The Latham Letter
adoption. SB 280 also mandates thatshelters give preference to animals inthe state and make efforts to circulateinformation about animals in their custody by publicizing them onwebsites and in other media.This legislation specically aboutanimals is just the tip of the iceberg.
Policy and Governance – Beyond “Animal Law”
Practicing attorneys and lawmakersshared information about legal issuesfor people that are affecting animals:
Ever sincethe City of Denver passed breed-specic legislation outlawing pit bulldogs, animal advocates have arguedthat these ordinances don’t just harmdogs; they also hurt families forcedto choose between giving up their pets or leaving their homes. Pit bulldefenders nd an unanticipated allyin the Department of Justice. TheDOJ recently released guidelinesstating that breed bans may violatethe Americans with DisabilitiesAct when they result in preventing people from using their assistancedogs to access public services.DOJ questioned the reliability andaccuracy means used to determine adog’s breed.
Attorney Sheldon Eisenberg discussedhis successful application of Section1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871to protect volunteers in Los Angeleswho came out as whistleblowersagainst government-run shelters.The plaintiff alleged that the shelter had removed her volunteer privilegesand stopped allowing her to rescueanimals in retaliation for exercisingher First Amendment rights.
RichardAvanzino, director of Maddie’s Fund,which grants money to collaborations between public and private animalcontrol and sheltering organizations,spoke in defense of the last wishesof Leona Helmsley. The famouslymisanthropic New York womanleft millions of dollars to her dog,Trouble, and created a foundationworth billions with instruction thatsome of the money be used to helpanimals. The animal gifts are still inlimbo. In Avanzino’s opinion, “theidea that anyone, especially a wealthywoman, who wishes her estate to benefit animals is automatically alittle ‘off’ and thus, those wishes cansafely be disregarded, needs to bechallenged and brought to an end.”In the early eighties, Avanzino wason the other side of a challenge to awill. When a San Francisco womanwilled that her dog, Sido, be put downwhen she died, Avanzino led a very public, winning campaign to have itoverturned and spare the dog’s life.
A privateColorado shelter was sued under the Colorado Consumer ProtectionAct for deceptive fundraising practices. Among other violations,the organization was accused of misrepresenting their euthanasianumbers, thereby misleading the public into donating and surrender-ing animals.
New York StateAssembly Member Micah Kellner,known as a champion for disabilityand LGBT rights, shared the storyof his eye-opening, unsuccessfuleffort to enact Oreo’s Law, a billsimilar the Delaware legislation. Inhis address, Mr. Kellner expressedconcerns that government agenciessupported by tax dollars and powerfulnonprots supported by donationshold unilateral power to withholdaccess to animals from smaller, less powerful groups, even while theykill the animals.
No More Business As Usual
The sheltering track was notablefor the way that No Kill-orientedleaders, even those who work inmunicipal animal control departments,embraced attitudes and languagemore common to the business worldthan to conventional charities andgovernment agencies.In a lunchtime panel talk, Nevada Humane Society director,Bonney Brown, quoted businessauthor Jim Collins in describingher philosophy about managingand retaining personnel. Mike Fry,director of Animal Ark and founder of Animal Wise Radio, an Internetradio program, supplied sample htmlcode that can be used to standardizethe way animal organizations postdata on the Web. The Nevada HumaneSociety calls its information line a“help desk,” reecting its adoptionof a customer-centric stance cast inthe mold of innovative, for-profit businesses.
The Personal is Political
While the No Kill movement – and the conference – focused on the