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Indiana law students raise awareness on animal welfare issues

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To learn more about a number of legal concerns that involve animal welfare – whether those issues involve pets, livestock, or even exotic animals – students at Indiana law schools have started organizations affiliated with the national Animal Legal Defense Fund.

These groups tend to have similar goals: to raise awareness among the law school and community at large about animal welfare issues, to give students networking opportunities, and to help with fundraising for local animal shelters and other organizations.

To reach these goals, however, there needs to be enough interest to get support from a law school and dedication from the students and others involved.
 

animal 15col Law school students visited the Exotic Feline Rescue Center Nov. 6. Back Row: Alezah Trigueros, Alex Kirigin, Mario Treto, Teddy Holtz, Christopher Ziegler; Middle Row: Chris Pierce, Micah Nichols, Lauren Hernandez; Front Row: Lauren Roddy, Colleen Chute, Jason Goodman. (Photo submitted)

The newest animal welfare law group at an Indiana law school is the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter at Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington.

Chris Pierce, one of the founders and a 2L, said he was pleasantly surprised by how many people attended a meeting to gauge interest last spring.

Pierce said he was also told that sustainability was important to consider because, as he learned, another animal welfare organization had existed at his law school but folded a few years ago because there wasn’t enough interest to keep it going.

As of now, about 10 members have paid dues to join, and another 10 or 15 have expressed a serious interest, he said.

To get the word out, the group organized a carpool to visit the annual pumpkin party at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Center Point Nov. 6. At the pumpkin party, crowds of people and the law students watched some of the center’s more than 225 exotic cats – including lions, tigers, cougars, bobcats, and leopards – as they played with carved pumpkins that had raw meat treats inside them.

Pierce said he and others in his SALDF chapter hoped the event would be something fun for participants but would also raise awareness of the center. Since it was founded in 1991, the center has taken in a number of ill and unwanted large cats from various situations, including illegal breeders, owners who received the animals as gifts but couldn’t take care of them, and owners and sellers who neglected and abused the big cats.

Pierce added that one of the members of his SALDF chapter volunteered for the center, which has worked with a number of Indiana University students over the years.

Two members of the SALDF group will also compete in the National Animal Law Competitions at Harvard Law School in late February. The three competitions focus on legislative drafting and lobbying, closing arguments, and an appellate moot court competition that will include students from the Bloomington law school.

Members of another SALDF chapter, students at Valparaiso University School of Law, attended a different national conference – the Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore., home of the Center for Animal Law Studies. That center also helps sponsor the February competition at Harvard.

The president of the Valparaiso SALDF chapter, Aimee Gong, a 2L, said she and others from that organization were able to network with animal law experts from around the country.

Gong added that to raise awareness, on Nov. 9 the organization, along with the Valparaiso Environmental Law Society, hosted Kim Ferraro, founder and executive director of Legal Environmental Aid Foundation of Indiana Inc. Ferraro spoke about confined animal feeding operations in a talk that highlighted information about the environmental impacts of CAFOs and their treatment of livestock.

This semester, the group has planned a bake sale of dog and cat treats and a photo opportunity for pets with Santa. Items will be collected and donated to a local animal shelter. The group is considering hosting a vegetarian or vegan cooking class to shine a spotlight on the treatment of animals used for food and a possible screening of the documentary film “Food, Inc.” which includes factory farms.


animal 1col More than 225 big cats at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, including tigers, lions, and hybrids, as well as, cougars, bobcats, and leopards, were observed by visitors at the center’s annual pumpkin party Nov. 6. (Photo submitted)

Gong said most SALDF events will be open to anyone at Valparaiso who wants to participate including undergraduate students and members of the community.

The group is also working with faculty advisor Rebecca Huss, who was recently featured in a book about Michael Vick’s dog fighting case. Huss was in charge of rehabilitating the dogs in that case.

In her animal law class, Gong said, Huss will host a number of interesting guest speakers. Some of those classes will be open to the community as SALDF events, Gary added.

Students at Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis also run an SALDF chapter called the Animal Law Society, which currently has about 10 active members.

In 2009, students in that group organized a 2010 calendar of professors and their pets to raise money for the group and area animal welfare organizations. While members have not done a calendar for 2011, this year they did repeat last year’s food and supply drive for local shelters.

According to that organization’s chair, Amber Collins, a second year evening student, the organization collected so much in late October that it was able to give to two shelters in the Indianapolis area.

Next semester, the group plans to participate in the Mutt Strut sponsored by the Humane Society of Indianapolis, work with the law school’s Criminal Law Society to present a speaker about connections between criminal law and animal cruelty, and host a “bark sale” for snacks for students.

“The vast majority of the proceeds will be donated to local animal shelters, and a portion will be used to fund ALS events for the year,” Collins said.

Members from that organization will also focus their efforts on researching and raising awareness of county ordinances involving pets in Marion and surrounding counties.

“We want to reach out to these communities to reduce the occurrence of animal cruelty and provide a foundation on which the communities can build better animal laws. We will team up with Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside to complete outreach efforts. We will begin by doing site visits in the communities that are most at risk or have the highest occurrence of animal neglect/cruelty cases. We want to see first hand the conditions we are working to change and offer help and information to pet owners,” she added.

While these organizations can offer various opportunities for students with an interest in animal welfare law, they also allow the students to find others who share their interest in this area.

“Of course I think animal law is important in general, but ... a lot of people are also interested in this area of law who might not otherwise know about the available opportunities, or that there are many other people with this common interest,” Gong said. “We send e-mails to members about any internships and pro bono work in animal law. I think if you don’t have an organization like ours, someone can come to law school and want to do animal law, but won’t be able to get involved, and might get frustrated.”•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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