In a forthcoming law review article entitled “The Birth of Animal Rights Law: The Role of Lawyers in the Animal Rights/Protection Movement from 1972-1987” Joyce Tischler, Esq., founder and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund, sets out to “explore the roots of a large scale, organized movement, which started in the early 1970s in the United States, spearheaded by attorneys and law students with the express purpose of filing lawsuits to protect animals and establish the concept of their legal rights, regardless of the species of the animals or the ownership interest of humans.”
In that article, Ms. Tischler graciously names as “the first animal rights lawyer” ISAR’s chairman and general counsel, Henry Mark Holzer, professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School.
She credits Professor Holzer, then a practicing attorney professionally associated with ISAR, with three accomplishments crucial to establishing the field of what today is known as “animal rights law”: with ISAR, having brought the first federal and first state lawsuit to invoke the moral concept of “animal rights”; with ISAR, having founded the Animal Rights Law Reporter, which became “the legal clearinghouse for animal rights law information”; and, again with ISAR, having organized the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law”—an undertaking, in Ms. Tischler’s words, “[t]he significance of which cannot be overstated.”
One of the topics addressed at that conference was how activists can foster the enactment of statutes and ordinances protective of animals. We included that topic because while on the legal side of the ledger it was not difficult for capable lawyers to write the appropriate laws, on the legislative side of the ledger getting them enacted and signed was an entirely different, and extremely difficult, matter.
Over the years animal protective legislation has of course been enacted, but the problem has been that except for the very few national humane orgainizations with deep pockets and strong legislative connections everyone else has lacked the requisite information and skills to lobby successfully.
Julie E. Lewin of the National Institute for Animal Advocacy (Guilford, CT) has written a book that can alter the landscape of animal legislation in the United States. Its complete title and subtitles are: "Get Political for Animals [GPFA] and Win the Laws they Need; Why and how to launch a voting bloc for animals in your town, city, county or state; A step-by-step manual for animal rights and rescue advocates and organizations."
This description promises a lot, and it delivers!
GPFA has been rightly endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals, ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund, legislators, and others.
Lewin's book has rightly been called "important," "groundbreaking," "superb," "wonderful," "a masterpiece" and "a great resource."
It is all of those things, and more.
Indeed, the Table of Contents alone consists of eleven letter-size pages, providing an overview of
the 276 page book.
The scope of what is covered in GPFA is so comprehensive that attempting to relate it here would be a disservice to the research, writing, and experience that the author brought to this invaluable project.
To illustrate this point, here are the chapter titles, without the abundance of material that each one contains.
1. "We can be power players who win strong laws for animals."
2. "The dynamics of social change: from charity to political organization."
3. "The structure of government--and why activists need to know it."
4. "The structure of politics, the culture of politics, and the political mind."
5. "The dynamics and mechanics of political campaigns and voting blocs' role."
6. "How the lawmaking process really works--and the role of the voting bloc system."
7. "Playing to win: the pro-active lobbyist for a political organization is a power player."
8. "The legal side: how individuals, informal animal rights and rescue groups, and charities can
launch political organizations for animals."
9. "How to use media to help win laws for animals--and when to avoid it."
10. "Make it happen: how to launch your voting bloc for animals."
11. "Political quiz: read between the lines."
In the history of social-cultural-political movements there have been defining moments--a speech ["Tear Down That Wall"], a book [Uncle Tom's Cabin], a judicial decision [Brown v. Board of Education]--that sent our nation down a new road.
That is what Lewin's book does for the protection of animals through the legislative processes of the United States of America.
More animal protective laws will be introduced--and thanks to Julie E. Lewin and the National Institute for Animal Advocacy, many of them will be enacted. The animals should be, as we are, extremely grateful.
To purchase a copy of Ms. Lewin's book, please visit www.nifaa.org.