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SIU Law School hosts annual animal law conference

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CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- SIU Law School held it's annual animal law conference, where attorneys with all levels of experience focused on topics from a pet's well-being, to custody hearings.

The conference focuses on key updates important to attorneys, pet owners, and communities.

"It's important to educate the public on how they treat animals, how they can help animals, how laws affect animals. Kind of similar to how they affect people as well," said SIU student animal legal defense fund member Carissa Tarnowski.

Friday's discussions included pet opioid use and conditions for puppy mills.

"Now we're seeing puppy mills become state licensed rescues with a non-profit status to illegally sell puppies in towns with retail bans saying they cannot sell puppies from puppy mills," said Bailing Out Benji Founder Mindi Callison.

Information about pet crimes was also available.

"We want to be able to assist them in pursing those crimes further where they may otherwise be neglected or ignored or put aside because they just don't have the capacity, the funding any resources to investigate," said Humane Society Animal Crime manager Shalimar Hightower.

Proposed House Bill 3995 would create a county-by-county list of pro-bono attorneys and law students to serve as special advocates for dogs and cats during the legal process.

SIU Law is actively getting involved.

"What they call it, a 'experiential learning' experience for students to work in these court rooms in this manner, again, under supervision, under a training regimen," said Illinois Humane Advocate Jane McBride.

Advocates hope this opens the eyes of the community.

"It's very important that the community understands how important respecting these animals are and their rights as a creature," said Tarnowski.

HB 4995 has been introduced, but hasn't been brought for a vote.

Maya Skinner

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