Attorney brings awareness to animal abuse
Claudine Wilkins, an Alpharetta attorney and founder of Animal Law Source, is a longtime advocate of protecting animals from abuse.
By Adrianne Murchison
For the AJC

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Dog fighting or puppy mills come to mind when people think of animal cruelty, but abuse extends even further. Attorney Claudine Wilkins, founder of Animal Law Source, says pet cruelty can lead to horrific crimes.

“I’ve written seven or eight laws related to public safety and children,” said Wilkins.

“There is a direct correlation between special victims — children, elders, domestic — and animal abuse. Anyone who would harm an animal would harm the most vulnerable among us.”

The arrest early this year of a South Georgia couple charged with possession of child pornography and bestiality is an example of this, she added.

Since the 1990s, Wilkins has gathered data from police departments, attorneys, animal control, veterinary technicians, social workers and animal welfare advocates with firsthand awareness of what abused pets endure. That inspired Wilkins to launch the Animal Law Protection Conference and Expo, where professionals annually gain insight on each other’s cases. The 21st annual event will be held Oct. 18 at the Hotel at Avalon in Alpharetta.

Participants will learn of state legislation on the welfare of animals; rights for owners of service animals; service animal laws for business owners; best practices in caring for an animal, and more.

“We are joint venturing with the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association and uniting professionals and the public,” said Wilkins. “They leave the conference feeling invigorated about doing something.”

Wilkins considered becoming a veterinarian before life as an attorney. Last January, concern for animal welfare led her to adopt three German shepherds from a crime scene in Montgomery County, where more than 350 dogs suffered from neglect while languishing in mud and feces.

“We still need to educate law enforcement and prosecutors,”

Wilkins said. “It’s astounding to me after 27 years how many people protect victims, yet do not know about animal cruelty.”

The former prosecutor often conducts training at local police departments. “I want to share case law that is very clear on what you can and can’t do with a canine officer,” she said. “I have a tool kit of answers derived from back in the day.”


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