Excerpt from NYTimes article on the rise of "animal law" & pet lawyers
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  1. #1
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultExcerpt from NYTimes article on the rise of "animal law" & pet lawyers

    In NYTimes, Sept 2, '06

    Just an excerpt.

    "....in recent years, as pet owners have struggled to negotiate pet ownership in modern life, and as society has grappled with questions of the value and status of its domesticated animals, animal law has become a growing specialty in the legal world. A decade ago only a few law schools taught animal law. Today 70 do, including Harvard, Columbia and Duke. In fall 2004 the American Bar Association formed its first committee on animal law, which many say legitimized the discipline.

    “The rate of growth in this field is incredible,” said Stephen Wells, the executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Cotati, Calif. “A lot of the scoffing and raising eyebrows I saw when I started in animal law has gone away.”

    The rise of animal law — which includes dog bites, custody battles, pet trusts and veterinary malpractice — has divided traditional pet advocates. Many veterinarians, for example, fear that pet lawyers could become the animal-world equivalent of medical malpractice lawyers, reaping large jury awards and contributing to a rise in malpractice insurance costs. The American Veterinary Medical Association formed a task force on animal law last year and came out squarely against redefining the legal status of pets.

    “We feel if we go into that direction, there are going to be a lot of losers,” said Adrian Hochstadt, a spokesman for the association. “The minute we start with skyrocketing awards, it would lead to higher malpractice insurance rates and higher fees. The only people who would benefit would be a few owners who hit that jackpot and a few attorneys.”

    Many animal lawyers are careful to distinguish themselves from animal rights advocates. Rather than agitating for the rights of pets — or “companion animals” as animal lawyers prefer to call them — these lawyers say they are concerned primarily with getting the legal system to acknowledge that animals have an intrinsic value beyond mere property, because of the bond between pets and their owners.

    That bond has changed over time, said Barbara J. Gislason, a Minneapolis animal lawyer, who helped found the American Bar Association committee on animal law, as pets have become more valued for their companionship than for their ability to work, on farms, for instance.

    “Now people think of them as valuable in a way they never did before,” ...."
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    myfavoritedog's Avatar
    myfavoritedog is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Excerpt from NYTimes article on the rise of "animal law" & pet lawyers

    Interesting. I have not given this much thought but I would hate to see veterinary medicine go the way our human medical care has gone because of lawsuit happy folks, at least here in the US. I do agree with Ms. Gislason that out pets are more valuable as companions...family members actually...

    Not sure where the answer lies but I would hate to see vets saddled with the same kind of stuff the medical profession is now.

  4. #3
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Excerpt from NYTimes article on the rise of "animal law" & pet lawyers

    I can kind of agree on some of "myfavoritedog"'s objections but not others.

    It appears to me that there's a transition going on in favor of pets and pet owners in which it's recognized that the value of a pet to an owner is not just the replacement price or original cost, as if this is a car or a fence which has been injured or destroyed, but that there is also an emotional relationship which has value.

    With this legal recognition, I think it's inevitable that some attorneys will file claims for pain and suffering and/or emotional deprivation and win some occasional excessive judgments.* When you hold open the door to one type of judgment (desirable and appropriate to some), the other type (bitterly opposed by others) inevitably comes in.

    But I don't think that's a bad thing.*

    I think that in most states the Vet Med profession is not controlled tightly enough or held to sufficiently high standards.*

    Physicians -- many years ago -- used to sell pharmaceuticals, elixirs, etc., as well dispense medical treatments.* And eventually this was recognized as leading to poor medical practice and was taken away.

    Why isn't this just as true for vets?

    I think the treatment of many vets in those 50% who are below average is often appalling, misguided, and/or disgusting.* (I say this from the treatment*a previous Lab received from vets, from reports by young vets of working in other practices, and from referrals from a state board.)

    An increased risk of liability would obviously slightly increase the cost of individual visits to the vet because liability insurance costs would rise.* But I don't see that making vets more wary re: malpractice (which should it improve the ethics and accuracy of their services)* drives up the actual costs that much.*

    The most costly treatment of all is the one which is inappropriate, ineffective and dead wrong.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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