Saturday, January 28, 2012

Soap opera actor kills self after feeling pressured into euthanizing his dog

Ok, not exactly animal law... but another story that undeniably demonstrates that people can, and do, form extremely intense emotional bonds with non-humans... and the law really ought to take that value into account.

A down-on-his-luck soap-opera actor took his own life this week after he was forced to put his beloved dog to sleep under pressure from his Upper West Side condo and became wracked by grief, pals said.

The New York Post has more...

I wasn't going to blog about this initially because, well, it was just so disturbing to read that I (as I imagine many others did too) pushed it away. But after several people brought it to my attention, I changed my mind. Pushing it away does not change anything.

The likely outcome here is that nothing will happen to these condo neighbors. At best, Nick's parents or siblings (if he has any and assuming they are alive and actually maintained a close relation to him) might have an attenuated claim of some sort for emotional distress (and assuming NY law doesn't have a contemporaneous injury requirement, which many states do). One colleague suggested that perhaps karma will find the complaining neighbors. I wouldn't be opposed to that, but I wouldn't peg any hopes on that, either. Many people behave terribly towards each other all the time; they never lose sleep over it and nothing bad happens to them as a result of it.

We can't make the condo neighbors be better human beings. But we can push harder for laws that will constrain or criminalize their bullying behavior to the point where this outcome can be avoided. We can push harder for education to teach people not to arbitrarily fear based on immutable traits. And we can make it clear through our own better conduct that the time for that sort of garbage has passed. RIP Nick and Rocco.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Congrats and good luck!

Once again, a post with little to do with animal law...

But I wanted to give a big shout-out to friends, former clients and fellow animal lovers, Jim and Kris Noyes, who recently started their own new business and website. Congrats! You can check it all out at: They're also on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck, guys!

Latest development in PETA's orca lawsuit

According to Steven Wise:
"Over the objections of both PETA and SeaWorld, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller granted a request by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to appear as an amicus curiae, or "Friend of the Court," in the case PETA filed on behalf of five orcas against SeaWorld. The NhRP had not sought to appear as an amicus on behalf of either PETA or SeaWorld, but solely to assist the Court in understanding certain issues that were raised within the context of this litigation and to further the interests of the orcas."
See the full press release at

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can't believe I forgot to post here!

Ok, so this should put to rest any doubt that my brain is truly made of swiss cheese...

I completely forgot to post about the web launch for the newest incarnation of my animal-related career. Here's Monday's announcement:

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues:

It is with great pleasure that we announce plans for the Animal History Museum! It will be the first brick-and-mortar museum to focus on the always complex, but historically marginalized, relationship between humans, (non-human) animals and society in general. As described in our mission statement , the museum's "purpose is to serve and educate the public through the creation of a museum in Los Angeles County, California, for the collection, preservation and exploration of the history, culture, science and law relating to the relationship between human and non-human animals; by presenting exhibitions, lectures and other activities that are consistent with, and supportive of, the museum's educational goals and purpose."

Today is our social media launch! Check us out at:

If you like what you see, please take a minute to like the page, and/or follow us on Twitter! Most importantly, please re-post and re-tweet on your accounts to help us get the word out as widely as possible! Thank you!!!

What's it gonna take?

For the first time ever, Congress is considering a measure that would take the emotional well-being of chickens into account. And just as notably, the nation's biggest egg producer and biggest animal welfare organization are actually on the same side - lobbying in favor of the measure! Yet, the deal still might not get done.

NPR explains why...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Death of an Ordinary Housecat

There's nothing to see here. Move along. Nothing, that is, but this report of a minor incident in Russellville, Arkansas: "Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden's campaign manager returned home to find his family pet slaughtered, with the word 'liberal' painted on the animal's corpse."

Read this extremely thoughtful, unapologetic look at what some may try to paint as an "isolated incident" in the Huffington Post...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Supreme Court overturns Calif. law on euthanizing downed livestock

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a California law that would require euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses to keep the meat out of the nation’s food system.

Read more in this Associated Press article picked up by The Washington Post...

Friday, January 20, 2012

New breed of grandparents fawn over grandpuppies

It's one thing for a dog to be man's best friend. But a growing number of baby boomers are taking puppy love to a whole new level. Some parents, anxiously awaiting the day when they become grandparents, are showering affection on their children's pets. They're known as grandpuppies.

CBS This Morning reports...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Animal rescuers arrested in Tennessee had been watched in California

Three days before animal rescuers Hearts for Hounds left California for Virginia, officials from the Long Beach Animal Care Services stopped by to investigate complaints about noise and odor.

During the Jan. 12 visit, officers found far more than the 75 animals the group was licensed to house, and a followup visit was scheduled for Jan. 17.

"Between that time and our followup visit, that Sunday afternoon, they left town," said John Keisler, acting manager at Long Beach Animal Care Services.

According to The Commercial Appeal, the two women arrested now face more than 100 charges of aggravated animal cruelty and bonds of $100,000 each...

(Interestingly, the founder of frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry was released on just $60,000 bail after allegedly attacking a homeless man with a tire iron...)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where's the legal line drawn in animal-rights activism?

A federal courthouse in Boston and a ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley present competing faces of the animal rights movement.

One side is peaceful. The other, decidedly, is not. Both can feel the weight of the law and the sting of being called a terrorist.

The Sacramento Bee has the rest of this thoughtful article...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Homeless v. Helpless

An effort to ban animals on the Las Vegas Strip is stirring debate over whether the measure is really intended to help prevent animals from cruelty or is just a backhanded attempt to target the homeless.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Animal Hospice praised by celebs facing cruelty charges

If you are a fan of Oprah, or Food Network's Rachel Ray, you may have heard of Angel's Gate in New York. It's become something of a celebrity animal hospice these past few years. (To the extent that shelters enjoy a celebrity status, that is.)

Angel's Gate is back in the news, but it's probably not enjoying the spotlight this time. After receiving a tip from a job applicant, PETA sent in one of its undercover volunteers and turned over its secret video to prosecutors.

The hospice is now facing multiple cruelty charges. Sounds terrible at first blush, but it seems that the issue centers around whether some of the animals are in such bad shape that, according to PETA, they should be humanely euthanized instead.

NPR has more on this morality-laden controversy...

Friday, January 06, 2012

First-ever forensic veterinarian for NJ SPCA...

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is adding a new position to its staff that may be more familiar to fans of human-centered crime shows.

Dr. Ernest Rogers is joining the NJSPCA as its first ever "forensic veterinarian." The Associated Press has the story...

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Puppy lawyer says suffering pooch is like child, not dog

The lawyer for the Manhattan dog owner who is taking an Upper East Side pet shop to court over the animal's "pain and suffering" compared the pooch to a child, saying today the puppy is worth more than property.

The suit, filed on behalf of "Elena Zakharova for herself and as representative of her dog, Umka," contends the petite Brussels Griffon should be recognized as a living being instead of property, as state law currently contends.

Read more in the New York Post...

Sunday, January 01, 2012