As my year as Chair comes to a close, I want to thank all of our members and let you know how valuable your membership in our new section has been during my tenure. There are too many people to mention by name, but whether you were active in leadership, a committee member, or simply a member who isinterested in animal law, the success the section experienced this year would not have been possible without your participation. I would encourage you to continue to check off on your Florida Bar dues statement to continue your membership, or rejoin the section by going to www.flabaranimals.org/join and following the instructions there. Even if you do not practice animal law or serve on a committee, your dues have been invaluable in supporting our efforts to expand understanding of animal law and educate attorneys, judges, law students, and members of the public about a number of issues.
This is only the second year of our existence, but we have accomplished a lot with your help. We took our first two legislative positions. We supported Ponce’s Law, which increased the severity of sentencing points for animal abuse convictions and allowed judges to prohibit certain offenders from owning or having custody or control over animals, and the “Return to Owner” law, which required animal sheltersand other animal rescue organizations to adopt written policies and procedures to help lost animals be quickly and reliably returned to their owners. In an atmosphere where most bills do not succeed, we were pleased that both of our positions were ultimately passed by the legislature and signed into law. Given ourinitial success, we look forward to taking more legislative positions in future years.
Additionally, the section also was closely involved in the Constitution Revision Committee (CRC) process and supported the amendment to bring about an orderly end to greyhound racing in Florida. I would like to thank all of our members who spoke at the CRC meetings and the CRC commissioners that voted infavor of the proposal. We look forward to providing further support leading up to November 2018 when Floridians will have the opportunity to vote to end this cruel practice.
Your dues were also instrumental in our section’s outreach to law schools and the judiciary. We are on target to have visited all of the Florida law schools this year. It has been exciting to engage with law students who are in many ways the driving force behind this growing area of the law. With regard to judicial outreach, in March the section sponsored its first seminar for judges at The Florida Bar’sheadquarters in Tallahassee. The seminar focused on current issues in animal law that would be of interest to the judiciary. It was very well-received by those in attendance and we plan on taking it to other judicial circuits and offering continuing judicial education credits for our other seminars as well.
And speaking of seminars, we significantly increased the number of educational seminars and webinars in 2017-2018. I will not repeat all the topics we have offered here, but would like to thank all the speakers and attendees that made these events a success. If you missed out the first time, all of our seminars are available for download or purchase. Be sure to take advantage of your membership discount!