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Kansas law student seeks justice for dogs

In a typical animal cruelty case — on those rare occasions they do get to court — you’ll see an attorney representing the people, and another representing a defendant.

But you don’t see one representing the dog.

Katie Barnett, for one, doesn’t think that’s right.

A third-year law student at Kansas University, she’s establishing an animal cruelty prosecution clinic at the school — one she says is the first of its kind.

Barnett, 30, will work with animal control, animal cruelty investigators at the Humane Society, police and prosecutors to ensure that justice is served in cases of animal abuse.

“This is the chance for me to give the animals a voice and a place in the justice system,” Barnett told the Lawrence Journal-World.

Barnett started researching how to put together the clinic two years ago, after some high-profile animal cruelty cases in Lawrence. She did ride-alongs with the police and animal cruelty investigators and followed cases through the court system.

This spring, Barnett will develop a protocol for how future students can assist in the prosecution of such cases.

“I’m doing a trial run to see how everything works,” she said. “I’m getting out all the kinks and really tailoring the position so everyone knows what to do. There’s never been a person to collect everything.”

The program will begin taking in students in the fall 2011.

Barnett was one of three law students awarded The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships last year for their outstanding work in the growing field of animal law.

A graduate of Missouri State University, she has two pit bull mix dogs, including a three-legged rescue named Leonidas. Both are both Delta Society therapy dogs who visit schools, hospitals, and participate in community outreach programs.

Barnett and her husband, Anthony, also run Game Dog Guardian, a local organization that rehabilitates pit bulls and helps find them adoptive homes.


Comment from FannyMae
Time April 19, 2011 at 7:33 am

Katie your my hero!

Comment from Eighteenpaws
Time April 19, 2011 at 7:57 am

Finally, an UPBEAT story that renews my faith in people. What an outstanding initiative, and what a great, beautiful photo! Can that dog look any sweeter?!Thank you.

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time April 19, 2011 at 9:04 am

Great idea!
Does anyone know if either HSUS or ASPCA have “Model Legislation” they are pushing in each state? Seems to me that animal welfare in general would benefit greatly from a combined nation-wide effort by these two groups.

Comment from Starla
Time April 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

Awesome! Katie Barnett is a hero for animals & a beautiful person, inside & out. Love the picture of her & her doggie! Thanks Katie! 🙂

Comment from Carly @GreenDogLove
Time April 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

Good job, Katie! It’s so nice and refreshing to see someone stand up for animals in the courtroom.

Comment from Suzanne
Time April 19, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Awesome…finally a great story about someone helping those with a huge heart, but no voice. Bless you Katie!

Comment from Sheena Davis
Time April 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

How awesome are you! As always, it’s great to live in Kansas..

Comment from Dave Lepper
Time April 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Nice work Katie. Because of the internet and facebook, I feel the guardians of animals rights on all fronts starting to comunicate and come together to pressure the courts and law enforcment to act and generally ruin the day of animal abusers all over the world within hours of thier acts….

Comment from Susan
Time April 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

We need more people who think like Katie.

Comment from dee
Time April 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm

A true hero.

Comment from John
Time January 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Good for you…on Christmas my neighbor called my puppy and dog over to his property and shot and killed them both. Nothing was done to this dirt bag. I live in Kentucky where no animals have rights. Still fighting the fight. See on utube…dogs killed on Christmas day by Michigan Ray. God bless.