Monday, November 30, 2009

New research on human-companion animal bond

The fact that companion animals can and frequently do play a much larger role in people's lives than the legal system ever gives them credit for is certainly nothing new at this point to those of us who toil daily in animal law. Perhaps someday (I should live so long) courts will be willing to take judicial notice of the fact that humans develop deep, loving bonds with companions that differ - at most - by degree, but not by kind from the sorts of strong attachments we feel with other family members.

But until then... it is definitely helpful to at least be able to go to court armed with brand-new research on the subject. The October 2009 issue of Family Process apparently contains just such research. I just read about this in today's "Bites" by Doug Powell at Kansas State (thanks, Doug!) and so have not had a chance to verify this for myself yet, but apparently there are two articles on the subject by Dr. Froma Walsh (of Chicago, no less... I will try to look her up...).

According to Doug: "Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact To view the abstract for this article, please visit"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Dog thrown from roof inspires NY bill

NEW YORK — A shelter’s decision to euthanize a dog that was thrown from the sixth-story roof of a Brooklyn building has inspired new state legislation.

State Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner said on Nov. 19 that he introduced a bill requiring shelters to release any animal they plan to kill to a legitimate rescue group that offers to take in the animal.

Read more in today's Goshen Chronicle...

...or click on the for more on "Understanding Oreo's Law."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Animal welfare groups put cooperation to work

Nice article by Sharon Peters in USA Today on how some of the major animal welfare groups are (finally!) starting to work with each other. As ASPCA's Ed Sayres candidly notes "We've been embarrassingly fractious with one another in our history".

Here's to hoping that the collaborations featured in the article are only the first of many more to come!

And in that same vein...

A big shout-out and congratulations to long-time Chicago animal advocate and attorney Cherie Travis... who, I hear, was just named the new Commissioner of Animal Care and Control for the City of Chicago!

Best wishes for what will undoubtedly be a huge (and hopefully ultimately rewarding although it may take years) challenge! And here's to hoping that, with someone in that position who truly cares about animals, Chicago-area animal law attorneys will finally have a city official with whom they can work to make Chicago a better place for animals and their humans.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

More sad new items on dangerous dogs...

The increasing (mis)use of dogs as weapons is apparently a global problem. As columnist India Knight reports in the Sunday London Times: "The teen gangster's new weapon of choice: a snarling dog."

Here in the U.S., a particularly sad ending on Friday for Oreo, the pit bull mix (shown at right). Oreo was rescued by the ASPCA in New York City this past summer, after her former owner beat and threw her off a six-story roof in Brooklyn. Doctors repaired her physical injuries, but it seems that even intensive efforts could not repair Oreo's psychological wounds. Cristian Salazar reports for the Associated Press.

And in Florida, a Labrador Retriever belonging to former football star Joe Namath were declared dangerous by a judge in West Palm Beach this past Thursday. Brian Skoloff has more in this Associated Press article.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is Obama Ready to Take on Factory Farming?

In 2008, Barack Obama was swept to victory on a national wave of desire for change -- change that included a coherent program for curbing many of the excesses associated with modern American animal agriculture.

But, as David Kirby wonders in this Huffington Post column, is the President really ready to do something about it?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Debate: Modern Pork Production and H1N1

The New York Times
Leora Broydo Vestel
November 9, 2009

Until now, debate over the relationship between the H1N1 influenza virus and large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations — defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as agricultural operations over a certain size “where animals are kept and raised in confined situations” — has been simmering outside the limelight.

Last Wednesday, however, the debate hit the mainstream during an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show by Jonathan Safran Foer, the author most recently of “Eating Animals”....

Click here for the rest of the Times' article as well as a link to the clip from Ellen's show.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The state of animal law in Ohio...

A few more stories about the state of affairs for animals in Ohio, following all the buzz about "Issue 2" last week...

One from yesterday's Toledo Blade about pit bulls and the other from Cleveland's News-Herald earlier this past week about pet custody and other increasingly common animal issues.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Issue 2 passes in Ohio

Ohio voters approved "Issue 2" (among others) in yesterday's elections, creating the "Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board." Read more about the elections in the Akron Beacon Journal. The ballot measure, which was viewed by many as an effort by the state's agricultural industry to avoid having to negotiate reform with HSUS, was hailed as a success by agribusiness. HSUS took a more reserved view, announcing it will focus on the future.