Joining me on All My Children Wear Fur Coats is attorney, Jeremy Cohen of Boston Dog Lawyers, a boutique law firm that provides legal services exclusively to pet parents. The firm focuses their practice on the following legal issues:
- Pet Custody
- Dangerous Dog Defense
- Dog Bite Victims’ Personal Injury
- Wrongful Pet Injury or Loss
- Dog Bite Civil Suit Defense
- Emotional Support Animals
Jeremy and his partner Rob Stewart, are a new breed of lawyers that have discovered that practicing law for the benefit of pets can be a rewarding career choice. The practice opened in 2016 and the phone never rang. Now, it doesn’t stop ringing.
One of the firm’s first cases was Jesse the German Shepherd. Jesse had a history of being dog aggressive. The case arose at a time when Jeremy was engaged to his wife, the owner of Jesse. Unfortunately, a woman’s calf got in the way of a dog fight that involved Jesse. Fortunately, Jeremy was able to prevail and save Jesse’s life. That gave him the motivation to dedicate his firm to legal issues that affect pets.
Jeremy told us that he has gotten 7 new cases regarding pet custody in just the last two weeks! What is pet custody? These are cases where a couple that has a pet is terminating their human relationship and the pet gets caught in the middle. It involves determining who will have primary custody of the pet, how they will share visitation, costs, etc. Pet custody issues can be resolved before the issue arises using a legal document affectionately referred to as a Petnuptial. A Petnuptial agreement anticipates in advance how a pet will be “shared” by a couple if their relationship ends.
Jeremy and his firm have handled more than 114 dangerous dog cases, most with favorable results. Only five of the accused dogs have been euthanized, a sad and permanent result for the pet and it/s owner. Boston Dog Lawyers does not handle any dog aggression cases where a human fatality is involved.
Sometimes Jeremy and his team are called upon to represent service dogs and emotional support animals. One of their most unusual was representing an individual with a chicken as an emotional support animal. They also represented a case where Hertz car rental refused to rent a car to an individual because the individual had a service dog. They said it was “their policy.” Unfortunately, having a policy doesn’t over-ride disability law. Jeremy says, “Landlords and vendors only learn about the law when they break it.” As a result, it is important to educate business owners about their obligations with respect to persons with disabilities.
Jeremy left us with some important tips to avoid possible litigation:
- Stop using retractable leashes. They don’t allow the pet parent the ability to adequately control their dogs.
- If a vet suggests surgery, get a second opinion. This way you may avoid a potential veterinary malpractice (pet injury) case.
- Get a Petnuptial agreement when you get a pet and are in a relationship. (This is a topic I have presented on numerous times to various groups including the Florida Bar Animal Law Section).
- Get a Pet Trust to protect your pet in the event the pet parent dies. If you need help, reach out to Animal Care Trust USA for more information or to enroll in the ACT4Pets Community Pet Trust or download the Forever Loved Pet Trust.