This spotlight was submitted by Andrew Imperiale, Blair King (vice president), and Tim Martin (president) of the Barry University School of Law Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

During the summer of 2010, the Barry University School of Law Animal Rights Law Society (formed just the previous school year) converted into a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. As members of the Animal Rights Law Society, we decided to reorganize as a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter because our mission statement was similar to that of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and we wanted to have a greater opportunity for involvement on a national level.

Barry Law SALDF kicked off the 2010-2011 school year at a student organizations fair held for incoming 1Ls and signed up 30 students who expressed an interest in joining our group. As members of this organization, it is our goal to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Through education and outreach, we will bring awareness to the different legal issues affecting animals.

So far this year we have visited the Big Cat Rescue, a sanctuary in Tampa, Florida that provides a nurturing, yet hands-off, environment for rescued big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards, and servals to name just a few. It was an amazing experience for all of us who toured the facility. Although the details of each cat’s story differed, it was quickly apparent there is a continuing problem with private ownership of big cats. These magnificent creatures were rescued from private individuals, roadside zoos, and other completely inappropriate facilities. On behalf of Big Cat Rescue, Barry Law SALDF is planning a joint research project with the Stetson University College of Law SALDF chapter overseen by animal law professor and attorney Jennifer Dietz to research zoning issues related to private ownership of big cats in the state of Florida.

Last year, Barry Law SALDF participated in many events to raise awareness and promote the welfare and protection of animals, including various pro bono opportunities for students to volunteer their time at animal related organizations and activities, such as the Walk for Farm Animals, Pugsgiving, and Pet Rescue By Judy. Also, some of Barry Law SALDF’s members attended the Annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. This semester, we are planning events for Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary and Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge, as well as activist events such as protests at greyhound races. With the support of an ALDF project grant, we are excited to be hosting our first annual Animal Law Forum, a continuing legal education (CLE) event, on April 2, 2011, designed to educate law students and legal professionals who practice or hope to practice in the field of Animal Law. Our keynote speaker will be Washington state animal law attorney Adam Karp, who will be joined by Florida attorneys Ralph DeMeo, Geoff Fleck, Fred Kray, Marcy LaHart, and Mindi Lasley. We look forward to furthering the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.

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