Neil was born in the Bronx, New York in 1964. He graduated from the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations and received his law degree from Northwestern University. He is a partner in a large Manhattan law firm, where he has the opportunity to work on animal rights and animal welfare issues on a pro bono basis. He has been active in animal rights/animal welfare circles for over two decades, having served on the Board of Directors of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and been recognized for his animal legal work by the ASPCA.
In Neil’s words:
“I was not always an animal lover. Growing up I did ride a horse, but it had handles and springs. I fell off that one when I was five and didn’t see another until I met my wife, a veterinarian. When I married her, I went from living in mid-Manhattan with a half-dead cactus to living over an hour outside of Manhattan in the middle of the woods with real horses, a pig, dogs, cats, chinchillas and a parrot—and those were only the “domesticated” animals. We have since been blessed to add two humans to the mix.
In Unsaid I tried to express how my new life with animals and a woman who faces life and death decisions every day irrevocably altered my world. But I am a worrier by nature. So the more I became accustomed to this new life and fell in love with all these wonderful creatures (yes, even the pig), the more anxious I became that something would happen to take them all away. What if these animals that I shared my home and life with suddenly were accused of being the source of something horrible? What if a city or state health official knocked on my door with a court order and told me I was required to hand over my dog or cat or bird because they are the carrier of some disease?
I did some research and learned that, unfortunately, this is not at all a far-fetched scenario. Emerging zoonotic illnesses (those that are passed from animals to humans) are frightening as hell and well-meaning health officials often need to make quick decisions with irrevocable consequences based on limited information. Because I write about what keeps me up at night, I started Just Life to explore how fear—of forces both known and unknown—can impact our relationships with animals.”