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Animal law for “least protected” and “most innocent”

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Will Potter, a journalist and grassroots activist supporter, spoke at Friday’s “Animal Law: Working with the Grassroots” conference.

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Pamphlets and brochures adorn a table at the conference, which aimed to educate attorneys on how they can collaborate with animal rights activists.

“We are the only lawyers whose clients are all innocent,” read a sign at the “Animal Law: Working with the Grassroots” conference.

Friday’s event brought together about 30 activists and lawyers to develop ways to further the cause of animal rights through their own lives and practices. The Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) hosted the conference at the Marian Gould Gallagher Law Library.

Animal law deals with the treatment of animals, whether they are pets, farm animals or wild animals.

Cases range from one in North Carolina about the first-ever cougar hunt, to cases of animal hoarding, where people kept too many animals in their homes and couldn’t feed or care for all of them, to cases about regulations for the keeping of farm animals.

Throughout the presentations, both the presenters and the audience displayed their passion and conviction about this issue. They talked with fervor about their mission to protect animal rights.

“There’s a whole lot to do when you consider the horrors,” said Adam Karp, of the Animal Law Offices of Adam P. Karp.

Protecting animals from those who would do them harm was also discussed.

“They are the least protected and the most innocent,” said Bruce Wagman, of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

SALDF President Jennifer Kaplan explained that one of the goals of the conference was to start a dialogue between animal rights lawyers and grassroots activists.

The lawyers who attended expressed opinions that the law is not fair to animals. Their job, they said, and the purpose of the work they do, is to set a precedent to change that.

“The law doesn’t value them,” Karp said. “They’re invisible. And if you can’t be seen and you can’t be heard, then you have no rights.”

Most of the people in the room were optimistic. They believed their cause would ultimately win and quoted people like Gandhi, who said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

The attendees also believe there is already pressure from the community and the law will eventually reflect that.

“People are spending a lot of money on animal companions, and the law needs to catch up with that,” Karp said.

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