The Lone Star State update on Animal Law


The Lone Star Update on Animal Law
South Texas College of Law Houston
1303 San Jacinto St, Houston, TX 77002
Garrett-Townes Hall

Friday, September 6, 2019

9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Breakfast & Welcoming Remarks

Elizabeth Dennis, Assistant Dean, South Texas College of Law
Priscilla Rader, Education Coordinator, Animal Legal Defense Fund

9:30 – 11:00 a.m. Achieving Justice for Animals: Interpretation of Anti-Cruelty Laws

Jessica Milligan, Chief, Animal Cruelty Section, Harris County District Attorney’s Office
Kathleen Wood, Staff Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

The language used in anti-cruelty statutes often varies. Who is an animal? What is torture? When is someone an owner? This panel will analyze the definitions of key terms within these statutes, and the ways in which interpretation of these terms can affect the outcome of animal abuse cases. Panelists will provide information on anti-cruelty laws and explore recent case developments, including tracing the evolution of the emergency aid exception to warrant requirements following Pine v. State.

11:00 – 11:15 a.m. Break

11:15a.m. – 12:45 p.m.  Getting Political for Animals: Recent Developments in Legislation

Jennifer Hauge, Legislative Affairs Manager, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Shelby Bobosky, President, Texas Humane Legislation Network

Animal issues are becoming more frequently represented in proposed legislation. This panel will overview recent efforts in the Texas legislature to improve animal welfare and oppose bills that would harm animals. Among the topics discussed are hot car dog laws, possession bans, and factory farming issues.

12:45 – 1:45 p.m. Lunch in the Atrium

1:45 – 3:15 p.m. Animals in Civil Matters: Shelter Transportation and Estate Planning

Fran Ortiz, Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law
Joel Hailey, Attorney, private practice

Throughout history, animals have played pivotal roles in civil law cases, debates, and discussions. This panel will discuss ways in which animal issues are recently appearing in civil cases, including estate planning with pet trusts, and pet transportation and liability. As more people incorporate plans for companion animals into wills and estate planning, the law is adapting to accommodate these developments. This panel will explore these areas of civil law. Additionally, shelters frequently transport animals across state lines, and much of this transport is unregulated despite the risks involved. These two topics will be explored during this panel.

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. Break

3:30 – 5:00 Special Topic: Houston Aquarium

Adam Milasincic, Trial Attorney, The Ammons Law Firm
Daniel Waltz, Staff Attorney, Animal Legal Defense Fund

This special topic panel will discuss Animal Legal Defense Fund’s recent lawsuit against Houston’s Downtown Aquarium and Landry’s Inc. In 2017, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act based on Landry’s cruel treatment of four captive tigers. Landry’s counter-sued, alleging that the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit was defamatory. Panelists will discuss both the suit brought under the Endangered Species Act and the failed counter-suit brought under the Texas Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. Join our panelists in discussing this recent victory and what to expect next for these tigers—Nero, Marina, Coral, and Reef.

5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Pro Bono Opportunities & Reception

Tom Linney, Pro Bono Program Director, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Please join us at the reception in the Emilie Slohm Room, 6th floor

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is incredibly thankful to its volunteer attorneys who commit to thousands of hours each year in service toward the mission to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. If you are interested in joining the network, please visit aldf.org/probono for more information.

Thank you to South Texas College of Law Houston for generously hosting us at its beautiful campus and to all of our amazing speakers and moderators. Special thanks to Dean Elizabeth Dennis and the Animal Law Clinic for their tremendous help and guidance.

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