Part Two: Animal Welfare Law
In our previous segment, we discussed Animal Rights Law. It is one of two animal law specialties: Animal Welfare and Animal Rights. In this segment we will delve into the Welfare field and look at the differences this type of law practice entails.
For this segment we discussed the topic of animal welfare with attorney Kristina Bergsten, founder and CEO of The Animal Law Firm (https://www.theanimallawfirm.com/). She says, “Animal Welfare law oversees the enhancement of current living situations for animals, eg: cage or enclosure size, feeding/nutritional requirements, physical wellbeing, medical attention, species-specific needs, and amenities like toys and mental stimulation. Simply put: what does the animal need to make it happier?”
An attorney in Colorado since 2017, Kristina represents pet owners, hobby breeders, dog show afficiados, and the service dog industry. Although she states, “There is no actual template for animal law, a few colleges are now offering some classes. General law practitioners are no longer as prevalent and everyone tends to specialize these days.” Kristina’s passion for animals and previous experience in various areas of law dovetailed into her expertise in previously non-traditional cases such as animal representation.
Animal welfare law combines criminal defense, contracts, property, domestic relationships, and family law arenas. Legal representation required can include dog bites, vet malpractice (she represents owners, not vets), breeder/show dog contracts, breed ban defense, animal rescues/shelters/sanctuaries, animal trainers/groomers/pet sitters, and the so-called “puppy lemon law”–particularly in cases of purchases from puppy mills and pet stores. She works with pet custody disputes and as a consultant to the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) regarding service animal accessibility in public domains.
Kristina cites that the large combination of law areas that can be under the animal law umbrella requires creativity, experience in many areas, and the ability to apply all to “unique legal research and arguments” in court. Expertise in all areas of animal law
When Kristina launched The Animal Law Firm in April of 2017, she found her website attracted more and more frightened, frustrated, and concerned animal owners and advocates. “There’s a definite need in the Colorado community for this kind of representation,” she said. Colorado is an extremely animal friendly area, so it is certain conflicts of many types can and do arise.
Kristina says that her future goal for animals is to create “the biggest, best, most ethical animal law firm,” which she hopes to someday franchise. Franchising would offer her experience and ability to teach more lawyers so that more animals will benefit from advocacy and protection in the human world in which they are forced to live.
Animal Welfare and Animal Rights are growing and attracting more and more professionals. As the industry expands, pet ownership increases, endangered species become more known, and the environmental impact on all animals is exposed, the profession of animal law can only become more in demand. A career in animal law will need men, women, and all nationalities, ethnicities, and combinations of animal lovers.
Jake and Kristina are part of an ever-expanding and timely professional field. Humane treatment of our fellow creatures, environmental impact awareness, and the exploding search for meaningful contribution to all human societies will ensure a future of many opportunities for young people..
For as Kristina says, “It feels good to be part of something positive.” To that end, Kristina is also on the Board of Directors of Colorado Voters for Animals (www.covotersforanimals.org) and is a registered lobbyist at the State Legislature.
Connect with Kristina and the Animal Law Firm at: https://www.theanimallawfirm.com/