A relatively unknown area of law is being practiced by a new breed of lawyers, pet-related legal work. Zandra Anderson, who practices law in Texas, changed focus after a tort law reform affected her current practice. She decided to focus on something she loves, pets.
She does work for rescue groups, has been on both sides of leash laws, defends owners in disputes over whether their animals are rightfully declared dangerous and has been in on many other pet-related disputes – sometimes for cats, too.
In 2006 she started conducting seminars around Texas on laws about pets. Her seminars have attracted lawyers, veterinarians, city officials and others. She also has self-published a guide to Texas pet laws.
“Animal law is fascinating because it’s different in every state and it is constantly changing in every state,” said Amy Bures Danna who also practices in Texas. Because much of her animal legal work is done free she does a lot of civil litigation to bring in money.
More than 100 law schools now teach animal law, definitely an up-and-coming field. According to Fran Ortiz, a professor at South Texas College of Law, legal issues having to do with animals are becoming much more common.
Citing such examples as the California ballot proposal about humane treatment of livestock; the dogfighting case that sent former NFL quarterback Michael Vick to prison; hotelier Leona Helmsley’s will leaving millions in a trust for her dog, Trouble; animal welfare in research; puppy mills; cloning; or just local ordinances. “Animal law just comes up in all areas of the law,” Ortiz said.
* Photo courtesy Brett Coomer/Chronicle