Sunday, December 27, 2009

The legacy of Jake the dog...

The former yellow lab of one Sioux City councilman is being described as the "poster child" for what's wrong with that city's vicious animal law.... Jake's owner looks ahead to trying to amend that law in the coming year. Read more about Jake's informal (tho rather suspect) reprieve in Lynn Zerschling's piece in the Sioux City Journal.

(And in a not-altogether unrelated article, Jake apparently got 62 write-in votes in Sioux City's last election this past November...)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Judge allows wild horse roundup in Nevada

A controversial wild horse roundup is scheduled to begin on Monday in Nevada. Read more in this Associated Press article...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

to those who celebrate it and best wishes to all for this holiday season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vt. court eyes value of love of man's best friend

Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont's highest court is being asked to decide what a dog's love is worth.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing a case that started in July 2003, when Denis and Sarah Scheele, who were visiting relatives, let their mixed-breed dog wander into Lewis Dustin's yard and he fatally shot it.

Now the Scheeles, of Annapolis, Md., are asking the court to carve out a new legal doctrine that a dog's owners can sue for emotional distress and loss of companionship, just like parents can when they lose children.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ruling in on Western Illinois mega-dairy case

The court handed down its opinion in the A.J. Boss trial yesterday. In roughly a half-dozen pages, the court basically said that the plaintiffs, while they had some evidence, did not prove that the operation of the mega-dairy in Jo Daviess County would constitute either a private nuisance, public nuisance or trespass. He also taxed costs against the plaintiffs. If I can figure out how to link to a PDF copy of the ruling, I'll add a link later.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Real life "pay it forward"

Again, nothing to do with animal law, but it's a real heart-warming, holiday season tale. For one evening, life imitated art at a Philadelphia diner. Read more in this NBCPhiladelphia story by Danielle Johnson.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Animal activists are crucifying farmers

Activists pushing for changes in animal agriculture actually want to end the practice of raising animals for food. That’s the message from Missouri Farm Bureau President Charlie Kruse, and others at the group’s annual convention in Osage Beach, Missouri.

Read more in the Meat Trade News Daily...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Word has it that...

... the A.J. Boss mega-dairy trial wrapped up in western Illinois this past week. No link to follow here, just passing along what I heard through the grapevine. No verdict yet.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


A recent few items that I missed....

A longtime Wisconsin activist lived just long enough to see her goal realized last week... read more in this Wisconsin Rapids Tribune article by Adam Wise. To read more on Wisconsin's new anti-puppy mill law, check out this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel by Patrick Marley. Congrats to all involved in this bill's passage!

The infamous Brooklyn loser who threw Oreo the dog off a roof last summer was a no-show at his court hearing last week and now faces jail time. (Unfortunately not the death penalty... did I say that out loud?...) Read more in Scott Shifrel's article in the NY Daily News.

And a rather unusual demonstration in Madrid this past weekend: animal activists carried some 100 carcasses of various non-humans down the street to raise awareness of animal cruelty issues. Read more in this posting on by Kelley Diekman.

Monday, December 07, 2009

First Annual Animal Law Social in Chicago

Last Wednesday, the Chicago Bar Association animal law committee, American Bar Association animal law committee and area law schools all came together for what will hopefully become an annual holiday networking event. John Marshall Law School was kind enough to host the evening and some 50 attorneys and students attended!

The JMLS Animal Law Society also gave an award to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. Sheriff Dart has a commendable track record for his ongoing efforts to combat dog fighting, as well as support of other local animal welfare issues. Here, Tom O'Donnell accepts the award on behalf of the Sheriff.

Party organizers, left to right: Tracy McGonigle, Chair, CBA Animal Law Committee, Amy Breyer, founding chair, CBA Animal Law Committee, and Sunny MacLachlan, JMLS trial advocacy professor and coach of the animal law moot court team.

Here are some more photos. Thanks to everyone involved for helping make this event a success!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A Legal Challenge to Animal Research

Subtitled "Animal rights law courses may threaten the use of animals in medical research"....

... a research director at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and Oregon Health and Sciences University offers his opinion on the impact of the growing number of animal law courses as well as interplay between law and medical schools in the latest edition of The Scientist.

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.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Carnivore’s Dilemma

The New York Times
Op-Ed Contributor
Published: October 30, 200

IS eating a hamburger the global warming equivalent of driving a Hummer? This week an article in The Times of London carried a headline that blared: “Give Up Meat to Save the Planet.” Former Vice President Al Gore, who has made climate change his signature issue, has even been assailed for omnivorous eating by animal rights activists.

It’s true that food production is an important contributor to climate change. And the claim that meat (especially beef) is closely linked to global warming has received some credible backing, including by the United Nations and University of Chicago. Both institutions have issued reports that have been widely summarized as condemning meat-eating.

However, as the author argues, "that’s an overly simplistic conclusion to draw from the research." Read the rest of Ms. Niman's thought-provoking counterpoint here...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Does Ohio's "Issue 2" cover puppy mills or no?

Big controversy in the Buckeye State over whether a pending referendum dealing with farm animal welfare covers dog breeding operations too. Read more in this Akron Beacon Journal article....

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pet school? You bet, say supervisors

Ramona Sentinel
Joe Naiman

Pet owners who violate relatively minor animal-related laws in unincorporated San Diego County or in Department of Animal Services contract cities will soon be able to attend the pet owner version of traffic school rather than be assessed the full fine amount.

Click here for the rest of the story...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bob Barker donates another $1 million

Bob Barker, the longtime "The Price is Right" host who made headlines several years ago when he began giving away $1 million gifts to law schools to teach animal law, is at it again. This time, he's giving a million dollars to his alma mater to establish a professorship in animal law - with the hopes that Missouri's Drury University will eventually establish a full undergraduate degree program.

Read more in this Associated Press article here...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Breyer v. AVMA

(Feels like that some days at any rate....)

Just a quick bit of self-promotion here... This month, GP Solo (the ABA's General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division magazine) published my letter to the editor. The letter comments on the AVMA's rather unabashed propaganda piece in the summer issue of the magazine, which focused on Animal Law. That issue is available through the ABA website. Click here. (Not sure if you have to be a member to view it.)

The new issue is not available on the web yet. But since I'm the author (and heaven knows I'm always scraping around for blog content anyway), here it is:

Dear Editor:

Thank you very much for devoting an entire issue to “Animal Law” [July/August 2009, vol. 26, no. 5]. As an animal law practitioner, it was terrific to see this topic get the attention it so increasingly deserves!

Unfortunately, the article on “Non-Economic Damages in Pet Lawsuits” amounted to little more than an unrebutted forum for the American Veterinary Medical Association to advance its own agenda. I would like to take this opportunity to offer a counterpoint.

The AVMA begins by acknowledging that many people think of their animals as more than property but then warns that permitting non-economic damages for their negligent harm would cause veterinary insurance premiums to rise, rabies to become prevalent, animals to be abandoned, prices to increase on everything from pet supplies to auto insurance, and police officers to be hesitant to shoot rabid animals.

The authors, however, offer no data to support any of these dire predictions. In fact, the veterinary insurance industry’s own data suggests that permitting non-economic damages would translate to an increased cost of only about 13 cents per owner, and even if premiums “truly skyrocketed by 100 times their current level,” this would still only translate to a “cost increase of $11.50 per pet-owning household” (C. Green, “The Future of Veterinary Malpractice Liability in the Care of Companion Animals,” Animal Law, vol. 10, 2004, pp. 163, 218, 219).

The AVMA is likewise entitled to its “opinion that large recoveries have been a factor in the skyrocketing of health care costs,” however it offers no evidence here either. Government studies have not supported this conclusion. U.S. Government Accounting Office, Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care, p. 2, 2003. (website omitted due to Blogger limitations; see article) (last visited Aug. 11. 2009) Private studies have flatly rejected a correlation between states that have enacted damage caps and premium rates for doctors. True Risk: Medical Liability, Malpractice Insurance and Health Care. Americans for Insurance Reform. (website omitted due to Blogger limitations; see article) (last visited Aug. 11, 2009).

If fears of spiraling costs are unfounded, perhaps other concerns have also been greatly exaggerated. For example, allowing non-economic damages will not “impose” an adversarial relationship between vets and clients. Animal owners will not be required to sue their vets, and those that do are likely already in an adversarial relationship. Police officers’ conduct is also unlikely to be affected, as anyone even arguably acting under color of law will not have to pay a judgment out of his or her own pocket.

The AVMA likewise mixes apples and oranges by arguing that permitting non-economic damages will elevate human-animal relationships above some human-human relationships. A claim for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” is narrower and protects fewer relationships than a claim for emotional loss as a component of compensatory damages. As a result, seeking damages for the injury or death of a beloved companion is not a referendum on which type of relationship is more valuable.

The AVMA’s attempts to counter some frequently cited reasons for permitting non-economic damages wither under scrutiny. The suggestion that criminal cruelty statutes already serve the purpose of recognizing the value that owners place on their animals fails to mention that such statutes routinely exempt veterinary practices. The suggestion that any need to deter veterinary negligence is already served by veterinary medical boards fails to acknowledge that these boards do not offer the remedies afforded by a private right of action. And the AVMA’s attempt to dismiss the entire issue of non-economic damages by suggesting that “only a small number of animal rights activists and attorneys are pushing this issue” ignores their own statistics: 60 percent of U.S. households have companion animals. If even 1 percent believe their companions to be worth more than an economic analysis, that’s still roughly 3 million people.

Veterinarians (and other animal-related product/service providers) earn their entire livelihood based upon the reality that owners are willing to spend more to care for their animals than it costs to simply replace them if they become ill or injured (Steven M. Wise, “Recovery of Common Law Damages for Emotional Distress, Loss of Society, and Loss of Companionship for the Wrongful Death of a Companion Animal,” Animal Law, vol. 4, 1998, pp. 33, 47). And yet, the AVMA is the first to argue that any recovery should be limited to economic measures only. Such arguments are increasingly indefensible. The law has evolved to recognize reality and reject such arguments in other areas. It should do the same here.

Amy A. Breyer
Chicago, Illinois

Ms. Breyer opened Illinois’ first animal law practice in 2002. She founded the Chicago Bar Association’s animal law committee in 2003 and the Illinois State Bar Association’s animal law section in 2009. Ms. Breyer has taught several animal law courses and lectures on the topic around the country.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is McCotter Barking Up the Right Tree with Tax Deductions for Pet Owners?

A Missouri congressman is sponsoring a bill "Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years" (”HAPPY Act”) that would allow taxpayers to deduct up to $3,500 a year in pet care expenses. (No kidding!)

Read more in Taxgirl's recent blog post.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Group appeals ruling that lets Rochester hog farmer seek damages


ROCHESTER -- The Rochester Buckhart Action Group has appealed a ruling that hog farmer Robert Young is entitled to damages due to a lawsuit the group filed in an unsuccessful attempt to block construction of his facility.

Read more here...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For what it's worth...

Upon information and belief, the following post recently appeared on a blog called "The Meatingplace" at
Animal Agriculture Alliance recently sent out a press release expressing their concern over the fact that the undercover activists that participate in animal abuse rather than immediately reporting it to management are not held accountable. They certainly do have a point!

To quote their release "As these videos achieve the publicity sought by the groups, the Alliance is concerned that the activist employees providing the tapes are not held accountable for their failure to follow company animal care policies and their failure to immediately report mistreatment to the farm owners or managers."

In the past, I have supported video cameras in the live handling areas of poultry processing plants to document handling. If there is a long history of proper animal handling a single incident reported by an activist group could be easily rebutted. There are egg companies doing just this and even using a third party to archive and evaluate the videos, thus removing any hint of tampering. I don't think that is necessary although, it has merit. I do think you could simply use time stamped video as proof.

With digital media and the abundance of camera types and prices available today, cost is not a big factor. As for the discomfort of people working in the area, it is for their protection. In addition, we have all become accustomed to seeing signs at the bank, the convenience store and shopping malls telling us that we are being taped. Big brother has been here for quite a while now. Let's use this technology to our advantage and eliminate the advantage of the activists.
Please note that you need to be a member of the blog in order to sign in and actually read the posts, so I can't independently confirm either the post or the authenticity of the contents. Just passing it along at face value...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Farm animal legislative update

Governor Schwarzenegger has signed a bill making California the first state in the nation to ban the practice of docking cows' tails. This despite the fact he initially ridiculed lawmakers for spending time considering the measure. Read the rest in USA Today.

The governor's progressive stance, however, comes on the same he also vetoed legislation to crack down on large-scale puppy mills, making him - according to USA Today - the only governor in six states that passed such legislation to override it with a veto.

Meantime, Michigan's governor signed legislation yesterday making "Michigan the second state to ban so-called battery cages for egg-laying chickens, the fifth to ban veal crates and the seventh to ban stalls for pregnant pigs." Read more in this little blog article. There's more info available in Michigan's Agriculture Industry Today, but it looks like you have to be a member to access it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dog owner challenges Denver's pit bull evaluation and wins

Congrats to Denver's Animal Law Center for a great ruling Friday on behalf of Dexter, the not-so-much-a-pit-bull! Click for a video link to a KDVR-TV story!

Pets aren't 'children' in court's eyes

Meanwhile, a Florida appellate court has given a vet malpractice suit a second chance at trying to budge Florida's prohibition on emotional damages for loss of a companion animal. Read more in this Herald Tribune article by Todd Ruger.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Titanic memorial cruise set for 100th anniversary

Is it me or is this a really, really bad idea???

What's next? A balloon ride to celebrate the anniversary of the Hindenberg?

No reason to stop there... this could be a whole cottage industry... "disaster tourism"! Can't you just see the advertising now? "Lose weight AND re-live history: enjoy a recreation of the Irish potato famine!" Or who could resist this travel gem: "Freeze your own moment in time with Pompei II! And for those seeking that once-in-a-lifetime vacation: "Local renaissance faire not enough of a medieval experience? Discover Bubonic Plague Paradise!"


Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Supreme Court weighs free speech vs. animal cruelty

Reporting from Washington - Could the government outlaw a hypothetical "Human Sacrifice Channel" on cable TV?

That question became the focus of a Supreme Court argument Tuesday on the reach of the 1st Amendment and whether Congress can outlaw videos showing dogs fighting or other small animals being tortured and killed.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets

The New York Times
Oct. 5, 2009
By Carla Baranauckas

When Chad, a yellow Labrador retriever, moved in with Claire Vaccaro’s family in Manhattan last spring, he already had an important role. As an autism service dog, he was joining the family to help protect Ms. Vaccaro’s 11-year-old son, Milo — especially in public, where he often had tantrums or tried to run away.

Like many companion animals, whether service dogs or pets, Chad had an immediate effect — the kind of effect that is noticeable but has yet to be fully understood through scientific study. And it went beyond the tether that connects dog and boy in public.

Rest the rest of the article here...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dog who survived 2006 shooting dies

Raleigh News & Observer/Thomasi McDonald

CHARLOTTE -- Truman, the chocolate Labrador retriever who survived a police shooting nearly three years ago and went on to enjoy bananas, his new kid brother and dressing up as Tupac Shakur for Halloween, died Saturday.

He was 13.

"He was our child with fur," owner Meredith Phillips said on Monday from her home in Charlotte.

The head wound Truman suffered on Christmas Day 2006 at the hands of a Raleigh police officer, who was investigating a dog-bite report, was not a factor in his death. It was pancreatitis that finally claimed the 85-pound family pet, Phillips said.

Read the rest of the article here... and a shout-out to fellow animal law attorney Joe Mustian for the heads-up!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just how healthy is that puppy in the pet shop window?

By Patty Khuly, Special for USA TODAY

Ever planned on buying a perfect, purebred pup from a pet shop? Or maybe you felt sorry for that little fluffy kitten you glimpsed in the window. If so, you've got company. Hundreds of thousands of pets are bought and sold from retail establishments every year.

I should know … I see my fair share. And I'm sick of them.

Now, before you rush to condemn my insensitivity, let me explain: There's almost nothing I like less than the obfuscations, corruption and abuse that underlies much of this industry. There may be animal-selling retail establishments in the U.S. that don't deal in smoke and mirrors, but I don't know about them.

Click here for the rest of the article...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three charged in dogfighting ring at suburban Chicago daycare

Three men were charged Wednesday -- and two others are being sought – for their involvement in a dogfighting ring based in a home that also serves as a daycare facility in west suburban Maywood.

Read more in this Chicago Sun-Times article...

Hog lawsuits raising stink in Missouri

San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, September 18, 2009

Get This Rat a Lawyer!

Glenn Beck says Cass Sunstein wants to give animals the right to sue humans. Really?In 1510, the respected French lawyer Bartholomew Chassenée made his name by serving as legal counsel for a horde of rats. The rats stood accused of eating through the province's barley crop. But the trial was tainted, Chassenée argued, for two reasons: First, the court failed to properly notify the rodents of the trial date. And second, the defendants could not possibly appear in court when getting there entailed risking a run-in with a cat.

Read the rest of this terrific article in Slate Magazine....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Female fish agree bigger is better; human research may be next

The Sydney Morning Herald
Richard Macey
Sept, 17, 2009
SIZE may matter, Australian scientists have found.

In possibly the first study of its kind, Australian National University biologists found that female mosquito fish prefer males with large genitals.

Read more here...

(Sorry, I realize this has nothing to do with animal law. Just couldn't resist...)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Illinois appellate court says CAFO owner entitled to damages

Ok, most people reading this blog probably will not be happy to see this, but in the spirit of keeping up with legal rulings whether or not you agree with them comes this one from Illinois:

A Rochester hog farmer is entitled to damages stemming from a lawsuit filed by opponents of his large-scale hog operation that delayed its construction, the Illinois 4th District Appellate Court decided this week.

Read more in this recent State Journal-Register article by Debra Landis.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Now 'Pete' can say: Talk to my lawyer

Montpelier Times Argus
Thatcher Moats
Sept. 13, 2009

MONTPELIER - So far, the moose known as Pete has a well-oiled public relations team and a vigorous grassroots campaign working on his behalf.

Now he also has a lawyer.

Pamela Vesilind, a Vermont Law School professor who is an expert in the growing field of animal law, attended a rally for the moose Saturday afternoon at the Statehouse and said she was there to start gathering the facts about the case.

"We're going to represent Pete the Moose," said Vesilind.

Click here to read more about Pete and his legal team...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cass Sunstein latest target for the anti-‘czar’ bunch

The same critics that successfully lobbied for the resignation of White House adviser Van Jones are now attacking Cass Sunstein, a prominent legal scholar and a professor at Harvard Law School. In January, the White House confirmed that Sunstein was in line to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which oversees privacy, information, and regulatory policy.

Read more in Matthew Shaer's article this past week from the Christian Science Monitor...

Friday, September 11, 2009

From Deep Pacific, Ugly and Tasty, With a Catch

Seems that the mystery fish inside a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish is no longer a mystery. In fact, it's becoming quite the hot topic for discussion concerning whether it is being over-fished.

Read more in this recent New York Times article by William Broad...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Appeals court upholds decision to allow service dog in southwestern Illinois school

Belleville News-Democrat

MOUNT VERNON -- The 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon has denied Columbia School District's bid to put on hold a Monroe County judge's order allowing an autistic student's service dog into the school.

Read the rest of the article...

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cows 'should be genetically engineered not to feel pain'

Remember how Dr. Peter Singer's philosophical theories would cause quite a stir with folks who were not particularly inclined to take animal suffering into account in their calculus of how the world should work....

Well, I imagine that Adam Shriver of Washington University in St. Louis may stir up an equal and opposite reaction with this ethical musing...

(And, as always, a shout-out to Doug Powell at Kansas State for finding this story!)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Animal Law Practices Grow as 'Animal Companions' Gain Acceptance

Nice little write-up earlier this week on animal law in's Legal Blog Watch. One thing I'm not sure I agree with though... the piece suggests "it's a business that is growing, even during this legal downturn."

While it may be true that there is a growing number of courses in law schools, and an increasing awareness in the public generally, (both good things, mind you), as an animal law business owner - who is friends with other animal law business owners - I'm not sure I would describe "business" as "growing" during this legal (read: economic) downturn. Sigh...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Death and Iowa...

Sept. 1, 2009
Associated Press

WASHINGTON — An undercover video shot by an animal rights group at an Iowa egg hatchery shows workers discarding unwanted chicks by sending them alive into a grinder, and other chicks falling through a sorting machine to die on the factory floor.

Chicago-based Mercy for Animals said it shot the video at Hy-Line North America's hatchery in Spencer, Iowa, over a two-week period in May and June. The video was obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Click for the rest of the AP release...

Monday, August 31, 2009

Random observations from the road

I just returned from a trip to South Carolina for a family event and - although I don't generally blog about personal things - had two experiences that I wanted to share.

First, if you happen to be in Ashville, North Carolina for any reason, definitely check out Luella's barbeque. It was terrific! Not only did they have excellent side dishes, but they actually had bbq tempeh. (And it was really good!) This may not sound like a big deal to folks who live on either coast or even some of the more metropolitan cities elsewhere. But, imho, it is.

I used to live in Georgia in the early 90's. Let me tell you, even in Atlanta where I lived, if you tried to explain to a waitress that you just wanted to order the sides, at best you'd get a lot of confused looks. Frequently, you'd get a lot of disdainful look. And occasionally you'd get some sort of comment that was either so rude or so uneducated that it had you re-thinking your whole restaurant choice.

So I was a little hesitant to go to a bbq restaurant while we were down south last week (flashbacks, you know), but my southside Chicago boyfriend is a bbq fan. He's generally adapted to my food preferences much more than I ever would have expected, so if once in a while he wants bbq, it's ok with me. It was an unexpected pleasure to go into Luella's and be able to order a dish off the menu and not feel marginalized. Hopefully, a lot of other bbq places in the South are trending that way too.

Second, I unexpectedly met an attorney and a judge near the Appalachian region of Tennessee. The attorney was polite, but elderly - and clearly an old-school in his thinking. At one point, he asked me in what area I practiced. When I responded that I have a niche in animal law, I got the usual snarky jokes (ie: he called over his Beagle mix and told the dog if he gets in trouble to call me...).

The judge, though probably 20 or 30 years younger, wasn't a spring chicken (sorry, bad pun intended) either. But - much to my surprise - rather than a second helping of snark, he seemed genuinely interested in my description and even asked some thoughtful questions. Now, if you're not a litigator, again, this may not seem like a big deal. But imho, it is.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New era dawning for animal rights?

Nothing particularly new, but still nice to read:
A new and more humane era may be dawning for animals as recognition spreads that, like human beings, they are sentient creatures who experience joy and feel pain and are entitled to legal protection.
Read the rest of this OpEdNews editorial here...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Atheist Post-Rapture Pet Sitting Service

This humorous little gem comes courtesy of a heads-up from blog reader Bruce:

You’ve committed your life to Jesus. You know you’re saved. But when the Rapture comes what’s to become of your loving pets who are left behind? Eternal Earth-Bound Pets takes that burden off your mind.

Read the rest of this Below the Beltway "completely tongue-in-cheek" piece...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good grief

USA Today
August 26, 2009

Anti-animal cruelty CEO's dog dies in hot car

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — An executive for an anti-animal cruelty group says her 16-year-old blind and deaf dog died after she accidentally left him in her hot car for four hours.

Read the rest of the story...

Monday, August 24, 2009

You go, Lutheran Church!

Ok, not animal law... but late last week the Lutheran Church "voted by a substantial margin" to recognize gay and lesbian relationships among their clergy. Read more in this Huffington Post article by Rev. Debra Haffner.

Of course, every controversial decision has its naysayers. (And not surprisingly, these outdated, narrow-minded views seem to sound the same in any context...)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

'Vegan fashion' is not an oxymoron

Los Angeles Times
By Susan Carpenter
August 23, 2009

For years, dressing vegan meant nubuck Birkenstocks and hemp sack dresses or message tees with slogans such as "Cow Hugger." Options were limited, especially for shoes, accessories and cold-weather clothing. But thanks to a growing crop of clothing lines that allow style-conscious individuals to align their attire with their cruelty-free beliefs, it's now possible to defy the Berkeley stereotype. Vegan and high fashion? They're no longer mutually exclusive terms.

Read more in this L.A. Times fashion column...

What can be done about dog caught in middle of divorce?

ABA-TIPS animal law committee founder and family law practitioner, Barbara Gislason, answers the question in this advice column...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Giant Free-Roving Robotic Cages Could Be the Healthy Future of Fish Farming

Check out Popular Science for one man's vision for the future of fish farming...

Iowa citizens' group blasts governor for factory farm bailout request


Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement today blasted Iowa Governor Chet Culver for requesting a $50 million, taxpayer-funded bailout of the factory farm industry last week. CCI leaders said Culver's request is nothing more than pandering to well-financed corporate ag groups at the expense of everyday people and our environment.

Read the rest of the press release here...

Therapy dogs start work at Texas courthouse

August 21, 2009

HOUSTON - You've heard of jury duty, but what about courthouse doggy duty? Yep, you read it right.

Dogs will start reporting to the Harris County courthouse as early as next month. But it’s not a doggy daycare--these dogs have a job.

A new program called "paw and order: SDU, the Special Dog Unit, is about to launch on the courthouse second floor.

Read more in Kristine Galvan's article on Houston's Fox-TV online.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who speaks for family farmers?

Interesting viewpoint from today's Minnesota Daily Globe.... Opposition to factory farming isn't limited to the animal rights/welfare communities....

Monday, August 17, 2009

Animal law specialists speak for those who can’t

When it comes to animals in the Texas courts of law, the most frustrating thing may be that decisions are largely based on a precedent set in 1891.

The case, Heiligmann v. Rose, dictated through the state Supreme Court if an animal is wrongly killed all the owner can recoup is the market value of the animal. The owner can’t get sentimental value or emotional damages, and yet the destruction of an inanimate object like a family heirloom can warrant huge sums be awarded.

“You’re going to allow someone to recover sentimental value for a brooch but not your dog?” asked Randy Turner, partner in the Hurst firm Turner & McKenzie P.C.

Click here for more on how Randy Turner, Don Feare and Yolanda Eisenstein are out on the forefront of Texas animal law trying to change this...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Michael Vick round-up

You'd have to be living under a rock not to have heard that Michael Vick is back in the NFL - signed earlier this week by the Eagles. Not for a large sum of money, by pro-football standards, but the very decision is - not surprisingly - generating quite a bit of controversy.

Here's the latest on his first practice in Philly, more on the Eagles' controversial decision to give redemption a try - as well as what some view as an even more controversial decision by HSUS to do basically the same thing.

Are these genuine beliefs or thinly-veiled pre-texts for publicity? You decide. If nothing else, hopefully the water cooler debates taking place around the country will continue to focus the spotlight of shame on the problem of dog fighting nationwide.

Monday, August 10, 2009

New tests shed light on how dogs think, smartest breeds

TORONTO — A presentation on "How Dogs Think" drew a crowd Saturday as a psychologist, canine researcher and author of a 2004 book by the same name told the American Psychological Association that the newest research strategy for understanding dogs is to use tests meant for very young children.

Read the rest of the USA Today article... or click for the press release by the American Psychological Association for more on this interesting research.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Animal law round-up

Sorry it's been a few days... here's a bunch of things from the past couple of weeks I haven't had time to post yet. A shout-out to my intern, Elizabeth, for her suggestions here as well:

The Winnipeg Sun is reporting that TV legend and animal rights advocate Bob Parker will travel to Canada next month to press the city of Edmonton to transfer an elephant out of its solitary housing at a local zoo in Bob Barker wants Edmonton elephant released;

The legal wrangling over the fate of puppy mills continue to rage across the country, as described in Sides Far Apart Over Puppy Mills, in Saturday's Ohio Springfield News-Sun;

In Pet trusts offer animal lovers peace of mind, Florida's Osceola Sentinel-Tribune takes a look at this growing area of law this past Wednesday;

The Orange County Register reports on a rather constrained ruling in a veterinary malpractice case in California this past Tuesday;

In Australia, despite its relatively huge leaps in animal law issues in the past few years, a July 21st article reports: Study finds little awareness of factory farming, and

A very thoughtful article from the July 20th Palm Beach Post about the cognitive dissonance that Florida (as really a microcosm of the rest of the nation) suffers from when it comes to defining and responding to animal cruelty in What constitutes cruel? Florida's animal cruelty law is surprisingly vague.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Shifting Frontiers of Animal Rights

Activists yawn as animals lurch toward a hybrid future.

Tim Cavanaugh | August/September 2009
Reason Online

Sometime after the 14-year-old retired actor and chimpanzee Travis Herold was shot and beheaded by Stamford, Connecticut, police in connection with an aggravated assault against 55-year-old Charla Nash, but before former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick finished serving a federal prison sentence for conspiring to violate the civil rights of dogs, South Korean scientists announced the birth of a beagle that glows in the dark.

Read the rest here... and a shout-out to blog reader Bruce Korol for the heads-up on this interesting commentary!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Update on NJ dog "custody" case

Animal law attorney Gina Calogero was back in court last week over Dexter - the pug at the heart of a "pet custody" battle - now that the case is back on remand from the NJ appellate court.

Read the latest on this MSNBC update....

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Looks like we're having an impact...

Consider these facts: Ninety-five law schools now offer at least one course in animal law. A publication exists called the Journal of Animal Law and Ethics. The World Bank has created a publication on animal welfare.

That's not such an unusual sentence to read anymore (although I think the number is really more like 140 and the writer neglected to mention the journals at Lewis & Clark, Detroit College of Law and Stanford)... but for the fact that it comes from the Cattle Network: The Source for Cattle News.

The writer warns that animal rights activists are turning to religious themes, thrive on conflict and induce guilt in consumers. It cautions that

pet owners are particularly vulnerable to the guilt on which animal activists thrive. Pet owners have to find a way to deal with a certain cognitive dissonance in their lives: they live with some kinds of animals as pets/companions, while they eat other kinds.

Really? Yeesh. I liked that line a lot. Click here for the rest of the article. Probably my favorite comment, however, was when it encouraged the agriculture industry to take the lead in shaping the debate:

Don’t make HSUS the subject. If you talk to PETA, you’ve lost.

Seems to me if they feel the need to write that, perhaps they already have... ;)

Friday, July 31, 2009

A whole lotta animal law goin' on!

I was able to make it to the animal law cmte's meeting during the ABA annual meeting this morning (after all, it is in Chicago this year). It was great to see some old friends and meet email colleagues face-to-face for the first time.

What was especially great was to hear how well the committee is doing - in particular, how well the ALC projects are being received. To wit: the new book Litigating Animal Law Disputes: A Complete Guide for Lawyers has apparently already sold 474 copies! And the committee's podcast(s) has been downloaded more than four THOUSAND times! (Actually not sure if it is one or more than one podcast, as I myself am podcast- (well, let's be honest) technologically-challenged.)

The committee has an even newer book out as well: A Lawyer's Guide to Dangerous Dog Issues. I don't think there is a link to this book yet, but I imagine you can still order it through the link above, which takes you to the committee's publications page. Here's a little from the press release:

As communities and governments struggle to address public safety issues in the wake of dog attacks, they often consider legislation to define which dogs are “dangerous” based solely on their breed. In this topical and timely book, the ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s Animal Law Committee faces the issues head-on in this public and contentious debate, examining all sides of the issue and possible solutions. Is breed discrimination immoral, unjust, and ineffective? What other solutions are there, if any? How can society address the growing perception that some breeds of dogs are, by definition, dangerous?

Edited by Joan Schaffner, a nationally-respected expert on animal law and associate professor of law at George Washington University Law School, and director and a co-founder of the GW Animal Law Program, the book covers the major aspects of “dangerous dog” cases. Contributing authors, who have been active in the TIPS Animal Law Committee and are national experts on animal law, include Ledy Van Kavage of Best Friends Animal Society; Michelle Welch, assistant attorney general, State of Virginia; David Furlow, Houston; Marcy LaHart, West Palm Beach, Fla.; Prof. Bernard Rollin, Colorado State University; and Prof. Larry Cunningham, St. John’s University School of Law, New York.

While we're on the topic of dangerous dogs, noted animal law attorney and personal friend Adam Karp and the Washington State Bar Association is hosting the (first-ever, to the best of my knowledge) Dog Bite Institute on September 23, 2009 at the Seattle Convention Center. It's a full-day - 8.25 CLE credits - "on numerous topics to cover practically everything dog-bite related."

Speakers include John Muenster, Ted Buck, Franklin Shoichet, Robert Goldsmith, Kimberly Gordon, and the Hon. Judge Ann Harper.

If all goes well, Adam hopes to make this an annual or bi-annual event and possibly expand beyond Washington law and/or other substantive topic areas.

Whew! Back to work...