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 continuing series of spotlights, ALDF salutes attorney Evan Dwin.

Winning the case against animal cruelty is a tireless endeavor–it takes skill, diligence, compassion, and more than a little tenacity. When the Animal Legal Defense Fund sought to ensure compliance by the Palm Springs Animal Shelter with state and local laws regarding the animals in its care, we were fortunate to get this kind of tireless assistance from Evan Dwin.

An attorney with Troutman Sanders, Evan is new to animal law, but it’s his years of experience in all phases of litigation, including trials and mediation, that helped make a difference for the animals in this case. In 2011, we filed a lawsuit against the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, the City of Palm Springs, Palm Springs police and animal control officials seeking a court order requiring them to follow state and local laws protecting animals, including ensuring routine veterinary care and holding animals for legally required periods before euthanizing them.

With Evan’s expert legal support, the Animal Legal Defense Fund was able to avoid protracted litigation and settle the case through a mediation involving the sheriff, city council, and board of the animal shelter. “I think in many cases you are hoping you can resolve the case favorably for your client without the time and expense of trial,” says Evan. “Often, one or all of the parties will want to fight it out to improve their position, but in this case, we were fortunate that the City was cooperative, so were able to get things done informally.” Evan adds that the mediation was a collaborative effort between all of the parties and resulted in a comprehensive agreement that requires the City to observe applicable holding periods and implement numerous other training and operational procedures. The settlement also prohibits advertising the shelter as a “no kill” facility.

“This is the first case I have worked on in the field of animal law,” he says, “but my firm has worked with ALDF in the past and continues to have a strong interest in protecting animals. Our pro bono coordinator, Dorothy Stallworth, learned about this case through her contacts with ALDF and passed the information along to our San Diego and Orange County offices. I was assisted by Bill Anderson and Andrew Puls, who are also associates in the San Diego office. Numerous other attorneys in both our San Diego and Orange County offices volunteered to assist with the case if it progressed beyond the mediation.”

Evan, who earned his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2005, believes animal welfare is everyone’s responsibility. “I think it is extremely important for human beings to respect all living things and to protect animals, who provide us with so much,” he says. Evan, his wife Leah, and their daughter Ellie share their home with an eight-year-old cat named Simba. “He naps a lot and is very tolerant of our two-year-old’s efforts to play with him.” That’s good news, since the Dwins just welcomed another child, Sarah, in June.

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