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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Kindness Counts - Accelerating Animal Advocacy

May 04, 2009 11:30PM
In 1993, just seven states had felony animal cruelty laws; today, all but four do—Idaho, Mississippi and the Dakotas. In 2000, nine law schools had animal law studies; today about 100 do, according to an Associated Press report. “Animal law is where environmental law was 20 years ago. It’s in its infancy, but growing,” says Pamela Frasch, adjunct professor and head of the National Center for Animal Law, at Lewis & Clark Law School, in Portland. State laws vary widely.

Lewis & Clark opened the first Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter in 1992. Today, it oversees branches at 115 law schools in North America. The reason is student demand. David Favre, an authority in the field who teaches the subject at Michigan State University College of Law, says that most private practice animal law cases deal with dangerous dogs, divorce settlements, purchases or other property-related difficulties.

But, it is the animal rights cases that draw public attention. According to Scott Heiser, criminal justice program director for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, new laws in many states put animal abuse on a par with drunken driving cases; this pre-empts offenders from plea bargaining to a lesser offense. Sources: Associated Press;; reference

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