4th and final post in series about eight remarkable women spearheading the battle for Animal Rights in their varied fields of science, art, law and politics, to celebrate the forthcoming International Animal Rights Day on Dec 10th
Today The Lawyers
“We are all focused on achieving animal liberation through the law. We do it because we don’t have a choice. It is like we are going to die trying. We can’t just sit by and watch cruelty to animals happen without trying to do something.”
Alanna Devine, Sophie Gaillard, Camille Labchuk, Anna Pippus, & Lesli Bisgould – at the vanguard of animal law in Canada, and vegan every one.
Alanna Devine and Sophie Gaillard work with the Montreal SPCA, Canada’s oldest animal protection agency. Recently they were fighting against the introduction of Breed Specific Legislation which banned the keeping of pitbulls in the city. And they won! They got the law suspended indefinitely.
Camille Labchuk and Anna Pippus are two big names behind Canada’s first and so far only national animal law organisation, Animal Justice, which blazed into 2016 with its in-your-face and thought-provoking billboard campaign. See Animal Justice’s latest success story here.
Lesli Bisgould is another pioneer. She opened Canada’s very first practice in Animal Rights law. Now she teaches it.
Labchuk says that when she first started out there were few classes in animal law. But things are changing. High profile cases involving animals are hitting the mainstream media headlines “every single day.” And publications on animal law are mounting up. She believes that in 20 years time every law student “will have had exposure to an animal law class.” And Bisgould concurs:“Animal law has gone from an idea to a fact.”
Canadian legislation has lagged behind in the past in terms of animal protection. Even in June this year Bill C-246 – the Modernizing Animal Protections Act — on which animal advocates had pinned great hopes, was thrown out by Parliament. But public awareness is growing, and the numbers of young students wanting to make animal law their field has exploded.
Law students are taught they should remain cold and objective about the cases they work on. They are told that you cannot be a good lawyer if you get emotionally involved. These five wonderful women dismiss this notion with scorn. As Anna puts it, “You are dismissing me because I’m emotional? Damn it! I am emotional. I’m angry and I’m irritable about animal abuse, because who wouldn’t be?”
Inevitably working on animal cases takes its toll. “Animal Rights work can be bleak,” says Bisgould. For that reason she advises up and coming animal advocate lawyers not to focus exclusively on animal work.
And there is another reason. There’s no avoiding the nitty gritty. Don’t take up animal law if you want to get rich! When animals need a lawyer, who is going to pay? Much of the work has to be pro bono – unpaid. It’s the other law work that puts bread on the table.
Canada is an exciting arena for Animal Rights law right now, and that is largely down to the dedicated efforts of these five women.
“Anything that we can do that reduces suffering in some way, shape or form should be considered a victory, so whether it be one animal and focusing on that one animal, or one person who has decided that they are going to change their way of life because they understand that they don’t need to eat animals or wear animals, and that they can live a happy, healthy, joyful life without causing the suffering of others, is a victory.”
Those are the words of Alanna Devine. But anyone of our eight remarkable women would say exactly the same. These women are all highly accomplished and respected in their differing fields. It is humbling to witness what they are achieving, and even more so to see their dedication, and the passion they all share to change the world for the animals.
Don’t forget International Animal Rights Day 10th December.
Add your name to the Declaration of Animal Rights here
Go vegan for the animals here
5 Lawyers – Unbound Project Do take a look. You will see JoAnne McArthur’s great photos of the five.