CHAIR: Rebecca J. Huss
CHAIR-ELECT: Yolanda Eisenstein
The overall theme of the Animal Law Committee (ALC) this year was "Communication, Co-Sponsorship and Cooperation".
At the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA on August 10, the ALC awarded its 2013 "Excellence in Advancing Animal Law" to Joan Schaffner for her extensive work in Animal Law. Professor Schaffner is Director of the George Washington University Law School Animal Law Program. She has been tireless in her animal law activities which have included countless articles for a variety of publications and she has been instrumental in the publication of ABA books on animal law as well as her own scholarly book on animal law issues. Professor Schaffner was the Founding Chair of the American Association of Law Schools Section on Animal Law. The awards reception was co-sponsored by the National Canine Research Council and The George Washington University Law School.
The ALC held a very successful national CLE program on Shelter and Rescue Law and Liability in Las Vegas, NV on October 28, 2012. The program was held in conjunction with the Best Friends Animal Society's No More Homeless Pets conference and sponsored by Best Friends Animal Society and the National Canine Research Council. The program covered a variety of timely topics including shelter board member fiduciary responsibilities, shelter and rescue organizations' business practices and liability, non-profit lobbying basics and contracts. Speakers included Madeline Bernstein, Esq., Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Adam Karp, J.D., Law Offices of Adam P. Karp, Bellingham, WA; Bonnie Lutz, Esq., Klinedinst PC, Orange County, CA; Laura Nirenberg, Best Friends Animal Society, LaPorte, IN; and Ledy VanKavage, Esq., Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, UT.
At the Spring meeting, the CLE Board approved the ALC's proposal for a similar program to take place in October of 2013.
At the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA on August 10, 2013, the ALC held a timely Presidential Showcase program on food labeling entitled "Do You Really Know What You Are Eating?". Experts discussed lawsuits involving alleged "mislabeling" of food and false advertising claims against food producers, including food derived from animals. The panel discussed food fraud, the intentional adulteration of food with cheaper ingredients. Panelists included: Andrew S. Boutros, Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of California; Carter Dillard, Director of Litigation for Bay-area nonprofit the Animal Legal Defense Fund; Amir Nassihi of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in San Francisco; and Bruce Wagman, partner at Schiff Hardin in San Francisco. Moderating the panel was Aimee M. Gong with the Law Offices of Lawrence M Reuben of Indianapolis.
ALC worked on a recommendation on Due Process and Anti-Cruelty Ramifications of Cat Classifications to go to TIPS Council for approval and on to the ABA House of Delegates. A recommendation on Dogs in Military Housing was also readied for submission to the TIPS Council. Other work had started on recommendations on Exotic Animals and Shark Finning (the latter in cooperation with the International Committee). However, progress on these recommendations was halted when TIPS indicated that it was working on considering a new process for Recommendations and Reports by the General Committee.
The ABA Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section (IR&R) proposed a recommendation and report regarding the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) regarding due process issues and possible unconstitutional aspects. The proposal was also sponsored by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. The ALC voted to pursue the idea of recommending that TIPS co-sponsor the proposal.
Public Service Activity
February 9, 2013, the ALC sponsored a public service project in Dallas, TX. The group assisted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas with a variety of tasks at the shelter. The project was sponsored by the Law in Public Service Committee.
In Washington, DC on April 27, the ALC and TIPS Government Law Commttee, Law and Public Service Committee, Staff Counsel Committee and Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response assisted at a Free Animal Health Fair sponsored by the DC Department of Health. Events included free vaccinations, dog licensing, and learning about emergency preparedness.
The ALC continued its co-sponsorship of a humane education project with the HEART organization that began in 2009. The program trains primarily lawyers and law students with materials that are generally targeted to students in upper elementary school grades.
Website and Webinars
ALC established a Twitter account and revised the Linkedin page. All minutes of meetings and podcasts of teleconference speakers are on the website. With a new TIPS staff person, some problems with the website were solved. ALC continued with an active Facebook page.
On February 27, 2013, the ALC held a successful webinar entitled "Dangerous Dogs Update: Litigation, Legislation, and Liability". The program covered an overview of relevant cases, evidentiary challenges, unconstitutional ordinances, breed discrimination, and various procedural issues as well as a discussion of the most recent controversial case, Tracey v. Solesky, and liability issues related to insurance. The program was moderated by Yolanda Eisenstein, Eisenstein Law Offices, Dallas, TX and speakers included: Mark Randall Brown, Law Offices of H. Barrett Peterson & Associates, Baltimore, MD; Donald D. Feare, The Law Office of Donald D. Feare, Arlington, TX; Cliff Robinson, Law Office of H. Barrett Peterson & Associates, Baltimore, MD; and Ledy VanKavage, Best Friends Animal Society, Collinsville, IL.
Minutes of all business meetings were created, approved and posted on the TIPS/ALC website. Open conference calls in September of 2012, January, March, and June of 2013 also included (in addition to the general business agenda) a featured speaker. In September 2012, the speaker was Heidi Meinzer of Bean Kinney and the topic was the case of Tracey v. Solesky. In January, Julie Fershtman spoke on Equine Liability and in March. Michelle Welch, Assistant Attorney General of Virginia spoke on Exotic Animals. In June, speakers included: Mike Markarian, Chief Policy and Program Officer, and Jonathan Lovvorn, Senior Vice President of Animal Protection, Litigation and Investigation from the Humane Society of the United States. The topic was Egg Battery Cage Legislation.
With the exception of the June teleconference, podcasts of these talks were then posted on the ABA/TIPS/ALC website.
ALC continued publishing an excellent newsletter three times a year with increasingly interesting and timely articles as well as updates on work being done in the subcommittees.
A proposal for a book on Shelter and Rescue Organization law was submitted to the TIPS book publishing board and was rejected. A proposal was submitted to the TIPS book publishing board to prepare shorter "white papers" on discrete topics of interest to ALC members that was rejected, although the ALC decided to move forward with the project as a service to ALC members. A proposal for a book on wildlife law was submitted. TIPS Publication Board approved the writing of a new book on "Everyone's Guide to Dogs and the Law" and will consider a new edition of International Wildlife Law upon completion of the Dog Law book.
The ALC continued to provide a chapter for the TIPS Annual Survey. ALC was highlighted in the Fall 2012 edition of TortSource and members provided three feature articles to that edition.
Law student members worked on keeping the website events up to date and were assigned as co-chairs to the various subcommittees. They also set up a database of potential TIPS/ALC speakers available to speak to law students and other groups around the country and researched national and state bar associations for animal law groups.
The ALC recruitment brochure was revised and made available to members for conferences, etc. along with powerpoint slides. Outreach efforts were made to related groups outside ALC. Efforts were made by the ALC Chair and others to reach out to Asian and Hispanic organizations.
Welcome letters were sent out to all new members as soon after joining as possible and asked to join one or more subcommittees. Dropped members (from TIPS or the ABA) were contacted personally in an effort to get them to rejoin. A recruitment e-mail was sent to TIPS members who are not ALC members.
The Membership Vice-Chair attended a Membership Training session held by TIPS leadership to learn the latest recruitment and retention methods. During the year, membership hit its highest mark since ALC founding at 370 members.