbers of cats and faced many different situations such as nursing mothers, cats who gave birth in the traps, and cats who escaped in her basement from traps!
Sandra is married with 3 young children and they are joined by 2 cats inside and she maintains a colony of cats outside whom they also adore.
Susan Russell - Wildlife Policy Specialist
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 theNew 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 actually expect our government to represent everyone, not special interests. 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.