Monday, June 30, 2008

Ok, here's something you don't see often...

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission biologist Adam Warwick saved a 375 male black bear from drowning near Alligator Point, Fla. in the Gulf of Mexico, Saturday. The bear had been wondering a residential neighborhood near Alligator Point, Fla. The bear was hit with a tranquilizer dart, but bolted into the ocean before he was sedated. Warwick jumped in to keep the bear from drowning and dragged him to shore. The bear has been relocated to Osceola National Forest near Lake City, Fla.

Click on this link to see the dramatic Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission photo in the "World News in Pictures gallery" ...

Puppy Mill Diaspora...

About 130 of the roughly 700 dogs seized from Pine Bluffs Kennels in Tennessee last week have made their way to Broward County, Florida. According to the Miami Herald, trying to accommodate this many animals is stretching the local humane society to its limits...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

3 years later, C.J. Roberts' record at odds with his promises...

No real surprise here, but with three terms now under his belt, it's becomingly painfully clear that the promises John Roberts made during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings to be an impartial umpire without an agenda were just lip service.

Particularly in the wake of the conservative triumvirate sledgehammer the high court unleashed upon this nation this past week - making clear that wealthy corporations can afford to wantonly destroy the environment (Exxon Valdez case), that poor political candidates oughta just give up (campaign finance reform) and somehow our neighborhoods are going to be safer by turning them into handgun-a-poloozas (DC handgun ban case) - I couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding for any social justice issue that has the misfortune of making its way up the judicial system at the moment. (Read: whatever you do, don't bring an animal law case before this Court. )

And as it turned out, I wasn't the only person who was taking stock of Roberts' decisions since he took Rehnquist's seat. Here's a very thoughtful Chicago Tribune article on the subject.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Apes get legal rights in Spain, to surprise of bullfight critics

From: The Times Online
June 27, 2008

Spain is to become the first country to extend legal rights to apes, wrongfooting animal rights activists who have long campaigned against bullfighting in the country.

In what is thought to be the first time a national legislature has granted such rights to animals, the Spanish parliament’s environmental committee voted to approve resolutions committing the country to the Great Apes Project, designed by scientists and philosophers who say that humans’ closest biological relatives also deserve rights.

Read the rest of the article about this precedent-setting vote here...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's Fluffy Worth?

For anyone out there who remains unconvinced that companion animals are worth more than their so-called "fair market value"...

It's tough to find any other explanation why owners would spend four-and-even-five figure sums to help treat their companions' ailments. Check out this Time-CNN article on the latest in Stem-Cell Treatments for Pets...

Slaying of 3 cats in La Quinta investigated

By Francisco Vara-Orta
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 26, 2008

Riverside County sheriff's officials are investigating a trio of cat slayings in La Quinta over the last few weeks in which owners found their felines gutted or shot.

"We only get about half a dozen animal cruelty calls a month but nothing like this," said Lt. Raymond Gregory, a sheriff's spokesman. "So this is too unusual and too weird."

Gregory said investigators believe the cat slayings are linked.

Read the rest of the L.A. Times article here... and kudos to the La Quinta Sheriff's Department for taking this cruelty investigation seriously.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How Smart Is the Octopus?

Bright enough to do the moving-rock trick.

Aristotle didn't have a high opinion of the octopus. "The octopus is a stupid creature," he wrote, "for it will approach a man's hand if it be lowered in the water." Twenty-four centuries later, this "stupid" creature is enjoying a much better reputation. YouTube is loaded with evidence of what some might call octopus intelligence.

Read the rest of this really cool Slate article here...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Ok, again, not exactly animal law (there doesn't seem to be much out there today) but...

Yesterday was "Take your dog to work day". While one advocacy group may be trying to push the idea of an annual day (wait til Hallmark hears about this...) it is actually a growing trend that some companies are adopting as a policy year-round.

Here's a couple of nice stories from MSNBC and The Christian Science Monitor...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Animal law case prompts constitutional review by Washington Supreme Court

Animal law practitioner Adam Karp reports that the Washington Supreme Court will be hearing one of his cases. According to Adam:

"The case involves the Tasering of a male calf in April 2006 by two Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies. Although the district court judge Sara Derr found probable cause to file a second-degree cruelty complaint based on my client’s citizen petition (per CrRLJ 2.1(c)), she then reversed herself on the prosecutor’s motion for reconsideration, noting that CrRLJ 2.1(c) violates separation of powers."

The calf owner lost at both the trial level and appellate level. The state's highest court will be examining the question of whether the state law at issue "permits private initiation of prosecution, private prosecution, or something else."

Oral argument is expected in late September. If you know of any individuals or groups that might be interested in filing an amicus brief on behalf of the calf owner, please contact Adam at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DeKalb horse slaughterhouse's closing is likely permanent

Supreme Court declines to take case pursued by plant's owners seeking to overturn Illinois ban

DeKalb's Cavel plant, the last horse slaughterhouse in the U.S., ran out of legal options for reopening Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear its owner's challenge of an Illinois law that closed the facility last fall.

Read the read of the article here...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gay Marriage Takes Effect in California

Today California becomes the second state in the nation where it is legal for same-sex couples to wed. It follows Massachusetts' lead.

As previous posts have mused, I think there is a lot to be learned about expanding rights for non-humans by watching other rights battles. Not the least of which has been the debate over so-called gay rights. For example, the question of whether two men or two women can be a "married couple" has been as divisive in this country as whether a companion animal could ever be a "family member."

If you'd like to read more about California's historic day, click here...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Interesting study follows up on closure of horse slaughter plants

The last of the U.S. horse slaughter plants - Cavel - closed last year. The plant was located in my state of Illinois. I was never asked to represent anyone in those proceedings, but followed the legal battle just out of interest. Now, the Animal Law Coalition has compiled a survey of equine abuse following Cavel's closure and came up with some unexpected results.

Read more about the study here... (Yes, I realize this is a link to a PR feed, but I still think it is worth a look.)

Fun in the sun or view to a kill... what's going on in our nation's backyards this summer?

As I scoured the internet this morning in my usual futile search for stories about animal law (there's often stories about welfare - which is good - but other bloggers write about welfare issues and I really try to stay law-focused), once again I am coming up empty-handed on law articles.

I could not help but shake my head, however, as I compared stories from the Home & Garden sections of today's L.A. and N.Y. Times. Now, I was born and raised in New York. I like New York. I still go back to visit my parents. But thank goodness this country has a west coast.

If you have a few minutes, check out the L.A. Times feature on a progressive California couple who found a creative way to allow their feline family members enjoy the backyard safely - and the N.Y. Times piece about how shooting, drowning and bludgeoning of garden "pests" remains de rigeur. But at least the gardeners feel badly about it. Well, I suppose that's still progress...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Important legal victory in two primate custody lawsuits

Congratulations to animal law attorney Bruce Wagman for securing better futures for two chimpanzees and nine gibbons at the center of two custody disputes. The animals had been removed from Primarily Primates in 2007 after the Texas Attorney General had filed suit against the group. The chimpanzees have a permanent home now at Chimps, Inc. in Oregon and the gibbons at the International Primate Protection League in South Carolina.

Way to go, Bruce!