Book Review: Nipped In The Bud Not In The Butt-D. Voda-Hamilton

Conflicts over animals such as pet custody disputes are among the toughest to resolve. People form deep emotional bonds with their pets—after all, they’re members of the family—so when a dispute involves animals, people get just as angry as if the clash were over their human children. When they’ve finally had enough, they head to court where the law treats the pet as property—as just a thing.

But there’s a better way: mediation. Whether your conflict is over who gets the cat in a divorce, how to deal with a barking dog or any other issue, a neutral mediator can bring you and the other person together so you can hear each other out, acknowledge each other’s feelings, and resolve your dispute. Not only can mediation settle the conflict in less time and with less expense than the litigation involved in pet custody disputes, but it can save and even strengthen relationships.

In Nipped in the Bud, Not in the Butt: How to Use Mediation to Resolve Conflicts over Animals, litigator-turned-mediator Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton introduces her proven techniques for addressing your conflict, working out a mutually satisfactory solution, and ensuring the well-being of the most important party—the beloved pet or animal in need.

Available to buy from…   Barnes and Noble

Resolving Animal Conflicts Without Litigation – a way to address conflicts between people involving animals

“This book really resonated with me. Debra does an excellent job providing a realistic approach to conflicts over pets. When I opened the book, I immediately noticed Debra’s passion with regards to animal conflict resolution. She does an excellent job explaining the history of mediation and the significance of mediation in resolving conflict.”

“A Must Read for all of us who love our companion animals!!”

“If you love or work with animals, you must read this…
A comprehensive, yet easy guide to avoiding litigation and achieving success through mediation in disputes over animals. This is a must-read for pet owners, veterinarians, trainers, barn managers, grooms (in barn settings) pet groomers, pet rescue and adoption organizations and anyone else who wishes to avoid the pain and pitfalls of court battles”

A sample of reviews received

About the Author

Debra spent 30 years as a practising litigator, but she is now a full-time mediator and conflict coach for people in disputes over animals.

She works both nationwide and internationally. She has far-reaching experience in resolving interpersonal conflicts involving animals, and she is also well-known in the world of purebred dogs as a top breeder and exhibitor of Irish setters and long-haired dachshunds.

Debra speaks widely on the topic of how mediation techniques can help people address conflicts without litigation. She has presented at veterinary schools, the American Kennel Club, the American Veterinary Medical Law Association, the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators, the Living With Animals conference, state bar association Animal Law Committee meetings, and animal interest group meetings.

Debra also writes a blog for Hamilton Law and Mediation and is a contributor to the Solo Practice University blog and the Canine Chronicle. She has been featured in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, and the New York Times.

As the principal at Hamilton Law and Mediation, PLLC—the nation’s first solo mediation practice dedicated to helping people resolve conflicts over animals—Debra uses alternative dispute resolution to help address disagreements over the family pet during divorce, neighbours’ arguments over a barking dog, and confrontations between clients and veterinarians and other professionals who work with animals.

HLM also looks forward to helping animal rights and welfare advocates see the benefit of having a conversation about the best interests of all parties—especially the animals—to resolve animal-related disputes.

Debra is admitted to practice law in all New York State courts. She is certified as a mediator and collaborative professional and has worked with various court-based mediation programs in New York City (Queens-Community Mediation Service) and in Westchester and Rockland Counties in New York (Westchester and Rockland Mediation Centers).

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My Review

I wanted to read this book for two reasons.  Firstly I know exactly how much a pet can mean to you.  I lost my beloved cat Samson a few years ago.  Secondly, I spent over 13 years working for various law firms (in marketing, not law) and I was really interested to read how mediation can solve so many problems on a much more cost-effective basis than litigation.  A growing area of litigation is pet custody disputes.

Debra explains that many divorce cases run into trouble when ‘custody’ of the pet is raised. Our pets are members of our family and mean as much to some as their children.  Rather than go to litigation where the court makes a decision which may benefit one party at the cost of the pet’s happiness and where costs can run into thousands, mediation offers a chance to come up with a solution which takes the pet into consideration and preserves the relationship between the warring spouses – at least so that the pet is taken care of.

Debra is an experienced lawyer and a mediator who is able to facilitate problem-solving between people who just can’t agree who should have their pet – or at least might agree if their views were at least heard and acknowledged.

Mediation is also very useful to settle disputes such as those which arise between vets and their clients, or neighbours who have had all they can take of barking dogs.

Debra offers fascinating case studies and techniques to help you deal with conflict yourself. I have to say a lot of her advice would work just as well with bickering kids.

She offers 6 tactics for mediation which she calls “Stop, Drop & Roll” – 1.  stop talking and listen, 2. drop the need to be right, 3. let what the other party says roll off your back, 4. address the conflict, 5. keep the relationship and finally, 6. acknowledge and appreciate the other party.

All techniques which I can use on a daily basis – and I don’t have a pet at the moment!

It is upsetting enough to find yourself in a relationship which is breaking down, whether romantic or with your neighbours.  Nipped In The Bud shows that using mediation is a brilliant way to handle the situation whilst being heard, getting your needs met and working out collaboratively what the best solution for the animals involved may be.

And all this without spending unnecessary money on the legal fees involved in pet custody disputes.

That in itself makes the book worth its weight in gold.

Highly recommended.

I receive a free copy of this book from publishers Beck Valley Books.

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