Increasingly, people indicted on animal-cruelty charges will face a county prosecutor experienced in animal cases, and the accused offenders potentially could find attorneys skilled at defending against those kinds of charges. Animal law is emerging as a specialty across the country, reports the Arizona Republic. “It’s not just companion animals. It’s livestock, it’s wildlife, it’s animals used in entertainment,” said Stephanie Nichols-Young, a Phoenix attorney who spends most of her workweek representing corporations, and the rest of it representing animal advocacy groups.
And although attorneys are not giving up lucrative careers in real estate or corporate law to represent animal rights, they are increasingly finding that cases with animals are loaded with ethical and emotional traps, whether it’s a case of dog bites man, a couple suing each other for custody of their beloved pet, or a neighbor suing the lady next door who has 50 cats. Law schools now offer courses in animal law. And the State Bar of Arizona, which is both a professional society and a regulating agency, has created an animal law “section” with 105 attorneys who meet to discuss legal topics regarding animals.