Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: "You do Animal Law? What is Animal Law?"
A: I handle legal matters
that involve the interests of non-human animals and their guardians,
including dangerous dog cases, pet custody disputes, and veterinary malpractices
cases as well as other cases involving animals that have been injured
or killed because of someone’s negligence,
such as at boarding kennels or groomers. I also seek reasonable accommodation
for people that rely on service animals and emotional support animals,
and advise numerous rescue groups and animal welfare organizations on
Animal Law is a relatively new but rapidly growing practice area. Substantive
laws that protect animals are few, and establishing standing to enforce
those laws can be difficult. In order to advance the interests of non-human
animals and their guardians it is often necessary to creatively use more
traditional bodies of law such as contract law, property law, constitutional
law and tort law.
Q: "Are you an Animal Rights Lawyer?"
A: No. Animals have no rights.
Q: "Who are your clients?"
A: In my animal cases, clients I have represented include:
- private citizens whose dogs have been seized and given a death sentence by over zealous animal control authorities;
- pet owners/guardians whose companion animals have been died or been injured as a result of negligence on behalf of a boarding kennel, veterinarian, trainer or day care provider;
- people with disabilities that rely upon service animals or emotional support animals that need help obtaining waiver of no-pet policies or weight limits;
- rescue groups that need help drafting or enforcing adoption contracts and foster care agreements;
- consumers that have problems with breeders or pet stores.
Q: "Why hire an animal law attorney? Can't any attorney
handle my matter?"
A: In theory, yes. Anyone with a law license is generally permitted
to hold themselves out as qualified to take on any matter (with some narrow
exceptions for areas such as intellectual property or maritime law). In
practice, however, most people develop expertise in one or two areas. Even
general practitioners that handle matters as varied as DUI, personal injury,
divorce and estate planning might still refer out an immigration or
social security disability issue. The question is not whether the
attorney "could" do it; it's possible for most attorneys to become
competent in most areas if they are willing to spend the time to educate
themselves on a new area of law. The question is whether they do,
in fact, educate themselves enough to get up to speed sufficiently
in order to adequately - much less passionately - be able to represent
Q: "Will you do my case for free?"
A: Probably not. I do my share of pro
bono legal work, as well as providing legal services at discounted rates
to those who would otherwise lack representation at all. I wish I could be Legal Aid for animals, but unfortunately, no one pays me a salary that allows me the luxury of taking on every case without being compensated.
Q: "Will you take my case on contingency?"
A: Unfortunately I am not typically in a position to do cases on contingency. Lawsuits can take a long time to resolve, and the measure of damages in animal tort cases is unfortunately still ambiguous under Florida law.
Q: "Do you do anything other than Animal Law?"
A: Yes, I also handle environmental cases, mostly having to do with wetlands and water, on behalf of private citizens and/or environmental groups.
Q: "I am a tax lawyer/commercial lawyer/family lawyer/new
lawyer and I am handling an animal related case. Will you help me?"
A: I will gladly assist any lawyer that is handling an animal related
matter so long as s/he is advancing the best interest of the animal. I
am happy to share pleadings, discuss legal strategies, and try to spare
you from making the same mistakes I have!
Q: "I am a breeder and I have a legal problem. Will you help me?
A: Very doubtful. I do not believe that anyone that truly loves animals intentionally brings more into a world where literally millions of healthy, behaviorally sound dogs, cats, puppies and kittens annually killed for lack of homes. If you are one of the very rare breeders that has only an occasional litter to improve your breed, does appropriate genetic screening, thoroughly interviews perspective adopters, and is always willing to take back an animal that you have bred and care for it for the rest of its life, I would consider your case.