September 15, 2009


ALBANY--The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Animals and the Law has awarded New York University Law School Student Allison L. Westfahl Kong with the first-place award in its second annual Student Writing Competition for her submission entitled "Improving the Protection of Species Endangered in the United States by Means of a Revision of the Distinct Population Segment (DPS) Policy." Kong's paper explores whether the DPS, a portion of a species' or subspecies' population or range, should be revised to permit the listings of species that are solely endangered within the United States and whether such a change is consistent with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Kong received $1,000 for her winning submission.

The Committee awarded its second-place award to Andra Waniek, a recent graduate of Brooklyn Law School. Her paper "Protecting Woman's Best Friend from Family Violence: Proposal for a Model Statute Including Animals in Protective Orders," discusses and reviews proposed and enacted legislation concerning inclusion of animals in protective orders. Waniek proposes a federal statute authorizing the inclusion of animals in protective orders that combines and modifies components of several proposed and enacted state statutes and adds a new provision to account for the housing of animals during their owners' stay at domestic violence shelters. Waniek received $500 for her essay.

"As the number of entries increased this year, so did the quality of the competitors' essays. Ms. Kong and Ms. Waniek each exhibited an extraordinary command of the topics through the use of excellent technical writing and sound legal analysis," said Committee Chair James F. Gesualdi of Islip. "We are so pleased to see law students taking an active interest in animal law and recognizing it as a potential practice area. I congratulate both Ms. Kong and Ms. Waniek on winning this year's Student Writing Competition."

"Animal-related law encompasses a range of important, high-profile, and evolving topics," said Jessica Sonenshein, chair of the Student Writing Sub-Committee. "We are happy that we had so many high-quality submissions addressing these areas and were extremely impressed with the level of thinking and analysis that went into each of them."

The Committee on Animals and the Law was established to provide an information resource for the Association's members and the public about non-human, animal-related humane issues which arise from and have an effect upon our legal system. The competition was intended to foster legal scholarship among law students in the area of animals and the law. In addition, the competition provides law students with an opportunity to prepare and submit articles to the committee for possible publication in one of the New York State Bar Association's newsletters.

The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, State Bar programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.