I am an attorney and animal lover, not necessarily in that order. Ten years into my practice, several things came together at once to make me realize my practice was headed towards companion animal law. I love Patricia McConnell’s blog, The Other End of the Leash, and she had just posted Could Breeders and Shelters Work Together? [my answer — YES — along with rescues!], in which she tinkered with the idea of whether legislation could have a role in this potential collaboration between shelters and breeders.
The breeder-rescue-shelter debate was fresh on my mind. The month before, my boyfriend and I had just said goodbye to the gorgeous, steadfast, and outgoing Golden Retriever, Raoul. Raoul succumbed to cancer, leaving Sophie, my skittish and reactive German Shepherd-ish rescue, to fend for herself. As much as I have always supported rescues and shelters, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a better chance that a new puppy from a responsible breeder with a rock-solid temperament would help Sophie’s progress. Along came Boomer….
That same week as Patricia McConnell’s post, I got a call asking if I could help some of the best Virginia animal rescue organizations in prosecuting a very sad and frustrating dog hoarding case. There was the light bulb moment – when I knew what direction my practice was headed.
In 2000, I started my legal career fighting for the “underdog” as a public defender in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2006, I moved to an Arlington-based law firm where I branched into civil litigation in various areas, including employment issues, land use and real estate matters, and trust and estate cases. In 2013, I opened my own law practice, the Law Office of Heidi Meinzer, PLLC, and moved back to Alexandria.
As examples of my practice, I represent owners and their dogs facing dangerous dog proceedings, counsel new and existing pet care companies with contract and other corporate matters, aid in the prosecution of an ongoing animal hoarding and neglect case, and advise rescues about issues concerning their adoption contracts and confidential and proprietary information.
In November 2010, I was a guest speaker with Baltimore radio station WEAA 88.9 FM’s Listen uP public affairs radio show on the topic of “The Politics of Forgiveness: What Does it Take to Gain Redemption in our Society,” discussing whether Michael Vick has earned redemption or our forgiveness. NOVADog Magazine’s Winter 2011 edition features “Provisions for Pets: How to include your four-legged friends in your estate planning,” by my colleague Jennifer Lee and me. You can also read my article, “DOJ Takes a Bite out of Service Animal,” in The Pet Gazette‘s May/June 2011 edition.
In an effort to keep up to speed on animal behavior and dog training (and to keep up with Sophie and Boomer!), I am a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and an Assistant Dog Trainer with Fur-Get Me Not. I serve on the Board of Directors of Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, and am proud to have volunteered for my local animal shelter run by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.
I am licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Washington State. I serve on the Executive Council and as Secretary for the Maryland State Bar Animal Law Section and I am also a member of the Washington State Bar Animal Law Section.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website for my law firm, the Law Office of Heidi Meinzer, PLLC, my LinkedIn site, or my Facebook site. You can also follow this blog on Facebook and Twitter.
My hope is for this blog to become a place for those whose lives and livelihoods revolve around companion animals to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and discuss how the law can better our relationships with each other and with our companion animals. Please chime in!
Many thanks to Jeannette Smith and the Arlington Examiner for the September 20, 2011 article, Heidi Meinzer is a Champion of Companion Animals. I could not have done a more eloquent or thorough job of describing my road to building an animal law practice.