Animal Legal Defense Fund Names Massachusetts Veterinarian One of America's Top Ten Animal Defenders

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore recognized for state-of-the-science veterinary forensic work and contributions to successful prosecutions of animal cruelty

BOSTON, MA – The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has named Massachusetts veterinarian Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore one of America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders. 

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has presented the annual award since 2009 to recognize the outstanding contributions of animal advocates, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and legislators to the protection of animals.  Prior to Dr. Smith-Blackmore, only one other veterinarian had previously received the prestigious honor.

“Because animals can’t tell us what happened or why, law enforcement often has a difficult time making the case that an animal-related crime has occurred,” explains Lora Dunn, Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program.

“Dr. Smith-Blackmore’s work to advance the science of veterinary forensics has helped bridge that evidence gap.  She has significantly strengthened the ability of the law enforcement community to successfully prosecute cases of animal abuse and neglect.”

Dr. Smith-Blackmore has been a recognized leader in the field of veterinary forensics for over a decade.  Law enforcement officials and prosecutors from across the country regularly request her assistance in a variety of animal-related cases.  Her investigative analysis and testimony in the high-profile dog starvation case against former Baltimore Raven Terence Cody 2016 and the 2017 the case of Gregory Fargnoli who was accused of beating his girlfriend’s dog to death in Auburn, Massachusetts, contributed to successful convictions.

“I’m very proud to be named a Top Ten Animal Defender and deeply appreciative of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s efforts raise awareness of animal abuse,” says Dr. Smith-Blackmore. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund advocates that the justice system approach animal cruelty with the same vigor as they do any other serious crime.”

“My driving philosophy is that by protecting animals, we’re protecting people.  There’s a strong and well-documented link between animal and domestic abuse.  Where there’s animal-related crime, there’s all too often activity or behavior that poses a danger to other people. Besides, animals deserve our protection in their own right.”

Dr. Smith-Blackmore is the founder and president of Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC, an independent consulting firm with unique expertise in the investigation of animal cruelty based in Boston, Massachusetts.  Learn more at

She is also an adjunct professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University where she teaches the next generation of veterinarians how they can apply their scientific training to the protection of animals.  

The Animal Legal Defense Fund will honor the Top Ten Animal Defenders throughout National Justice for Animals Week, February 25 – March 3, 2018. For the full list of Top Ten Animal Defenders, visit