Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I am on Facebook now. Sort of:>

I just haven't found a single picture of me to add as my face! In the mean time, enjoy a de-motivational poster in its place. Stop on by and see if I am friend worthy. But please remember I will be as slow getting around to that as I am at posting my latest blog entry. I have not been posting comments on facebook. I swear I am not cheating on you readers!

Which really really is coming ANY DAY! We have actual rain this year. Who knew the grass could grow THAT much! Mow mow mow the fields,all the live long day! Merrily merrily merrily blah blah blah I got dust in my hair.

The LSAT was yesterday. I teach LSAT students. They are easier then training horses, but unlike horses, they KNOW they are being tested. But the guys rock and I think they did great!!!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on the FL Pig Case. Late but interesting.

This was an event that happened a few weeks ago during the start of the Swine Flu scare. Things have calmed down and then the whole area flooded so everyone remembered what they should be worried about. They live in a swamp and in the path of hurricanes and tornadoes when they are not in a drought. However, its such a stunning example of mass hysteria and stupidity I just wanted to post it even if it is old news by now. If you own animals, you never know when the villagers will come up the hill carrying torches and pitchforks:<

Posted: 05/12/2009 at 8:17am
Swine flu fears grip neighbors of pig sanctuary

A Bunnell auto parts store owner is offering free masks to anyone living near a Flagler County swine farm, angering the owner of the Pig Tales Sanctuary who said the offer falsely implies her porkers carry the swine flu.

"I've got a couple people telling me that they heard my pigs have swine flu, so now this thing is going to get people crazy," said Lory Yazurlo, who runs Pig Tales Sanctuary.

But things already seem crazy around Pig Tales Sanctuary at 596 County Road 90. Last week, annoyed neighbors shot to death 10 or 12 trespassing pigs. One of those neighbors said Yazurlo -- who is confined to a wheelchair -- threatened to kill his wife and 1 1/2-year-old son and burn his house down. Yazurlo denies making any threats and says someone is "maliciously" cutting the chain on her gate and setting the pigs free.

Ed Smith, who placed the free mask ad in The Flagler/Palm Coast News-Tribune, said he is trying to draw attention to problems at the 20-acre sanctuary, which he describes as a smelly eyesore and mosquito breeding ground. The ad offers a free mask "if you live or work within 10 miles of a Flagler County Swine Farm County Road 90 East." Smith said he has 5,000 masks at his Bunnell Auto Supply Store, 119 N. Bay St. He said he will give one to anyone who asks, whether or not they live near Yazurlo's pigs.

"I think there's a good possibility that at some point they could be a carrier for the swine flu," Smith said in a phone interview Monday.

But there haven't been reports of swine flu in any pigs, said Terence McElroy, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "There hasn't been any swine flu in any swine herd in America," McElroy said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta doesn't even call the virus swine flu anymore; it's now officially referred to as the H1N1 flu because it's so different from what normally circulates in North American pigs, a CDC web site reports.

The swine at Pig Tales have been quarantined, McElroy said, but that's due to pseudorabies, a contagious viral disease that causes a high mortality rate among infant pigs. Pseudorabies does not pose a threat to humans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site.

Nevertheless, Smith said he has given out a number of the free masks. "I've had quite a few people come in," Smith said Monday.

Smith's son-in-law, Andrew King, said hogs get loose every day from Pig Tales. He said the Flagler County Sheriff's Office told him and other neighbors that they can shoot trespassing pigs.

"When they get out and tear our property up, we kill them," King said.

He said in a police report that he took a shot at one of the pigs with his handgun on Thursday morning but missed.

About 15 minutes later, an angry Yazurlo wheeled her way onto his property.

He said he asked Yazurlo to leave, but she didn't.

"I was on my property and she came down there cussing and threatened to burn my house down and kill my wife and my baby," King said in an interview Monday, repeating what he said in a police report.

He said Yazurlo kept cussing and circling in her wheelchair.

"She's acting crazy. I just sat in my truck the whole time till the police got there," Smith said in the interview.

The Flagler Sheriff's Office has forwarded an assault complaint against Yazurlo to the State Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to charge her.

Yazurlo denied threatening King or his wife or son but admits being irate.

"I told him to go to hell or burn in hell and that was all I said to him," Yazurlo said Monday.

Yazurlo adds that she felt threatened by King and plans to file her own complaint, because she said King fired his rifle or shotgun in her direction. She said King claimed he was firing at a pig.

"He shot his shotgun in my direction and I never saw a pig," Yazurlo said.

King said that never happened.

"I did not fire in her direction," King said. "She was not even there when we ran the hog off my property."

King asked a deputy to warn Yazurlo not to trespass on his land anymore. Another neighboring property owner, Roy Hawkins, a potato farmer, also had her warned for trespassing. Hawkins issued the warning after spotting wheelchair tracks on his land.

Hawkins said about eight or 10 different people were shooting at the pigs, which did not do much damage to his potato crop.

"Not too badly, we got there before they could ruin it," Hawkins said.

Read Swan's post first, then read up. Finding the code.

So, I am a lawyer and I am usually pretty good about finding and reading code law. You have been given very good advice by Ms. Swan, but how do you go about finding out the rules and regulations in your area?

I tried it out myself for my County. I googled my County’s website. On the website was a link to the county code of laws. Most Counties have their laws posted on-line now in Muni-code or just on their own website. I started at the obvious chapter—Animals. Nothing there. So then I looked under Garbage, Trash and Refuse disposal. Nothing. Then Land Management. Nada. Then I googled what to do with dead horse and come up with my own blog. Obviously I cannot fill that blog with every possible county and state and local code.

My next move was to call the local extension office. I waited for 5 minutes to get an open line. Then I waited for 5 more minutes to hear a computer tell me all my options. None of them were what I wanted. Then I was transferred to an operator who transferred me to an agent when I requested “information about large animal disposal” That led to an answering machine.

My next move would have been to call my Vet and ask him/her, but that information may have been useful, but not necessarily in compliance with any code. I did not call just to test out the theory because Vets are busy and I am not that clueless to waste their time just to write a blog. Next I checked the state code. Nothing. I know there is nothing in my covenants prohibited except for raising swine.

Now if this had been a real emergency and my horse had just died the time and effort to try and track down information on where and how I was allowed to dispose of him would have sent me right over the edge. When my real horse died last year I could hardly even walk into my house before I just collapsed from grief and exhaustion after being awake with him for 48 hours of colic. My Vet took care of everything and knew who to call and what to do, so I did not even have to see any of it. If I had been required to search code or wait for computers to suggest gardening tips or wait for a call back from the county extension agent while my horse cooled in the back yard, it would have been unbearable. An absolute nightmare. I can’t even imagine how horrible that would be for a parent trying to make a child’s dead horse go away.

So REALLY REALLY take the good advice posted by Ms. Swan and do your homework now!!! Do not wait until you need to know. Although I doubt black booted government thugs will break down your door for an unlawful burial violation, the last thing you will want after you horse passes on is to spend all day trying to find out what is legal and then getting a citation and having to start all over with a now decomposed animal.

Have a death plan and start it now. When the time comes just getting up off the floor might be all you can manage. And you should have not only your plan, but the money to pay for it on hand. Take it from me, the last thing you need to be doing an hour after Dobbin’s demise is driving to the bank to get money for the disposal. And the choices you make in that hell time of grief may not be the choices you would make if your heart was not being ripped out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guest Post by Jessica Swan: AKA JSwan on "What Remains"

OK, I did not post as I promised. I am a bad blogger. I can't even make up an excuse because then I would be a bad dis-honorable bad blogger. So The truth is I went out searching for more guest bloggers to talk about things YOU need to know even when I do not have time to tell you. They think about this stuff all the time. They are experts in their fields. It was so nice having Jennifer Williams do a guest blog on her area of expertise I got another guest blogger for this post and a few more lined up. I have a blog from a criminal attorney lined up, a bankruptcy attorney to talk about our dreaded debt, and hopefully a sports and entertainment attorney to talk about the ins and outs of these new fangeled sponsorship deals some of the upper level riders are getting these days. And I am working on a post about the employee/private contractor distinction, liability and the tax consequences. Without further delay, today's blog:

After We Say Goodbye: Disposing Of Equine Remains

Jessica Swan

For all the joy that horses bring to our lives, we pay a price. We must endure the pain of parting with our equine friends when they become ill, old, or suffer a traumatic injury. Sometimes, the issue of disposal is not addressed before death occurs, or the chosen method may not be available due to circumstances beyond the owner’s control.

A horse owner should know what options are available in his area, evaluate the pros and cons of each, and observe any statutory or regulatory requirements, before faced with a euthanasia decision; which is a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved.

Increasingly, disposal of animal remains is regulated or restricted. Improper or incomplete disposal of remains may pollute groundwater, attract scavengers, rodents, or pose a health hazard to humans, pets, or wildlife. Authorities or neighbors may take exception to an owner’s choice and take action against the horse owner if the remains cause any of the above to occur.

You do not need to be an attorney or veterinarian to locate information on this subject, most or all the information you need is freely available from reliable sources:

1. Statutes, ordinances or restrictive covenants:
A. Depending upon your location, on-site disposal of animal remains may be regulated, restricted, or prohibited. For those who live in equestrian subdivisions, covenants may restrict or prohibit disposal of livestock remains. Check your state code, local ordinances, and any covenants before making your decision. An additional resource may be your county/town zoning administrator or homeowners association.

2. Your State Department of Agriculture or Extension Service
A. These agencies offer free information for livestock owners. The Agriculture Department may restrict burial, composting, or burning of livestock that died of reportable diseases. It may also oversee cremation facilities or renderers that operate in your state.
B. The Extension Service and its agents may provide support, guidance, and information to horse owners seeking education in on-site composting of livestock mortalities, assistance in locating a renderer, or may be able to put a horse owner in touch with other owners, farmers, or ranchers who can be a resource.

3. Veterinarians, equine hospital/veterinary college, animal shelter, equine rescues
A. Veterinary and lay professionals may be a resource for locating a backhoe operator, renderer, or cremation facility, and may have that information for you when they pay their final visit.
B. Clinics, equine hospitals, or veterinary colleges may offer cremation for a fee; even if the fatality did not occur in their facility.
C. Your animal shelter or local equine rescue may be able to provide a referral for pickup, burial, or cremation. Some rescues may offer euthanasia clinics, which defers some of the final costs and resolves the issue of disposal.

After the owner identifies the available options, their choice is essentially an emotional and/or a financial one. There is no single “right” answer. The key is to ensure the method is permissible; a mistake may cost you dearly and cause great heartache.

This article is not a comprehensive resource; only a starting point for horse owners unfamiliar with disposing of livestock remains, but who wish to educate themselves.

Since restrictions and prohibitions are increasingly common, horse owners should stay informed and provide feedback and input to their horse industry board so their voice is heard within government. Farmers and ranchers are long accustomed to dealing with farm mortalities; and usually have the equipment, facilities, and knowledge to dispose of them. Some horse owners, especially those in less rural areas or in subdivisions, may not have the same background.

Although improper or incomplete disposal of remains can be a legitimate concern for the public, when armed with good information horse owners are fully capable of disposing of the remains of their cherished equine partners.

Jessica Swan is a retired development professional, working primarily within conservation and agriculture. A lifelong equestrian, she is fortunate to share her life with three wonderful horses on her small farming operation in Virginia.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Equine Law Degree"

Hi! Remember me? The blogger on this blog? I have been really really busy, but I will start blogging again soon. I had work to do, real actual work and lots of it! I also got my house painted and my tiny tractor fixed and have been working on mowing my 5 acre yard for what seems like a lifetime. But I will be posting this week!

Here is a quick answer to a question some of you have been googling and trying to find on my site. I assume those someones are high school kids looking for career information. There is NO DEGREE in “equine law”. You go to undergrad school and get a degree there. Then you take the tests for law school and go to law school. Then if you are lucky you take a few classes in equine and animal law. You graduate with a law degree and then if you want, you practice, among other things that actually pay the bills, some equine law. Equine law is just regular old law, but it is when that law has horses in the facts.

There is no other degree in “equine law.” If you try and take an online horse course that includes equine law, that information is for your own use. You cannot charge others for legal advice unless you are a lawyer. If you do, you break the law and you will need to find a “criminal lawyer” to defend you.

So you have at least 7 years of higher education to complete before you can practice equine law. Then what? Do you just hang out a shingle and start collecting all those legal fees? Ummmmmnope. You do as much equine law as you can, but you do not get a “job” as an equine lawyer unless you get very, very lucky and possibly have a trust fund to actually support yourself. It’s not the exciting high paid career you might be looking for. It’s just being a lawyer, like all other lawyers, but if you are lucky about 50% of your cases might have horses or animals in them.

What if you have already gone to undergrad school and started law school and now want to know about equine law? If your school teaches equine law you can ask your professor. If it doesn’t, you can ask them to start teaching it. That is what I had to do. I had to ask the Dean and the vice dean of my law school to start teaching animal law so I could take the class. I had to support this request with evidence that almost half of other law schools taught at least 1 course in animal law. I even had to find and hire the professor to teach the course. But after just 6 months of constantly harassing and bugging and planting myself in the reception area of the Deans’ offices my school suddenly decided such a great course was a much better alternative to seeing me EVERY DAY and having me bug them again. I think it helped that the Dean’s daughter rode horses and that the vice dean loved his cats.

I only had to wait an extra year for the actual class. It was scheduled for my 2L year, but the professor had to have emergency back surgery and I ended up in “state and local taxation”, the only class left when my seminar in equine law got canceled. After sitting through a 3 hour tax class taught on Friday afternoons, there was no way I was going to leave law school without getting my animal law course! I had earned it. I DESERVED it!

And in my last semester I got to take the class and it was wonderful:> Not only did we have the best professor in the world for equine law, but she also had lots of actual experience as a real live litigator and even gave us the most useful tips on taking the VA Bar exam we had ever heard.

So, in conclusion, if you are googling “equine law degree” you have a lot to learn. You will have to go to law school. You will become a lawyer and then try and get clients with horses who need a lawyer. Sometimes your years of experience will help you serve your clients better then just some un-equine lawyer, but sometimes you will still just be drafting deeds or working on trusts or having to earn your keep doing family or criminal law. There is no special degree and there is no job waiting for you when you get out that will be exclusively equine law. Maybe 1 person every 15 years gets the one job that may exist, but with those odds you might just want to keep working on that dream of competing your OTTB in the Olympics? In time there will be more work in the field since once one lawyer starts suing people then other lawyers get work defending the other side, but if you are looking for a career in horses then you have to want a career in law and the horses are a rare bonus that makes the rest of the work worth it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Texas from a Texan Rescue Worker

I am having a guest post from Jennifer Williams of Blue Bonnet rescue for this weeks post. Not only is it a great honor and pleasure to have such a respected and experienced horse rescue expert on my blog, but both my computers are crashing and I have no word processing abilities at all right now. You think my posts are scary now, you should see them if I try to post without going through Word first.I will be lucky if I can get this posted at all and boy is my tech guy gonna be busy tomorrow!

"In general, when law enforcement officers (sheriff’s deputies, policemen, animal control officers or livestock officers) seize horses in Texas, they do so under the Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 10. Health and Safety of Animals, Chapter 821. Treatment and Disposition of Animals. They must obtain a warrant from the courts to seize the horses, and there must be a hearing within 10 calendar days of the warrant to determine whether or not the horses were “cruelly treated”. If a judge or justice of the peace finds that the horses were cruelly treated, he can order them euthanized, send them to auction or give them to a non-profit animal welfare group. If the judge orders the animals euthanized or given to a non-profit, the owner cannot appeal. After the civil hearing, the county or district attorney’s office may also decide to press criminal charges under the Texas Penal Code.

As a rescuer, this set-up has advantages. In some cases, we work with law enforcement officers to investigate reports of neglect or abuse. When we find neglected horses, the officers obtain the warrants and we go with them to pick the horses up, document their condition, obtain a veterinary report and veterinary care, and prepare for court. We provide testimony in court, and I can provide expert testimony as a Ph.D. Animal Scientist and Certified Humane Investigator. Other times, law enforcement officers investigate the report of neglect or abuse, get the warrant, seize the animals and go to court. They call us only after the horses have been awarded to us.

The benefit of the civil code is that a) the hearing must be held within 10 days of the warrant and b) there are no appeals if the horses are awarded to a non-profit rescue. This means as a rescue we don’t end up stuck holding horses for court for months. And once the horses are awarded to us, we can get the males gelded and begin adopting out the horses without fear that the owner will appeal and we’ll be stuck holding the horses for months or even years. It allows us to move the horses on into adoptive homes more quickly so we can free up space to help more horses.

When I began first working on neglect cases in 2000, the counties rarely pressed criminal charges. They seemed to feel that the owners suffered enough by losing their horses. However in the past several years, I’ve seen an increased willingness to press criminal charges, and I’ve seen more people convicted of animal abuse. That allows us to better track repeat offenders – its hard to tell if someone is a repeat offender if they lose their horses but have no criminal record.

There are drawbacks to working in rescue in Texas. Many counties still don’t consider horse neglect to be a serious issue and are unwilling to spend manpower or money investigating neglect reports, seizing horses or presenting cases to the courts. However, this is slowly changing.

While currently the law does not allow for an appeal if horses are awarded to a nonprofit welfare group, House Bill 1046 would allow owners to appeal. This will make it much harder for animal welfare organizations to assist with seizures as they could be stuck holding horses for months, or even years, as the owners appeal. Many counties will be unwilling to seize horses and other animals as they will not want to be forced to pay the expenses of animals being held for an extended period of time. Rescues will be forced to turn away neglect cases horses as they will soon fill up and have no more space.

Texas residents, please contact your state representative and ask him to vote against this bill. Lets not make it any harder for animals to get help in Texas."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Next Up: Texas and Anmal Welfare Laws

I saved Texas for last. I think going through a few states and seeing the code and seeing how the states apply the code gives you a good overview of how states treat animal neglect and abuse cases. Texas should be up this weekend.


This is my rants and ramblings about issues I see in Animal Law. You should no more use this blog as legal advice then you should expect Alan Shore to come to court and save your ass in one hour or less. Just because a lawyer says it does not make it set in stone. It takes 2 lawyers, a judge, a set of facts and a whole lot of words to decide any case. I tend to not post a lot of actual case law because it will make your brain bleed. Its already all out there and most of it online. What you read here--and any time you DO NOT HIRE ME AND PAY and create an attorney client relationship, is just what I think on that day about that subject and what I may argue for my client to kick your clients ass.

THE CODE is only half the story in any legal issue. The CASE LAW, as discussed way back in the first few posts, is just as important as the Code. The code is applied to people and facts with lots of discretion and flexibility. That is intentional. Code law and case law must be taken together to form a whole picture for any predictive value on how any particular case gets handled. Because laws are subject to interpretation and sometimes do not get changed for years after the courts have moved on, you can't take the code as being a complete set of instructions any more then you can take a courts ruling with no basis in a code of laws to go unchallenged. I have half a ton of case law books that are made up of appeals because this is not science, its an art form.

Once you have code and case law understood, then you begin to see how it applies to the facts in your case. Its is the job of an attorney to make arguments based on the code and the case law that will favor her client. Its the job of the opposing counsel to make opposite arguments in favor of his client. Then a judge and or jury decides who is more convincing. Judges also much spend a lot of time trying to decide which lawyer is making a better argument about what the code says and what judges that came before him did. Most of this happens in papers exchanged before anyone steps into a courtroom. Same code, same case law, but years of arguments to decide the same set of facts.

That is what we are taught in law school--not how to fill out the paper work, but to be able to see the same words and make then say our client is right and the other guy is wrong. In recent years, like the last 2, there has been a move to teach law students other skills too like knowing 1/100th of what a paralegal does about filling out forms, but making the winning argument is what we do. Or at least try to.

If law were just a matter of plugging in the Code to a case we would have no need for our legal system. A computer could do that. That is not how the game is played. But in all cases, the first place to look should be the Code. Not the last and only place, but the first. Then let the games begin.