Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 08-17-2021 12:04 PM

    Recording Now Available:

    Watch our Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton from  Tuesday, September 14th , 2021.

    A former legislative attorney for Best Friends Animal Society and for the Humane Society of the United States, Akisha's current work involves supporting groundbreaking advancements for animals through Animal  Legal Defense Fund's litigation, legislative and criminal justice initiatives as well as for members of the public seeking legal assistance for animal-related matters.

    In this discussion with Maddie's Fund Executive Leadership Team member Mary Ippoliti-Smith, Akisha shares her story from multiple angles. She'll speak of how the work of animal lifesaving and animal protection policy are interwoven and how ultimately all social policy can work together - especially in removing barriers created by systemic bias.

    You may even hear from her newly adopted rabbit, Tiger!

    Afterwards, continue the conversation with @Akisha Townsend Eaton right here on Maddie's Pet Forum.


    alison gibson

  • 2.  RE: Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 09-14-2021 12:37 PM

    What a GREAT program!!

    We will post the on-demand recording here later today.  Meanwhile, we didn't get to a couple of questions/comments during the live show:

    From Sara Pizano
    Hi Akisha-so great to see you! I know the ALDF does a lot of work outside of sheltering but is anyone working to make responsible state laws on behalf of shelter pets? One serious issue is those states with a 7 day stray hold for dogs that negatively impacts shelters.

    From Tom Linney
    Great questions and information Akisha! To save Akisha from having to type it in the chat room while speaking, you can also learn more about federal and state animal protection laws at

    alison gibson

  • 3.  RE: Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 09-14-2021 01:40 PM
    See response, below.  Thank you! 

  • 4.  RE: Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 09-14-2021 01:45 PM
    Good to see you on the forum, Dr. Sara!  I know the 7-day hold has been a concern of yours.   Tom shared a link with our current work/legislative priorities.  Though I do not believe we are working on hold times directly,  we do accept legal assistance requests from the public that may have the effect of mitigating such hold times.  In other words, we accept requests from those with companion animals who are in jeopardy of being subject to unnecessary impoundment (and by extension, stray holds) due to difficult circumstances they are facing (i.e. illness, domestic violence, and other life disruptions).    Here's one example of how these issues can wind up in an unnecessary strayhold:

    A few years ago, I knew of a case where a friend of mine who lived in a state with a very low live release rate had to be in the hospital for an extended period of time.  Though she had chronic health issues, this particular stay was unexpected.  Having no money for boarding and no family nearby, the only option she saw was to leave the dog (whom she had cared for, for 13 years) in the care of an elderly neighbor, who accidentally let the dog out without the ability to pursue the dog, and without transportation to get to the shelter, which I believe had a five-day hold.  The friend put out an appeal on social media and within 48 hours we were able to get her alternative care at no cost.   There is a misconception that estate planning is only for those who are wealthy and of advanced age.  But in this case, had she known about our services, we might have been able to connect her with a volunteer attorney to go over a plan of care that would have avoided impoundment altogether.  Here is a link to that form: (note: while we do our best and have had many successful placements,   we cannot always guarantee a response from a volunteer attorney).   

    This is only one of many scenarios where I see our pro bono program working to advance lifesaving in the context of a strayhold.  Glad for the questions and dialogue to keep the wheels turning!

    Akisha Townsend Eaton
    Animal Legal Defense Fund

  • 5.  RE: Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 09-14-2021 12:50 PM
      |   view attached
    That was fantastic and much too short! 
    Akisha, my job includes working on local animal laws in Honolulu and Hawaii state laws as well. I have so many things I'd love to follow up with you about if you have time for an email exchange,
    I wanted to share a recent story for your feedback as others on the thread might be interested as well.
    We recently, after 7 years of trying, strengthened our tethering statute. The biggest barrier to success was an inter-animal welfare fight with dog advocates who wanted to ban tethering outright. Hawaii has some of the highest home prices in the country. Many of our pet owners, especially BIPOC pet owners, are renters and have limited choices when it comes to keeping their animals safe when they are not at home. Our organization's position has always been that we want to make sure that animals are safe, period. But we don't want people to have to give up their pets because they don't have the choices, such as the ability to house them inside, that we wish they had. I'm happy with the language we finally passed and with the relationships and understandings we built along the way. 
    My question is, how do you get past the attitude of so many in animal welfare that people are failing animals if they aren't caring for them exactly the way the observer thinks they should be cared for? We run into this constantly with our support for homeless pet owners.
    Thank you so much for your amazing insights!

    Steph Kendrick
    Hawaiian Humane Society


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  • 6.  RE: Maddie's Candid Conversation with Akisha Townsend Eaton - September 14th @ 12n Pacific

    Posted 09-14-2021 03:02 PM
    Hi @stephanie kendrick!  Thank you for your question and for working on behalf of animals in your community.   Speaking personally, I see numerous layers to touch upon here, but I will respond briefly now.  In a nutshell, I agree that is possible to protect animals through the legal system while addressing the needs and barriers that residents face. 

    I know that tethering can often be a hot topic issue in communities, and one that I have experience with both in terms of drafting language regulating tethering and working to prevent tethering in the first place through community collaboration.  One successful program that I once volunteered for involved identifying tethered dogs and delivering bales of hay and dog houses during the cold winter months, and providing ways to allow people to be in compliance with the local laws while keeping their animals protected and providing long-term solutions, like fencing.    Another benefit of this program was the reduced likelihood of nuisance complaints (which risked the tenant's eviction and/or the dog winding up in a shelter) and thus potential longer-term housing security.  Resources were also freed up for animal control to take care of true emergencies, neglect and cruelty.   And people who had concerns with tethering were able to use their resources and skills to come up with a good alternative, creating a win-win for everyone.  Perhaps some of the people who are in conflict have some of these skills or resources?

    ALDF also offers resources support residents wishing to have more animal-freindly housing options as well, including ways to communicate with landlords and housing authorities.   Because our movement is driven by community action,  we are offering an increasing number of resources for neighbors to help address these situations if they are comfortable.

    In my experience, community voice and leadership is always of tremendous value.   I'd suggest identifying the leaders in this community for their input, if you haven't already.   There may even be additional resources available at the community level to assist.   For instance, if in an under-resourced neighborhood, there may be various incentives to improve the property of the landlord.  Community-based organizations may know about these resources but not be aware of the ways in which they can be applied (i.e. fences and enclosed porches).  And if such assistance is secured for such improvements, when that renter moves and the next renter with an animal comes in, then another problem and potential impoundment is possibly avoided.

    Akisha Townsend Eaton
    Animal Legal Defense Fund