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Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Heidi Meinzer's Blog Posts

About Heidi Meinzer

Heidi is an attorney and animal lover, not necessarily in that order. She handles small business, animal law, and nonprofit legal issues. She is licensed to practice in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Washington State. Heidi is also a certified dog trainer. Heidi Meinzer's Google+ Profile

5 Dog Bite Defenses Within Virginia’s Legislation

Dog DefensesIt’s estimated that there are roughly 80 million companion dogs in the United States.  That is over 80 million canine and feline family members and friends who share the couch with their owner, snag a bite of holiday dinner from under the table, and take walks in their bustling neighborhood.

Along with pet ownership comes responsibility.  Every year, some statistics estimate that 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs and 800,000 people are sent to receive medical treatment. The media and society tend to blame the dog for the attack.  However, there are often very valid reasons why a dog bites.  If a plaintiff sues you in civil court for money damages, or if the Commonwealth tries to have your dog declared dangerous, you and your dog may have options and defenses. [Read more…]

“Certificate of Excellence” from Living and Learning with Animals Professional Course

LLACOE2014_400 BADGEAs an animal law attorney and dog trainer, I am always trying to learn as much as I can about animal interaction with humans.

I recently completed Dr. Susan Friedman’s 2014 Living and Learning with Animals course. The course, for veterinary and animal professionals, explored the fundamental principles and procedures of teaching and learning.

Dr. Friedman provided a foundation for a comprehensive and coherent understanding of animal behavior analysis—focusing particularly on captive and companion animals.

While most of my work extends to dogs and cats, the principles discussed by the Utah State University research assistant professor are applicable to all animal species.

I’m very excited to announce that I received a “Certificate of Excellence” for the course. [Read more…]

Pet Businesses You Can Start Today

Pug with a Toy in its MouthMany people dream of starting their own business, and pet owners are no different. Our companion animals are faithful friends that provide us with comic relief and unconditional love. This thoughtful imagination doesn’t have to simply be a dream; there are many animal related business ideas that would be a lively career change and a strong investment.

Inspired by entrepreneur and author James Stephenson, Entrepreneur discusses many ways to get involved in this growing industry. The animal industry is constantly expanding, and there are many ways to be involved with this multi-million dollar, animal-loving business. [Read more…]

How to Start a Nonprofit Organization

Hands Typing on a KeyboardAs a small business and nonprofit lawyer, I have offered many clients legal assistance to help start their nonprofit organizations and small businesses.

The key components to starting a nonprofit is having a strong passion for the topic and following the processes correctly. If you are committed to starting an organization, there are many hoops to jump through. [Read more…]

Why Do Dogs Bite?

Dog Looking WearyDog bites seem to be filling the news these days, and the stories never have happy endings. Family members, visitors, and children are being bitten by familiar dogs. Fortunately, Virginia recognizes the focus should be on the deed, not the breed, with clear statutory language that no dog will be deemed dangerous or vicious based on the dog’s breed.

Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people every year, and more than 885,000 of those victims require emergency care, according to the CDC.

To get to the root of this problem, it’s important to ask why dogs bite before we can work on prevention.  [Read more…]

4 Dog Parks to Visit This Season

Dogs Playing OutsideAs the summer unwinds and families become accustomed to their new school and work schedule, many forget that their dog is affected, too. While there are less activities revolving around the house, make sure to spend quality time with your pets.

One of the best ways to enjoy this beautiful weather is visiting a dog park! Alexandria (and the surrounding areas) has numerous, bountiful dog parks that will make your dogs leap with joy. Remember to follow the dog park rules, bring a bowl for water, and trash bags. Most importantly, have fun with your dog!

Remember that not every dog is a candidate for the dog park, and that there are pros and cons even for those dogs who are appropriate candidates for dog park fun.  Before you leash your dog up for the park, take a look at what the ASPCA advises about the subject.  You should also check out Dr. Sophia Yin’s article on Dog Park Etiquette. [Read more…]

Go Into a Pet Custody Battle Fully Armed

dog playing tug-of-warDetermining who gets custody over a family pet can be one of the most heart-wrenching experiences (besides child custody) during a separation or divorce.

Most of us consider our companion animals to be family members.   However, the law sees animals as property, which means that you need to prove that you and your family pet should stay together.

Working with an animal law lawyer will help give you the best chance of keeping your companion animal.

As an animal law lawyer, creating a strategy to keep the beloved animal with a client relies on a couple different things. Be prepared go into a pet custody battle fully armed with evidence that you deserve to be the primary caregiver of your furry companion. [Read more…]

Adopt a Pet at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria

puppyBringing a new four-legged friend home for the first time is a special moment for the entire family. You bond with the animal, showing him or her around the house, the yard, and neighborhood. This is where they will spend their days, enjoying the company of your family while growing close to each member.

Adopting a pet is one of the most generous things you can do for an animal. The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Virginia, located on Eisenhower Avenue, is a great place to find a new furry companion, with cats, dogs, and other small animals looking for a home.

Before you head over to the shelter, there are a few adoption tips recommended by the Animal Welfare League: [Read more…]

Meet APD’s Newest Rookie, K9 Zara!

The Alexandria Police Department has a new recruit from an unlikely source. Meet Zara! She was surrendered to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria last year, and caught the eye of Alexandria’s K9 Unit, who decided to take a chance on her and adopt her.   Zara has lived up to their expectations and then some, graduating with flying colors from Basic K9 School.  Zara will partner with Officer Escobar and hit the streets!  Welcome, Zara!

Zara has understandably gotten a lot of press about this great accomplishment, including the AWLA, the Examiner, and Fox 5.

As a very special AWLA graduate, Zara is a candidate for the AWLA’s Alexandria Animals Pet Photo 2015 Calendar Contest! If you’d like to vote for her, you can do so at www.gogophotocontest.com.  Just look for her great photo — courtesy of the AWLA’s 2015 Photo Contest!

Zara [Read more…]

Next Steps For Newtown Victim’s Animal Sanctuary

dog and birdTwo years after the tragic Sandy Hook Shooting, a young victim’s dream of an animal sanctuary is finally coming true with the help of her parents and the state.

Six-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard was one of the twenty kindergartners killed in December 2012 at Sandy Hook. Before her death, Catherine had a love for animals that was deep in her soul. She even had an imaginary shelter and her own business card, according to ABC News.

Governer Dannel P. Malloy has signed legislation instructing the transfer of 34 acres of a former psychiatric facility to the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation, Inc., created by the Hubbards. The facility will become an animal sanctuary, hopefully up and running by 2016. [Read more…]