By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 9, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — Judges and lawyers in the capital city had a refresher Friday on animal law.
The Florida Bar Animal Law Section hosted the seminar to provide education on some of the issues and challenges in dealing with animal law. The idea to hold the session was developed by Tallahassee’s Animal Crimes Task Force.
"There's virtually no area of the law that isn’t affected by animal law. Real property law, criminal law, domestic relations law, you name it,” said Ralph DeMeo, the past chair of the Florida Bar Animal Law Committee and a member of Tallahassee's task force.
According to DeMeo there are dozens of laws in Florida statute that now deal with animals. However, not all law schools teach animal law. And many judges never studied it. That’s one reason he said it’s important to hold seminars like the one organized Friday.
Among the topics discussed were animal abuse and neglect, animal hoarding, dog fighting and domestic relations and property issues.
Dr. Rachel Barton, who is the Animal Services Veterinarian for the City of Tallahassee, presented during the seminar. She said dealing with animal law in court cases can be a difficult task and present many unusual challenges.
"[In abuse cases] these animals are considered legal evidence, but at the same time they are living breathing things,” she said. “The condition when we first see it at the crime scene can be dramatically different after it's come into our care.”
She also said that there is a direct correlation between animal abuse and human abuse, making it important to care about and pay attention to animal abuse.
"When we take animal crimes seriously, when we take animal abuse seriously, not only are we protecting the animals, but we're helping to protect people, other victims in our community,” she said.
The City of Tallahassee enacted its own animal abuse registry last April, with Leon County following suit.
For more information, visit www.talgov.com.