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but I just … I was aware that society was going to be less tuned in to listening to what I said as

Time:2018-10-05 19:01Shoes websites Click:


“We Are All Complicit” Conversation: Joyce Tischler

Maureen Nandini Mitra

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“I never wished to be a man, but I just … I was aware that society was going to be less tuned in to listening to what I said as a woman,” says Jyoce Tischler, cofounder of Animal Legal Defense Fund.

Joyce Tischler began bringing home injured animals when she was just about old enough to walk the block around her New York City home. “A special passion for animals always existed for me,” she says. “I didn’t really question it, I just followed my instincts.” That instinct led her to get involved in caring for feral cats while in college, and focus her only law school law review article on legal rights for animals — the first ever in the world to address the issue, and one that’s still widely cited.

In 1979, well before animal law was a recognized field and when the legal profession was still heavily male-dominated, Tischler co-founded Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) — the first animal law organization in the United States. In the 25 years that Tischler was executive director of the Bay Area-based organization, ALDF has filed groundbreaking lawsuits, including ones to stop bear and mountain lion hunts, the removal of wild horses from federal lands, and suits challenging the intensive confinement of farmed animals. In the process, the group has saved the lives of many animals, including dogs, cats, birds, chimpanzees, horses, and wild burros. Tischler currently serves as ALDF’s general counsel. Her trailblazing work helped lay the foundation for animal law to be taken seriously in the US. It’s not for nothing that she’s called the “mother of animal law.”

I spoke with Tischler recently about her early years as an animal rights activist, the challenges she faced as a woman lawyer, and misogyny in the movement.

Oh, and just so you know, Tischler doesn’t eat her clients.

What made you decide to become an animal rights activist?

The term animal rights came about in popular culture around about 1975 after Peter Singer published Animal Liberation. Like many, it was Animal Liberation that drew me to the movement. Which got me from just loving animals to being an activist-attorney who wanted to protect animals. That was really a turning point for how a lot of people were viewing animals and for how they saw themselves vis-a-vis activism for animals. Prior to that time there were few national groups working on animal rights

And how did this lead you into animal law?

I went to law school as the result of being a teenager in the 1960s, which was a very heated period in American history … After law school, I ended up just taking a job and learning how to practice law. I started volunteering for the Fund for Animals office in San Francisco because I still wanted to have that animal connection, and through that I met another lawyer, Larry Kessenick. When we realized we were both interested in animal rights, we put an ad in the local legal newspaper for other attorneys interested in animal rights and we started meeting once a month, and that was the birth of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

That was one of the places animal law started. You know, animal law was starting in different places in the country, all at about the same time. All of us not knowing who the others were but all coming out the 1960s being activist-minded attorneys.

Do you think there’s been any progress for animals since you started working on animal rights?

The animal law movement was formed 40 years ago. That’s a pretty young movement. In that time, what have we done? We’ve created a large library of cases and decisions in which we are fighting the powers that be on absolutely every front, in trying to win better conditions for animals and trying to get courts to recognize that they [animals] have interests; we are building a foundation. You have to build a foundation, and the next generation builds on that foundation and the next and next. So I feel as if we’ve built a very solid foundation. We are starting to win more cases than we used to. We used to lose most of the time … There are case books, there are animal law classes in most US law schools, there are student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters. Animal law has become something that more and more lawyers, judges, and prosecutors know about.

The change that we see is really inch by inch, and you just have to be patting yourself on the back, ok, made it another inch!

Forty years ago, when I came into the movement, the big issues were animals in research and fur and hunting. Practically no one was working on animals in the food chain. Activism on factory farming really didn’t start on a movement-wide basis until 1999. And we come at this with no federal law to protect farmed animals. Now there’s a humane transport law, there’s a humane slaughter law, both are under-enforced, both are pretty weak and don’t apply to a lot of the animals. But it’s some progress. In terms of when the animals are being raised in CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations], there’s nothing at the federal level and most of the state anti-cruelty laws specifically don’t apply to animals in CAFOs or on farms at all. So we have a long, long way to go.

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