SALDF Spotlight: George Washington University Law School

The George Washington University Law School Student Animal Legal Defense Fund is an active, diverse organization that has made its focus appealing to the entire student body.

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The GW SALDF has expanded upon its standard events and outreach by adding Animal Law Week in January 2013, which included guest speakers on the issues of factory farming and breed discrimination.  We also served a vegan breakfast for Meatless Monday. The chapter is continuing the Animal Law Week this year by hosting speakers on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the impact of animal cruelty on crimes against humans, as well as screening the documentary film Blackfish to the student body.

Our “pet study breaks” remain popular and are conducted throughout both the fall and spring semesters, with SALDF members bringing adoptable cats and dogs to visit the Law School. In 2013, several cats and dogs were adopted by students on the days they visited GW Law, resulting in new forever homes for these loving animals.

Under the leadership of Law School Professor Joan Schaffner, the GW SALDF works closely with the GW Law Animal Welfare Project, which has composed animal cruelty summaries for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, which helps district attorneys and other interested parties in nearly every state. The Animal Welfare Project also drafts comments for federal agency actions and is preparing to assist in restructuring the District of Columbia’s animal cruelty laws.

Our chapter held a fundraiser for ALDF for National Justice for Animals Week in 2013, and also organized a holiday drive for shelter animals at the Washington Humane Society. We also hold an annual Pet Photo Contest in which students, faculty, and staff submit photos of their companion animals to raise funds for GW SALDF. The contest also raises awareness about animal protection issues that the GW SALDF addresses.

We have also worked extremely hard to draw guest speakers who can speak on a wide range of topics involving animal law. In the fall, we hosted guest speaker Steven Wise, who spoke about the Nonhuman Rights Project’s initiative to expand certain legal rights to animals. This semester, we will host speakers during ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week who will address the constitutionality of Ag-Gag laws, and the effort to eliminate gestation crates from factory farms.

To appeal to the greatest number of students, the GW SALDF actively seeks the collaboration of other groups with whom our interests intersect. Last year, we hosted an event with our school’s Art, Law, & Entertainment Society regarding cosmetic animal testing. This year, we plan to host an event with the Federalist Society about the constitutionality of the law prohibiting animal crush videos. We also plan to collaborate with other organizations on campus, like the Feminist law Society, American Constitution Society, and ACLU.

The GW SALDF board and membership is conscious of the broad reach of animal law, as well as its continued growth into a wide variety of legal fields. We will continue to take advantage of this reach and expansion, ensuring that we do our part to provide as many voices for the voiceless as possible.

This student chapter spotlight was submitted by Josh Loigman, vice president of GW SALDF.

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