Bob Barker Donates $1M for Animal Law Program at the University of Virginia

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on January 15, 2009

Bob BarkerBob Barker, "Price is Right" legend and long time animal advocate, has donated $1 million to the University of Virginia to create an animal law program at its law school.

While a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter has been in place at the school since 2005, there was not an official animal law program until now. The new program will include: an animal law course that starts in the fall and will be taught by professor Mimi Riley; guest speakers; externship opportunities; and a writing competition focused on animal law.

The University of Virginia School of Law’s absence of an animal law program has not held some students back from pursuing this rapidly developing area of law. University of Virginia SALDF member Elisabeth Custalow, winner of the inaugural Pet JD animal law writing competition and participant in ALDF’s Animal Law Clerkship Program, will be working at ALDF’s headquarters this summer as a post-graduate clerk.

Animal Legal Defense Fund faces are not new on the University of Virginia School of Law campus. In 2006, ALDF was invited to the school to present Animal Law 101, a tutorial that focuses on fostering the growth of animal law in academia and legal practice. In 2008, under the guidance of ALDF attorney member Paul Ernest, several University of Virginia SALDF members helped produce the "Baked Dog Syndrome" protocol documents for California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia. These documents provide specific guidance to each state’s law enforcement officers, animal control officers and humane investigators on how to respond to a call about a dog left unattended in a parked car on a hot day.

In 2007, Barker was presented with the first ever Animal Legal Defense Fund Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a life committed to animals and achievements made on their behalf at ALDF’s "Future of Animal Law" conference held at Harvard Law School.

Barker’s passion and dedication to animals prompted him to end every "Price is Right" show with a call for spaying and neutering dogs and cats. In 1987, it impelled him to resign from a lucrative job as host of the Miss U.S.A. and Miss Universe pageants because their organizers insisted on having the contestants wear fur coats.

In 1994, he established the DJ&T Foundation with the goal of helping solve the tragic problem of animal overpopulation. The Foundation funds low cost spay/neuter clinics and subsidizes hundreds of spay/neuter voucher programs across the country in an effort to help control animal overpopulation.

When the production company that owns "The Price is Right" wanted to honor him in 2001, they allocated $500,000 to do so. Mr. Barker let them know that the money would be best spent by donating it to Harvard Law School, which established the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights. He has since contributed another $500,000 to the fund and has also established similar million dollar endowments at the law schools of Stanford, Columbia, Duke, UCLA, Northwestern and Georgetown.

For a list of established SALDF chapters and animal law courses, visit the Resources section on our website.