Michelle Welch is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office and the Director of the Animal Law Unit at the Attorney General’s Office. She is charged with taking all animal law questions in Virginia. She is called on by agencies all over the Commonwealth to act as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. She frequently gives advice to local law enforcement authorities and prosecutors all over Virginia, across the nation, and internationally. She also trains prosecutors, animal control, and law enforcement officers on the state of Virginia animal law. She is a board member of the Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce. Ms. Welch serves as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia to aid in animal fighting and animal crime prosecutions.
She is a senior faculty member for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). She is the Chair of the Animal Law Curriculum Advisory Committee for the APA. She serves as adjunct faculty for Animal Law at the University of Richmond Law School and William & Mary Law School. She has testified before a Congressional Caucus examining the enforcement of animal laws and the cooperation between state and federal partners. She has trained other countries on animal crime, including Greece, the United Kingdom, and Spain and she has advised on animal criminal cases in Columbia and Belgium.
She has received many honors for her work on behalf of animals. In 2022, she received the Ellen Glasgow Award for Humane Service from the Richmond SPCA for her work on behalf of abused animals. In 2020, she received the Humane Law Enforcement Award from HSUS for the seizure of zoo animals from a neglectful zoo (one of the first times in twenty years that law enforcement has intervened on behalf of zoo animals). In 2019, HSUS gave her and her Unit the Humane Law Enforcement Award for bringing to justice wildlife trafficker, resulting in the closing of 5 fox pens. In 2018, the Norfolk SPCA honored her with The Thomas M. Ammons III Animal Welfare Award. In 2014, she was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. In 2013, she was named one of the Top 10 Animal Defenders in the Nation by Animal Legal Defense Fund. She was presented with the Albert Schweitzer Medal for her work on behalf of the animals in 2012 by the Animal Welfare Institute.