Off-Duty Officer Lauded for Helping Turtle Cross the Road in Heavy Rain

PETA Recognizes Former Greenbelt Police Officer of the Year for Keeping Reptile out of Harm's Way

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2018

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Greenbelt, Md. – A Compassionate Action Award is on its way from PETA to Greenbelt’s 2017 Police Officer of the Year Sharnise Hawkins-Graham for safely guiding a turtle across the road during a rainstorm. Around midday on Sunday, June 3, a concerned citizen flagged down Hawkins-Graham and alerted her to a turtle who was making his way across the street in the pouring rain. The officer, who was off-duty at the time, jumped out of her car and stood guard over the turtle—inspiring a family driving by to take out an umbrella and assist her in relocating the little animal to a wooded area nearby.

“Officer Hawkins-Graham didn’t hesitate to do her part to give a turtle a boost in the right direction and help keep the animal safe from passing cars,” says PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “Local residents are fortunate to have such a compassionate officer who—whether on or off duty—acts swiftly to help those in need, and PETA hopes this story will inspire people everywhere to do the same.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—offers tips for helping wildlife on its website, including keeping an emergency rescue kit on hand and properly disposing of trash, as well as a video (available here) with information about helping turtles cross the road safely. Even if their shells are crushed, turtles can remain alive for days or even weeks in agonizing pain, which is why PETA advises people to pull over if they see a turtle on the road and help guide the animal in the direction he or she was headed in. Never leave an animal to suffer—if you see a turtle who has been hit by a car, always check to see if the animal is OK. If a turtle has been injured, secure veterinary care immediately.

PETA is sending Hawkins-Graham a framed certificate and a box of delicious vegan cookies.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind