Me Terrin: “Any animal that suffers has the right to have a lawyer”

SThe clients are called Tito, Youri, Mustache or Rosa. All the misery of the animal world parades in his cabinet located, as the god of animals wanted, rue Paradis, in Marseille. Isabelle Terrin defends dogs and cats tortured, burned alive, defenestrated or starved. This former nurserywoman converted into a lawyer “wears the dress for them”, to restore their dignity, defend their rights and honor their memory. “Any animal that suffers has the right to have a lawyer”, insists the one who says she is “the voice of the voiceless”. What characterizes her among animal rights specialists is her unique approach to defence. “My client is the animal itself,” she claims.

The treatment of the animal says a lot about us.Me Isabelle Terrin

At the bar of the criminal court, during the trial against the executioner of Iboo, “the one-eyed and burned martyr dog”, she detailed: “For at least four days, in the sordid closed door of your master’s apartment, you suffered the cruelty of this one. His back was badly burned and his eye was gouged out. When you were dying, when you no longer had the strength to respond to his attacks, he threw you in the trash like a used Kleenex, and that’s where you were found, and saved. “The man with a very loaded record was sentenced to ten months in prison with continued detention.

Mand Terrin also savors this other recent victory, the condemnation of the murderer of a German shepherd (Jagger) to repair the damages of his owners to the tune of 12,300 euros. “The lawyer is the last bulwark against oblivion, it is a magnificent mission that carries me, to defend these oppressed, trampled animals, victims of human villainy and, worse, of the indifference of the prosecution. The treatment of the animal says a lot about us,” observes Ms.and Land.


The detonator of her vocation, who became her “muse” and “the emblem of her fight”, was the Yorkshire Icko, with a mutilated muzzle, whom she adopted. It took him five years to decide to go to court, which, in 2021, sentenced his torturer to four months in prison, without the possibility of adjustment, for abuse and acts of cruelty.

Isabelle Terrin does not give up. Its association Animal Defense and Dignity mandates lawyers to initiate actions related to animal abuse. “The presence of a lawyer, a fortiori with an association, gives credibility to the complaint and opens the door more easily to the criminal trial”, notes Mand Graziella Dodé, partner of the association. But, for the time being, very few lawyers practice this matter, which is not considered a specialty in its own right. Moving the lines on this almost virgin ground is all the more laborious as “animal owners do not know their rights well and are reluctant to take action,” adds Ms.and Dode.

The problem of animal status

Criticizing the rabbit fur epitoges that still adorn some lawyer’s dresses, Isabelle Terrin hopes that she will one day wear hers to the assizes. “I want that, when you kill an animal, you are accused of murder, that’s the whole point of my fight,” she pleads. The lawyer nevertheless welcomes the increased severity of criminal law. The author of abuse and acts of cruelty against “a domestic animal, or tamed, or held in captivity” now faces three years in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros and, if the animal was killed by its master , he risks up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros.

Still, on the civil level, the animal is still considered an object. “The legislator says that the animal is a living being endowed with sensitivity, but he continues to submit it to the regime of property. The animal is therefore levitating between people and furniture,” underlines this passionate sexagenarian. On the pediment of the temple of animals that has become her study could appear this sentence of Gandhi, which she likes to quote: ” We can judge the greatness of a nation by the way animals are treated there. »

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