In Defense of Animals (San Rafael, California)
Thanks to the PILP program, I worked for In Defense of Animals (IDA) in San Rafael, California for the summer of 2008. IDA is a nonprofit with offices in California, India, and Africa, and is dedicated to ending animal exploitation and abuse by protecting and advocating for the rights, welfare, and habitats of animals. I was one of two legal interns working on a variety of issues. I chose IDA because of their boldness in taking on a variety of animal welfare issues at a national, international, and local level.
Most of my time this summer was spent investigating methods of follow-up to a citizen’s petition filed by IDA against the USDA for zoos non-compliance with the Animal Welfare Act related to the mistreatment of elephants. I also assisted in identifying methods of overcoming obstacles presented in obtaining medical records from zoos and other institutions that house elephants. I engaged in advocacy, legal research, and legislation reform to create awareness about the special needs of elephants and to bring attention to how deficiencies in care of elephants are handled. I also assisted in other projects such as legal research regarding protection of whistleblowers who report treatment of animals in laboratory settings that deviates from the prescribed standard of care. This included researching state and federal laws in order to determine how such whistleblower speech can be protected and how to ensure that records of such facilities are open to be reviewed for compliance.
Yet what was perhaps the most informative, educational aspect of working in animal law this summer was dealing with the local cases and issues that we as legal interns were placed in charge of at IDA. People were constantly in need of legal advice related to cruelty case reports at local shelters, veterinary malpractice, local animal abuse, activists being arrested, etc., and this provided hands-on training in many areas of law including Torts, Contracts, Property, Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, etc. This local work was incredibly important because of the service that it provided to the community in addition to the practical experience that it gave me. I am extremely grateful to professors at Lewis & Clark like Jami Pannell who often had to provide myself and my supervising attorney with advice on how to help with these cases that had never come to IDA’s attention before.
I was incredibly fortunate to receive a PILP stipend because of the freedom that it gave me to work on these crucial issues. The stipend program also allowed me to get a variety of experiences, from working on national litigation, to local cruelty case reports, to drafting legislation and lobbying for and against various laws that were being introduced in California. PILP is a fantastic program that we are very fortunate to have at L&C Law.