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... ;)