Friday, April 30, 2010

Global bake sale is 'sweet' vegan activism

Really nice little piece on the second annual global vegan bake sale on CNN! Must confess I am not exactly sure what this is (someone please feel free to write in and let me know) but it apparently involves dessert, so yay! I love to cook/bake, so if someone gives me a heads-up next year I'd also love to participate if possible. Also, Hen House blog founders Mariann Sullivan and Jasmin Singer - who was interviewed for the story - are asking folks to go onto the site and recommend the link to others. So if you have time, please do.

Meanwhile... the Chicago Diner (vegan) Ginger Molasses cookies on my counter are calling my name... I know, I know, it is 10:00 at night already and I really shouldn't eat anything else... but I am quite sure I hear "Amy, Amy" wafting out of my kitchen... really only one way to silence that, you know...

And now for something completely different...

This from today's Bovine Veterinarian:
Animal agriculture is under a terrible assault by animal rightists. “You are depicted as cruel, abusers, anti-animal and enemies of decency and humane care,” said Wesley J. Smith, acclaimed author and senior fellow in human rights and bioethics at the Discovery Institute. “You are not dealing with people who want to reach accommodation with animal husbandry and its practices. We are not dealing with an animal welfare movement. Animal rights is not animal welfare.”

Read the rest of Geni Wren's editorial in The Human Cost of Animal Rights.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Buddy the Alaskan Hero Dog

Ok, again, not exactly animal law, but for everyone who just likes to read more proof that dogs have more going on in their heads than the tables and lamps the Pennsylvania Supreme Court likes to compare them to....

Here's a really sweet story out of Alaska about a dog named - what else? - Buddy, who is credited with helping to rescue his owner from a burning building.

Buddy received a commendation for his efforts from the state troopers on Friday - here's a link from Seattle Post Intelligencer. And here's a link to the initial story from Fox News video, with a shout-out to blog reader Bruce for the heads-up!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A shout-out to....

...the Louisiana State Bar animal law section, which just held its CLE this past Friday. The program looked great. I'm sorry I didn't pick up on it sooner or I would have put it on the events list to the right. I guess if anyone out there reading this blog knows of an upcoming law school or bar association animal law event, please let me know!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bears breathe a sigh of relief in California - for now

California's Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously today to not expand the bear hunting grounds or to eliminate the cap on the number of bears that could be killed each season. The Department of Fish and Game had proposed allowing bear hunting for the first time in San Luis Obispo County and expanding it in Lassen and Modoc counties. Officials had also recommended getting rid of the annual cap of 1,700 bears killed — reaching that cap automatically ends the season — and letting the season continue until its official close in late December.

However, because the department was inundated with public comments, they voted against the changes. By California law, all comments must be addressed before changes can be made. So the commissioners will continue to answer the questions of the public and look for data to support both sides of the argument. Another vote may come at the end of summer.

Read more at Los Angeles Times.

Pit Bulls get a second chance in Toledo

The Toledo area Humane Society has decided to change its policy towards adoption of pit bulls. This reversal of long standing policy was made because pit bulls in the custody of shelters were either being euthanized or transferred to other rescue groups. The board of directors of the Humane Society finally realized that it was not "right that there was a breed-specific reason to outlaw these dogs. Just killing animals to prevent problems is not the answer."

However, not just anybody will be able to adopt a pit bull. And not just any pit bull will be adopted. A potential adopter must pay double the standard fee. They must also pass a background check and allow two home visits by a Humane Society employee. Potential owners also will need to attend owner information sessions about "pit bull"-type dogs, buy a dog license, and fulfill the state's $100,000 liability insurance requirement. Pit bulls that have passed temperament tests and get along with other animals will be the only ones that are adopted out.

Read more at ToledoBlade.

HSUS Responds to the Supreme Court Ruling

The day after the Supreme Court's controversial ruling in U.S. v. Stevens, the HSUS has called on Congress to fix the law. As noted a few days ago, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal law which made it illegal to videotape and sell images of animals being killed was too broad and violated the First Amendment right to free speech. In the ruling, Justice Roberts did mention that Congress could come back with a more limited statute that applies to "crush videos", the type of thing the law was written against.

Congress is now looking to rewrite this law in a more limited manner that abides by the Supreme Court's ruling. "On the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, we're taking immediate and bipartisan action to protect animals without infringing on the right to free speech. The bottom line is that we need to protect animals from being tortured or killed in a manner that is criminal or morally reprehensible. No one should be allowed to profit from so-called crush videos or other images of animal cruelty," said Re. Earl Blumenauer.

Read more at HSUS.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Supreme Court Rules Against Animal Cruelty Law

In an 8-1 decision today, the Supreme Court has struck down a federal law that made it illegal to depict violence against animals. The Supreme Court ruling, written by Justice Roberts states that the law was written overly broad and violated the First Amendment's right to free speech.

The federal law was enacted in 1999 to stop "crush videos". Crush videos are sexual fetish videos that depict women torturing or killing animals by stepping on them. However, the government never actually prosecuted any such case. Instead, the case brought to the Supreme Court was of a man who made videos of pit bulls fighting.

The Court ruled that this federal law was so broad that it would even ban hunting videos. "The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only to categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits," Roberts wrote. However, the court did say that a narrower statute that was aimed at crush videos and other acts of "extreme animal cruelty" would be constitutional.

Read more at The Washington Post.

Colorado's New Law Protects Pets from Abusers

It looks as if a trend is sprouting up across the states. Colorado's Governor just signed a bill into law that will allow judges to put pets on protective orders against domestic abusers. I have written before about similar such bills proposed in the legislatures of Minnesota and West Virginia.

Angela McMahan was one such abused woman in Colorado. She stayed with her abuser because she feared for the safety of her two puppies. She couldn't escape to women's shelters because they didn't allow pets. Today, McMahan is the president of the only domestic violence shelter in the metro area that permits pets, Arising Hope International.

Kudos to Colorado for realizing that rescuing a pet from abuse saves not only the pet's life, but also their owner's.

Read more at 9News.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bolivia bans the use of animals in circuses

Bolivia's legislators have done what American courts won't, they've banned the use of animals in circuses. Europe has already paved the road towards such bans, but Bolivia has gone a step forward. While some European countries have banned the use of exotic animals only, Bolivia has the banned the use of both exotic and domestic animals.

The British based group, Animal Defenders International brought shocking images of animal cruelty to the floor of Bolivia's legislature. The animals were malnourished, badly treated, and living in cramped cages in their own feces.

Unfortunately for the animals, although they've been liberated, they have no where to go. The care taking costs for these animals are excessive. They must receive medical treatment that they have been lacking their whole lives. Some of these animals are being moved to California, while others are being sent to Britain. But in the meantime, they are waiting in temporary cages.

Read more at AP.

Bullfighting: Torture or Culture? The Debate Continues.

Bull-fighting protesters have found their way to Palma, Spain. Last week more than 200 people showed up to protest bull-fighting. They stand against the idea that it is a point of cultural heritage. When the protest march reached Plaza de EspaƱa, dozens of members of the AnimaNaturalis Association lay naked on the floor covered in red paint and with ‘banderillas’ to represent the bulls which die in the ring.

Read more at EuroWeekly.

Bulgarian Dog Raises Issue of Cruelty

Mima has suffered greatly since March of this year. She had all 4 of her legs chopped off with an axe in the Bulgarian town of Dryanovo. Although saved by vets, she is not able to walk on the stubs left in place of her limbs. She is only able to lie on her back.

Mima's story has been heard, and people have rallied. They are asking for tougher punishments on people who cause bodily injury or death to animals. The Minister of Agriculture, Miroslav Naidenov, has pledged legal proposals to dissuade violence against animals.

The government has asked parliament to introduce up to three years imprisonment and fines from the equivalent of €2,500 to €7,500 for abuse. The proposed legal amendment envisions even harsher treatment of recurrent offenders and those who mistreat animals in front of young children - up to five years in prison and fines of between €5,000 and €15,000.


Retiring police dogs deserve some perks

Unfortunately, in San Francisco, these brave police dogs don't get help post-retirement. A police dog faces the stresses of working on the streets, just as their human counterparts. These dogs are required to stand on guard at all times during their working shifts. They are sent in pursuit of fleeing suspects, they are asked to jump through and over obstacles. This kind of stress wears on the dogs over time.

While in uniform, all upkeep for the dogs is taken care of by the police department, ie. government money. Food and medical bills are covered. However, upon retirement, the dog owner is left with the bill. The dog handlers are usually the ones who take them in after retirement, since they were the ones with the initial bonds.

Read more at ContraCostaTimes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Animal Cruelty Bill in Tennessee

Both houses of Tennessee's legislature have passed a bill that would give harsher penalties to animal abusers. Under the new law, any person who violates a court order in connection with an animal cruelty charge would be convicted of a misdemeanor. Currently, there are no laws to go after an abuser who does not follow a court order.

A second animal cruelty conviction, under the new bill, will be a felony and will land the abuser in prison for 1-6 years.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Animal abusers in Louisiana face a Registry

Just a couple months ago I had posted about California's legislature looking at a bill to create a registry for animal abusers. It looks as though Louisiana is following suit. State Representative Walker Hines has introduced legislation that would require registration of certain offenders convicted of offenses against animals. These offenders would be required to register as soon as they establish a residence in the state of Louisiana regardless of whether the crime was committed in another state.

Particular offenses against animals cited in the proposed bill include dog fighting, hog fighting, cockfighting, sport killing of zoo or circus animals and anyone convicted of aggravated cruelty to animals.


New Puppy Mill Proposal for Missouri

The Humane Society of the United States has helped push a proposal to appear on November ballots concerning puppy mills in Missouri. The proposal requires such necessities as sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, sufficient housing and space, regular exercise, and sufficient rest between breeding cycles. Any breeders not conforming to these requirements would face punishment by the proposed law.

Of course, like any good proposal, there is some debate on the topic. The Jasper County Farm Bureau believes that this bill goes too far for animal protection. Vice President of the Farm Bureau, Bradley Moll believes that the bill "hurts dogs more than it helps them."

The Carthage Humane Society, on the other hand, believes that this proposed law would just restate prior state regulations that currently go unenforced. Tish Bentlage, director of the Carthage Humane Society believes that "It’s a good initiative, it’s just trying to set forth standards."

Read more about the debate at

California Fur-Labelling Gets Strict

On April 5, the California Assembly voted to close a loophole in federal law pertaining to fur labels. Current laws only require labeling if the product uses at least $150 worth of animal fur. Manufacturers thus evade the law by using cheaper animal fur and not labeling the product, leading consumers to believe it is a synthetic.

The California bill would require that all garments containing fur are labeled with the type of animal and the country of origin.

Read more at Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Rural Illinois dog rescue falters

A Kankakee judge is expected to rule Friday in the locally infamous Pat Gorecki case. Prosecutors recently decided to drop animal cruelty charges against Gorecki in connection with several dozen dogs seized from her property last month. Gorecki, who had been convicted of animal cruelty about seven years ago, wants her dogs back. The Humane Society is objecting.

Read more in this NBC article by Lauren Jiggetts.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Who would give Sarah Palin her own show?

If you guessed Fox, you would be way off. It looks like Discovery Communications wants a piece of Palin's celebrity. Sarah Palin has been shopping around to have her show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, put on air. Discovery won the bid and will pay Palin over $1 million per episode for the 8-episode travelogue premiering on TLC. It will be produced by Mark Burnett, the reality TV guru. Each episode will "reveal Alaska’s powerful beauty as it has never been filmed, and as told by one of the state’s proudest daughters,” according to Peter Liguori, Discovery’s chief operating officer.

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund have created a petition to urge Discovery to drop the show. Palin has proven, time and again, to not have the best interests of Alaska's environment at heart. While in office, the former governor fought against increased protections for endangered whales and America's dwindling populations of polar bears in favor of oil and gas development, supported dangerous drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, and escalated Alaska's brutal aerial wolf-killing program.

Sign the PETITION and tell Discovery Communications that Sarah Palin doesn't deserve to represent the "powerful beauty of Alaska" in front of millions of people.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Update on sheep-research at UW-Madison

A few weeks ago I had written about the lab testing of decompression's impact on sheep that was being conduct at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Since Dane County District Attorney Blanchard decided to turn away from what was going on, Alliance for Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals decided to go at it without him.

Yesterday attorneys from the animal welfare groups asked Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy R. Smith at a hearing to order a special prosecutor to file civil charges against the university employees. They were able to do this because of a Wisconsin law that allows citizens to ask a judge to order prosecution. Judge Smith should be issuing a ruling later this month.

This is not the first time that animal activists have had to look to existing law, not targeted at animals, to protect them. Lawyers in Indiana, Oregon and Washington state have used foreclosure laws to secure liens on horses, dogs and other pets of people charged with abuse to seize the animals. After securing the liens, the pets are auctioned off to shelters who then adopt them out.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal.