Kristen Thurmond is a KCMO attorney who practices family, criminal, and animal law.

Comments: 227 • Responses: 57  • Date: 

Brutus757259 karma

How often do you and Charlie exchange trade secrets? And should you go toe-to-toe on bird law who would come out the victor?

birdishlaw165 karma

Charlie has... an intense dedication or obsession that neither I or anyone will ever be able to match.

callawake83 karma

"It's just that bird law in this country—it's not governed by reason"

True or False?

birdishlaw50 karma


GhettoPippi66 karma

Did “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” at all influence your legal career or practice? And do you ever exclaim, “I’ll take the case!” when you ... take a case?

birdishlaw41 karma

Well I have never expressly said I'll take the case! I do get pretty giddy but try to remain calm, cool, and collected so I don't seem unprofessional when a really fun case comes in.

chefjuice38 karma

Hey, did you get that thing...I sent you?

birdishlaw23 karma


muhaski1 karma

and collected so I don't seem unprofessional when a really fun case comes in.

What's an example of a really fun animal law case?

birdishlaw2 karma

The geeky lawyer in me thinks a fun case is when there's lots of unexplored issues or a really cool animal involved that's not just a dog and cat.

missgeminicroquette55 karma

Are your clients typically flight risks? Oof, sorry. But really, what does animal law... entail?

I hate myself. Sorry.

birdishlaw24 karma

Not always flight risks!

Animal law is really anything that deals with animals, civil or criminal. My goal is to help pet owners or businesses that provide services.

missgeminicroquette4 karma

That's interesting!! What kinds of cases do you see?

birdishlaw13 karma

Conversion, replevin, breach of contract, etc.

Fatboylos41347 karma

Can hummingbirds be used as a legal tender?

birdishlaw49 karma

I have a feeling you're going to get a call from PETA very soon. Do not try to use live animals as tender.

samehaircutfucks42 karma

What about chicken tenders?

birdishlaw33 karma

Honestly, I think the world would be a better place if we all had more chicken tenders because they're delicious.

AsABlackMan30 karma

If my pet rooster pecks out the mailman's eyes while he (the mailman) was railing my husband, am I liable under strict liability?

Or is this contributory negligence on mailman's part?

birdishlaw33 karma

That seems oddly specific so I'm going to say that you probably need local counsel to help you with that one.

AsABlackMan10 karma

Okay. Follow up question, if the mailman sues in federal court claiming federal question jurisdiction, does the Eerie doctrine apply?

birdishlaw14 karma

They're really not enough facts here. And I am not federally barred so I'm not going to speculate.

PaloPintoTourismBrd14 karma

How did you end up getting into animal law as a career? Any advice for someone who is interested in that field? I did an internship related to it during law school (specifically, it was a government internship, helping with prosecuting animal cruelty cases), and I would love to go into it because animal protection is a passion of mine, but it seems like there just aren't a lot of job openings I can apply for!

birdishlaw17 karma

When I started law school I always wondered what I could do. I joined the animal law society. From that group I got an internship with the animal docket at municipal court so I got to learn the criminal side of animal related stuff fairly quickly. Beyond that it's figure out how to apply civil law to animal related issues to help owners and businesses and anyone else that you're wanting to assist. I volunteered at a low costs vaccination clinic and welfare group, so I started seeing the issues in person and first hand.

GoGetJoe11 karma

Who was the most memorable bird you've represented?

birdishlaw28 karma

Fun fact, I currently am helping a bird! That one is my favorite.

GoGetJoe17 karma

You can't just leave it hanging like that. What, is the bird being evicted? Need an emancipation from abusive parents?

birdishlaw34 karma

Can't talk about an ongoing case.

marianoes11 karma

What do you think about the book Fuzzy nation concerning the "sentience" of animals? Specifically in the sense of rights and recognition for future species.

birdishlaw14 karma

So there is a lot of literature out there about the status of animals in the law and whether or not they should be more than property. There are pros and cons to both and it's a very intense discussion. I don't think the legal system is ready to change the status of animals yet and I don't know that the laws could keep up with it right now.

Personally, I think that having more than property status is going to be too confusing for Missouri to handle right now. As property, there is a lot of civil law that applies and the criminal law system is catching up to help with abuse and neglect cases.

marianoes5 karma

How could they be more than property if they cannot make decisions? They can only be interpreted no?

birdishlaw11 karma

What makes you think they can't make decisions? Also, following that line of thinking children have no protections are right because how are they supposed to make decisions? There's arguments about quasi property status in order to get higher values associated to pets to make it worthwhile to actually sue someone.

marianoes7 karma

Well an animal couldn't decide if it wants a DNR. And children have legal guardians until the mature age of 18 for a reason, I would imagine the reason is along the lines of metal development. If an animal could gain another legal status other that property, what would that legal status be?

birdishlaw10 karma

Then why not have guardians for animals in cases? This is honestly a great discussion because how animals are defined in the law really comes down to how are we trying to help them? What kind of outcome are we wanting? Right now, being classified as property gives them the best chance of getting an outcome that helps owners. That could definitely change as legislation changes.

marianoes3 karma

What would be the difference for animals in that they are changed from property to having a Guardian? What would they gain from it?

birdishlaw6 karma

Value if lost, stolen, or killed and best interests determinations come to mind off the top of my head.

marianoes3 karma

Im no law expert but that sounds alot like property insurance.

birdishlaw8 karma

The law only takes into consideration actual value or lost income for the owner of the property. So if you have an adopted dog that is killed you cannot sue for emotional damages for that lost property.

nathiss11 karma

I must ask, you are a dog or a cat person?

birdishlaw18 karma

Both! They both have a place in my heart.

nathiss8 karma

Does animal law applies to all animals without restrictions (e.g. size) or animals like ants and beetles are excluded?

birdishlaw18 karma

Laws usually specify what type of animals they fall to such as domesticated pets or agricultural animals. I've yet to see anything help ants and beetles.

yaboihenry56787 karma

Has animal law improved from say 50 years ago?

birdishlaw12 karma

There has been a lot of case law over the last 50 years to help define or expand laws and a lot of changes in criminal law to help with the abuse of animals across most states. However, it is becoming more common to see suits being brought related to animals. Equine and agricultural related lawsuits and laws have definitely changed over the last 50 years and that affects companion animals, as well.

stehmansmith56 karma

Okay so my landlord is a bird. And we signed a 1-year lease with him. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to break the lease after 4 months. Now, he claims he can get a lean on us for the remaining owed rent, but has failed to post the availability of the apartment anywhere, and it seems to us he is not making a reasonable attempt to fill the vacancy to avoid us having to pay this lean. What is our recourse, legally speaking? I don't know if it's relevant to the jurisprudence at all, but he's a Golden-crowned Thrush.

birdishlaw12 karma

Void contract, birds can't sign them. Next.

grey_wolf_al5 karma

If you were a hot dog, would it be assault or damage to property if you ate yourself?

birdishlaw12 karma

That sounds more like suicide...

HonorableJudgeIto5 karma

What are your thoughts on the Monkey selfie copyright dispute?

birdishlaw7 karma

I'm not sure the monkey understood what he was doing. Even then he didn't own the phone so that causes an issue too. I'm not sure we're ready for monkeys to own things.

Fleedawg5 karma

Are birds real?

birdishlaw3 karma


matt6pup4 karma

Can animals technically own things?

birdishlaw10 karma

Not in Missouri. I'd wager $5 most states are the same.

orangejulius4 karma

Have you ever had a criminal case involving animals?

birdishlaw5 karma

All the time. I help with a lot of animal ordinance violations and those are all criminal matters. These range from injuring the mailman to just getting loose and causing general mayhem.

goletasb4 karma

Are you aware of any pushes to treat animals/pets as more than just chattel? This may be rudimentary or obvious to you, but I think a lot of people would be surprised to find that even our beloved pets are given only a small dollar value when something happens.

birdishlaw6 karma

You are exactly right that a lot of my clients are very upset to find out that their beloved pooch is only worth $50, which was the adoption fee they paid. However, changing the status of animals some more than property makes it very difficult right now in my state to help them. It would take a huge overhaul of the legal system or at the very least changing who is on the bench to people who are more sympathetic towards animal related issues.

gardening-weirdo4 karma

Do birds have less rights than other animals or are they all in a generic category?

birdishlaw6 karma

In Missouri, rights for animals fall to their owners unless they're being abused/neglected.

phyke4 karma

Are birds regarded as dinosaurs for legal purposes in Missouri?

birdishlaw5 karma

Negative. Nothing about dinosaurs, sadly.

LBJ4USA4 karma

Is there a book of animal law I can consult?

birdishlaw5 karma

Depends on what you're trying to learn about it. If you're trying to understand jurisdiction issues and status as property there are a lot of theory books out there. If you're looking for a local laws or rules you'll just have to search online for your state statutes and city ordinances.

ayuubop4 karma

What’s something you recently found fascinating about bird law?

birdishlaw7 karma

Parrots live a really long time! Thank you for subscribing to bird facts?

Helianthea4 karma

Have you ever had an animal present in court, and was it well behaved?

birdishlaw6 karma

Had a blind woman testify in court in a custody case and she had her service dog with her. He was a very good boy.

Archie__the__Owl4 karma

Finally, an AMA I can sink my talons into!

What made you choose to study the laws of my majestic order? And, hypothetically, how would an innocent owl go about starting a class action lawsuit against a slanderous murder of crows?

birdishlaw5 karma

Started by trying to help pets and the best way to help them is helping their owners.

Jordanm06114 karma

Who’s the better attorney, Charlie Kelly or that Jew lawyer?

birdishlaw2 karma

Charlie. His knowledge runs deep.

Isurvived2014bears3 karma

Would you represent birdman from Rick and Morty?

birdishlaw5 karma

... maybe

raw_testosterone2 karma

Can I domesticate this blue jay that hangs out near my yard and claim him as my own?

birdishlaw7 karma

Good luck, those guys are really mean.

Corka2 karma

Are farm animals, like cows and sheep, meant to have the same animal cruelty protections as household pets like cats and dogs?

birdishlaw4 karma

No, they are governed by agricultural laws and not domesticated companion animal laws.

thehollowtrout2 karma

There was a recent post on reddit. A girl thought her friend was neglecting a pet bird so she stole it and took it home while the friend was in the other room. When the friend asked for the bird back, she said no, it was going to die, my bird now, the bird is happier now. The friend then said they might call police

How many laws were broken?

birdishlaw3 karma

In Missouri, the only one in the scenario who brokethe law was the friend who took the bird. The original owner would have to be investigated by animal control and tickets issued to them. the friends thoughts on whether or not the bird is being abused doesn't mean anything if it doesn't meet the statutory definitions of abuse or city ordinance definitions of abuse.

thehollowtrout2 karma

I agree. Only reason I'm asking is because I had several people yell at me and say, "THE BIRD WAS DYING" and that you can remove animals like that, that so many random redditors work with rescue animals and no judge would ever make someone return the bird. I said no way, maybe remove it from immediate danger but you've gotta go to the vet or police with it, you can't just say it's yours now. The person had even kept the bird for several days, no vet, said it was now happier - all evidence it was even unhappy was reasonably gone. But... Eh. Yeah you can't just take things from people. Authorities can but not normal people

birdishlaw5 karma

A private individual has no rights to take someone else's property you have to call someone who has the ability to do it.

Pherazor2 karma

Do you have a favourite bird?

birdishlaw12 karma

The eagle. I am an American.

jojammin2 karma

Do you think owners of pets should be able to recover for their pain and suffering as a result of a tort that leads to the death of their pet?

birdishlaw4 karma

I personally do yes but how we measure it is the hard part.

Tyler21912 karma

If my dog is attacked and killed by another dog, can I sue for pain and suffering? Or do I only get damaged based on vet bills and cost to replace said pet?

birdishlaw2 karma

You get actual damages only. Value of the dog, vet bills, etc. Maybe a claim for lost wages for you and possible lost income if your dog was able to be bred and you wete intending to or have been breeding it.

Bingo_Bronson2 karma

My neighbors' dog keeps getting out of their yard and pooping in mine. Am I breaking any laws by throwing the poop back into their yard?

birdishlaw2 karma

I'm not sure, but you should definitely get a video of that occurring and tell your local animal control.

Simpdogg2 karma

Is it legal to have sex with a sheep?

birdishlaw7 karma

Only in Wales I think.

pants67892 karma

Have you ever eaten a former client?

birdishlaw5 karma

Clearly not.

davec792 karma


birdishlaw1 karma


VonDrakken2 karma

Any thoughts on Robert Stroud, The Bird Man of Alcatraz?

birdishlaw3 karma

Yep I have thoughts.

dykeag2 karma

Do you represent the animals or their owners, legally? Like if my dog destroys a mailbox or whatever, are you representing me or the dog in court?

birdishlaw6 karma

My job is to help the owners because the owners are responsible for what their dogs do. Similar to parents who are held responsible for that broken window from the ball their kid threw.

Meme_Fuel2 karma

As a danish law student the concept of felony murder seems ridiculous. What are your thoughts on it?

birdishlaw3 karma

It is a punitive measure for sure. However I don't handle murder cases so I can't comment too much on that doctrine.

_BindersFullOfWomen_2 karma

Is bird law more or less complicated than tree law?

birdishlaw6 karma

I'd say less because property and real estate law seems very complicated to me.

saveferris7172 karma

How often are you working on cases specifically regarding birds?

Can you share any laws that cat owners should be aware about but probably aren't?

I wish I had better questions. What a cool AMA.

birdishlaw3 karma

I have a case right now involving a bird that's really fun. As far as cat owners go the one thing they should know is that they need yearly shots and city licenses if your city requires it.

saveferris7172 karma

I never thought about cities requiring yearly shots, interesting. Good to know! Thank you!

birdishlaw3 karma

Not just a legal thing; cats in general need annual shots.

mattluttrell1 karma

Shooting a rabid animal in city limits.

It is a threat to kill a person but requires discharging a firearm. Mens Rea?

Edit: I know you won't answer this but my grandfather was a judge that taught me about this. I also have this issue currently at my house. The answer is very complicated. I chose to not shoot because I can trap it.

This skunk was chasing an elderly woman. I would shoot that (but I was in my underwear). But you can't shoot and hit someone else. My question gets weird.

birdishlaw3 karma

The last I knew in order to be felony murder the original act has to be egregious as well so shooting a rabid animal may not meet that. It would possibly be a voluntary manslaughter or something else not felony murder.

efunkEM1 karma

If I find a bird of prey dead along the side of the road, can I scoop it up and taxidermy it? Does it matter if it’s something like one of the common hawks that are everywhere in the Midwest vs something more special like a bald eagle or condor?

birdishlaw1 karma

I'm going to advise you to never touch a dead animal.