The field of animal law has made tremendous strides in the past decade. What was previously seen as just an idea has now been transformed into a respected area of the law that is taught in schools and taken seriously in the courtroom, thanks to numerous high-profile court cases, consistent mainstream media coverage, and several passionate lawyers who have pioneered and helped grow the field. With this explosive momentum, we can expect great developments in animal law in years to come.
Canada has some of the worst animal protection laws in the western world. Without legal and social change, animals will continue to face egregious abuse and indifference at the hands of industries that breed and kill them for food, fashion, experiments, entertainment, and the commercial pet trade.
Today on International Women’s Day, Animal Justice is celebrating 11 incredible Canadian animal rights lawyers in who are transforming the field of animal law in Canada and are helping pave the path for a world where animals have the legal protections they deserve.
1. Lesli Bisgould
Lesli Bisgould became Canada’s first animal rights lawyer at a time when the field was in its infancy. Lesli began litigating in 1992 in the field of civil law, then opened her own animal law practice which she ran for a decade in Toronto. Leslie was previously an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and is author of the textbook, “Animals and the Law”, exploring the legal concept of animals as living property.
2. Kaitlyn Mitchell
Kaitlyn Mitchell is a staff lawyer with Animal Justice, Canada’s only national animal law non-profit organization. Prior to working with Animal Justice, Kaitlyn served as an environmental lawyer with Ecojustice for nearly a decade. Kaitlyn has worked in several key areas for animal protection, including cetacean captivity, ending the use of wildlife poisons, and “ag gag” laws.
3. Sophie Gaillard
Sophie Gaillard is a lawyer and director of animal advocacy at Montreal SPCA — Canada’s oldest animal protection agency. Prior to working this position, Sophie was a lawyer in the Investigations and Inspections department at the organization. Sophie has campaigned on several key areas for animals, including ending breed-specific legislation and helping animals become legally-recognized as sentient beings in Quebec.
4. Victoria Shroff
Victoria is a Vancouver-based animal lawyer who has been practicing in the field of animal law for nearly 20 years. She leads her own private practice, Shroff and Associates, and is an adjunct animal law professor at UBC Allard Hall Law School. Victoria is a regular contributor to legal publications like The Lawyer’s Daily, regularly guest lectures on animal law, and is the founder of ‘Paws of Empathy’, a program to teach animal law and empathy with the assistance of dogs.
5. Hannah Brown
Hannah Brown is a program manager with Humane Canada, working to reform the criminal justice system for animals through the integration of the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty (NCPAC), the Canadian Violence Link Coalition and Criminal Justice System Stakeholder Training. Prior to her work with Humane Canada, Hannah worked in London, UK as a lawyer for 10 years and as a legal journalist.
6. Miranda Desa
Miranda Desa is Canadian counsel for Last Chance for Animals — a California-based animal rights organization working to end all animal exploitation. Miranda has been active in the campaign to oppose Ontario’s ag gag Bill 156, and testified at the Ontario legislature committee hearing on the legislation.
7. Alexandra (Ali) Pester
Ali is an associate lawyer with Silver Pennypacker Barristers in Toronto where she practices criminal defence and animal law. Ali defends animal advocates who are charged for exposing animal suffering, including in farms and the fur industry, and testified against Ontario’s ag gag law to protect farmed animals and the rights of whistleblowers.
8. Jennifer Friedman
Jennifer Friedman runs a private animal law practice in Ontario. Prior to opening her own practice, Jennifer was the first-ever counsel for the Ontario SPCA. Jennifer was instrumental in founding the first animal law section of the Ontario Bar Association, and is the author of the textbook, “Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Annotated.”
9. Rebeka Breder
Rebek Breder is a Vancouver-based lawyer with her own private animal law practice, Breder Law. In 2019, Rebeka won the “Changemakers” category in Canada’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers awards. Rebeka works on cases involving dogs facing “destruction” orders, vet malpractice, wildlife, and more, and is involved in an ongoing lawsuit to stop Canada’s live horse export trade.
10. Alanna Devine
Alanna Devine is an animal lawyer with Devine Animal Law, her Montreal-based private practice. Alanna’s impressive career for animals includes her past work as Canadian director of Mercy For Animals, serving as a policy advisor to the mayor of Montreal, and for over a decade, acting as the director of animal advocacy with the Montreal SPCA.
11. Camille Labchuk
Camille Labchuk is the executive director of Animal Justice, and co-host of Paw & Order, Canada’s only animal law podcast. Camille has worked to protect animals for over 15 years, and has litigated at all levels of court. Camille has been involved in high-profile exposés of the meat, zoo, and fur industry, was instrumental in passing Canada’s national ban on whale and dolphin captivity, and is a leader in the fight against ag gag laws.
Join the Animal Justice mailing list