Animals are routinely deprived of their homes, their liberty and even
their lives. Yet, they are not guaranteed a lawyer to speak on their
behalf. Since 1989 Lawyers In Defense Of Animals, Inc. ("LIDA") has
provided that voice in New Jersey.
LIDA is committed to representing the interest of the proverbial
"underdog" whether he or she takes the form of wildlife, farm animal or
companion animal. Through its cooperating attorneys who work on a
reduced fee or pro bono basis, LIDA works within the legal system and
educates others to work within the legal system to send society the
message that animals are not property but are sentient beings with
Fundamental among those rights is the right to counsel for every animal
that faces loss of life or significant loss of liberty.
Lawyers In Defense Of Animals, Inc. (LIDA) is a 501(c)(3)
not-for-profit corporation which has been working on behalf of animals
in New Jersey since 1989.
LIDA's members are lawyers, law students, and animal lovers who support
the goals and philosophy of LIDA. The knowledge, integrity and tenacity
of our members and their unwavering focus on the interest of the animal
at issue has earned LIDA the respect of the animal legal community.
We have a working relationship with prosecutors, SPCA agents, municipal
and county health departments, animal control officers, veterinarians,
rescue groups and shelters throughout New Jersey.
A growing awareness of the rights of animals and a burgeoning
recognition of animal law as a discipline has increased the ranks of
attorneys who seek to handle major impact litigation. LIDA, through its
participating attorneys, also welcomes and handles these matters. LIDA
attorneys are unique, however, in their willingness to provide
representation for the multitude of seemingly mundane matters which
those who share their lives with animals will routinely confront. While
incrementally advancing the cause of animal rights with each such case,
the impact for the individual animal involved is monumental. For the
dog on death row, the cat whose guardian is evicted, or the Trap Neuter
Return (TNR) colony whose caretaker faces prosecution, LIDA's
intervention often makes the difference between life and death.
Imagine being on death
row with no
legal representation. For countless dogs charged under the State's
"vicious" dog act that is precisely their predicament. All too often
they are prosecuted for simply acting as dogs - protecting their homes
and their families. These cases are emotionally charged and often times
politically motivated placing the dog and her guardian at a distinct
disadvantage vis-a-vis the State. Frequently, the guardians are told to
surrender their dogs for euthanasia or face high fines and prosecution.
Those whose guardians do not succumb to the intimidation and who
exercise their right to a trial must be prepared to pay legal fees,
impound fees, which mount daily, expert fees, veterinary costs and
The plight of the death row dog is symbolic of all animals for
whom LIDA is seeking to establish and assert rights within the legal
system. It is mirrored by:
Where conviction carries potential consequences of significant
magnitude, the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees
humans the right to counsel. Non-human animals facing significant
curtailment of their liberty or even loss of their life have no such
- the colony of Trap Neuter Return (TNR) cats
being torn from their home and caretaker;
- the bull indentured to the rodeo;
- the geese being rounded up for extermination.
LIDA believes that the fundamental right to
extend to all animals who face a loss of life or a significant loss of
LIDA cooperating attorneys work on a pro bono or
reduced fee so the
dollars go further but money is still required for legal fees, expert
fees and court costs. The stock market is referred to as bullish or
bearish but the truth is that neither bulls, bears or other wildlife
nor farm animals or companion animals invest in the market, have bank
accounts, or even stash money under the mattress. This is not the
currency of their lives. Money, however, is necessary if LIDA is to
continue to fight for their interests within our legal system. For all
of these animals your dollars provide the key to the
courthouse and may mean the difference between life and death.
Your contributions to the LIDA Right To Counsel campaign will help:
give generously so LIDA can continue its work.
- Provide a lawyer to
represent the interest of every animal facing loss of life or
significant loss of liberty.
- Balance the scales of justice
by providing money for experts, investigators, and court costs.
- Counter intimidation with education
- educating guardians as to their rights and responsibilities.
- Ensure that LIDA's victories translate
into lives saved - providing the financial resources to
implement court orders and negotiated settlements, and to support LIDA
shootings of pit bulls and dogs mistaken for pit bulls
have reached epidemic proportions. Civil rights actions can and should
be filed against the police in these circumstances. Those whose
guardians are of modest means have no legal recourse and their death or
disability goes uncompensated and the officers' wrongful actions
LIDA cooperating attorneys filed suit against the offending
officers who LIDA believes often shoot pit bulls and those they mistake
for pit bulls because of who they are, not what they did.
routinely evicted from their homes:
A cat colony is evicted because a municipality suddenly decides to
implement or enforce a no feeding ordinance. Dogs and cats face
homelessness along with their guardians because a town decides to pass
or enforce a limit law. Guardians along with their animals face
displacement because a co-op or condo association imposes mounting
fines alleging violation of a no pet provision of the governing
Because the number of animals they shelter often subject them
to unwanted attention, those who provide foster homes for rescue groups
and shelters and those who do rescue themselves disproportionately find
themselves on the receiving end of eviction notices or municipal
charges. Having depleted their funds on the care of the animals these
latter individuals rarely have funds for legal fees.
When other attorneys fail to accept these cases due to
financial limitations of those seeking counsel, LIDA cooperating
attorneys provide guidance and representation on a pro bono or reduced
rescue groups face a
multitude of situations which entangle them in the legal arena. A
foster home is sued for injuries allegedly inflicted by one of its
fosters. An animal becomes ill after adoption allegedly infecting the
adopter's other animals. A shelter animal stressed by its surroundings
LIDA cooperating attorneys provide much needed guidance and legal
support for these not-for-profit corporations.
exemplify LIDA's role in representing rescue groups:
In the first a municipality sought to have animal control confiscate
animals from a severely overcrowded environment. A private rescue group
agreed that the animals needed to be removed but wanted to ensure that
sufficient time would be provided to find foster homes for the large
number of animals. A LIDA cooperating attorney protected the interests
of the animals by representing the group at the court hearing.
The result of LIDA's intervention was a Court Order which
authorized the rescue group to act and provided it with a realistic
time frame within which to accomplish its mission. Animals were rehomed
rather than euthanized.
The second case involved a more tragic scenario. The executor
of an estate had abandoned the formerly indoor cats of the decedent
outside in the dead of winter. Prior to the involvement of rescue many
cats had already succumbed to the cold and to starvation. Once
involved, the rescue group worked tirelessly through difficult
conditions to ensure the survival of the remaining cats. Bills for
veterinary care mounted. When the SPCA brought charges against the
executor a LIDA cooperating attorney intervened on behalf of the rescue
group. The plea agreement which was ultimately achieved not only
provided for the defendant to pay fines to the SPCA but also that the
defendant reimburse Rescue for a portion of the considerable sums
expended. LIDA represented the interest of the animals by securing the
financial resources necessary for the rescue to continue its lifesaving
efforts on behalf of the cats.
1. What is LIDA
and what does it do?
LIDA is Lawyers In Defense of Animals, Inc., a small but dedicated
network of New Jersey licensed attorneys with expertise in
animal-related legal matters. LIDA becomes involved with legal matters
in which an animal's well-being, or even its life, may be at stake.
LIDA's emphasis is on the animals and how to use the legal system to
help them. LIDA cooperating attorneys work to protect the animals and,
as a result, indirectly help the people who animals are the subject of
a situation that requires attorney advice or assistance.
2. What kinds
of legal cases does LIDA get involved with?
The kinds of legal matters in which LIDA cooperating attorneys can
help are as various as the situations where animals are in jeopardy.
For example, LIDA cooperating attorneys have petitioned the courts to
enjoin deer and bear hunts; they have appeared in court to keep feral
cat colonies from being destroyed; they have established trusts for
companion animals; they have represented those facing eviction because
they would not relinquish their companion animal; and disabled
individuals who were told they could no longer have their therapy
animal. LIDA cooperating attorneys have litigated vicious dog cases and
have worked to close down "pet shops" and breeders who mistreat
3. Can LIDA
help me if I have a legal problem involving one of my animals?
It depends on the situation, whether legal issues are involved,
whether court appearances or litigation are likely, and whether LIDA
cooperating attorneys are available. The best thing to do when you are
in an animal-related situation that you anticipate will require legal
expertise is to contact LIDA at that time. A LIDA representative can
discuss your problem with you, determine whether you need legal
assistance, and try to locate a LIDA cooperating attorney who can
4. Does LIDA
only help if I have to go to court?
No. It is much more common for a LIDA cooperating attorney to offer
advice that helps people deal with or control the situation for which
they contacted LIDA in the first instance. LIDA cooperating attorneys
can negotiate, attend a conference, review documents such as releases
or contracts, help you obtain public records, research the law, and so
on. In many instances, animal-related matters do not go to court, and
are resolved without the time and expense generated by litigation.
5. I do not
live in New Jersey. Can LIDA help me anyway?
Right now, LIDA cooperating attorneys are primarily licensed in New
Jersey and practice law in New Jersey. If you live in another State,
LIDA may be able to refer you to a similar organization in your state.
6. Can I become
LIDA cooperating attorney?
LIDA welcomes new attorneys willing to "sign on" because there are
always more animals who need attorneys than there are available
attorneys. If you are licensed in New Jersey, and would like to join
LIDA as an attorney, please e-mail LIDA and a LIDA member will contact
7. I am not an
attorney. Is there anything else I can do for LIDA?
Yes. Several LIDA members are paralegals, some are associated with
animal rescue groups and animal rights organizations. Some members
simply want to work with the legal system for the benefit and
protection of all animals, companion, domestic, and wild. Yes, you can
join LIDA as a non-member.
8. How does
LIDA fund its operations?
LIDA is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-for-profit corporation. It relies
solely on donations and membership fees. To donate, click
If you wish to
get in touch with LIDA please feel free to
contact us using the following information.
Linda Niedweske, Esq: 973-401-0064
Isabelle Strauss, Esq:: 732-255-4696
Marie Ansari, Rescue Liaison 908-756-7521
For general information: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information regarding animal adoption: email@example.com