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.


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."

Protect Your Pet!

“How Can You Protect Your Pet”

So you have a furry friend and life is great. From the moment you adopted your dog from the local shelter or rescue group your family gained another member. As your family grows and memories are etched in your mind, the idea of no longer having your pet can be devastating. We all know that as life progresses your death and your pet’s death are inevitable, but what happens if your pet gets lost or someone else claims her as his pet. What do you do?

Someone Takes Your Pet

So here is the situation: You have a pet and someone takes her and claims her as his own.

There are two ways to approach this situation. First, you can call the police and they will file a police report of the situation and that report will be sent to the State Attorneys Office to determine if there is a valid case of larceny.  If you do not want to take the criminal route, you can try and approach the situation in civil court.  Both options are discussed below.

Criminal Route

Going the criminal route will have certain positive aspects but there can be some pitfalls. The criminal route may take several months to complete, especially with all of the current budget cuts and assistant state attorneys being overworked. In the meantime, your pet would be under the control of someone else. Furthermore, under the criminal route the state would have to prove the elements of the crime of larceny beyond a reasonable doubt (if it gets to trial). If it goes that far, which more than likely it may not, you should be able to get your pet back if all elements are proven. The control you have under the criminal route is limited because the action and the handling of the case will be in the control of the assistant state attorney.

Civil Route

The second way to approach the situation is through civil court. Under the civil court system proof is on the plaintiff, the person bringing the case, and it has to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This means the judge has to believe the plaintiff a little bit more than the defendant, which equates to believing the plaintiff 51% more than the defendant. The problem with this situation that many pet owners run into is finding an attorney and financing the representation. The time that it would take to work this case may not be worth it for many attorneys and if there is an attorney willing to take the case on it is often not cost effective. However, there is always the option of filing the claim and navigating through the system yourself, which may be difficult and ultimately not achieve the desired goal.

Your Proof: Microchip

As soon as you adopt your pet you should have your animal micro-chipped. Essentially a microchip is a very small chip like the size a grain of rice placed on your pets shoulder and it can be read through a scanner machine. A microchip can be done at your local veterinary office or the local shelter and once it is done the chip has to be registered with the owner’s information. Generally the price to complete the chip is less than $100 and sometime it can be done for little or no money at all, but you have to do your research in your local area.  It is very important to microchip your pet. If your pet ever gets lost the information on the chip can assist in proving that your pet belongs to you, or if your pet is found you can be reached if your animal is taken to a local shelter or veterinary office because their first step is checking for a microchip. ( For more information on micro-chipping: Also, don’t forget to update your information as it changes so the people will have notice that your pet belongs to you and accurate information on how to contact you should your pet become lost.  (prime example:

Your Proof: Pictures / Video / Vet Bills

I know my wife and I are not the only ones who have tons of pictures and video of our dog. We also have lots of vet bills. We have pictures with our dog and her unique features (her white strip on her chest, her glossy eye, gray face, etc. ) Every dog is unique; for example, our dog is on several medications for health problems, which have been documented through the veterinarian. All the bills we get from the veterinarian we keep in her folder.

All of this information will help prove that our dog “Karma” is our dog and belongs to us.


Bringing a pet into your life can be a life changing experience for your pet and your family. However, it is your responsibility as the pet owner to do everything you can to protect your pet and your interest.




Do Something You Love- Animal Law

Those four words, “do something you love,” express a goal that many people strive for throughout their lifetime. Over the years I have grown thankful for how my life has played out, and now I wake up every morning filled with joy knowing each and every day I have the ability to practice what I love. During law school I developed a passion for several areas of the law, but one of my strongest passions centers around Animal Law.

I must confess that my love for animals has grown significantly in the past 6 years. It started when my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) and I adopted a dog. We had talked about adopting a dog for sometime prior to making the decision. We were getting ready to graduate with our master degrees and contemplated getting a “dog breath” prior to summer.  We wanted the summer to become acquainted with the dog and to allow the dog to become acquainted with us. In May 2005, we were living in Gainesville, Florida and we went out to Gainesville Pet Rescue to look at the dogs that were available.  Well, we were there for about 10 minutes and we saw a dark brown lab/pit mix named Karma sitting in her “prison box.” We read her card and then asked to take her for a walk. We knew instantly that we had a match.

I can still remember the Gainesville Pet Rescue workers saying that Karma was a little shy and that she may only eat tuna from a spoon when we got her home. After filling out the papers and bringing Karma home it was an instant connection and she had no need for tuna anymore. It seemed as though the three of us had lived together for years and we were all on the same page.

During law school my love for Karma and the law seemed to cross paths and the topic of Animal Law hit me in the face like a hammer hitting a nail. I realized that there were people who felt the same way about their animal and they were also using the legal system to help others with wrongly injured pets. During this time period, I found out about and attended the annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. This conference was a great way for people with a similar passion to get together and discuss and work towards improving the protection of animals.

This is why I love what I do, because I can take my love for animals and adapt it to practicing Animal Law. People often ask what is Animal Law?  Here are just some of the sub topics of Animal Law:

Creating a pet trust

Divorces involving a pet

Veterinary Malpractice

Puppy Lemon Laws

Dogs on “Death Row”

For some their pets are a member of their family. True animal lovers would do anything for their four legged loved ones and I am honored to assist in anyway I can to assist people in protecting and helping their animals. Every time I meet someone or talk to a prospective client I know the love that I have for Karma is not an anomaly, because I can sense that I am not the only person who loves his four legged friends.  Practicing Animal Law allows me to achieve the four words above; I truly get to “do something I love.”

My Dog Breath