Friday, December 31, 2010


And best wishes for 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Most Canadians say politicians' stance on farm animal welfare would affect their vote

VANCOUVER, Dec. 28 /CNW/ - According to a recent Harris/Decima poll commissioned by the VHS, and funded by the Vancouver Foundation, 71% of Canadians said they are concerned about the humane treatment of farm animals and two-thirds (65%) said a political candidate's stance on farm animal welfare practices would factor into their voting decision.

Read the rest in the blurb from a Canadian newswire... and a shout-out to Doug Powell at Kansas State for finding this nugget - thanks, Doug!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A few animal law-related stories in the news today...

Atlanta's PBS online reports on a new law going into effect this Friday that will ban the use of gas chambers to euthanize dogs and cats...

An Arabic site has details on the honorary fellowship that Bob Barker will be receiving from the Oxford Centre of Animal Ethics...

And a nice article in today's Baltimore Sun talking about how Demand Grows for 'animal law' expertise.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why I am glad I was an ABA member this year:

Not sure I got much of anything else out of my ABA membership this year, but that's ok. The ABA e-Journal validated the entire price of membership with this recent article:

Calif. Judge OK’d Seinfeld’s ‘Festivus’ as Legitimate Religion, Ordered Special Meals for Inmate

Posted Dec 13, 2010 7:38 PM CST
By Martha Neil

Locked up in a California jail, Malcolm Alarmo King wanted healthier meals. In an argument apparently made to a friendly court, he won a ruling from Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson that he should be fed double-portion kosher meals.

Battling to keep its food costs down, the sheriff's department argued that King himself admitted "healthism" was the so-called religion justifying this request. But Johnson wasn't daunted, calling a sidebar with King's lawyer, Fred Thiagarajah, and the county prosecutor and asking for suggestions about a religion he could cite in the kosher-meal order to nail the issue down once and for all, the Orange County Register reported.

“I said Festivus,” Thiagarajah tells the newspaper—and Festivus it was. The holiday (Festivus for the rest of us) was popularized by the writers of the Seinfeld television show, county counsel argued to no avail.

King, however, has now served out his sentence, so further argument over the issue may be mooted.

Last updated Dec. 14 to clarify that Seinfeld writers popularized Festivus.

Another big hog cruelty case!

In addition to the Pennsylvania case (see post below), Manitoba may be looking at the largest-ever farm cruelty case that province has seen. More from CNews...

... in an unrelated cruelty matter, in case anyone is following the saga of Diane Eldrup in a north Chicago suburb (she ran a "shelter" at which authorities found more than a dozen dead dogs after the judge in her divorce case gave her ex permission to retrieve some personal items from the property... he noticed some dead animals... and tipped off the police)... prosecutors are now asking to quadruple her bond. The local Lake County News-Sun explains why.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Game on...

Ok , apologies for the absence... holiday season and all...

At any rate, here's a quickie round-up of a few items these past couple of weeks that made me say "hmm, I should blog about this..." right before I got distracted and did something else:

The Senate untangled the largest reform to American food safety since the Great Depression from an ill-fated spending bill yesterday (yes, really, on a Sunday) and passed the landmark measure during its final lame duck days. President Obama is expected to sign it sometime later this week. Read about the reforms in the Christian Science Monitor or The Washington Post.

President Obama is expected to sign the law repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy on Wednesday, according to The New York Times political blog. Although Congress passed the measure last week, as CNN reports, implementing the change is expected to take at least several months. In the meantime, gay rights activists are wondering if this is going to be a real turning point for their efforts. The Washington Post reports.

Also about a week ago... Pennsylvania authorities filed 832 (count 'em!) charges of cruelty against a farmer after a potential buyer went to check out the farm and found some pretty gruesome conditions. As notes, this would be "big for any case, but it's even bigger when you consider that it was for the deaths of pigs." I would also add that this case has the potential to be even more groundbreaking, considering it's filed in the same state which issued that dreadful opinion in the Pritchard divorce appeal a number of years back (equating a companion animal with a lamp).

About two weeks ago.... animal law attorneys in Colorado filed a class-action suit against Denver and another Colorado city seeking to overturn the ban on the grounds that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The local NBC station has details...

...And President Obama signed a new law banning so-called animal crush videos. The new law was specifically drafted to address the concerns that prompted the right-leaning Supreme Court to overturn an earlier incarnation of the ban earlier this year. Read more about the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act in this CNN article or blogs at the San Francisco Chronicle or

Friday, December 03, 2010

But wait, there's more...

NBC's Today Show had an interview with another set of strong candidates for worst parents of the year this morning. (Maybe some pollyanna producer thinks these are heartwarming stories for the holidays???)

Today's contenders actually left a 6-month-old strapped into her car seat... left the car engine running... and walked away. As fate would have it, some lowlife walks up, helps himself to the car and proceeds to peel out of the parking lot. To the parents' credit, they adhere themselves to the passenger side of the car. The mom busts the glass with her elbow and the dad somehow manages to leapfrog over her and throw himself into the car. Fortunately, he manages to plead and pummel the lowlife until the thief crashes the car into an embankment and runs away. The passenger window has seen better days, although all's well that ends well.

Better still, when asked what he would do differently if he had to do it all over again, the young dad responds "everything." He wouldn't leave the keys in the car, wouldn't leave it running and most importantly, doesn't leave the baby alone anymore. The mom nods in agreement. These people at least seemed to have learned a lesson. This undoubtedly puts their kid in a much stronger position to actually grow up (unlike yesterday's losers... uh... guests). Of course, it weakens their chances of winning the dubious worst parent award immeasurably, but we all make our choices in life, eh?

A bad day to be a bear in New Jersey

An appellate court in the Garden State rejected an appeal today from several animal rights groups to postpone a controversial bear hunt. The suit - a separate matter from the one filed against Republican Governor Christie and a sportsman-related PAC (see below) - means that the hunt will be allowed to proceed on Monday.

New Jersey's Star Ledger reports...

Thursday, December 02, 2010

And the nominees for worst parents of the year are...

Anyone see NBC's Today Show this morning?

Meredith Vieira interviewed a couple whose son nearly drown in a bathtub about 10 months ago. The mom had been giving the toddler a bath... turned away for a few seconds... got distracted... and when she came back the baby was underwater. In fact, he was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital, but amazingly, doctors were able to revive him. After spending several weeks in a coma, the toddler recovered.

The "hook" of the story was supposed to be that, after making this miraculous recovery, the toddler is now taking swimming lessons. (First of all, you have to ask yourself how would NBC even know that a 2-year-old in Utah is taking swim lessons, but I digress...) Things don't always work out according to plan.

Halfway through the interview, the child became increasingly squirmy and demanded repeatedly to "put me down". Anyone with a kid knows how annoying this is. Yes, there is a huge temptation to put your kid down just to get him or her to shut up. And yes, many people do actually give in to this temptation (yours truly included). But here's where most of us differ. We don't stop being parents. These people did. They were so wrapped up in being interviewed on national TV that they let their 2-year-old wander unchecked around the set. First he stumbled off the riser that the couch and chairs were on. Then he hovered around a camera. Sure, he was cute looking at himself in the return. But the camera is heavy, it gets hot, it moves without warning and it is full of metal edges - never mind costing several hundred thousand dollars. That's not cute. Then the boy wandered back around the chairs and, despite the not-so-off-camera efforts of some staffer to safely corral the toddler, he stood up on the arm of a chair and fell back onto the couch.

Suddenly, it became painfully clear that this mom didn't just make a mistake. She and her husband are simply negligent. Worse still, they did not learn anything from the first time their son died!!! How sad for them - and how frightening for the little boy.

Shame on NBC for not interviewing the toddler's doctors - the real heroes of this real-life drama - rather than these hapless, attention seeking parents. And where's the Dept. of Children and Family Services when you need them anyway?

End of Days

Ok, once again, this isn't going to be about animal law... but here goes. Imho, Republicans are - already - feeling their oats and this country is - already - seeing the start of the next Republican reign of terror.

The House - no doubt feeling pressured to acknowledge the "message" the Republican and Tea parties keep bludgeoning us with in the wake of last month's election - voted overwhelmingly today to censure longtime Democratic Representative Charles Rangel of New York. Rangel was found guilty of 11 ethics violations. True, this is not a good thing. But those violations were - in comparison to some of the other crap that other politicians have pulled in recent decades - for relatively minor things like violating the gift ban. Even tax evasion pales in comparison. Did anyone watch CBS Sunday Morning last weekend? Even longtime Republican TV commentator Ben Stein urged lawmakers that censure was too harsh for the 20-term, decorated war veteran Rangel. Oh well.

Perhaps more disappointing, it appears that Congress - driven in particular by a few old-school Republicans - won't even accept a recommendation from no less than the Pentagon itself to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" ban. What is up with that? Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today that a Pentagon study found that ending the ban is unlikely to reduce military preparedness. However, if Congress refuses to enact legislation to allow for a gradual repeal, the all-at-once repeal that would come from a court overturn of the ban would be much more difficult. So far, it's unclear at best whether Gates has actually persuaded his opponents.

On the other hand, it does appear that Illinois is about to become the next state to legalize civil unions. The senate passed the measure today over the opposition of a handful of legislator-curmudgeons from the southern part of that state. And although Illinois may be incredibly corrupt, at least it still has a Democrat governor (who has indicated previously that he supports the measure). As I've blogged before, improvements in gay rights is likely a good thing for animal rights.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

New Jersey bear hunt back in court

An animal rights group filed a lawsuit today against Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a pro-hunting political action committee. The suit alleges that a rally held by the PAC in support of Christie's candidacy violated campaign contribution laws, led to a political appointment for one of the PAC's leaders and ultimately resulted in the Christie administration's decision to support a long-controversial bear hunt.

Read more in New Jersey's Star-Ledger...