Sunday, March 29, 2009

To be or not to be... the inner battle over red meat v. longevity

For all the items I was sorry I didn't have time to blog more about earlier this week, the most important had to be the latest study showing the link between eating red meat and dying sooner. It spawned, as you undoubtedly read elsewhere, a tremendous amount of response. I won't even try to mention, never mind post, all the links; just do a Google search.

But one commentary that I particularly enjoyed was a little editorial in the Baltimore Sun this weekend. It captures the sentiment that so many Americans are really starting to have to come to grips with, the way the nation finally had to come to grips with its smoking habit after the Surgeon General's warning came out in 1964: no matter how much you may enjoy eating red meat... and no matter what excuses you can come up with to justify your cravings... it is just plain bad for you and if you want to live longer you just have to stop.

Louisiana Week for the Animals

Sorry I missed posting this last weekend - I've been pretty swamped at work - but wanted to at least post this now.

Kudos to republican governor Bobby Jindal for proclaiming last week the 1st Annual Louisiana Week for the Animals and to all the sponsors who helped put this together. May it be the first of many to come!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Georgia suspends license of Brunswick veterinarian

At least several times a month, if not more, someone comes into my office with a potential veterinary malpractice complaint. Now, I don't know what goes on in Georgia. But here in Illinois, it seems that no matter how egregious the conduct, the state agency charged with regulating veterinarians never seems to actually bring these charges, never mind prosecute them all the way through to disciplinary action. The prosecutors are, undoubtedly, swamped with "people" cases (they also regulate medical doctors, dentists, accountants and so forth). The veterinary stuff - at least from my anecdotal observations - seems to fall through the cracks.

Let me take a moment here to say that I have nothing against veterinarians. Most go into the field because they genuinely love animals, and most do put in an honest day's work. But as professional occupations go, at least in Illinois, it is quite clearly one of the least regulated professions out there. For that rogue element (which exists in every field), if someone wants to get away with shameful behavior, veterinary practice is a good choice.

So I was surprised and pleased to see that last week Georgia actually took a veterinary matter seriously. Click here for the article by Teresa Stepzinski from The Florida-Times Union.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Animal cruelty charges after raid finds 70 puppies

March 24, 2008
WGN/CLTV/Chicago Tribune

Chicago - Sheriff's police removed as many as 70 puppies -- some crammed into bird cages -- after raiding a suspected puppy mill on the South Side this morning.

"There are dogs running all over the place," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, as he held a pair of shivering Chihuahua puppies in his hands.

Dogs were stacked in cages and were walking around in their own feces, officials said.

Click here to read the rest of the story...

Study: Lots of red meat increases mortality risk

CHICAGO – The largest study of its kind finds that older Americans who eat large amounts of red meat and processed meats face a greater risk of death from heart disease and cancer. The federal study of more than half a million men and women bolsters prior evidence of the health risks of diets laden with red meat like hamburger and processed meats like hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts.

Click here to read on...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Litigation round up

A pair of great court rulings this past week:

Court Rules Miami-Dade County Pit Bull Ban Unenforceable

On Thursday, a Florida court struck down Miami's longtime ban on pit bulls. Read more in this press release here.

Georgia Ordered to Stop Licensing Animal Shelters That Gas Cats and Dogs

On Wednesday, a Georgia court entered a permanent injunction requiring that state's Dept. of Agriculture to stop its practice of approving and encouraging local shelters to euthanize animals in gas chambers. Read more in this press release.

Way to go to all the attorneys responsible for moving the ball forward on these two issues!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gary Francione editorial

I don't seem to hear much about Gary Francione anymore. We'd met a few times a number of years back. (I doubt he would remember me; he was already well-established and I was still in law school.) Maybe he has just grown weary of battling not only the people who were opposed to his ideas, but even those within the animal rights & welfare communities whose views were not sufficiently strident for him. I could be wrong.

At any rate, Professor Francione had a very thoughtful (as all his writings are) opinion piece yesterday on the D.C. elephant trial. Even though his argument does not want to acknowledge any merit to the plaintiffs' position, I will still take the opportunity to post his viewpoint here.

I would add, as my own counterpoint, that I know plaintiffs' attorney Kathy Meyer too. I haven't asked her about her personal views on elephants in circuses, but I am pretty sure that if it were up to her personally, all the hooks, prods and chains would have been scrapped a long time ago.

But the fate of these elephants - or elephants in circuses generally - or the concept of having non-human animals kept in circuses even more generally - is not up to Kathy. The reality is, if she, me or anyone else went into court and asked that all elephants be freed from circuses, we'd all get our a**@* handed to us on a platter. No matter how morally right it may be, the law just doesn't work that way. And we know that. The suit would be thrown out, nothing would change and we'd lose any credibility we had with the judge the next time we went into to ask for anything else. That's precisely why (I fall into the camp that believes that) lawsuits and legislation that seek incremental changes in law have value.

Back to work.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ok, let's try that again...

There is an English-language version available for the Canadian animal law conference. If you go to the site, click on the little "English" link in the upper right-hand corner. Also, conference organizer Martine Lachance tells me that simultaneous translation will be available.

As she explains on the conference website:

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to the first Animal Law Conference, The Animal Within the Sphere of Human Needs. Organized by the International Research Group in Animal Law (GRIDA) under the honorary presidency of counsel Joan Clark, this bilingual event will deal with a wide range of issues related to the legal status and welfare of animals.

The purpose of this conference, the first of its kind in Canada, is to bring together a group of researchers and students to explore the bases for a new understanding of “animal law” and its determinants. The conference will provide a platform for interdisciplinary exchanges between Canadian and international researchers and practitioners in the field who can suggest a relevant or innovative outlook on the legal and moral treatment of animals. Overall, the goal is to review the behaviours that human beings exhibit towards the animal species.

Read the rest of Martine's statement - as well check out the full list of speakers, topics, and other conference details - by clicking here!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Precedent set in pet 'custody' case reversal

Ok, I am in a major time crunch at the moment, but wanted to post this one....


Read about her great NJ appellate decision in this Courier Post article.

Update on First-Ever Canadian Animal Law Conference

If you can make it to Montreal this May 21st & 22nd, this should be quite an event. Here's a link to the site:

(Yes, I realize the site is in French. If you click on the link for the "programme" tho, most of the speaker names and topics are in English. If I get an English language link, I'll let you know.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

USDA issues final rule on handling downer cattle

Almost missed this one, but the Ag Dept. made the announcement Friday.

According to a USDA press release:

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced a final rule to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to require a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection program personnel.

Thanks to Doug Powell at Kansas State University for the heads-up on this one!

Barking up the right tree? Mediation proving a useful tool in some animal cases

According to an article in today's USA Today, neighborly - and not-so-neighborly - disputes over barking dogs are on the rise in the U.S.. And unlike the morass that usually accompanies a biting incident (see two posts down), these disputes are apparently finding successful resolution in mediation in growing numbers.

Thanks to colleague Lin Hanson for the heads-up on this story!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mayor Richard Daley says he'll back mandatory spay-neuter ordinance for pets

For a change, Chicago's Mayor says he will support a progressive animal welfare measure in the windy city. Speaking at the annual St. Patrick's Day parade downtown Saturday, Emperor... er... Mayor Daley said he understands the viewpoints of overburdened shelters and supports one city council member's mandatory spay-neuter proposal.

This is not the first time Alderman Ed Burke has proposed a mandatory spay/neuter program for most of Chicago's more than a million dogs and cats. It is opposed (as per usual) by veterinary groups and breeders, and given Chicago's recent history of stinging defeat and nationwide embarrassment over other animal welfare measures (think foie gras and elephant chaining), it is surprising to me that any member of Chicago's city council would even attempt to bring this issue to the table. But good luck to him. If it passes this time, Chicago would join L.A. in really being out on the forefront of trying to control the pet overpopulation crisis in this country.

Read more in Monique Garcia's Chicago Tribune article.

The legal limbo of conflicting animal control laws...

In a case typifying the problem when state, county and local animal control laws are at odds with each other... one 2-year-old Rottweiler named Samson has spent nearly half his life in a local shelter. As more owners are willing to go to the mats for their companions, the growing legal battles are bringing discrepancies in the laws into sharper focus.

In Samson's case:
The state of Florida and city of Pembroke Pines abide by a "one-bite rule," meaning that if a dog bites another animal once, owners get a "slap on the wrist," and the dog's life is spared. Broward County, on the other hand, calls for any dog that causes severe injury or death to a domestic animal to be euthanized on the first offense.

"The space between the two laws has created 'a real Catch-22'" according to the lawyer for Samson's owner, animal law attorney Jennifer Dietz.

What exactly happened to Samson and where does his case stand now? Click for the rest of Amy Lieberman's Zootoo article.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Utah eliminates accomodations for "emotional support animals" under state law

Julia Lyon
Salt Lake City Tribune
Mar. 11, 2009

The smell of raw meat or the chaos of Wal-Mart can launch Edward Carey back to a time when saving soldiers' lives in Iraq was his job. Now the former combat medic is home and Lexi, a border collie, is trying to save his.

A service dog-in-training, the 8-month old black and white puppy yanks the veteran back to reality with a tug on his pants when a panic attack begins. Often, Carey says, she knows one is coming before he does.

Plagued by anxiety, Carey hopes a new state law won't stop people like him from healing.

Lawmakers have eliminated references to emotional support animals allowed in private and public places, leaving some Utahns with disabilities concerned about what the future may hold for their service or comfort animal. They worry the law will step on the rights of the disabled, preventing them from getting the animal assistance they need.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Righteous Porkchop

All the rage in California at the moment, and hopefully to spread in light of the HBO Special....

Read all about it in The Sacramento Bee...

And the San Francisco Chronicle.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Put up or shut up...

Ok, this has nothing to do with animal law whatsoever but...

A fabulous article by Slate Magazine's Kenji Yoshino the other day about a new lawsuit filed in Massachusetts. On the surface, it's about gay rights. But if you can get past the initial homophobia that seems (unfortunately) to paralyze so many folks... it's really about state's rights.

In a nutshell... it puts the uber-conservatives on our Supreme Court in the unenviable position of either having to stick to their "core" values upholding state's rights by giving their blessing (just couldn't resist ;) ) to gay marriage in the bay state... or show themselves to be the hypocrites (think Bush v. Gore) that they really are...

... if you are intrigued, read on...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Attention all animal agriculture personnel

Even Pork Magazine is warning its readers to watching the HBO special coming up on March 16th, 9 p.m. entitled "Death on a Factory Farm"...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ontario's new, tougher animal welfare act takes effect

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Ontario's Provincial Animal Welfare Act officially takes effect today, ushering in tougher penalties for animal abuse.

Before overhauling the 90-year-old act, the province had been criticized for having the most lax animal protection laws in the country.

The provincial government says it's gone from "worst to first" and Ontario is now the only jurisdiction in Canada with special protections for law-enforcement animals like police dogs and horses.

Read the rest of the article here...