Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quinn uses dog show stop to hammer Brady on bill

Not long after Republican state senator Bill Brady introduced legislation that would allow Illinois to resume the use of gas chambers to euthanize multiple pets at a time, Illinois' Democratic governor Quinn (only somewhat less embattled than his completely disgraced predecessor, Rod Blagojevich) turned a stop at a Chicago dog show into an opportunity to completely bash Brady for the measure.

Read more in this Sun-Times article by Abdon Pollasch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Are "Vets Getting Away With Murder"?

Although the laws of the land concerning veterinary malpractice are well-behind the times, at least pet owners are starting to push for changes. When veterinarians make mistakes on animals, the sentiment has been that "mistakes happen". In human health care, mistakes should never occur. Doctors are punished severely from their professional boards as well as through law suits. Sadly, animals do not receive the same type of treatment.

A vet in Maryland, Marc S. Katz, allowed his son, who was not a licensed vet technician, to administer insulin to a diabetic cat. The son overdosed the insulin, leaving the cat with severe brain damage and blindness. What was Katz's professional reprimand? Only a $250 fine, a 30-day suspension of his license, which was stayed, and a 6-month probation.

Katz is not the only negligent vet that has gotten away with a slap on the wrist. Greg Munson of Texas created a website, that displays stories of pet owners who have been hurt by the negligent acts of their vets. Munson created this website because he believes that "vets in this country literally get away with murder."

Read the full article at MSNBC.

Animal Abusers May Get Registered in California

The California State Legislature has taken up a bill that would require animal abusers to be registered. Florez, a democrat and Chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee, pushed the bill for the sake of those who "have animals and want to take care of them."

Florez's bill would require any person convicted of a felony involving animal cruelty to register with the police. In the registration, the convicted felon would be required to disclose personal information, including a personal address and a picture. The information would be retained on a website along with information on the offense.

For more information please see the article at The New York Times.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lawyers for Animals? Up for a Vote in Switzerland

They may not be meowing, barking or mooing their way through depositions anytime soon, but if Switzerland's animal-rights activists get their way, domestic creatures may be given the constitutional right to be represented by (human) lawyers in court.

Read more about the March 7th initiative vote in this Time article by Helena Bachmann.

Thanks to colleague University of Illinois Prof. A. Bryan Endres for the heads-up on this one!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The many faces of vivisection

Came across this English-language version of a South Korean newspaper article during a general web search for content this morning. Shudder.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wal-Mart: Private Label Eggs All Cage-Free

Congrats to HSUS for persuading another mega-corporate institution to go cage-free for its egg sales! Read more in this press release.

Monday, February 15, 2010

ABA Update

This from Joan Schaffner, chair of the ABA/TIPS animal law committee:

1) The ABA House of Delegates has approved the Model Act Governing Standards for the Care and Disposition of Disaster Animals. (Yeah! Finally! This means that the ABA will now recommend it to the states. Kudos to cmte founder Barbara Gislason, as well as Jim Carr, David Favre, and about a dozen or more other ABA members who were also involved in this effort.)

2) The history of the ABA/TIPS animal law committee is now available online - thanks to Mariann McDermott. Check it out at:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ben Stein does it (again)!

Kudos to CBS commentator Ben Stein, who - once again - took the opportunity during his Sunday Morning editorial on love this Valentine's Day to reflect on one thing he clearly feels strongly about: "Probably the very best advice I could give give you is to adopt a dog"

He specifically admonished viewers to go to a shelter to get a dog (way to go, Mr. Stein!) and while musing that he could not predict what the stock market will do next year or whether Republicans will regain control of Congress, he had no doubt about this:

"I do know that the smartest thing you could do right this second, for the rest of your life, is to go to a shelter and get a dog. Do it and you'll never be lonely again."

Here's a link to this week's CBS Sunday Morning, though not sure they post all segments online...

And Happy Valentine's Day one and all!

Happy Chinese New Year!

and best wishes to everyone for the the Year of the Tiger!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Law Ed Round-up

Looks like the Georgia State Bar Association has added an animal law section - congrats and good luck!

And down under, Australia's Southern Cross University has announced plans to develop that country's first animal law class available by distance education. (Not sure, but I think that's Aussie-speak for an online class. If I'm wrong, please let me know.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Indiana Laws Get Strict

The Indiana state legislature has decided to toughen its stance with animal protection laws. House Bill 1258, passed unanimously, made it a felony to participate or attend in a dogfight and also requires pet store owners to be transparent on the background of the animals.

The first part of the legislation requires pet store owners to list on the cage of the dog or cat the name of the breeder, the breeder's federal license number, the dog or cat's medical history, business addresses for breeders or brokers and how many litters the breeding facility had produced in the previous year. This information should help educate pet owners on where the animals have been bred.

The second part of the legislation makes enforcement against dogfights a bit easier. It is now a felony for any person to be in attendance of a dogfight, even if they are there without an animal. One dog rescuer commented "I saw dogs with missing eyes, ears, parts of their faces, partial limbs, legs removed and faces scarred beyond recognition, that a human being could inflict this kind of pain and needless suffering on an animal solely for the purpose of entertainment and financial gain is incomprehensible."

Read the full article at IndyStar.

Toledo's "Vicious Dogs" Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Judge Michael Goulding of the Toledo Municipal Court has ruled several aspects of the city's vicious dogs law to be unconstitutional. He cited specifically to the ban on owning more than one pit bull and having to have the dogs muzzled. Judge Goulding also found the statute's ban on it bull mixes to be unconstitutional.

Goulding stated in his opinion that "a more uniform, practical, and humane method of regulating dogs, which both preserves the safety of the public and focuses on the dangers and misdeeds of irresponsible dog owners, would seem preferable to the status quo."

Read more at ToledoBlade

More Roads to Recovery in Dog Bite Cases in Ohio

The Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that a victim of a dog bite may sue for both statutory damages and common law damages. In Beckett v. Warren, the Supreme Court Justices felt it was improper to limit the suit to a single claim. The trial court has allowed Beckett to bring suit under the dog bite statute, R.C. 955.28. However, he did not allow suit under common law negligence. Under the statutory claim, Beckett could not recover for punitive damages. The January 6th decision of the Supreme Court, over a dissent, has determined that a victim may concurrently sue for both compensatory damage under the statute and punitive damages under common law negligence theories.

Read more from the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beer is good for you and your bones

Again, nothing to do with animal law...

But this story made me smile so I wanted to pass it along. Another shout-out to Doug Powell at Kansas State and his infamous Barf Blog!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Haight v. Catholic Healthcare West

A very disappointing ruling by the Ninth Circuit late last week in a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against a researcher who received federal funding for some rather dubious brain cancer research on beagles.

Not only was the outcome disappointing, what was (at least to me) the most disappointing was the fact that the opinion's author flatly called the decision "inequitable" yet - despite sitting on a court that is supposed to have discretion and do things like address injustice in our society - felt obliged to rule inequitably rather than at least concur, never mind dissent or actually do the right thing and persuade at least one other fellow panel member to find grounds to rule likewise. Everyone knows that judges, just like juries, decide how to rule and will construct a way to get there.

Here's a link to the opinion and a short article appearing in the Metropolitan News-Enterprise.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Temple Grandin

Anyone else bothered by the new HBO special on Temple Grandin?

On the one hand, I feel like I should watch it just to know what it is everyone is talking about (I have a sinking feeling that a lot of lawyer colleagues will be asking me about it over the coming weeks just as a matter of making pre-court conversation...)

On the other, I can't much think about Grandin's work in the livestock industry without just getting really annoyed. Not that I'm against humane treatment of animals as a general matter, mind you. Nor have I ever much subscribed to the Francione camp of enacting-humane-laws-can-be-more-counterproductive-than-good.

But (at least to me), Grandin is different. Her "work" resonated at such a voluminous scale that I can't help but truly feel that her - in my view - completed warped ideas about animals and slaughter really helped anyone... that is, other than the large-scale operators save face in the public arena or (more likely) assuage their nagging cognitive dissonance the public never sees.

I think her "vision" about how to keep animals calm(er) before killing them is no better or different than giving a condemned prisoner a cigaretter before a firing squad blows his brains out. I understand why the livestock industry lauds her. It is, I suppose, equally understandable - but nonetheless very disappointing - that HBO has also chosen to try to wring profit from her unusual perspective on suffering.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Oregon Cleans Up Its Act

A number of new animal laws took effect on January 1, 2010 in Oregon. Oregon's state legislature changed, added, and enhanced existing animal laws to become a top 5 rated state by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

The first push of legislation came for puppy mills. Although not banned, Oregon has created restrictions on breeders to combat the problems of unsocialized and sick dogs. Among other restrictions, the statute requires that a breeder be limited to 50 breeding dogs over the age of 2. It also requires that the cages not be stacked and that the dog have enough room to stand, sit, turn, and lay down without hitting the walls of the cage or other dogs.

Oregon also banned private ownership of primates, large exotic cats, canines that aren't domestic dogs, bears and crocodilians. Anyone previously owning these animals must have the requisite permit from the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Oregon's legislature also stepped up the punishment for animal fights. This legislation "makes it a felony to participate in events that feature 'combat between animals' in any way, shape or form. Previously, doing so was a misdemeanor."

Although Oregon's laws had already made it illegal to leave a domestic animal without minimal care, the newly enacted legislation will add equine to the list of animals that are not to be abandoned.

Two new laws will also make it tougher for an animal abuser to again become an animal owner. One law requires that a person adopting an abused animal sign a special form to prove that they are not living with the abuser or that they will return the animal to the abuser. The second law lengthens the amount of time that a convicted abuser must refrain from owning another animal.

For the full story, please read at OregonLive.

Scottish Ministers Won't Ban Animal Snares

The Scottish Parliament took up the issue of animal snares due to several animal advocacy groups calling for their ban. Scottish ministers said "the control of predators through snares, helped to maintain Scotland's world-famous shooting industry, boost conservation and help farmers [to] protect their animals."

Read the complete article at BBC News.

Nebraska Rancher Convicted of 145 Counts of Cruelty

Jason Meduna, owner of 3 Strikes Ranch outside of Alliance, Nebraska, was convicted of 145 counts of animal cruelty. More than 200 horses and burros were confiscated from the ranch by Morrill County Sheriff's Office. At trial, the jury found that Meduna was starving the horses to death.

Read the complete article at


My apologies that I haven't posted anything in the past few weeks. I hope to pick back up next week. In the meantime... the International Animal Law blog just uploaded a number of new articles in case that may be of interest. More soon!