Law school receives $1.4M grant to help animals

PAWS Director Lisa Milot with her pet, Indi. (Photo by Anne Yarbrough Photography)

This story, written by Heidi Murphy, was originally published in UGA Today on Feb. 9, 2023.

The University of Georgia School of Law has received a $1.355 million grant from The Stanton Foundation to help reduce the neglect and abuse of dogs. The school’s Practicum in Animal Welfare Skills will use the funding to create resources for animal control personnel, law enforcement, prosecutors, law students, advocates and the general public.

Small interventions can make meaningful differences in animal welfare, according to PAWS Director Lisa Milot. “This new grant from The Stanton Foundation will benefit our communities with a multifaceted approach aimed at heading off local conditions that allow for a slide from low-level neglect to life-threatening abuse or cruelty and shelter overcrowding,” she said.

School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge said the school is proud to be pioneering this important work and advancing legal education with the help of The Stanton Foundation.

“I remain grateful for our continued relationship with The Stanton Foundation,” he said. “The organization’s support has been transformational across several areas, and it is helping the School of Law to redefine what it means to be a great national public law school. As a direct result, PAWS is providing our students with a unique hands-on and purpose-driven educational opportunity.”

The late Frank Stanton with his beloved corgi, Annie. (Submitted photo)

The late Frank Stanton with his beloved corgi, Annie. (Submitted photo)

Among the initiatives to be funded by the grant are:

  • A series of free, on-demand educational videos covering Milot’s research and data-based techniques to combat various types of neglect and abuse of dogs. Prosecutors, law enforcement officers and animal control officers will receive continuing education credits in connection with the videos. Among other things, the videos will cover a program Milot developed that has reduced the impound of puppies at Athens-Clarke County Animal Services by 50% and another targeted at animal control offenders where participants show only a 3% recidivism rate, compared to 20%-30% for similar offenders more generally.
  • An on-demand animal welfare class, with knowledge check and assessment mechanisms, for use by jurisdictions throughout Georgia. The course will cover the legal requirements for pet ownership both on the state level and in the relevant jurisdiction, as well as best practices for the physical and social health of pets plus training tips to head off negative behaviors often seen in shelter dogs. Currently, Milot and her students teach a synchronous version of the class monthly in Athens. This grant will enable its use in other jurisdictions throughout the state.
  • A one-credit minicourse focusing on animal welfare issues for law and undergraduate students at UGA.
  • The continuation of animal welfare team-building workshops throughout Georgia. These sessions bring together professionals working in a specific locality to prevent and prosecute crimes against animals in order to facilitate teamwork on these cases. (Thanks to an earlier grant from The Stanton Foundation, the facilitation of team-building workshops was started in 2020.)

Notably, PAWS (which began in 2018) is the only practicum/clinic in the nation focusing on local animal welfare issues, and it is the only law clinic in Georgia focusing on animals.

Promoting the welfare of dogs and strengthening the human/dog bond are among the core objectives of The Stanton Foundation, which was created by the late Frank Stanton.