Sunday, November 30, 2008

Seeking a Presidential Pardon? Try Praising the Right to Bear Arms

Ok, not exactly animal law, but this WSJ article caught my eye:

Five Forgiven by Bush Share a Trait: They Really Missed Their Weapons

By Amir Efrati
The Wall Street Journal
November 28, 2008

A decade ago, Leslie Collier, a 50-year-old corn and soybean farmer in Charleston, Mo., pleaded guilty to poisoning bald eagles. He says the worst thing about his criminal record was that it meant he was barred by law from owning a gun.

So, after George W. Bush, a strong defender of the Second Amendment, took office, Mr. Collier wrote to the president seeking a pardon, saying he wanted to go hunting with his kids. He explained that he accidentally killed the eagles while trying to poison coyotes that were attacking wild turkeys and deer on property he farms.

Read more here...

AVMA... still tepid on even basic animal welfare issues

The American Veterinary Medical Association came out with a revised policy position last week - it now goes so far as to "encourage" the elimination of ear cropping and tail docking in breed standards for dogs. Oooh. Aaah. Another hundred years or so and they may actually come out with a position that actually takes the interests of the animal into consideration...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkeys for Thanksgiving -- as friends, not feast

The Los Angeles Times
By Carla Hall
November 27, 2008

At Karen Dawn's Thanksgiving feast, there will be yams and stuffing with cranberries and a dessert of pumpkin-pecan pie, all set out on a table for eight.

And there will be turkeys, two of them actually -- Emily and Bruce (or possibly Brucilla -- it's a little unclear). The two 20-pounders will have most of the privileges of Dawn's other sentient guests -- a Pacific Palisades patio, a view of the ocean and vegetarian nibbles.

At Dawn's vegan holiday dinner, guests will ooh and aah over live birds. The only turkey plunked down on her table will be Wild Turkey bourbon.

"It goes beautifully with the hot apple cider," Dawn says brightly.

Read the rest of the article here....

Personal note: The last time I saw Karen was at an AR conference going on ten years ago. Thinking back on it now, who would have ever imagined that turkey-less Thanksgivings would become so mainstream less than a decade later. (Btw, way to go, Karen - great feature!) I imagine there's a lot more of us doing veggie and vegan holiday meals than even we realize.

If you haven't tried pardoning a turkey yet yourself, please consider it for next year. Contrary to the cliff-notes version of popular opinion, Thanksgiving isn't all about the turkey. It's also about the stuffing, the cranberries and the gravy (and honestly, once you pile all that stuff on your fork, you can't really even tell if there's turkey underneath). Seriously, mostly it's about the tradition of it all - and taking a few hours out of the whole year to give thanks for something. I'm not going to try to beat anyone over the head with how turkeys are produced for the holiday; there's plenty of other websites for that. But I will leave you with this thought: whatever you may have to be thankful for, wouldn't it be nice to add one more item to the list - a small act of kindness that is easy to swallow for the diner but means the world to the dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Old Florida law faces new debate

In Florida, as in many other states, it remains legal for a landowner to shoot wandering dogs that are said to be "worrying" the livestock. But if the dogs' owner and friend are running into the field, leash in hand and screaming "no no no" as the rancher is about to shoot, is still ok to pull the trigger?

The rancher says yes. Animal law attorney Jennifer Dietz and the owner's new civil suit say no. Read more in this Pet Pulse article by Victoria Lim.

UPDATE from Jennifer Dietz: She writes "Notably, Comins is not a rancher, not an owner of cattle, and not the owner of the land where the shootings took place. He was merely a passer-by who happened to have two high caliber guns in his car."

Monday, November 24, 2008

International animal rights round up...

Just a few items that caught my eye this morning from around the globe:

Animal rights group slams Cambodia monkey trade:
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - An animal rights group says Cambodia is flouting international conventions by allowing the cruel capture of monkeys for research in the United States and China.

Ottawa landowners association takes aim at animal rights group:
At a staged event for news media, the Canadian group accused the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) of ruining the life of one Manitoulin Island farmer in a two-year legal saga that saw him convicted on four charges of failing to provide suitable and adequate care for his horses.

Animal rights movement starting to stir in Egypt:
CAIRO // The haunting sound of barking dogs and screeching cats followed by gunshots throughout the night is a constant reminder of the struggle undertaken by animal rights activists in the country.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sarah Palin... what a turkey

After posting about Pres. Bush (see below), it is only natural to want to follow up with Sarah Palin's media fiasco yesterday. Just moments after the Alaskan governor "pardoned" a Thanksgiving turkey, she gave a lengthy TV interview while other birds were slaughtered just feet behind her. Yeesh.

While we're on the subject of videos at a turkey slaughterhouse....

PETA released undercover videotapes earlier this week that were taken at the nation’s premier poultry-breeding facility, Aviagen Turkey, in West Virginia. According to a New York Times piece by Donald G. McNeil, Jr. the video "show[s] turkeys being stomped to death and punched by workers.... The scenes show stomach-turning brutality. Workers are seen smashing birds into loading cages like basketballs, stomping heads and breaking necks, apparently for fun, even pretending to rape one." PETA is asking local prosecutors to pursue criminal charges.

One last swipe at the environment before he goes...

Ok, I missed this the other day, but apparently President Bush was leaning on the U.S. Interior Department to rush out a set out of rules that would weaken endangered species regulations. The idea was to release them by Friday (yesterday) in order to put them in place before President-Elect Obama can reverse them easily. Why am I not surprised?

Read more in this Associated Press/USA Today article.

And if anyone knows how this actually turned out, please post a comment thanks!

Stiff, new anti-cruelty law in Ontario

Called the "strongest animal protection law in Canada," the Provincial Animal Welfare Act will allow the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) to inspect places where animals are kept, other than houses, without a warrant.... The act hasn't been changed since 1919 and now states that people who abuse animals could face up to two years in jail, fines up to $60,000 and a potential lifetime ban on animal ownership.

Read more in this Midland Free Press story by Sara Ross.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Calling all Indiana animal law attorneys!

The Indiana State Bar Association is considering forming an animal law section. If you are at all interested, now is the time to speak up. Contact Maryann Williams at for more info.

And a shout-out to the Univ. of Tenn. Law School too!

UT has just established a new SALDF chapter, according to the student newspaper, the Daily Beacon. Congrats and good luck!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Business as usual at Chicago City Hall

I was at press conference this morning, to publicize one courageous Alderwoman's efforts to pass an ordinance banning elephant cruelty. You might think this would be a non-issue in Chicago. (After all, where would you put an elephant in a city of 3 million people?) However, there ARE elephants in the windy city. Every year, Ringling Bros. Circus plays at the United Center (think Bulls and Hawks).

The ordinance - which seeks to prohibit the use of chains - has already been watered down to remove the prohibition on bullhooks. But in a city that just had to have its foie gras, if you ask me, even this milquetoast proposal is unlikely to go anywhere.

Why, you might ask. Why? Seriously? Well, ok, for the handful of readers who actually live under a rock and just come up to surf the internet... this is Chicago politics we're talking about. All those stories, that reputation Chicago has for corruption? That kinda reputation doesn't happen by itself. No no no. It's real. (I've seen it at work, actually, but that was in relation to a proposed condo development in my neighborhood, not a relevant post for this blog.) Here, a number of key aldermen (aka: city council members) have apparently been getting donations from Ringling Bros. And now - surprise, surprise - they are opposed to the ordinance! Who would've thunk?

Read more in this recent Chicago Sun-Times article by Fran Spielman. Oh, and if you happen to have a spare $40,000, I know a bunch of elephants who could use the change to outspend the animals currently peddling their influence at City Hall.

Dogfighting in Chicago: 'An absence of shame'

The Englewood basement was cramped, chaotic. Fifty people -- parents, kids, a pregnant woman -- huddled around a bloody 10-foot-by-10-foot ring, cheering two pit bulls trained to kill.

Barbaric to most, this medieval blood sport remains a routine source of shameless entertainment in large swaths of the city.

Read more in this follow-up feature to the recent Chicago dogfighting bust here...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Meanwhile in Minnesota...

The H.S.U.S., which was instrumental in yesterday's big Chicago dog fight bust (see post below), is also upping the ante for animal fighting in another midwestern state. In Minnesota, tips that lead to convictions may receive as much as a $5,000 reward, up from $2,500. Read more in Mara Gottfried's article in the Twin Cities' Pioneer Press.

3 charged, dozens arrested in Chicago dog fight

CHICAGO - Three men face felony charges after police interrupted a dog fight on Chicago's South Side.

Cook County Sheriff's Police arrested more than 50 people in the incident, which involved two pit bulls. Police say one of the dogs was so badly injured, it could barely stand.

Read more here...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spokane County lawsuit seeks pet rights


SPOKANE, Wash. -- A federal lawsuit is challenging the constitutionality of animal control laws in Spokane, including provisions allowing for the immediate euthanasia of cats.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Adam Karp, a Bellingham animal law attorney, who represents Spokane pet owner Patty Schoendorf.

Way to go, Adam! Read more about the suit in this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's a dog's life worth?

Maybe some people don't think it's worth as much as a person's life. Other people do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ohio mayor can't fill board to hear pit-bull appeals

As I'm on my daily search for newsy items to blog about, there's generally at least one - if not multiple - stories about local towns and counties all across the U.S. enacting some new "dangerous dog" law. For example, just within the past week, stories ran about such ordinances in small towns in coastal Maryland and Massachusetts.

But here's a twist. One small city near Columbus, Ohio has a new law requiring owners to appear before an appeals board if they want to fight a determination of viciousness - but apparently the mayor can't find anyone to serve on the board. Read more in Elizabeth Gibson's article in today's Columbus Dispatch.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

European Commission calls for greater ban on primate testing

The proposal, announced this past week, would "ban laboratory tests on mankind's closest relatives -- chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans -- in a clampdown on animal testing by the drugs industry and other researchers."

Sounds like a terrific step forward, yes. Although as advocacy groups noted, great apes haven't been used in EU research in six years so perhaps this is more of a token gesture than any real progress. Moreover, monkeys and other animals would not be covered by the ban. The plan also calls for tighter welfare standards, although it was not entirely clear (at least to me), whether any improvements applied only to primates or to all animals used in research. Overwhelmingly, most animal testing is done on rats and mice.

As you can imagine, the announcement generated media attention all over the world, especially in Europe. Here's a sampling of the stories from Reuters (via, Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu News Update Service, and China News. Predictably, the announcement is also generating passionate debate both for and against the ban (as well as - also predictably - animal testing in general).

Two Oregon men dead, no winners

"If this were a movie," said Geordie Duckler, a Portland attorney specializing in animal law, "people would say it is too strange to be true. But this is not terribly unusual. Animal disputes engender a huge amount of animosity."

Read about how a dispute over a cat left the cat bloody and two men dead in this Oregonian article by Lori Tobias.

Meanwhile in Kentucky...

The first case under that state's new, stiffer animal cruelty law will go to court next week. According to KRC-TV Local News 12, "Russell Swigart was indicted yesterday for burglary and two counts of torture of a cat... a new offense." Read more here...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pet owners face code of practice

A shout-out to blog reader Bruce Korol for the heads-up on this BBC News article about Britain's 2006 Animal Welfare Act. Writes the BBC:

Cat and dog owners are to be told to provide "entertainment" and "mental stimulation" for their pets under new government advice.

The code of practice also includes advice on diet and providing "somewhere suitable to go to the toilet".

It says owners should watch for signs of stress and advises on introducing cats to dogs without the fur flying.

Owners will not be fined for breaking the rules but failure to comply may be used in animal cruelty prosecutions.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it wanted to remind pet owners of their responsibilities under the 2006 Animal Welfare Act.

Read more about the 26-page document on cat welfare here...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Prop 2 passes in California!

Read all about it in this LA Times article by Carla Hall!

Unfortunately, California's Prop 8, banning gay marriage, also passed. Read more in this Wall Street Journal article here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Open message to Barack Obama

Ok, I'm a Democrat (no surprise there) so I was really happy when Obama was declared the winner in the presidential election just over an hour ago. Props to John McCain for what was probably the most gracious - and genuine - concession speech as has ever been given.

Congratulations to Barack Obama! May his presidency live up to the promise of hope and change that his campaign envisioned. And in case any of his aides or staff happens across this blog post, here's an open message to the next administration:

As you look across this vast nation of ours - all of the different demographics of race, ethnity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious beliefs and more - please find the compassion in your hearts and perceptive-thinking in your minds to consider, protect and improve the lots of the most vulnerable members of our society: animals.

And President-Elect Obama - you know that puppy you mentioned in your victory speech that you promised your kids would be moving to the White House with you? Please adopt from a shelter. Good luck and God bless!


Thank you.

Horse forfeiture case goes up on appeal in Michigan

A Jackson County prosecutor says the Michigan Court of Appeals has set January 13th as the hearing date in the hotly-contested Henderson horse farm case. Read more in this Jackson Citizen Patriot article by Steven Hepker.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Former pop star charged with animal cruelty

Dale Bozzio, lead singer of the 80's band Missing Persons, has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty and may face another nine charges. Read more in the Associated Press blurb from Vermont's Fox News 44.