Volunteer Attorney Spotlight: Gabriela Sandoval

Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF's Online Content Manager on July 2, 2008

The Animal Legal Defense Fund would never be able to use the law to
advance the interests of animals without the support of legal
professionals nationwide. In this first of a series of spotlights,
ALDF’s Animal Law Program salutes attorney Gabriela Sandoval.

For
Gabriela Sandoval, nothing is more important than helping those in
need. And as part of ALDF’s volunteer attorney network, she is putting
her skills to work. This Denver-based attorney recently helped draft an
amicus curiae brief ALDF filed on a companion animal custody case, for example.

Even
in her teens, Gabriela knew that her life would involve fighting on
behalf of the exploited. Deep in Maine’s North Woods as part of an
Outward Bound wilderness program, she realized that the flora and fauna
around her deserved protection, and her career path was set soon
afterward as a Colorado State University freshman. Attending
environmental ethics, philosophy, and politics courses, Gabriela knew
she would become a legal advocate representing the interests of
non-human animals and the environment. "I’m still not exactly sure how
I didn’t feel it or see it before, but when I finally came to face the
reality of the exploitation and abusive practices in which we as humans
were engaging with regard to animals, I was filled with motivation to
help protect them," she says. "Not necessarily because I loved this
animal or that animal – that wasn’t the point. The point was that I
felt there was an opportunity to protect those who needed the most
protection and who endured the greatest suffering."

For Gabriela, helping to alleviate this suffering
meant making more humane, conscientious choices – and studying law. "My
drive to enforce the animal protection laws, push for new progressive
animal legislation, and engage in animal advocacy is the reason I went
to law school," she says. "During law school, what I already knew had
been reconfirmed. I wanted to pursue a career working toward
progressive legal rights for animals."

Children, too, benefit from Gabriela’s legal
expertise, and she sees a distinct parallel between children’s rights
and animal rights. "Historically, children were viewed as property,
without any rights of their own," she explains, noting that the same is
true of non-human animals. "Animals have individual needs. They too
have interests. By virtue of the fact that they can suffer, they too
deserve protection and representation. Like children, animals are
easily victims of abuse and exploitation. Too often the abuse goes
unnoticed because of the simple fact that they can’t call out for help.
Abuse goes unnoticed because people are misled and misinformed."

"ALDF is very fortunate to have the support of and
opportunity to work with legal professionals like Gabriela," says
Pamela Hart, director of the Animal Law Program. "The time and
expertise she and hundreds of volunteer attorney members contribute
make it possible for ALDF to further our mission of protecting the
lives and advancing the interest of animals through the legal system.
Their efforts have a direct impact on animals, whose lives we are
diligently trying to protect."

Gabriela regards her contributions as essential to
who she is. "The way I see it, if I feel strongly about something, I
need to try to do something about it," she says. "If I don’t, I fear
that I only become part of the problem. While the work I do with
children and on behalf animals may be the most difficult and often
emotionally draining, it’s also, interesting, complicated, and most
rewarding."

You can learn more about Gabriela Sandoval and her
practice, the Rocky Mountain Legal Center for Child & Animal
Welfare, by visiting www.childandanimalaw.com.

To
become a member of ALDF’s Animal Law Program and assist animals as part
of our pro bono network, please complete and return our Attorney Membership Application.


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