Over the past year, UConn Law has undertaken the development of a new program that allows for advocacy of abused animals in the courtroom. This program came about due to a new law enacted in October of last year that allows law students to gain experience in the courtroom dealing with animal abuse cases. The program, while still relatively new, has been successful so far in bringing needed attention to the cause of animal advocacy, and it has provided a unique way for law students to get hands-on experience before they even graduate from their programs.
Desmond’s Law, which helped create this program, is an animal advocacy act named after an abused shelter dog who was killed in 2012. The program hopes to promote defense of animals in court, who are not allowed to represent themselves, by allowing Connecticut law students or volunteer lawyers to represent them in court instead. In addition to the courtroom experience, the advocates, who have been calling themselves Desmond’s Army, have been helping to locate potential cases and gather information about these cases from investigators.
This program an amazing opportunity for both Connecticut law students as well as the animals they are representing. Animal abuse cases have never been a high priority for lawmakers, especially as animals cannot be their own advocates. With this program on the rise, the awareness for animal mistreatment and cruelty will also be gaining publicity and will hopefully open people’s eyes to the importance of the cause. Additionally, studies have shown that animal cruelty can be linked to other kinds of violence, especially domestic violence. Thus, increasing the attention given to the cause of animal cruelty could also play a part in increasing understanding regarding other types of abuse.
While it is clear that this law will benefit animals by raising support and awareness around animal cruelty, it also is extremely beneficial to Connecticut law students and the schools they attend. By having this opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in the courtroom prior to even graduating law school, they are being given a huge advantage when it comes to applying to future jobs and performing well in them. This extra practice may even help some students discover a passion within this type of law that they may not have been able to explore elsewhere. Additionally, this program is benefitting the schools these students attend by allowing them to show that there is a one of a kind opportunity to offer in these law degrees that students could not find at another school.
Desmond’s Law, while fairly new, is already having a huge impact both on the animals it represents as well as the students who are privileged to represent them. This program shows the ability for our Connecticut law schools to become leaders in their fields and to offer the opportunity of an experience that law students would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
Emma Hungaski is the associate opinion editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.