Right to Counsel
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 court costs.
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:
• 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.
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 right.
LIDA believes that the fundamental right to counsel should extend to all animals who face a loss of life or a significant loss of their liberty.
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