Animal Law

Trident K9 Warriors: My Tale from the Training Ground to the Battlefield with Elite Navy SEAL Canines

k9WarriorBlogAfter seeing a segment on 60 minutes almost a year ago I had the pleasure of finishing this book. This was a great book on the interaction and the necessity of military dogs in aiding the United States, not just during war but our daily lives. There were many sub stories in this book but the underlying theme of the book is TRUST. If the working dog trusts his handler than he will go to the ends of the earth to protect and fight for his handler. TRUST goes far in any relationship but is critical when you are dealing with lives.

Fostering a Pet…

bnr-foster-homes-petsJust recently my wife and I found 2 dogs running around our neighborhood. After going around the neighborhood that same evening for 2 hours, posting lost dogs posters, calling local shelters and vets and not locating their owners, we decided it was time for us to find a forever home for these two pets.

After a month of fostering these two puppies and taking them to the vet for their checkup it was difficult to let them go; however, at the same time it was a relief to find them a family with 2 young children willing to adopt them.

In the end, fostering these 2 puppies made me realize how strongly these creatures need us for survival and how strongly we need them for companionship.

If you have the time and space, you may consider fostering

By the End of the Year….

dogwig-cutAs an attorney who loves animals and tries to protect them anyway possible, I was excited a few weeks ago when I attended “Barry Law Animal Law Conference” on October 18, 2013. I was not able to attend the entire day because I had, and continue to have, a lot on my plate but I was able to see Steve Wise speak. This was not the first time or the last time I will hear him speak. However, this time was a little different because he was talking about the “Nonhuman Rights Project” and their goals. (

The Nonhuman Rights Project’s goal is:

“The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only organization working toward actual LEGAL rights for members of species other than our own. Our mission is to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere ‘things,’ which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to ‘persons,’ who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty, and those other legal rights to which evolving standards of morality, scientific discovery, and human experience entitle them.”

Mr. Wise did an excellent job explaining not only the purpose of the project but also, his work and origin and the future of the Nonhuman Rights Project. What excited me the most was the work, time, energy and proposal that this organization has done and will continue to do. Furthermore, Mr. Wise stated that the first lawsuit will be filed before the end of 2013 based on the common law writ of habeas corpus.

Per the Nonhuman Rights Project site a Writ of Habeas Corpus:

“… requires that anyone who is holding another person in detention must show cause as to why they have the right to do this. It has been used, for example, to challenge the legality of a person’s detention requiring the jailer or slave owner to show just cause as to why that person is being detained. If the jailer or slave owner could not show just cause, then the detained person would be released. Habeas corpus was incorporated into the law of the American colonies and, later, the American states as part of English common law. Habeas corpus remedies every illegal restraint, public or private, wherever and however it may occur. A petitioner who could demonstrate probable cause through verified affidavit that his detention was unlawful was entitled to a writ of habeas corpus as a matter of right, and no court could legally deny it. Because in many instances, the detainee will not have the ability to seek the writ on her own, due to the very fact of her detention, the writ can be brought on behalf of the detainee by a third-party.”

The Nonhuman Rights Project has broken down all of the States in the USA and each state’s position via the common law, statutory interpretation, and appellate rulings on the legal theory of Writ of Habeas Corpus.

I am excited to see what is going to happen in the next 10 weeks and see where the Nonhuman Rights Project will file their first case.

Scientific Research or Commercial Whaling?


Is Japan catching whales for scientific research or is it for commercial whaling as Australia is arguing? Currently, this issue is being debated in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague and a ruling should come down in the near future.

You can read more about this at:

A Man, A Dog, and An Oppossum... Which One is a Human?

A Volusia County man is being charged with felony animal cruelty. According to new reports, Alan McCarty tried to have his dog and an opossum fight in a cage. (,0,4407016.story) However, since the two creatures did not engage in fighting one another, Mr. McCarty decided to take the opossum out of the cage and brutalize the animal (this proves my theory that animals are smarter than many people). Mr. McCarty allegedly stomped on the opossum and than decapitated the animal with an ax. As if the brutality of the living life was not enough, Mr. McCarty allegedly did not even take responsibility for his actions, but instead he allegedly tried to blame his girlfriend. ( Ultimately, if these facts are proven to be true, I believe this is a situation where the defendant should face the maximum penalty allowed with felony animal cruelty and he should not be allowed to own an animal for the rest his life.( Owning an animal should be a privilege and not a right that should be given to every person.

Dog Fighting…

Why? Is the first word that comes to mind when I read or see footage of dog fighting. Well, actually that is not the first word, but it is the first non-expletive word that comes to mind.

Why would people take innocent animals and force and train them to hurt each other? My theory is because people can be the worst representation of creatures on earth; however, I when seeing such images or reading such articles I also have to remind myself that people can also be the best representation of creatures on earth.

I see animals like children; they are innately good, however sometimes they are surrounded by awful people. Just like children, animals can be rehabilitated and some of the damage that was done can be reversed; however, sometimes the damage was so severe that the outcome is irreversible.

As individuals we can be vigilant against both dog fighting and child abuse. Also, as consumers, we can boycott and use our financial power to make statements that those that support such cruelty do not deserve the support of consumers.


"The Art of Racing in the Rain"

My wife and I lead very busy lives like many couples. One thing we like to do as a couple is read books out loud to each other. (I guess it must be the teachers in us.) We recently read a book that was on point in my field of work: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein. If you would like a quick read that brings to life the world of a dog from his/her perspective, this would be a great book. My wife and I enjoyed the book thoroughly because it involved the life of a dog, “family issues,” and the “legal system.” We initially did not realize this would be a book dealing with child custody issues but as we read page by page the realization was clear. The author did an excellent job crafting this book in terms of making the reader connect with the characters and provided an excellent glimpse of what can take place in a custody battle. I would highly recommend this book to any animal lover.

Divorce, Kids, and Pets...

I just read a great article on Pet Custody and Divorce and agree with the commentators. See a copy of the article below: Pet custody: Divorce battles get hairy


THEY still fight like cats and dogs in divorce court. But more and more they are fighting about cats and dogs.

Custody cases involving pets are on the rise across the United States.

In a 2006 survey by the 1600-member American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a quarter of respondents said pet custody cases had increased noticeably since 2001. The academy is due for another survey, but there is no doubt such cases have grown steadily since then, said Ken Altshuler of Portland, Maine, a divorce lawyer and AAML president.

If there is a child involved in a divorce, many judges will keep the pet with the child, lawyers said.

"But what do you do when the pet is the child?" Mr Altshuler asked.

Breakups in same-sex marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships are among reasons pet custody fights have become more common, lawyers said.

Pet custody cases have grown as much as 15 per cent in his office over the last five years, said lawyer David Pisarra of Santa Monica.
He is his own best example. He shares custody of eight-year-old Dudley, a longhaired standard black-and-tan dachshund, with his ex, who has remarried and introduced a step-dog to Dudley.

Pet consultant Steven May hired Mr Pisarra six years ago to handle his divorce. Besides a daughter, May and his ex worked out custody of three dogs, two cats and Tequila the parrot.

Mr Pisarra and Mr May became good friends and often take their dogs for walks in Santa Monica. They also teamed up last year to write a book about co-parenting a pet with an ex titled "What About Wally?"

Pets are considered property in every state in America. For years, they have been divvied up like furniture during divorce proceedings. But times are changing.

"Judges are viewing them more akin to children than dining room sets. They are recognising that people have an emotional attachment to their animals," Altshuler said.

"There is a shifting consciousness," Mr Pisarra said. "Pets are being given greater consideration under the law."

Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse....

PutzIn a shocking and tragic turn of events, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control put down Putz, the pitbull of Debra Peters, who was seized by the office on October 6, 2011 after the dog bit her ex-husband while defending her during a domestic dispute. Peters said Putz was only trying to defend her and himself. Her ex-husband had spat in her face before kicking the dog. When he took a swing at Peters, Putz came to her defense, biting the abuser on the wrist and stopping him from attacking.

”(He) kicked Putz and I said, ‘What did you do that for?’ and he went to swing his arm at me and that is when Putz jumped up and got him on his wrist,” Peters said. "He was only protecting him and me.” Her ex's injuries were confined to that one wrist.

The Coalition for Animal Rights Education (CARE) group stepped in to help Peters, convinced the dog meant only to grab the man before he could strike. ”If that dog had been angry or aggressive enough to want to do that guy in for his actions he wouldn't have had one bite and release with no puncture wound,” said Collen Meyer of CARE. "That dog probably was capable of doing far more in a short period of time."

The dog's brave act would eventually cost Putz his life. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control was asked to assess the dog, and when they did so, they declared him dangerous and recommended that he not be returned to Peters. "What we see is that if it has bitten it has a great chance that it may bite again," said Dan Niziolik with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control. Minneapolis Animal Care and Control provided the following observations as justification for PUtz's euthanization: •    That Putz was territorial and guarded his cage. •    That he didn’t sit on command. •    That he didn't respond to the vet’s touch. Ignored her patting.

Given the length of time Putz was separated from Peters, and isolated in a shelter, it would seem natural that any dog would be stressed by such surroundings and not react in a social or "happy" way. "After being locked up for so long, of course any dog is going to be jumping around, sniffing, playing with the dog toys,” Peters said.

The vet's note also stated that when a dog with bite history is "large, has great strength and no particular interest in pleasing people, it is my opinion he is not an acceptable pet."

”Who says that dog has to be nice to her?” Meyer said. “There are people who would give her the same reaction and she wouldn't put them on death row.”

Ironically, the past history of the ex-husband did not appear to have bearing on Putz's case. Police records showed a number of domestic calls at the home. Once, Debra's ex-husband was arrested after she told police he threatened to cut the throat of her previous dog while holding a large knife.

There is also another unsubstantiated report where her ex husband claims she told Putz to attack him and that he bit him in the face. Peters denies that. But the city also used this unverified incident for their case. They also decided Peter's could not own a dog over 20 lbs because she has a felony on her record.

”I just think if he were a human and intervenes for this abused woman he would be called a hero not a biter,” Meyer said.

Peters had paid kennel fees and done whatever the city asked in the past three months (she paid to have him neutered and microchipped) in the hopes they would spare him, even if they gave him to someone else, which appeared to have been an option at one point, but it fell through. In a last ditch effort animal welfare groups offered Putz a permanent home at a sanctuary where he would never be offered for adoption. But in the end it did not matter. The judge in the case disregarded the offer and ordered that Putz be put to death.

On Saturday, that order was carried out, and the dog who gave everything he had to save Debra Peters drew his last breath, and the dog she had bottle fed as a baby was gone.

Many involved in the case are justifiably furious, and believe that the city has made a tremendous mistake that will have serious repercussions in the future. “The dog had gone to protect his owner against an abusive situation and ended up at animal control,” said Meyer. Worse that that, he ended up dead. It would seem that the system failed both Peters and Putz in this case.


Source: ( for full article )

Kangaroo Boxing: Animals in Entertainment or Animal Abuse?

The University of Central Florida’s arena is housing the Piccadilly Circus.  For many the circus brings great joy and excitement, but for others the entertainment value is destroyed by the often harsh treatment of the animals.  This year the Piccadilly Circus brings along with it a boxing kangaroo! Yes, a boxing Kangaroo--you don’t believe me please read:

“Real family fun!
Piccadilly Circus is celebrating 25 years of entertaining families across America, and has pulled                               out all the stops to make this year's edition the greatest! Elephant Extravaganzas, the Boxing Kangaroo,                                    Motorcycle Madness, Outstanding Acrobats, and the World's Funniest Clowns! Plus elephant and pony rides, and a Kid's Fun Zone!

Tickets on sale now!”                                                                       (source:

I understand everyone needs to make a living but if you are going to have a “simulated combat sport” make sure the participants are willing and are able to consent and not animals who are “forced” to work. Animals who are used in entertainment and are forced to do “shows” that require them to “fight” a human being, in my eyes are being mistreated.  In my opinion, those who sponsor such events should be careful of what message they are portraying in the public eye.  After protest by the People of Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) a Texas “kangaroo boxing” show sponsored by KRAFT Food was cancelled.  ( See:

My suggestion is the University of Central Florida needs to think about branding and how important it is to the school, not only in the State of Florida but also on a national level.  When it comes to animals and potential abuse of animals it is a smart thing to stay far away from anything that may even seem like abuse. (see wftv video report:

Although some may overlook or simply not understand the problem with the treatment of many animals used in entertainment, I am unable to turn a blind eye.  As a strong animal lover and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, I am unwilling to show support for the use of a Kangaroo as a boxer against a human being; the Kangaroo has no power to say “No” and so I feel it is my duty to speak up and say this is simply not right, and an animal should not be made to do things outside of its natural way of living.  Making a living is a need for all human beings but I believe there are always ways to make a living that do not involve the exploitation of animals such as the Boxing Kangaroo.