SALDF Spotlight: Florida Coastal School of Law

This student chapter spotlight was submitted by Lindsey Zehel, president of the Florida Coastal School of Law Animal Law Society

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Florida Coastal School of Law’s Animal Law Society (ALS), a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), has been proudly promoting awareness of animal law issues and policies by providing a forum for education and advocacy, on and off-campus, since 2005. Our chapter membership includes individuals interested in pursuing all types of legal careers, including criminal, family, and tax law. This diversity enables and encourages discussion concerning all aspects of animal advocacy.

Our frequent volunteer work at CJ Acres Animal Rescue Farm is especially rewarding for our organization. CJ Acres rescues and rehabilitates farmed animals in need, while promoting compassionate consumption. Each semester our members take a trip to the farm to learn about agriculture and assist with day-to-day tasks such as feeding, caregiving, and animal socialization. ALS provides similar assistance at Jacksonville’s Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary and First Coast No More Homeless Pets. This year, ALS also looks forward to partnering with our school’s Military Law Society by assisting with the K9s for Warriors rescue program, a local organization dedicated to rescuing and training shelter dogs for military troops and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.

In our efforts to encourage all students to consider animal law issues, no matter their intended practice area, we host several professional speaking events to educate the campus on the impacts of animal law throughout the legal arena. Speakers have included Odette Wilkins, director of Equal Justice Alliance, who discussed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and its First Amendment implications; Cherry Shaw, Counsel for Jacksonville’s Land Use and Environmental Law Department, who shared her experiences prosecuting law violations involving animals; and Laura Handzel of Best Friends Animal Society, who spoke about careers in lobbying and legislation.  Additionally, ALS expanded its horizons by participating in the 2013 Annual Animal Law Conference co-presented by ALDF and the Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) at Stanford University, for which we received a travel grant from ALDF, and attending last year’s Animal Law Symposium in Baltimore, Maryland.

It is our passion for animals that has allowed our chapter to come together to promote awareness and change in the growing field of animal protection. From pet Halloween costume contests, to petitioning the deans to keep a class dedicated to animal law from being removed from the curriculum, and the hundreds of hours spent volunteering, we are proud of the work we have accomplished and look forward to another great semester.

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