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Paw And Order

Paw And OrderA strong interest in animal protection brought former prosecutor Nadine Pellegrini to the public policy program at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

No. Grafton, Mass. [03.13.07] As an assistant U.S. attorney, Nadine Pellegrini represented the long arm of the law. But when she graduates from Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine this year with a master's degree in animals and public policy, she'll represent the four legs of the law, as well. Pellegrini is just one of an increasing number of students nationwide drawn to the field of animal policy.

Pellegrini discovered Tufts as she was seeking to prosecute a farmer accused of illegally snaring raptors. While on the case, she encountered an owl caught in the farmer's trap and brought the injured animal to Tufts' Wildlife Clinic. Her experience there led her to apply to the master's program.

"I thought, 'Wow, this dovetails with what I do,'" she told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

The degree program, offered by the school's Center for Animals and Public Policy since 1995, educates students "in the history, philosophy, theories, methods and policy dimensions of human-animal studies."

Before coming to Tufts, Pellegrini had spent 16 years as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office, where she rose to the post of deputy chief of the major crimes unit at the time of her departure. Upon completing her degree requirements in August, she plans to return and focus on cases involving animals.

Pellegrini's interest in animal law is not an anomaly. It is an increasingly popular field, owing to the increased number of states that have made animal cruelty a felony over the past two decades, as well as the involvement of animals in areas as diverse as custody battles and malpractice suits, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

"Since 2000, the number of accredited law schools offering courses in the field has increased from nine out of 184 schools to 80, according to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), a national nonprofit organization that advances the interests of animals through the legal system," the Telegram & Gazette reported. "During the same time, the number of accredited law schools with student ALDF chapters has gone from 12 to 93, with another eight chapters in the formative stages."

As for Pellegrini, she was not exposed to any animal protection courses as a law student. And as a prosecutor, she mainly encountered cases involving endangered species and environmental issues. At Tufts, her outlook has been significantly broadened.

"During her year at Cummings, Ms. Pellegrini has been fascinated by the vast array of issues connected with animals: factory farms, feral cats and animals used in research or living in shelters," the Telegram & Gazette reported, citing Pellegrini's interest in the intersection between human and animal life.

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