Mass School of Law 11th Annual Animal Rights Day

goldenOn Saturday, April 15, the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover celebrated their 11th annual Animal Rights Day.

The event is typically held prior to Easter, with a mascot Easter Bunny celebration in the school library for local children.  Business owners, non-profits, and vendors, all concerned with animal welfare, came together to share ideas and to further educate the community.

This was an informative and fun event with something for animal lovers of all ages.

Here are a few highlights from the day’s inspiring speakers.


jeremycohenAttorney Jeremy Cohen spoke about his growing specialty law firm in Beverly, Boston Dog Lawyers.  Cohen has been an attorney for over twenty years, but for the last three years has specialized in this area which he is very passionate about.  Companion animal law cases are on the rise.  From the divorced couple who both would do anything to keep the pet they purchased together, to the good dog who bit the mailman and is declared dangerous by their town, Cohen wants everyone to dig deeper and do what is right.  He feels the time has passed to consider animals to be simple property on a level with a bicycle.

“I don’t believe in strict liability,” said Cohen.  He feels that each dog and each case are deserving of full attention to the details which will best serve these living, breathing and loved companions.  Was the dog who bit a teenager being tormented?  Does the boyfriend who bought his fiancé a pet as a gift deserve to keep the dog after they break up?  These are not always simple cases and are often very emotional to the parties involved.

Some of his insights included the fact that you must name/insure your dog-walker or frequent dog caretaker to extend your liability insurance to them.  Electric fences are not the most effective barrier for your dog, and won’t keep other dogs out of the yard.  Consider that there will be no custody split for jointly owned pets in the event of separation, and prepare beforehand.  For further information see their website


bunnyCristina Hawes, a full time student at MSL, gave visitors an update on pending legislation in Massachusetts that will affect the lives and well being of animals in our state.  With the upcoming 2017-2018 Animal Rights bills on the table, this is your chance to give a voice to the voiceless.  You can contact your senator or state representative to express support for new laws in the Commonwealth.  Also, May 9, 2017, is Lobby Day for Animals at the State House in Boston.

Ms. Hawes clarified some of the elements of our new law allowing assistance if you see a dog in a hot, closed-window car.  If you have a reasonable belief that a dog is in distress and their life is in danger in an overheated, closed car you may break a window and call the local police.  You must stay with the animal until police arrive.  This is progress, and very welcome news to thousands of dog lovers in the state.

The group learned about the Beagle Freedom project (  Many of us were shocked to learn that about 70,000 dogs are used in animal testing every year, and 96% of those dogs are Beagles.  As a breed, Beagles are docile and trusting of humans, making them easier to exploit.  Beagle Freedom Project negotiates with laboratories across the world to secure the release of dogs and other lab animals.  This, at least, gives them a chance at a normal home life after everything they have endured in labs for cosmetic or scientific experimentation.  Beagles are relatable, and help draw public attention to the plight of all animals languishing in labs.  New technology makes most of this unnecessary and cruel.

Some key bills in Massachusetts this year include:  S.470-an act banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet shops, H.3232-an act protecting research animals, S.1145-an act enhancing the issuance of citations for cruel conditions to animals, and S.406-an act protecting dogs at boarding kennels and daycare facilities.

It is up to all of us to start creating a cruelty free world.


foscoSteve Roberts and his Shepherd Fosco gave an eye opening demonstration for his company, K9 Top Performance in Reading.  This dog training school offers a Protective Dog Training class that strives to make your companion dog a true guardian animal as well.  He also works with state police K9 units to assist them in ongoing training.

Fosco is Steve’s personal protection and companion dog.  The pair is currently the PSA (Protection Sports Association) Level 3 National Champions. This is the highest level a team can compete in, and they won 1st place at Nationals in both obedience and in protection.  Steve is the youngest handler and trainer in the U.S. and Canada to obtain such high levels in PSA.

Watching Steve and his Shepherd work with a “well-padded” assistant was something to see.  His advice to civilians, “..never run from a police dog.”  We won’t consider it any more Steve.  If you would like your dog to offer some protection while your are jogging, or would feel safer if your dog has some “In-home Break-in” training, contact Steve to view a class and get his expertise.

You can find Steve’s school at


DeltadogSarah Stratton presented an informative overview of the impressive non-profit, Operation Delta Dog.

Trisha Blanchet founded Operation Delta Dog in 2013 after learning about the high suicide rate among U.S. veterans.  A former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, she holds a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

For Trisha, Operation Delta Dog is the natural culmination of a life spent as an animal advocate and the proud daughter of a U.S. Army veteran.

Twenty-two of our country’s veterans take their own lives each day.  Thousands of healthy and loving dogs are in shelters seeking companionship.  

Operation Delta Dog was created in an effort to connect those at risk communities and make a difference.  Delta Dog raises funds to pay for the training and care-taking of select, trainable dogs, and pairs them with a veteran suffering from PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injuries).  Therapy dogs will learn various skills such as recognizing and soothing anxiety, interupting nightmares, and responding to seizures.  Veterans and therapy dogs are matched by need and personality to start the journey of friendship and healing.

In one of many success stories a veteran, who once suffered from disabling anxiety, went on to fully recover, become a selectman in his city, and an advocate for other veterans. (


Proceeds from MSL’s Animal Rights Day support The Shadow Fund, a non-profit organization formed to assist pet owners who have companion animals with medical needs.  The fund started with a grass roots effort to assist local Vietnam Veteran Robert Burke when his dog Shadow needed emergency care.

Donations may be mailed to:
The Shadow Fund
c/o Massachusetts School of Law
500 Federal Street
Andover, MA 01810


For more information contact

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