In honor of Women’s History Month, the Women’s Humane Society, America’s first animal shelter founded in 1869 by a small group of extraordinary women led by Caroline Earle White, will be honoring Lynne Abraham as the first recipient of their new “Trailblazer Award.” The former Philadelphia District Attorney (1991 – 2010), the first woman to hold the position, is being recognized for all she did to fight animal cruelty during her time in office.
Lynne was originally appointed D.A. by Philadelphia judges in May 1991, and then “won election in November 1991 to an unexpired term and was re-elected to four, four-year terms before announcing she would not seek re-election,” according to her current Archer & Greiner Partner bio. “Her 18-year tenure as district attorney is the longest in modern city history.”
During her time as leader of “the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation,” and among the “more than 75,000 cases a year” they handled, Lynne, a diehard animal lover and advocate, dedicated resources to investigating and prosecuting cases of animal abuse and neglect.
Through her tireless efforts to ensure that humane laws were enforced in the City of Brotherly Love, she led the prosecution of a carriage horse owner who mistreated his horses, which resulted in city officials being forced to monitor carriage horses more aggressively. Lynne also appointed Philadelphia’s first prosecutor devoted to animal cruelty cases. In addition, she was involved in closed discussions with the Philadelphia Eagles management and animal advocates after Michael Vick, the once disgraced NFL quarterback who served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring, was signed to the team in 2009 following his prison release.
Lynne’s commitment to animal welfare even extended beyond the walls her office. A July 1995 New York Times article noted that when she was D.A. she was known to carry “cans of Little Friskies in the trunk of her official car to regale stray cats.” In her personal life, Lynne continues to advocate for animals to this day, promoting adoption and rescuing her own pets.
Of her impressive accomplishments, it’s important to mention that Lynne was blazing trails long before she became D.A. Born in 1941 and raised in Philadelphia on the fringe of poverty (her father was a struggling vegetable hauler), she was the first member of her family to earn an undergraduate degree (Temple University, 1962). She was also one of only two women in her graduating class at Temple Law School, where she earned her law degree in 1965.
The inaugural Women’s Humane Society Trailblazer Award, which embodies the spirit of the organization’s founder Caroline Earle White, was created to recognize pioneering women like Lynne who have been driving forces in effecting progressive and impactful changes for both animals and society as a whole. Lynne will receive her honor on March 31st at an annual fundraising event that supports the shelter animals of the Women’s Humane Society.