Behind the Scenes and On the Ground with Animal Welfare

posted on Tuesday, May 21, 2019 in News

The Animal Rescue League of Iowa has an impact on everything related to animal welfare in the state, from boots-on-the-ground investigative work and education to high-level legislative efforts. Leading the charge are two professionals with years of experience and a drive to make Iowa a better place for both animals and the people who love them.

Joe Stafford

Joe StaffordJoe Stafford, the ARL’s Director of Animal Control Services, has extensive experience in animal control and investigations. He came to us from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in Colorado, where he had been Director of Animal Law Enforcement since 2010, leading a staff of more than 45 animal law enforcement officers and others. His team served a community of about 1.3 million people and 700,000+ companion animals. Joe has also served as:

  • Field Services Manager in Centennial, Colo., and Douglas County, Colo.
  • President of the Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers (7 years)
  • Board member for the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund (3 years)
  • Member of the Legislative Committee for the Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies (2 years)

Joe is also a nationally certified animal control officer, humane investigator and equine investigator, and a specialist in technical animal rescue. He has numerous hours of training in advanced animal care and control in areas that include cruelty investigations, equine investigations, livestock investigations, illegal animal fighting investigations, biosecurity and zoonoses (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans), among other things.

Additionally, Joe developed and implemented an Animal Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy and has years of experience in updating city codes, ordinances and animal laws to ensure animal welfare and public safety. In Des Moines, he’ll use his expertise to work to improve local laws to provide greater protections to both pets and people.

Joe directs a team of ARL Animal Care & Control officers who are the eyes and ears on the streets of Des Moines, dealing directly with pets and people. Their work includes responding to concerns related to all types of animals seven days a week, 365 days a year, educating residents on city ordinances and animal care, offering outreach assistance to those in need, taking action to remove pets from dangerous situations, and offering resources and expertise with abuse and neglect situations.

Colin Grace

Colin GraceColin Grace, the ARL’s Director of Legal and Strategic Initiatives, works on the legal side of animal welfare, using his knowledge of law and government in a variety of ways in the best interests of Iowa pets.

Colin came to us from the Grefe & Sidney law firm, where he was an attorney working in a variety of practice areas, including insurance defense, employment law and medical malpractice. He earned his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Iowa State University.

Colin oversees our cruelty intervention program, which investigates animal abuse and cruelty situations across the state. He and our Cruelty Intervention Coordinator, Scott Wilson, work together to support law enforcement in different ways. Scott works directly with city police and county sheriff’s offices in identifying applicable laws, assessing case information, connecting law enforcement with assisting agencies, and recommending courses of action. Colin provides assistance to county attorneys, helping them get the information they need to successfully prosecute cases involving animals. Colin also helps facilitate rescue operations on site to make sure the interests of the animals and the ARL are protected.

Colin works with outside counsel on legal proceedings involving the ARL, which often serves as the holding facility for animals that have been mistreated. In criminal proceedings, he pushes for prosecutors to file the most appropriate charges allowed by law and provides support wherever needed to make that a success. In disposition hearings, which determine whether an animal owner’s rights should be terminated, he is in court representing the interests of the animals and the ARL.

Colin has been a big part of our legislative work this year, working to change state laws to toughen penalties against animal abusers and improve the definitions of abuse, neglect and torture to give county attorneys the tools they need to be more effective in punishing animal cruelty. Colin is regularly at the Iowa Capitol working with the lawmakers sponsoring animal welfare bills, working with party leadership and fielding questions or concerns about the bills to clarify what we’re trying to accomplish.

Colin also oversees our humane education and TheraPets programs, exploring opportunities to help pets and people.