HARTFORD -- Man's best friend is lawyering up.
cruelty laws have been on the books for over a century in some states, only
recently has the idea of legal representation for animals started to be
taken seriously. The most high-profile instance was the guardian-special
master appointed in 2007 to represent the interests of 48 dogs in the
Michael Vick dogfighting case.
And the practice seems to be catching
on. The Connecticut legislature is considering introducing the notion of
animal advocates to its court system after Rhode Island made a similar move
last year. State lawmakers have discussed making them available in pet
custody disputes as well as in animal abuse cases.
That prospect has
animal rights supporters across the country optimistic that the practice
could catch on. They say it reflects not only an attempt to reduce animals'
suffering but also a growing recognition that humans' welfare is intimately
linked to that of animals. But lawyers and even some veterinarians question
the wisdom of starting down what they call a "slippery slope."