New Mexico's Pet Resource FALL 2002


Dog may be man's best friend, but dog's best friend could be a pet attorney

by Lynn Thomas

Shawn K. Deasy pushed away from her fancy desk and thought, "my work here is done". Her sense of professional completion at California's largest law firm, combined with her desire for spiritual growth and redirection of her career goals melded into conscious thought, then action.

Suddenly San Diego's loss became Albuquerque's gain.

Although Deasy had once visited Albuquerque, she had no specific reason to move here. Still, she felt a connection with New Mexico and instinctively knew the next phase of her life had to be here.

Deasy had done, and continues to do, a fair share of animal representation, defending dogs from doggie death row, or handling animal accidents, like a horse breaking a fence or throwing a rider. Zoning arguments and nuisance issues are routine. She is consulted by other attorneys when they need to know the intricacies of animal rights law.

But something was compelling her to take a more active role as an animal activist.

She knew New Mexico was not a progressive state in terms of animal welfare and she could be a catalyst for change. After all, New Mexico is one of only three states that still allow cockfighting. She intends to work vigorously to get, as one lawmaker in Santa Fe referred to it, this "family activity" banned.

This state has an extremely high number of animals starving and dumped each year. Deasy is a member of HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team of New Mexico), and their pro-bono counsel. HART is a non-profit organization that has chapters in Bernalillo and Valencia counties. Deasey has advised a number of grass roots volunteer organizations on how to file for non-profit status.

Having recently resigned her full-time position at Krehbeil, Bannerman and Williams law firm here in the Duke City, Deasy is about to hang her attorney's shingle out at her new home office. She's hopeful for more balance in her life, spending time with her three horses and multiple pooches, and focusing on the kind of clients she has long dreamed of…dogs, horses, any animal or pet parent needing passionate representation. Deasy knows animal rights law inside out and feels strongly that New Mexico needs someone to bring this state into the 21st century regarding animal rights.

To that end she is going to introduce an Animal Rights Law Section to the New Mexico State Bar. When you consider it was the year 2000 before Harvard School of Law taught its first animal rights course, and just recently, that the Encyclopedia Britannica wrote its first entry under 'animal rights' (both done by Steven Wise, famed animal rights attorney from Boston), you can see Deasy is on the fast track to address pressing animal issues in our state.

Deasy will draft wills and trusts and prepare estates for probate, as well as general business work and litigation. But her juices really start flowing when she discusses with a pet parent needed provisions for the family pets [if] the guardians are no longer able to do so themselves.

Who will serve as a trustee for your pets? Who will be a provider for your pet? If your pet is older, geriatric care will be needed so veterinary monies need to be set aside. A bichon frise will require more grooming expenses than a smooth coated dachshund. Do you have a backup caregiver?

Sometimes friends and family members mean well when they assure you they will care for your pet. But circumstances and situations change.

If your dog is legally accused of a bite twice in his or her lifetime, in the state of New Mexico your dog is deemed vicious and a judge has no flexibility as to that dog's fate, regardless of the circumstances leading up to a bite. A kid pokes the dog in the eye? Doesn't matter. If it's that dog's second infraction it gets the big needle.

Deasy is a strong advocate for changing this law, allowing judges the discretion, based on specific circumstances, to destine the dog's fate.

Like most of us, my animals, my babies, my kids, are considered family members.

If any of my kids, canine, feline, equine, avian or anything, were accused of a crime, I couldn't allow my pet's fate to rest with an attorney who would have to look under the Agriculture statutes to see what may, or may not, apply to my case. What if said attorney didn't have, or even like animals?

Plaintiff or defendant: Should the day ever come when you and your four-legged best friend need legal representation, it will be of great comfort to know that animal rights lawyers can be found right here in the Land of Enchantment.

Contact Shawn K. Deasy at 7735 Black Mesa Loop SW Albuquerque, NM 87105 (505-452-2067).

Lynn Thomas produces and hosts "AMERICAN PET JOURNAL" for Clear Channel Radio in Santa Fe (New Mix101.1), Albuquerque (Sunny 95.1) and in the Four Corners (Star 102.9, Farmington and 107.7 Durango, Co.) In addition she writes a column each Sunday for the Durango-Herald.

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