I started practicing animal law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when I was working for a family law firm. My bosses were absolutely outstanding human beings and they recognized that family law can be a little draining, so they asked me – a lowly associate – what I would like to add to the firm’s practice areas?
I said, “Environmental Law and Animal Law.” I had studied environmental law in law school and wanted to put my knowledge to the test, fighting for the average person – not big companies. However, that did not take off; animal law did! Before long, I was fighting for the underdog: both literally and figuratively!
Eventually, some personal changes led me to move to Colorado. I did not have any network here: no friends or family or classmates to connect with. It was not my plan to open up a law firm right away, but circumstances dictated that I had to, so I did. I originally practiced under the firm name “Bergsten Law Offices” because I was not sure if animal law would be as popular in Colorado as it was in Pennsylvania. I quickly found out it was a much-needed service and so changed the name to The Animal Law Firm.
In only four years, The Animal Law Firm quickly grew to two attorneys and one staff member. My firm exclusively practices in all fields of law relating to animals. We have helped spiders, snakes, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, and of course, lots of dogs and cats!
Yes and no. Animal law is a desperately needed service in Colorado, so connecting with clients was easier than I imagined. That said, animal law is a difficult area to practice because animals are considered “property” under the law.
That means that your beloved pet is no different than a couch or a car (perhaps with even fewer rights than a car!) under Colorado law. So making changes in the law is slow and arduous. We have made changes with respect to pet custody disputes and compensation for pets and working animals’ deaths, but there is still a long way to go to get pets and animals recognized as sentient beings, and therefore worthy of respect and deference under the law when injured or killed.
My firm represents animal owners and their animals in a wide variety of legal settings: dog bites/aggressive or dangerous dog criminal charges, veterinary malpractice, pet custody disputes, contract disputes, sick or dying puppy purchases, breeder contract disputes, service animal representation, emotional support animal representation, shelter/rescue formation and advisement, pet provider representation, and so much more. Basically: if you have a legal problem that involves an animal, we handle it. And we handle it well.
We are Colorado’s number one animal law firm because we work hard and we work ethically. We hold ourselves to a higher standard because we know that a pet or animal is on the line. We’ve saved hundreds of animals from destruction or separation from their families and we hope to continue to expand our successes beyond Colorado.
The most important, general advice I can give to anyone facing an animal seizure is: do not give your animal away! It is so hard to get your animal back. Be cooperative and polite with law enforcement, but make them get a warrant. It is your right under the US and Colorado Constitutions.
In situations not involving law enforcement, call us before making any final decisions. We can help guide you through your options of keeping your pet. Once you give away your animal for any reason, it is nearly impossible to get him/her back.
You always have options and we are here to help!
Reference – Meet Kristina Bergsten of The Animal Law Firm