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Lawyers for Animals


Lawyers for Animals

This is a group for lawyers working in animal rights and interested parties to share experience in their work to obtain better conditions for animals.

Members: 13
Latest Activity: Nov 29, 2021

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Comment by Kerry Baker on November 21, 2016 at 14:37

As feared the NSW Government reversed the ban on greyhound racing, albeit with much stricter controls.

A disturbing issue that arose during this period has been greyhounds being sent to facilities that use animals in research. The ultimate commodification of sentient beings!

Just as a by the by, rumour has it that the Premier of NSW, Mike Baird, had an ulterior motive for banning greyhound racing. he wanted to include the racing venues in a major sell-off of public land.

Comment by Kerry Baker on August 4, 2016 at 14:52

Interesting article coming out of NZ.

Note the link to the event in March 2017.

Comment by Kerry Baker on August 3, 2016 at 13:50

Dolphins in captivity in Australia. Until recently I actually didn't know that we have dolphins in captivity here. It does seem rather hypocritical that nothing has been done considering Australia's international stand against Japan on the whaling issue. I have found we have two sites where dolphines are kept, see this website;

The distressing issue is that at least one of these facilities is not meeting legal requirements for welfare yet nothing appears to have been done about it. It begs the question, who is responsible for enforcement of minimum conditions? Certainly one would assume that local council rangers should monitor facilities given that they visit ordinary people's homes to make sure that animals are living in reasonable conditions if the person has a number of animals that require an excess pet permit. (This is extremely inconsistent but generally means more than two.)

Increasingly it seems that the only way to get compliance with legal requirements is where somebody complains. Until then, it is rare that anything will be done about it. Certainly in the USA where captive orcas have been very much in the spotlight in recent years, and the Taiji dolphin slaughter, people are moved to do something.

Lawyers who have the legal understanding to help with these situations are needed more than ever.

Comment by Kerry Baker on July 28, 2016 at 17:19

This group has been hibernating for some time and for that I have to apologise. Since starting up this group I gained admission into the Monash JD law degree and certainly have been flat out.

What has prompted me to post this message is that Voiceless has sent out an email to subscribers with a link to all their law lecture series, worth a watch for many of them. It was the Bruce Wagman lecture that turned me from vegetarian to vegan overnight.

I also have been watching with interest the response from politicians to the NSW Government taking the very positive step to shut down the greyhound racing industry. There have been the most horrendous images over the past 2 years or so, greyhound trainers using live animals to train greyhounds, greyhounds who didn't race fast enough being sent to Macao where many of them are killed by being injected with excruciatingly painful chemicals. I wonder what it is about Australia that we are so far behind other 'civilised' countries to support animals being treated so cruelly in racing, in live animal exports and other appalling industries.

The response to exposure of cruelty in the media is always the same. Politicians express horror, call for an inquiry, come up with recommendations to resolve the issue (while conveniently supporting the perpetrators), until the next time.

In this past week yet another shocking revelation which will now have gone around the world. Juvenile boys in detention being treated like prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, using very similar torture tactics.

I am left shaking my head, as I'm sure many Australians are, about how we get politicians to end these atrocities. Voiceless has a message of hope, that if the law allows these things to happen then it is going to be by changing the law that we get change.

I understand that the Premier of NSW has received many messages from ordinary people congratulating his action. As expected, the Opposition and industry has shouted loudly about the thousands of people in the greyhound racing industry who will be ruined. They are saying that the very people who allowed live possums, piglets, rabbits and so on to be literally torn apart in greyhound training can be trusted to adhere to recommendations to clean up the industry.

This will be an interesting one to watch. The more the industry members protest the more evidence comes out supporting why it has to be shut down.

Comment by Kerry Baker on March 9, 2013 at 11:52

It's timely Hayden that you have joined and reminded me that there is a lot to discuss.

Firstly, I thought these two sites may be of interest to members of this group, the first being the UK lawyers for animals and the page on their dinner where they had Peter Singer as guest presenter is an interesting read.

This second site has a number of links which is encouraging as it does indicate people are identifying as being involved in animal rights.

Yesterday I was confronted by the inadequacy of our laws when I visited the Victoria Market, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Walking through the fish section which is at the front entrance, I was upset to see a crab with its front claws trussed, lying on its back in a plastic container without any water and waving its free legs in the air. I spoke to the person at the counter telling them it was cruel and they should at least ut it out of its misery. He looked at me as if I was from Mars and stepped back to ignore me, but seemed embarrassed. I attracted his attention again and told him why it's cruelty, that crustaceans don't have an enteric nervous system and latest research suggesting they consequently suffer far more pain than we do.

When I got back to work I rang the Melbourne City Council leaving a complaint, but they responded saying they can't do anything and that the law is covered by the RSPCA. So I rang them, but was told as far as they are concerned no law is being broken as crabs can breather air. Pretty pathetic I thought. If I knew how to rescue this crab I'd have been inclined to buy and release it. But I know nothing of crustaceans, whether it was a salt water or fresh water crab, whether releasing it back to any plot of water would be kind or cruel, although I will find out where these are taken.

I really struggle with this sometimes, considering myself an abolitionist but feeling for the individuals I see who have no laws to protect their welfare under these circumstances. I'm certain this seller had more at the back, and in my wildlife rescue I have seen so many instances where you just have to take a deep breath and move on.

I did BTW send emails to both the Minister and Shadow Minister responsible for this portfolio, not surprisingly have heard nothing back. I do not believe politicians care and this is one reason why I am increasingly getting the view that the law is going to be where the strongest animal rights advocacy will be fought.

Comment by Kerry Baker on January 14, 2013 at 18:28

Thanks Spencer for posting the Voiceless law lecture which prompted me to check for the first one I attended that had a profound effect on me, the lecture by Bruce Wagman. Happily it's now available and I have posted it below. It would be great maybe to get Bruce online at some stage to do one of the live chats.

Comment by Kerry Baker on January 1, 2013 at 9:28

Good morning and Happy New year to all. Over the past couple of weeks I have been engaged in a couple of interesting discussions regarding animals and the law, primarily about species of dogs classified as dangerous under our laws. Here in Melbourne there are specific breeds of dogs classified as dangerous, for example the American Pit Bull, and various iterations of legislation have imposed restrictions on them on breeding, registration, ownership, importation and so on.

A friend of mine who is a lawyer was talking to me the other day and said she had witnessed a dog, not one who is a restricted breed, suddenly snap and turn violent for a brief moment. It shocked her as she loves dogs and has never seen this side of their nature. She said it made her start questioning whether or not we should be defending dogs who have been condemned to death following aggressive behaviour.

Victorian legislation was significantly strengthened in the past year following the tragic death by mauling of a four year old girl in her home as she clung to her mothers leg. The dog, who was being minded next door by the owners father, had come on to their property and attacked her. The owner was subsequently fined $11000 and the dog destroyed. 

While this was a horrible and tragic case, the subsequent changes to legislation have proven to be difficult and there are questions about their efficacy. Dogs have been wrongly identified, in particular English Staffordshire mistaken for Pit Bull breeds, and killed.

The complexities of this type of legislation is described in the article from Melbourne's The Age major newspaper;

It is a difficult and complex issue which understandably has communities divided. We have a lawyers animal advocacy group here, Barristers Animal Welfare Panel (BAWP), that does work for getting dogs off death row in these types of cases.


The discussion on the home page posted by Tim Gier about dogs reminded me about this discussion I was having over Christmas and prompted me to post this comment.

Here is a link to a website I thought might be of interest for those searching for legal cases in various countries.

Comment by Kerry Baker on November 25, 2012 at 10:06

There is an animal law conference in Tasmania next year, see link:

It will be useful if these type of conferences can be posted to this site so people may like to attend. I have been considering taking a couple of law subjects myself so I can support lawyers fighting for animal rights in this country.

Comment by Kerry Baker on November 21, 2012 at 21:50

I went back to the County Court in Melbourne today to hear the Judge hand down her sentences for the three men who tortured the kangaroo joey to death.  Here is the notice sent out from Australian Society for Kangaroos tonight.

Over a period of one hour this morning, County Court judge Frances Milane delivered a detailed and articulate summary of the reasons behind her sentencing of the three men who tortured and brutalised an Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey in October last year. She made it very clear that the crimes these men committed against this little joey deserved a criminal conviction and sentencing. She overturned the three sentences handed down by the Magistrates in the Seymour court which were good behavior bonds and fines with no conviction. On the DPP's recommendation she convicted all three men for animal cruelty under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and crimes under the Wildlife Act for taking and killing protected wildlife, and as recommended by the DPP in the appeal hearing on November 7, no custodial sentences were delivered. Two of the men, Brett Saunders and Zac Hunter received two criminal convictions and community orders totaling 260 hours between them, and Scott Saunders whom she labelled as the "ring leader" received two criminal convictions and a suspended jail sentence of two months.

While we are disappointed in today’s outcome we realise it’s a stepping stone in our mission to find greater justice for animal and wildlife cruelty. It shows how important it is for the public to continue to report such cases so we can continue to place pressure on the judicial system. We must also keep in mind that if it wasn’t for this appeal and the integrity of the DPP, the judge and the Herald Sun, the horrific footage of this attack would never have been revealed to the public and the true nature of this crime would never have been exposed. The release of this footage appears to be an important "win" in this case where these men have now been publicly exposed and rightfully shamed right across Australia for their part in this brutal crime. As a result of the media exposure on this case, locally and nationally, the lives of these men will never ever be the same.

We are very grateful to the DDP for appealing this case and giving not only the joey but the community a voice in their fight for justice for wildlife, and as our lawyer Daniel Beecher said "the DPP should be commended for responding to the community interest in these cases, and for regenerating hope that the sentences to be received by these men might demonstrate a greater measure of respect for wildlife, and be more reflective of the serious nature of these crimes".

There was a small group of us there representing the animals who sat through the summation, and afterwards the Barrister from Director of Public Prosecutions was kind enough to take us into a room to talk about the outcome, recognising we were to a degree disappointed that the main perpetrator apparently got away with not having to do anything while the other two have to do community service. I do believe however that he won't be long out of jail. He is a violent recidivist who I doubt will manage to stay out of trouble with the police for the required period of time. The other two I think have learned a lesson. I think the Judge gave a very good summation, and did criticise their defence saying that much of what they said was not supported by their defence. In any case as the joeys Barrister noted, this has set a precedent and will get through the legal circles as Magistrates do talk to each other. In addition, now having a conviction is something that will follow them for the rest of their lives.

Comment by Kerry Baker on November 10, 2012 at 17:10

Thanks sXe Vegan and Maynard.  Yes Maynard I am hoping we can get some lawyers in this group. It has been my experience that combining the knowledge of animal rights activists and vegans with the skills and expertise of lawyers who care gets a better result than just both going it alone. Also, by sharing knowledge of what is happening in law globally will empower us to take this information to our own local issues and hopefully get better outcomes for the animals. Thanks to all of you for showing interest in this group and I hope we can get some people in the legal fraternity helping us to grow our understanding of issues to fight the good fight (-:


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