ABA book: Man's best friend has rights, too

Most dog owners consider their pet a member of the family and, in some cases, equal in status to children. But legally, dogs in the United States are classified as property. If you haven't given much thought to that fact, it is time to consider it.

The American Bar Association's newly released book, "Legal Guide for Dog Owners," seeks to help dog owners understand the implications, legal and otherwise, of their dog's status as property and assist them in making informed decisions in protecting their pooch.

This unique book, written by author Yolanda Eisenstein and published by Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, is "for anyone interested in how the law treats dogs, not only within the context of their role as companions but in everything from pet trusts to dog fighting. Everyone will find valuable insights into how the law treats dogs."

The 146-page book covers many laws that affect dogs. From a city's leash ordinance to a federal ban on products that contain dog fur, the laws are expansive and are found at every level of government. Because of the extent of the laws and the fact that they vary by state, it is impossible to cover every dog law in detail in the book's six chapters.

"Legal Guide for Dog Owners" offers two distinctive features. For lawyers who are not familiar with animal law and want to know more, there are specific segments labeled "For Lawyers" in which Eisenstein has offered suggestions or shared an experience that may be helpful. For the casual reader, Eisenstein has done the same in segments called "For Everyone." The author has also added further insights, specific laws and court cases that are presented in sections called "Case in Point."

Eisenstein, an animal protection lawyer in Dallas, is an adjunct professor of animal law at Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University, where she now serves as an adjunct professor of animal law. She is past chair of the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section Animal Law Committee, and an American Bar Foundation Fellow. She is the author of the book "Careers in Animal Law," and she is a contributor to "Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding." She has authored numerous articles and speaks regularly on animal law and animal protection issues.

Published: Thu, Jan 15, 2015

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