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Lawyers and Veterinarians Come Together for Symposium


The State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section and the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association are joining forces to co-host a symposium entitled: “Disaster Planning for Animals: The Role of Attorneys and Veterinarians.”

The event will be held Friday, March 17, from 1 to 5 pm at the Cooley Center, 9th Floor Conference Room, 300 S. Capital Ave., Lansing. Registration is at 12:30 p.m. and a reception will follow the symposium.

“We are pleased that the legal and veterinary communities can come together to work on solutions for such a critical issue,” said M. Jean Ligon, Chair of the Animal Law Section and a Brighton attorney. “The biggest lesson to come out of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina pertaining to animals and disaster planning is that we still have a lot to learn. Discussions like the ones which will take place at the symposium are desperately needed to put us on the right road to preventing such mass tragedy and suffering from happening again to pets and other animals who fall victim to natural disasters.”

Karlene Belyea, executive director of the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), noted that veterinarians from Michigan and throughout the nation played active roles in caring for displaced and injured animals after the Katrina tragedy.

“Disaster preparedness is crucial, and the needs of animals must be considered when we’re planning for the worst,” Belyea said. “This collaborative effort with the State Bar of Michigan will help assure that we are prepared for any disasters we may face in our state.”

Speakers include:

  • Barbara Gisalason, JD, Founding Chair of the Animal Law Committee of the American Bar Association;
  • David Favre, JD, MSU College of Law Professor and Editor of the MSU College of Law Animal Legal & Historical Web Center;
  • Linda Reider, Michigan Humane Society;
  • Nancy Frank, DVM, Michigan Department of Agriculture;
  • Stephen Steep, DVM, President-Elect, MVMA;
  • Jeffrey Dizik, DVM, Chair, MVMA Task Force on Disaster Preparedness;
  • Sarah Babcock, DVM, JD;
  • Tanya Irwin, MSU College of Law;
  • Cathy Theisen, DVM, Team Member, Veterinary Medical Assistance Team.

The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Topics discussed will include:

  • The current status of disaster planning pertaining to animals in Michigan;
  • The interplay between the Department of Agriculture, State Veterinarian and Vet Net with other disaster organizations in the state;
  • The legal difficulties in knowing when a rescued animal in foster care can be adopted;
  • Veterinarian licensing to work in relief areas;
  • Status update of proposed federal legislation: The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act;
  • Experiences from Katrina; developing disaster plans for humane societies; and
  • In the trenches: Working with Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams.




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State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012
Phone: (517) 346-6300
Toll Free: (800) 968-1442
Fax: (517) 482-6248