Helping Animals Through the Law

Posted on July 18, 2008

by: Tamara McElyrea, vice president of Thomas M. Cooley Law
School SALDF chapter

June, 2007

When
we were children, we all sang, “How much is that doggy in the window?
Arf, arf?” and dreamed about a little head popping out of a box tied
with a bow on Christmas morning. But the stark reality is many of those
puppies come from illegal puppy mills where the conditions are far from
that cute nursery rhyme. Animals have no voice to convey the effects of
urban sprawl, the brutality of animal fighting, torture endured at
factory farms, or the senselessness of intentional acts of cruelty by
owners. They have no voice to educate the community about the laws that
have been enacted to protect them. They will now have a voice at Thomas
M. Cooley Law School through the newly SBA-chartered Student Animal
Legal Defense Fund (SALDF), which is a student chapter of the national
Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) organization.

SALDF’s mission is (1) to provide a forum for
education, advocacy, and scholarship aimed at protecting the lives and
advancing the interests of animals through the legal system, and
raising the profile of the field of animal law (2) to advocate policies
and actions for animals that are compassionate and cruelty-free; and
(3) to expand visibility, increase awareness and educate the Cooley
community about legal and social issues concerning animals.

Michigan is one of the top five states
for progressive anti-cruelty laws. All five states have legislated
animal cruelty a felony crime, veterinarians must report instances of
animal cruelty immediately, and courts can order abusers to undergo
counseling. There are three schools in Michigan with active SALDF
chapters; Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and the
University of Detroit-Mercy, plus 96 other law schools nationwide with chapters.
The field of animal law is not a narrow one but is ever expanding to
include tort law, criminal law, family law, and environmental law.

SALDF plans to petition the school to add an Animal
Law elective, sponsor speaker’s forums on Animal Law issues with the
assistance of Attorneys for Animals and the Michigan Bar Association
Animal Law Section, promote education to the student body on animal law
issues, career opportunities, and how to effect social change through
legal advocacy. SALDF plans to encourage collaboration with other SBA
groups to promote education about the overlap between human and animal
rights issues.

If you have a passion or interest in the protection
of animals through the use of the law contact Kate Brindle, President
SALDF, brindlek@cooley.edu to join the group.

A quote from Gandhi: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."