PETS: CANINE COURT CONUNDRUMS — Juliet Piccone Wants Pets To Never Lose Their Appeal


Even folks who stick to the right side of the law know they should call a lawyer if they find themselves embroiled anything more than a traffic ticket.

Divorce? Call a lawyer, yesterday. Popped driving drunk? You’re writing “DUI lawyer Denver” in your Google search before the hangover goes away.

But what if it’s your precious little Fifi who got crossways with the fuzz? What about when Astro nips the neighbor’s cat, or worse, the neighbor? Then what do you do?

Juliet Piccone has an easy answer for that. You call her.

For the past three years, Piccone has dedicated her law practice to helping animals. Whether it’s a pooch caught in the middle of a messy divorce, a friendly elderly Auroran with a heart of gold but just too many cats, or several dogs whose chompers landed them in the slammer,

“If your dog is ever impounded, that is definitely the time to talk to an animal attorney,” Piccone says.

Too often, though, dog owners don’t recognize how high the stakes are when their pet gets tossed in doggie jail, despite the fact that a vicious dog conviction in some jurisdictions often means a death sentence. And, oh yeah, you might be on the hook for impound fees even after your best bud is chasing mailmen in the sky.

“People don’t realize how serious it can be,” she says.

Piccone jumped into the animal law practice after practicing insurance defense law for 13 years. While handling heavy cases, including some involving the death of a child, was grueling work, it served its purpose for Piccone, namely getting her past those law school loans and giving her oodles of experience working beside top-notch litigators.

But it wasn’t for her.

“My soul hurt and I hated being a lawyer,” she says, a necklace with a paw-print medallion dangling from her neck. “I absolutely hated it.”

So after a few years away from practicing law, Piccone jumped back in, this time with a focus on animals.

The first few years she practiced animal law, many of Piccone’s cases were pro bono. Rarely could her clients afford to pay, Piccone said, and she found herself logging long hours for little pay.

But what those cases didn’t provide in cash payments, they did help Piccone get her name out there, which over the years has proven to be key to her practice.

Today, many high-profile animal cases in Aurora come across Piccone’s desk, usually involving a dog deemed dangerous.

That means she’s able to focus more on paying gigs.

“If I took every case where the person couldn’t pay me, that’s all I would be doing,” she says.

And it wasn’t just a focus on pro bono cases in her early days of animal law that helped Piccone get her name out.

She also has never shied away from controversy. Sometimes, that’s meant standing in front of the very courthouses where she practices wielding a protest sign. It’s also led to some combative days on social media and on newspaper comment sections, places where Piccone rarely shied away from a flame war.

Balancing that need to get her name out there and the rules of the court — which forbid lawyers from trying to influence the outcome of a case outside the courtroom — has always been a delicate act, she says, but one she doesn’t plan on shying away from.

That’s because for Piccone, those public feuds aren’t just about making sure when people think animal lawyer they think Juliet Piccone. It’s also getting the animal issues she sees as crucial — including the city’s ban on pit bulls and strict state laws surrounding dogs ruled dangerous — out in the public eye.

“There is the other side of it here, people have to know what is going on,” she says.

And whether that means holding a protest sign or arguing in front of a judge, Piccone is plenty comfortable wither way, even if it means racking up a decent chunk of folks who aren’t big fans of her.

“I’m not just an advocate,” she says. “I am an activist.”