My name is Rosina Mayo, and I am the 2015 Community Service Chair for Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Society – Castor Inn at the Tampa Bay Campus of WMU-Cooley Law School. On Nov. 11, 2015, Phi Delta Phi hosted what I believe to be a very successful Animal Law discussion panel event called Our Animals – Our Friends. Here’s why I became involved in animal rights and why I feel it is our time to change the future and end animal abuse and cruelty.
In May of 2015, one of my very best friends was rushed to the emergency room by her boyfriend after she was attacked by her dog. She had three gashes to her face. The picture that was sent to me that evening of her injuries was unexpected and put me in shock; my heart dropped into my stomach. There was so much blood on her face, her neck, and her shirt. There was nothing I could do for her. I was in class that night, and she was about an hour drive from me. During break, I frantically called her boyfriend to find out what was going on. He told me that while he was at work, but she was home in bed because she did not feel well. She told him that their dog, at the time called Hercules, grabbed a sock and she leaned down from her bed and tried to get the sock out of his mouth. The dog suddenly lunged at her face, latching on and shaking his head. She later told me that she thought she was going to die. If he had been just a couple inches lower, he would have latched onto her neck. She needed many stitches, and even today has a small scar on her left cheek. She said she looked like a monster, but I disagreed. She was still beautiful to me.
The next day, animal control went to their house, and they surrendered the dog for his mandatory 10-day quarantine. For the next few days, I saw the pain they both felt. For her, it was both emotional and physical. They called animal control daily to check on the dog, and they made countless calls to rescues. Turns out, a rescue located in another county agreed to take Hercules and attempt to train him. While there, he was fixed and received all of his treatments. My best friend and her boyfriend decided they would take him back. His name has since been changed to Minn, short for Minn Kota (they are both into boats and fishing). They continue to work with Minn, despite the difficulty. The point of sharing this story is that this is what truly inspired me.
When my friend’s boyfriend went to animal control a few times to walk and check on their dog, he told me about how sad and lost Herc was and how sad the other animals at the shelter appeared. It broke my heart knowing this. I went to bed every night with my three dogs and comfortably slept, while there were animals out there that are alone, afraid, and not loved by a human. I know it happens every day, but their situation puts things into perspective for me. I wanted to do something about it. I had the idea that this would make a great community service project for our chapter of Phi Delta Phi. I mentioned my idea to the members during a meeting, and their eyes lit up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
Well, at the same time this idea was coming to fruition, our magistrate, Simone Genus, had an idea of doing an Animal Law Panel. So she and I met with Professor Kathy Gustafson several times to brainstorm, and then things started coming together. We would hold the Animal Law Panel to educate students about the law surrounding our furry friends AND include a community service project. It would be a win-win situation.
During our planning stages, all the animal related cases that were in the news or previously in the news now stood out for me, like the Michael Vick’s dog fighting conviction (and I am an Eagles fan so this is a sore subject for me); two teens who were arrested for shooting a dog and tying it to train tracks leaving it to die only to be saved by law enforcement who responded to a call regarding gun shots in the area; a dentist’s dog he kept in his office that bit a child on the face that is currently awaiting his fate in the hands of a judge; and a prize winning horse being slaughtered in his stables with some of its meat cut out. Horrible stories!! How can people be so cruel to severely injure or kill an animal that trusts us; how can we as a society allow a dog that bites someone, its natural instinct to protect itself, face the death penalty when there are people out there who abuse and kill kids and walk free! I understand that the euthanizing of a dog is done to “protect society” and is necessary at times, but this needs to be done on a case-by-case basis more often than what truly happens in the real world. THIS! This was motivation for me. Motivation for me when the planning of this event became so overwhelming I felt as though I would have a panic attack and runaway. Keep in mind, I work a full-time, demanding job in the child welfare field AND go to law school at night.
Anyway, the day finally came. Staff, faculty, and students came together and made this event amazing! Staff worked very hard to assist PDP in advertising the event and setting up the auditorium; faculty got their students involved by giving them incentives to attend and donate; students poured into to room with excitement. The donation table was overflowing with treats, food, toys, blankets, and so many other things. I cannot thank everyone enough.
On top of that, we had four guest speakers who took the time on, what I am sure was their day off (it was Veteran’s Day), to come speak and educate the masses on all aspects of animal law. The guest speakers included Judge Nick Nazaretian, Circuit 13 Judge and professor here at WMU-Cooley Law School; Jennifer A. Dietz, a local animal law attorney; Scott Trabatoski, Department Director at the Pet Resource Center of Hillsborough County; and Tim Harvey, a retired police officer and fellow student. Without their generosity and willingness to participate, this event would not have happened. Their knowledge of the subject matter was very insightful and kept the crowd intrigued. They were each amazing.
During my quick speech at the end of our program, I was nervous. I joked around a lot. That usually helps me feel more comfortable. I am not sure how that will help me in the courtroom one day: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am nervous so don’t look at me. I spoke about my fur children at home, thanked everyone for their attendance and donations, and advised them to get out there and get involved.
This stands true. If you financially cannot donate items or money, then donate your time. Sign up with your local animal shelter and walk a dog, shampoo a dog, pet a dog, a cat, whatever! Or you can foster an animal in your home. Or just adopt and save a life! The moral of this story is that animals are helpless in the grand scheme of things. They rely on love from humans. They rely on us to show them compassion. They rely on us to protect them because they do not have voices. A little bit of love goes a long way in life for ALL living creatures (maybe not snakes or spiders in my mind, but they may in yours).
This is our time to shine. This is our time to change the future and end animal abuse and cruelty, change the laws to give these furry creatures a second chance at living, and to do the right thing. Something I forgot to say at the end of my speech (because of my nerves) I will share right now. Here on campus, Moot Court was selling t-shirts. One of those t-shirts said “Keep Calm and Study Hard.” Well, I am going to add something to that: Keep Calm, Study Hard, and Volunteer. Make that your motto, and you cannot fail! Rant. Done.