SALDF Spotlight: Osgoode SALDF Speaks Out for Animals

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In 2014, Osgoode Hall Law School at York University’s Animal Law Society affiliated with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to join the community of SALDF chapters in the U.S., Canada, and beyond. Osgoode is now one of 20 Canadian schools with a SALDF chapter. Osgoode SALDF works to use their limited resources to build a larger movement of future animal lawyers in their community and is proud of the work that they have accomplished to that end.

Since becoming a SALDF chapter, Osgoode SALDF has taken on outreach initiatives aimed at exposing the conditions animals experience and influencing students in their careers as they move forward. The chapter has done this by collaborating with animal advocates in the Toronto community to leaflet York University at large in order to raise awareness about factory farming and let students throughout the university know how they can help farmed animals. Osgoode SALDF exposes law students to animal issues by hosting film screenings such as Earthlings and Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The chapter also hosts a vegan bake sale each semester to raise money to support their events. (SALDF chapters can also apply for funding from ALDF to support their projects and events.) The bake sales have the additional impact of showing law school colleagues how easy and delicious plant-based food can be. Many students stop to chat about the impacts of factory farming and take ALDF brochures and newsletters.

Osgoode SALDF is very proud of the speaker events that they host. This past school year, SALDF hosted a very successful event entitled Criminalizing Compassion?: The Anita Krajnc Case. This event covered the high profile case of Anita Krajnc, a Toronto Pig Save activist who has been charged with criminal mischief for giving water to pigs in a truck on their way to slaughter. Students interested in the criminalization of activism and criminal law, as well as animal law, attended the event. Anita and her lawyers described the circumstances surrounding her arrest, as well as what this might mean for Canadian activists moving forward, and the property status of animals under the law. The previous school year, Osgoode SALDF hosted another event, Pot, Pigs, and Prostitution, in which they drew multiple areas of law together and exposed a diverse group of students to animal issues. The event featured prominent criminal and animal lawyers and asked why some victimless behaviors are considered criminal, whereas some crimes that do have victims, such as animal cruelty, may not be.

Osgoode SALDF focuses on fostering a community and continued involvement for students interested in animal law. Chapter members do this through hosting social events each semester at local plant-based bars, restaurants, and animal sanctuaries. In the past two years, Osgoode SALDF has hosted two successful networking events, bringing together legal professionals and students interested in animal law. These events allowed Osgoode and University of Toronto students to make meaningful connections with local animal advocates. Osgoode SALDF also hopes to bring Canadian representation to this year’s Animal Law Conference in New York City to connect with law students and legal professionals across the U.S., in order to best expand and hone their advocacy for animals in years to come.

Osgoode SALDF is also active in local legislation. SALDF board members submitted a recommendation to the Law Commission of Ontario to reform legal regulations surrounding the use of animals in entertainment, specifically focused on circuses. Moving forward, the chapter also hopes to create and implement more academically-focused events to get students involved in animal law during their time at Osgoode.

This student chapter spotlight was submitted by Ali Pester, co-president of Osgoode SALDF.

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