Attorneys practicing animal law represent all manner of clients whose personal or professional life intrinsically involve animals, such as:
- Trade associations.
- Animal rights and protection organizations and activists.
- Land owners.
- Research facilities.
Animal rights is unique in the passion and commitment that most clients possess and that passion is frequently displayed in legal, political, lobbying and public relations activities and litigation, legislative enactments and proposed regulations. The legal issues that can arise will range from the taking of endangered species; the sale, trade or exchange of animals; hunting; animal breeding; veterinarian malpractice; animal cruelty; medical research and scientific experimentation using animals; and compliance with animal-related statutes, regulations, ordinances, and international treaties and agreements.
On the federal level, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), are just a few of numerous animal-related statutes enacted by Congress. The AWA is the only federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research and exhibit. The ESA is the federal law that protects and helps recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The MMPA protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears. The AWA is enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture while the ESA and MMPA are enforced by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS), depending upon the animals involved. State statutes and local ordinances enhance and complement these and other federal laws and typically are enforced by agencies or other legal bodies that govern fish and game and products there from.
The legal practice of animal law is a relatively new field, however its scope and complexity is expanding very rapidly. Lawsuits are brought almost every day by zealot animal rights activists as well lobbying strongly for legislation that increases the public’s awareness of the rights and protection of all animals.
Mr. Tarshis is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Animal Law Committee, a member of the Board of Trustees of the United States Equine Rescue League and Riding With Heart, a not for profit equine therapeutic riding program in Pittstown, New Jersey for children and adults with physical and cognitive challenges as well as Veterans of our military.