Gina A. Calogero has been fighting for the right of families, their pets, and the environment for her entire career. A two-term councilwoman in Emerson, New Jersey and former council president, she led efforts to preserve 19 acres of watershed land from development. Today, Emerson Woods is perpetually preserved and is the site of walking trails rather than townhouses.
As a volunteer attorney for Bergen County Alternatives to Domestic Violence, Gina has represented numerous victims of domestic violence since 1995. She is a municipal prosecutor in Cresskill and has also prosecuted in Emerson, River Edge, New Milford and Ridgefield Park. She is a member of the Bergen and Sussex County Bar Associations and the New Jersey Bar Association Family Law Sections and Animal Law Committee, for which she served two terms as Chair. Presently she serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Character. She previously served as chair of a District IIB Ethics Committee Fee Arbitration Panel. Her public volunteer service has also included the Board of Trustees of the Police and Fireman’s Retirement System, Governor Whitman’s Blue-Ribbon panel on School Vouchers, and the Emerson Planning Board.
Gina has presented seminars and educational programs throughout the country to judges and fellow lawyers through the at least once a year. At the 2019 New Jersey Bar Association annual meeting, she was a panelist in a widely acclaimed program exploring animal law issues in family law, along with other esteemed panelists of family law judges and lawyers.
In fact, Gina is well known for her experience and expertise in animal law, especially where it intersects with family law. Pets are part of the family despite being treated as property under the law. She was called the “F. Lee Bailey of dog law” in a special report by Channel 9 news highlighting her pioneer advocacy on behalf of companion animals. She has been a guest and commentator on News 12 New Jersey, Eyewitness News, the Today Show and various cable shows. Her article on the Vicious Dog Act appeared in the historic August 2005 edition of New Jersey Lawyer Magazine, devoted entirely to Animal Law.
It started in 1994 with the defense of “Splinter”, a mixed breed terrier from Saddle Brook, impounded and sentenced to death under the New Jersey Vicious Dog Act for an injuring an 8-year-old girl. After two appeals and three trials, the verdict was finally overturned for lack of evidence. Since then, Gina has represented dozens of “death row” dogs throughout the state. She is credited with the only reported decision on the Act, State vs. Smith, 295 N. J. Super. 399 (Law Div. 1996).
In 2009, she won an appeal in the landmark case of Houseman v. Dare 405 N. J. Super 538 (App. Div. 2009), which established the right of pet custody in a divorce or break-up. The case is taught in law schools throughout the U.S.A.
In 2012, Gina was presented with the Humanitarian Achievement Award by the Peter W. Rodino Society of Seton Hall Law School. Gina has a B.A. from Douglass College (1975) and JD from Rutgers Law School Newark (1985).
She lives in Sussex County with her husband and three cats. They have two granddaughters, both animal lovers.