May 8, 2023
Southwestern Law Professor Vanessa Shakib Takes on State Officials in Fight for Little Girl's Pet Goat
Southwestern Law School Professor Vanessa Shakib is fighting back against state officials who overstepped their bounds by taking and slaughtering a little girl's pet goat.
It's a heart-wrenching story that has captured the attention of many: a 9-year-old girl's beloved pet goat, Cedar, was taken from her against her wishes and slaughtered. Cedar was purchased for the girl to exhibit in the junior livestock auction at the Shasta District Fair as part of the 4-H program, where children are taught how to care for farm animals. At the end of the program, the animals are entered into an auction to be sold and then slaughtered for meat. However, after caring for and bonding with the goat, the girl wanted to withdraw from the auction. Her family pleaded for the fair to make an exception to let her keep Cedar.
Unfortunately, the Shasta District Fair officials did not grant the girl's request. Instead, they reported the goat stolen and sent Shasta County Sheriff's deputies with a search warrant to obtain Cedar. The deputies drove over 500 miles across Northern California in search of the goat.
Cedar was taken and slaughtered against the family's wishes, causing them immense emotional distress. The family was devastated and reached out to Professor Shakib for help. An expert in animal law, government accountability, and illegal business practices, Professor Shakib co-founded and co-directs Advancing Law for Animals, an organization dedicated to challenging laws that harm animals and establishing laws that protect them. Her extensive experience in government oversight informs her work at Advancing Law for Animals, where she has successfully challenged cruel and illegally-promulgated regulations at the federal level and the lack of animal-welfare enforcement at the local level. Some of her notable achievements include taking on illegal cockfighting in Monterey County and alleged violations in USC animal research labs. Additionally, she sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture for allowing animal industries to sidestep citations despite violating animal welfare laws.
Shakib took on the family's case and has been fighting for their rights ever since.
In an interview with the LA Times, Shakib argues that county and fair officials abused their power in what should have been a simple breach of contract. "The government was seeking to silence our client's viewpoint. Our lawsuit seeks to hold public officials accountable for violating the law and enacting a personal vendetta against a little girl simply because she loved her goat," she said. Shakib is currently pursuing a lawsuit against the state officials involved in the case.
Through her advocacy and work, Professor Shakib has demonstrated a deep commitment to protecting the welfare of animals and ensuring that their rights are respected. Her efforts to challenge cruel and illegal practices at the federal and local levels have already made a significant impact, and her pursuit of justice in the case of Cedar and her family is a reminder that we must continue to fight for the rights of those who cannot speak for themselves.