Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder spoke to a roomful of 170 pastors, social workers, attorneys, judges, nurses, and deputy circuit clerks, concerned about animal abuse and domestic violence Thursday at the LeClaire Room in the N.O. Nelson Complex in Edwardsville.

Topics covered at the all-day conference included Internet safety, an update on relevant state laws, and statistics on domestic violence in the local community.

The council's Partners in Peace award was presented to Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons, Hope Animal Rescues in Godfrey, and Community Resource, Education and Safety, Inc.

The council chose to highlight those battling animal abuse, a real problem in family violence situations, according to Crowder.

Crowder introduced Gibbons as an "experienced prosecutor and father of two boys."

"Tom understands the connection between animal abuse and violence," Crowder said.

Gibbons and his wife, Lori, own three rescue dogs. Lori Gibbons found a 32-pound abused pet on that the Gibbonses adopted from another state.

"We understand the connection with abused animals and abused homes," he said.

Madison County Animal Control euthanizes an extraordinary amount of animals, he said.

"Many are adoptable," Gibbons said. "We're going to change the way we do animal control."

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