Thursday, July 31, 2008

Raising a global stink

Activists target methane gas from, um, cows

Burgeoning efforts to curb global-warming pollution are taking aim at an unlikely new target: the placid, cud-chewing cow.

Scientists have long known that cattle and other livestock are a major contributor to climate change worldwide, and although researchers, regulators and activists have devoted most of their attention to other culprits—such as cars and coal-fired power plants—that is starting to change.

Read the rest of the Tribune article here...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In The Yard, Taking Care Of Business

I was flipping through an old issue of Newsweek and saw this article. Sorry I missed this back in February, but better late than never:

By Karen Springen | NEWSWEEK

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chicago City Council Vacillates Again...

I was surprised that the Chicago City Council took up another ordinance proposal involving animals following the recent foie gras debacle....

But on Tuesday it debated a measure that would have required local pet owners, with very limited exceptions, to spay or neuter their companion animals. (Of course, the measure was prompted by a recent dog attack, which, while a legitimate governmental concern, has nothing to do with the animal welfare. Viewed from that perspective, it was perfectly co-extensive with its position on foie gras...)

Even the impassioned pleas from no less than former game show host Bob Barker, however, was not enough to persuade Chicago's aldermen to pass the measure. Click here to read a Chicago Tribune article about the City Council session.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 Animal Law Institute

A few thoughts and reflections...

On July 18, 2008, the Texas State Bar Association's Animal Law Section held its annual CLE seminar, the 8th Annual Animal Law Institute at the South Texas College of Law. I was honored to be asked to be a presenter at the conference (even though I am - as moderator and section chair Dena Fisher observed - a Yankee, and it was - as I observed - easily 98 degrees in Houston that day...).

Jests aside, the conference offered a terrific spectrum of topics: from starting an animal law practice to the nuances of dangerous dog defense to the ethics of animal patenting. Moreover, the presenters on these topics showcased the whole spectrum of experience: from enthusiastic newcomer Yolanda Eisenstein, to Texas staple Don Feare, to one of the field's icons, ALDF founder Joyce Tischler.

But the segment that moved me the most was the talk by AnimalsAsia General Counsel Tamara Bond on the bile farming of bears in China. During Tamara's talk, I happened to be sitting in the back row with Yolanda and Don. We were probably an odd sight, although I doubt anyone noticed us - the attorneys in the back of the room alternating between wincing and dabbing at our eyes. The presentation held everyone in stunned, revulsed silence. (And Tamara wasn't particularly trying to be maudlin.)

I must admit that prior to the conference I had heard of bile farming, but knew few specifics about it. From what little I knew, it seemed as cruel and needless as the farming of any other factory animal. But I think now that I was wrong. Because as horrible as it must be to be a factory farmed hog - or a hen confined to a battery cage - or a veal calf ripped from its mother and stuffed into a cage too small to turn around - or even a goose being force-fed to the point of bursting - it all pales in comparison to spending as much as twenty years in nearly motionless caged confinement, sometimes with teeth filed or digits amputated to prevent any resistance whatsoever, and "milked" daily through crude, often filthy catheters or even by simply open holes in their abdomens.

I am generally a big believer in sanitizing cruelty issues enough so that the general public will not turn away in disgust before learning (and hopefully developing some empathy) about the issue. But there's just no way to sanitize this. This was disgusting. Moreover, here in the 21st century, with the availability of all sorts of substitutes and synthetics, the idea that the only way to respect a native culture is to tolerate their traditional medicinal production, is simply untenable.

If you have the time - and the internal fortitude - click here to learn more about the remarkable efforts of this one advocacy group. Kudos to AnimalsAsia for its tenacity in the face of long odds and nightmarishly disturbing work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Reports: Dogs, rabbits died during Loyola research

By CARLA K. JOHNSON Associated Press Writer
July 21, 2008

CHICAGO - A dozen animals died during experiments at Loyola University's medical school between 2006-2007, the result of untrained lab workers and inadequate care, according to federal documents. U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors cited Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine in suburban Maywood for 22 violations during three inspections from March 2006 through November 2007, according to USDA reports obtained by the Ohio-based animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

Read more here...
Man charged in dog's heat-related death

Associated Press
July 22, 2008

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - A Metro East man is accused of aggravated animal cruelty charges in connection with his dog's heat-related death. Authorities say 30-year-old Anthony Woodson left the 2-year-old Italian mastiff outside his Granite City home in stifling heat without shelter or water Sunday, when a heat advisory was in effect.

Read more here...
Not all cute and cuddly in land of 'designer dogs,' Humane Society says
Hybrids of purebreds are at risk of being exploited as are their owners

By Melissa Patterson Chicago Tribune reporter
July 23, 2008

The puggles, maltepoos and labradoodles scampering along Chicago streets are bred to be cute and customizable, pet industry experts say.

But these high-priced "designer dogs" are also increasingly exploited by abusive breeders at puppy mills and unscrupulous sellers, leading to more sick puppies and unhappy owners, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Read more here...

Monday, July 14, 2008

What’s Next in the Law? The Unalienable Rights of Chimps

Published: July 14, 2008

Spain’s parliament recently passed a resolution granting legal rights to apes. Reaction has been mixed. Peter Singer, a Princeton University bioethics professor and animal liberation activist, declared the vote to be of “world historical significance.” The comedian Stephen Colbert — flashing a photo of a performing chimpanzee — insisted that the new law had better not give apes “the right to not wear a tuxedo and roller skates.”

In fact, it will likely do just that.

Read the rest of the editorial here...

(And thanks to my former intern, Joe Mustian, for calling this and the next two pieces to my attention while I was out of the office!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Putting a leash on veterinary costs

For anyone out there who happens to practice animal law and handles plaintiff-side veterinary malpractice cases...

The next time defense counsel tries to argue that the companion animal was only worth its "market value", you may want to show the judge this Chicago Tribune article finding that Americans spent more than 10 billion - that's with a "b" - on veterinary care last year. That's an awful lot of money to fix property that clearly would have been cheaper to replace unless it had some sort of "value" beyond monetary worth...

Pill-Popping Pets

Published: July 13, 2008

Corrections Appended

Max retrieves Frisbees. He gobbles jelly beans. He chases deer. He is — and this should be remembered when discussions of cases like his blunder into the thickets of cognitive ethology, normative psychology and intraspecies solipsism — a good dog.

Read the rest of this Sunday Magazine feature here...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

In Satanist's custody battle, law may play devil's advocate

Ok, no good animal law stories today. But I thought this one was particularly interesting because - let's see if I can explain myself here - I think it's a good idea to look at how other groups try to persuade mainstream culture to take their views seriously and get a sense of whether those methods seem effective.

If you're interested too, read on for this Chicago Tribune article on one woman's efforts to persuade a judge to restrict her Satanist ex-husband's visitation time with their kids so they can attend Christian church...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rodeos banned from Auckland
July 8, 2008

The Auckland City Council has banned rodeos from council-owned land within the city, and the move has been applauded by animal welfare activists SAFE.

The Auckland City Council made the decision last week, citing animal welfare concerns. The ban is a first for New Zealand. Read more about this unprecedented step here...

MIchael Vick not doing so well...

Just a day after the Washington Post reported on the tremendous progress in the rehabilitation of his dogs, it now reports that the former NFL player has filed for bankruptcy. Read more here...

Monday, July 07, 2008

... Michael Vick's dogs making progress

The unprecedented rehabilitation effort to save the dogs of the former football-star-turned-prison-inmate is showing remarkable - and heartwarming - progress. The Washington Post reports.