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ASPCA Expands National Anti-Cruelty Program with Experts in Investigations, Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Sarah Kirk appointed Medical Director; George O’Brien Northeast Regional Director, ASPCA Field Investigations and Response
December 7, 2012

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced two new additions to its Field Investigations and Response team. Dr. Sarah Kirk will serve as the medical director for large-scale animal cruelty and disaster responses, and George O’Brien has been appointed Northeast regional director.

Dr. Kirk will expand and develop medical and emergency protocols for deployments, as well as recruit and train medical staff. She will also develop standardized medical and sheltering supplies and resources, and collaborate with outside agencies during large-scale responses.

Prior to joining the ASPCA, Dr. Kirk worked as the Interim co-executive director and staff surgeon at No More Homeless Pets in Florida. Before moving to Florida, she was the director of veterinary services at the Cleveland Animal Protective League in Ohio. Dr. Kirk also served as staff veterinarian at Geauga Humane Society (South Russell, Ohio); Dr. Richard A. Novak, Inc. (Novelty, Ohio); and the Anti-Cruelty Society (Chicago, Ill.). Additionally, Dr. Kirk founded her own behavior consulting company, as well as PetFix Northeast Ohio, a mobile spay/neuter clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

"Dr. Kirk’s life-long dedication to improving the lives of animals has resulted in invaluable experience and skills," said Tim Rickey, senior director, of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "This experience and generous spirit will benefit the ASPCA's response efforts. She’ll be putting her skills to use in the field and directing other veterinary responders in investigation and response cases."

Dr. Kirk has volunteered her veterinary skills to numerous organizations, most recently at the University of Florida’s Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service, a lead member of the state’s Agricultural Response team. In 2011, Dr. Kirk received a Community Service Award from the Florida Veterinary Medical Association for treating 200 puppies for distemper while en route from Puerto Rico to New York. She also volunteered at St. Francis Pet Care Clinic and Operation Catnip in Gainesville, Fla.and Feeding Pets of the Homeless in Ocala, Fla.

As the Northeast regional director for the ASPCA’s Field Investigation and Response Team, Mr. O’Brien will investigate and respond to animal cruelty cases as well as natural disasters in the Northeast region, collaborating with local law enforcement and animal welfare agencies to rescue animals from life-threatening situations.

"With over two decades of experience in law enforcement, George’s knowledge and expertise will be instrumental in helping the Field Investigations and Response team work with law enforcement agencies," said Kathryn Destreza, director of investigations for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "We’re ecstatic to bring such an experienced and dedicated individual on board."

Prior to joining the ASPCA, O’Brien spent 25 years in the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Initially joining the department as a police officer, he progressed through the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy inspector and finally, his most recent position of inspector. In this last position, O’Brien supervised three divisions, managing a staff of more than 300 investigators involved in confidential criminal cases. He was previously the commanding officer of Manhattan South Downtown Narcotics District, part of the Organized Crime Control Bureau.

Preceding his career at the NYPD, O’Brien was stationed in West Germany while serving active duty in the United States Army Infantry and was a fire protection specialist in the Air Force Reserves.

The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response team assists animal victims of both natural and man-made disasters throughout the country. The team is made up of ASPCA experts, including veterinary technicians, humane law enforcement agents, disaster responders and sheltering professionals. The team has responded to such natural disasters as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, the tornado in Joplin, Mo. in 2011, and most recently, Hurricane Sandy in New York City. The team has also investigated numerous large-scale animal cruelty cases, such as the largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history in 2009, and the seizure of hundreds of cats from Caboodle Ranch in Lee, Fla. this past year. The team is commonly called upon by state and municipal governments and other animal welfare partners to lend its expertise during large-scale animal rescue operations.