Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Florida Bar Animal Law Committee Update

The Florida Bar's Animal Law Committee has been busy this year.  Here is an update on their activities:

Therapy Dogs in Courts
We previously circulated information and articles about circuit courts adopting programs for the use of therapy dogs in cases involving children testifying in criminal and dependency cases.  We recently met with some of the people spearheading the effort in the Second Judicial Circuit and they asked us to share their new website and videoThe video features interviews with state attorneys and several judges that have used dogs in the courtroom.  They have also made key documents available on the court's website for other jurisdictions to use.

Local Government - Breeder's Ordinance
As reported in a recent Sun-Sentinel article, Broward County has adopted an ordinance placing limitations on breeding pets in an effortto cut down on unwanted dogs and cats.  We are also are interested in monitoring the impact of the ordinance and learning if any other local governments have adopted similar measures.  If you are aware of any such ordinances or plans, please let us know.  Hat tip to ALC member Paul Wean for providing a copy of the ordinance.

Appellate Cases

The Florida Supreme Court in Harris v. State issued its opinion on remand from the U.S.Supreme Court on the certification and use of drug sniffing dogs. The Second District in Brooks v. State found that the necessity defense does not apply to animals in a DUI case. The driver was pulled over for a DUI while taking a friend's cat to an all-night vet clinic.  Hat tip to ALC member Zachary Lawton and Jenny Bauer for notifying us about the opinions.

Administrative Law
The latest copy of the Administrative Law Section's newsletter is available as a pdf download here. The case law synopses contain descriptions of recent appellate and DOAH decisions involving cases brought by the Florida Wildlife Federation and a rule challenge involving barrel horse racing.
The upcoming legislative session is shaping up to be an active one in the area of animal law with several bills already prefiled. As in past years, ALC Chair Ralph Demeo will provide updates during session as the bills move through the legislative process.

Education Law
Stetson Law School's webinar from earlier this year on the legal issues involved with emotional support animals in campus housing is now availableonline.  You can register here for $25.

Habeas Petitions Filed on Behalf of Chimpanzees
In an update to earlier information we circulated, Steven Wise of the Nonhuman Rights Projects filed its first round of habeas petitions on behalf of captive chimpanzees earlier this week. Professor Wise teaches at St. Thomas Law School and has lectured at ALC CLE programs in the past.  In addition to a number of other news outlets, the New York Times ran an article about the habeas petitions.  The documents that were filed are available here at the NRP's website.