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...

Monday, November 29, 2010

International Animal Law

Almost missed November's International Animal Law of news from 'round the world... here it is in case you haven't seen it yet, either.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not again...

This week Michael Vick made the cover of Sports Illustrated... again.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Exotic pet permits about to go extinct in OR

The normally progressive state of Oregon is finally getting with the program... ok, technically phasing out the program... when it comes to acknowledging that keeping wild or exotic animals as pets is just a bad, bad idea.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture will stop issuing permits for animals such as bears, chimpanzees and yes, even crocodiles like the obviously cuddly creature seen above (seriously? People keep these things at home? What are they thinking??) come the new year. And it will start phasing out existing permits as current by attrition. Read more in this Associated Press story appearing on KGW-TV.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone has a safe, enjoyable holiday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All is right with the universe tonight...

Bristol Palin did not win Dancing with the Stars tonight. Congratulations to Jennifer Gray, who did win, and Kyle Massey, for a hard-fought 2nd place finish.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Get out there and vote!

Tonight's the last night to vote on "Dancing with the Stars." Completely ridiculous, I know.

Nonetheless - and I am generally not much of a conspiracy theorist - there really does seem to be some sort of concerted conservative effort to get out the vote for Bristol Palin. While undoubtedly she has improved considerably since the first episode, there is just no way to objectively believe that she is actually the best dancer on the stage. (Nor, I believe, would it even be fair to say that she has improved comparatively more than the other finalist, Kyle Massey.)

Bristol's freestyle tonight, as the infamous lawyerly platitude goes, truly missed the mark. She danced to a number from the Broadway hit musical "Chicago." While the "look" of the number was about right (evoking a prison cell), the costuming was fine and the dancing - to the completely and totally unitiated - seemed ok... it lacked the most fundamental essence it could possibly miss: Bob Fosse's style. Mr. Fosse (pronounced foss-ee) was one of the most quintessential choreographers to ever grace (and yes, I mean grace) the Broadway stage. He had a style that was so unique, so inimitable, that even a person who never took a dance lesson in her life (ie: me) could recognize it when I saw it. And I didn't see any of it in Bristol's dancing tonight. Think: doing an Elvis Presley number without wiggling your hips. Just shows a real lack of depth. Judge Bruno alluded to this in his comments when he said that dance was a difficult style to imitate. Judge Carrie Ann, to her credit, didn't try to dumb it down for the audience and mentioned Fosse by name. Judge Len, on the other hand, apparently already had lowered his expectations for Bristol so far down that he said he wasn't even thinking about the fact that team Bristol basically did the bunny hop when the music called for a conga line. What was Bristol's (professional!) dance partner thinking?

You have until 11am Eastern tomorrow. Maybe you didn't turn out for the November election (which yes, would have been much better), but there is still time to make this right. Vote Jennifer and/or Kyle!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New animal welfare rating system to roll out at Whole Foods

Whole Foods Market harbors the same hopes for its chickens that many parents do for their kids: That they'll get plenty of fresh air, live at home until they reach maturity and avoid gaining weight so fast that they can't walk.

These are a few of the animal welfare practices the retailer hopes to encourage with a new humane meat-rating system being piloted in the South and scheduled for national expansion early next year. If the six-step, color-coded labeling system works as planned, it could allow American consumers at many supermarket chains unprecedented levels of specificity when it comes to choosing meat to match their principles.

Read the rest of Monica Eng's article in the Chicago Tribune...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sarah Palin reality show: a nightmare on Main Street

Last night was the long-awaited (or perhaps, dreaded) premiere of "Sarah Palin's Alaska", The Learning Channel's purported reality show about the former presidential candidate. The program lived up (or perhaps, down) to its expectations.

Why waste time reinventing the wheel on this one? The L.A. Times quipped "Sarah Palin's Alaska: Reality show or campaign ad?" Wonkette promptly declared "America's Pets Also Hate Sarah Palin's New Tee Vee Show" (complete with a 2:06 video of a dog going pretty ballistic at the TV screen while the show is airing). And my personal favorite caption, courtesy of a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial: "You can see Sarah Palin's TV show from your couch!"

Put up or shut up...

Seems that I'm not the only person who hasn't really been persuaded by GOP whining - uh, arguments - that extending the so-called Bush tax cuts to the very wealthiest Americans is needed in order to help small businesses create jobs. Tuesday's Huffington Post headline reads "Progressive Lawmakers Want to Make GOP 'Put Up or Shut Up' on Bush Tax Cuts". That about sums it up. Everyone pretty much realizes the rich will just pocket the money.

Meanwhile, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner began suggesting another alternative late last week: allow those cuts to expire but use the extra tax revenue to provide breaks that are actually targeted to small business. That's better, at least.

Then there's the prove-it-or-lose-it suggestion being advanced on Basically says the uber-wealthy can keep their tax breaks... so long as they can prove they are actually using the money to create jobs in small business. Now THAT'S put up or shut up.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't ask, don't tell: Pentagon study finds minimal risk to lifting gay ban

The Washington Post reported today that even the Pentagon is acknowledging that repealing this policy won't hurt the military. Always good to see at least some area of rights have a good day. Read more in this CBS News re-cap or this Washington Post Q & A with the reporters who broke the story.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Retired NJ police dog gets wheelchair

MARLBORO, N.J. (AP) -- A retired police dog in New Jersey can no longer walk a beat. But he can get around thanks to a New Hampshire company.

Read more in today's Concord Monitor...

Yes Virginia (ok, Georgia) there really IS a link between animal abuse and violence against humans

A shout-out to the joint venture between the Atlanta Journal Constitution and which, after investigating comments made by Georgia State Senator Robert Brown last week, just announced today that his statement "[a]nimal abuse is often an indicative trait of future acts of violence against humans," is in fact true.

Took a while, but at least they got the answer right. Read more from their "Truth-o-Meter" here...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

"Southern California Animal Lovers' Calendar" - check it out!

If you happen to live anywhere near the LA area, there are a whole bunch of events going on this and the next few weekends - including adoption fairs, free-microchipping and even the first-ever Vegan Beer Fest! [We were actually going to drive all the way down to San Diego today for a beer festival there... but maybe we will save ourselves a couple of hours of drive time... more time to drink beer... hmmm... ;) ]

Check out all the options on the LA Times animal blog: L.A. Unleashed...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Missouri's Prop B: passage may not be enough

Proposition B - which is supposed to crack down on puppy mills - passed by a narrow margin on Tuesday in Missouri's elections. (My apologies, I completely forgot to blog about it Tuesday night, I was so depressed by the rest of the results...) But not even two days later, pressure from adversaries is already pushing lawmakers to say they may support challenges to the new measure. Read more in the Kansas City Star.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gridlock here we come...

Well, the Republicans have regained control of the House (as well as picked up a whole bunch of governor races). Several prominent GOP members, including newly re-elected South Carolina Senator and Tea Party stalwart Jim DeMint, have already told commentators on national TV that they're happy to work with President Obama - so long as he wants to work on their issues such as reducing the deficit and repealing the recent health care reform. GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said straight out that his party's number one priority will be defeating President Obama in the next election. Doesn't sound like much room for compromise or bi-partisanship there.

So there you have it. Two years of bickering... which will undoubtedly be capped off by both sides blaming the other for the inevitable stalemate that will be the focus of the smear campaigns in the 2012 elections. :(

If you don't vote, you can't complain

And who doesn't love to complain?

C'mon. If you haven't done it yet, get out there and vote. If you have, feel free to join me in what may turn out to be a lengthy list of gripes, depending upon how some of these elections turn out...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Call me 'owner' -- but 'mom' is fine, too

Are you your cat's owner? Your dog's mom? Guardian? Caretaker? Pet parent?

Christie Keith ponders the pros and cons of this ongoing debate in a recent San Francisco Chronicle editorial...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Effort to strike parts of Washington State anti-cruelty law rejected

An envelope-pushing lawsuit aimed at declaring the parts of Washington's statute that exempted certain "routine" practices from criminalization was rejected by an appeals court last week on the grounds it was not justiciable. It was a valiant effort nonetheless, and maybe also contains some guidance for how to approach this issue in the future. Read more at Northwest Animal Rights Network v. State.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who's zoomin' who?

Legal Zoom announced today that it's going to be selling pet trusts as part of its estate planning. Sigh...

Let's talk about this. While I suppose do-it-yourself pet trusts are arguably animal law and fit within the self-imposed parameters of this blog, this is really more about a larger issue.

To everyone out there who isn't a lawyer and is tempted to buy these forms to save some money: please, please PLEASE really think this through. Yes, hiring a lawyer can be expensive. But so is hiring a neurosurgeon. Yet how many people are up for do-it-yourself brain surgery? Just because drafting your own estate plan doesn't seem as obviously disaster-prone doesn't mean that there aren't some potentially really messy consequences out there. And in some respects, possibly even worse: with do-it-yourself surgery, at least you're only hurting yourself. Screw up a will or trust and you're automatically leaving a big mess for your loved ones because, by definition, you'll be dead by then.

The problem is not the forms themselves. They are pretty straightforward and yes, most people are perfectly competent to fill in their names, addresses, next of kin and so forth. The problem isn't even when any of those things change (assuming you remember to change your form, which, for some people, does become a problem). The problem is when any one of a million little other circumstances crop up that are not addressed by the generic mass-targeted language of the forms. Now try going to a lawyer. It's like the difference between hiring a contractor to build a solid house from the ground up or trying to get someone to shore up your 3-story, plate-glass dream home with a bird's eye view of the San Andreas fault. Not good. And it's not just the pet trusts. A reliable estate plan accounts for EVERY aspect of your life that you want to make sure is taken care of - whether it's an especially long-lived parrot or having peace of mind that the residuals from your best-selling commercial jingle will continue to fund your grandchild's special needs trust... when the original copyright ends 28 years after you wrote it... which ends up being a year after you die.

Look, I like saving money. Everyone does. There are some things, however, that are just not worth price-shopping. Buying contacts from 1-800-contacts is different than getting your eyes examined by a Caribbean-schooled doctor at eyeballs-r-us.

The attorney who Legal Zoom says drafted their forms apparently has a lot of experience doing pet trusts. That's great. If you want to use her services, call her office and make an appointment. If she's not licensed for your state, maybe she can make a referral. Yes, hiring a lawyer will cost more today. Yes, it may mean foregoing something else you would rather - or even, yes, need to - buy. But the few hundred or thousands it costs today will pale in comparison to the cost of a probate battle tomorrow.

My two cents.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Great anti-SLAPP ruling in Illinois!

In its first interpretation of the Illinois Citizen Participation Act, that state's high court has, in the words of one local legal reporter, "sided with the little guy." The case, which revolved around some uncomplimentary comments made by the president of a Chicago condo board about the building and its developers, upheld the board president's right to complain openly not only to the city council, but the press as well. The suit itself had nothing to do with animals, although anti-SLAPP legislation has historically been a valuable strategy for animal advocates. I imagine activists of all types in Illinois are celebrating this one. Read more in reporter Ameet Sachdev's Chicago Tribune article or what appears to be a press release from a group called The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Anti-intellectualism... or anti-crap?

Interesting commentary today by Tibor Machan following his speech at the University of Wisconsin Law School Federalist Society late last week. Prof. Machan spoke on a topic he has written about before: whether animals have natural rights. Not surprisingly, he came to the same conclusion he has come to before: no.

What was surprising, at least to Machan, was that animal rights advocates didn't come to hear him talk:
I am, after 40 years of teaching, still a bit naive about the nature of academic life so I was somewhat taken aback because my understanding had always been that it is at universities and colleges that debates and discussions about controversial issues are carried out, usually in an atmosphere of civility. Alas, I must not really be as aware about how universities and colleges work as I would like to be. The reality seems to be that in many such communities discussions aren’t all that welcome. Instead the attitude is combative: Let’s show those with whom we disagree that we are against them, solidly, that we have no respect for the idea of a philosophical debate on the topic but want to silence, boycott, or exclude those who don’t already fall in line with our position.

Naive and taken aback? Really? I've only been working about 25 years (yeesh...) and the one thing I can tell you that I - and all of my similar-aged colleagues - have long since learned is to expect the unexpected at work. You really never know what's coming next.

Beyond that, allow me to explain why your talk was not well-attended by animal advocates. They are not, as you muse, anti-intellectual. Your position, imho, is simply crap. And who wants to sit through what amounts to self-indulgent pseudo-intellectual masturbation? It's just two hours of your life you're not going to get back.

At this point in time, no one in his or her right mind would show up at a college campus to debate "whether" African-Americans... or Chinese... or women... or [insert any group other than white, Christian males]... should have rights. The debate has simply moved past that point. In animal advocacy circles, the debate has likewise moved beyond "whether" animals should have some basic rights. (And just to be clear here, no, I am not talking about the right to vote or drive a car... just the most basic of rights, such as the right to bodily integrity.) Sitting politely through a discussion on "whether" animals have a right not to be dissected is as vulgar and irritating as sitting politely through a discussion about "whether" female genital mutilation is an acceptable practice. The fact that a conversation occurs on a college campus does not necessarily mean it has academic merit and the fact that the speaker wishes to enjoy the delusion that such ideas are worthy of intellectual debate is not a sufficient reason for anyone else to waste their time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missouri's Prop B: bad for breeders or beagles?

With less than two weeks until elections, efforts are gearing up across the country on all sorts of ballot measures. California's Prop 19 leaps to mind (medical marijuana)... but I'll leave that to the pot bloggers (whoever they may be).

In the animal realm, debate over Missouri's ballot initiative to clamp down on breeders is really heating up. Proponents say the measure is needed to alleviate some of the massive suffering inflicted by puppy mills... while opponents (predictably, frequently, big-money animal interests) insist that limiting the number of breeding dogs will put "good" breeders out of business and could even subject breeding animals to worse conditions. Bloomberg Businessweek has more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So you want to go to law school?

If you haven't seen this video circulating around the internet this week, check it out on YouTube... OMG LOL!

Monday, October 18, 2010

More on the new animal abuser registry on Long Island

This first-ever-in-the-country registry continues to be in the news today (despite the fact that from a real news perspective, there doesn't seem to be anything new to the story - everyone is still waiting to see if Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is going to sign the measure). Here's a follow-up story from a local newspaper and here's another from CBS News.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Animal abusers to get public shaming in NY county

FARMINGVILLE, N.Y. — A county on New York's Long Island is creating what is believed to be the nation's first public database of animal cruelty convicts.

Animal welfare activists are hoping the law passed this week in Suffolk County will inspire other governments nationwide. They compare their hopes to the proliferation of "Megan's Law" registries for sex offenders.

Read more in The Associated Press...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Relatively decent fine imposed for a Canadian animal cruelty case

A man in British Columbia has to pay $4,000 restitution, in addition to other conditions, after being found guilty of animal cruelty charges.

George Cimbala shot his neighbour's dog in the nose with a 12-gauge shotgun during an incident on his property two years ago.

Read more in the Penticton News...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Has anyone heard anything...

... about Ray Greek's trip to Scotland? Dr. Greek and Dr. Andre Menache spoke to the Scottish parliament about reducing/eliminating animal testing in that country on Friday. I haven't seen anything on the internet about any steps the Scottish parliament may be taking; if any readers out there know more, please write in!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Remember Joe the Plumber?

As if he wasn't enough of a national embarrassment in the 2008 presidential campaign... he's back. And now the is 15-minute-wanna-be is looking for a few extra seconds by deciding to become very vocal... against an upcoming measure on the Missouri ballot to crack down on puppy mills. Read more in The Kansas City Star.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Animal law attorneys in action

The New York State Bar Association's animal law committee has awarded first place in its third annual student writing competition to a Brooklyn Law School student. Read more in this bar press release...

Educating the bar about animal law has reached even a rather rural and conservative area of southern Illinois. Writer Mona Sandefur has more in the Benton Evening News.

And The Seattle News Weekly ran a huge article on Adam Karp's "Bear" Hendrickson veterinary malpractice case recently. Writer Nina Shapiro's feature is "Just One of Those Things"....

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ohio board approves first set of farm animal welfare standards

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board today unanimously voted to create new euthanasia livestock care standards—the first such set of standards created in the state’s history. Read more about the standards at the Buckeye Ag Radio Network Blog.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Michael Vick's promotion... it ain't all bad?

The Philadelphia Eagles sparked a whole fresh round of apoplectic fits amongst many animal advocates last month when the NFL franchise announced it was promoting the infamous Michael Vick to starting quarterback.
However, Sports Illustrated Senior Editor Jim Gorant, who has been following Vick's case and the "Vick-tory" dogs for some three years now, argues that "Michael Vick's promotion with the Eagles could be a new day for dogs, dog lovers- and himself." Read more in the Oct. 4th issue of S.I..

Monday, October 04, 2010

World Animal Day and other things

Apologies for my absence this past week...

Anywho... it's always nice to see an increasing number of animal issues being taken seriously - even in some places that haven't been on the leading edge of rights/welfare movement:

For example, from the Guam News Watch: It's possibly one of the worst animal abuse cases on Guam in recent years and the case has thrown the island's animal cruelty laws into the spotlight.

Meanwhile elsewhere, activists took to the streets in support of better laws for animals on World Animal Day:

In the Hurriyet Daily News: Turkish animal rights activists are hopeful of a securing a change in the country’s laws that would criminalize the abuse of animals after collecting a record number of signatures for a petition campaign.

From The Windsor Star in Canada: Calling for the government to step to the plate for abused animals, local animal lovers celebrated World Animal Day Sunday with a waterfront walk.

And in The Himalayan Times: In order to ensure the rights of animals, animal right activists all over the world celebrated the 79th World Animal Day with different events on October 4. Similarly, institutions and individuals working for animal rights in Nepal also marked the day participating in a walkathon ‘Walk 4 Animals’ organised by Animal Nepal and other organisations.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ok, so maybe Disney isn't totally evil...

Evil, you say? Disney?? Anyone who doubts Disney is evil clearly doesn't have a little kid.

Anyone in this country - the world, really - with a child knows what I mean. The slick print ads that leave small children pleading for the DVDs so innocently pictured next to a doe-eyed mermaid or fairy or, well, doe (yours on Blu-ray for the low, low price of $14.99)... the brightly-colored, music-filled TV commercials that lure kids into the movies (for $20, you can take your kid to Bambi, or Snow White or The Princess and the Frog - then spend the next week trying to reassure your angst-ridden youngster that the bad guy was "just pretend")... and oh yes, the stores. Those most foul stores with those poofy princess dresses and light-up shoes and flowery bouquets AND SPARKLING TIARAS... where no one gets out of the mall for under $75. I always figured that parents of little girls had it the worst, but one day I turned away from the persistent cajoling of my pre-schooler just long enough to realize that the parents of little boys were having the exact same arguments in front of the Buzz Lightyear costumes... and the 'tween-age girls milling around the Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers videos... well, that was just too scary to contemplate.

But despite it all, I still believe in giving credit where credit is due. And Disney is due a little credit in my book today, so here goes.

I was walking around a botanical gardens in southern California today when I read some of the promotional material about the grounds... and apparently all the Koi in the pond came from Disneyland. Disney, the brochure explained, was renovating its theme park in the next county over, and the new plans did not call for any decorative fish. But rather than toss the Koi out with the Koi water (which undoubtedly would have been faster and cheaper), it donated all 250 Koi to the botanical gardens.

So, without expressing any opinion on its initial decision to have a koi pond, or any of its other business practices (marketing to children arguably being only the tip of an iceberg), thank you, Disney, for doing the right thing at least 250 times.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Animal law out of the cage

It's official. After many years floundering in the back of the classroom and the hallways of numerous top tier law firms across Australia, animal law has arrived. Katrina Sharman, corporate counsel at Voiceless, the Fund for Animals writes in The New Lawyer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Seriously? Michael Vick gets a promotion

This is just too annoying to even try to think of something interesting to write. The convicted-dog-fighter-turned-NFL-player-again is now going to be on the Philly's starting line-up. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An exclusive animal police force?

Nice little interview with Zoocheck founder Rob Laidlaw about "the coming of age of the animal rights movement." Nothing unusual there...

...although the interview appears in The Hindu, a nationwide Indian newspaper. (So yes, imho, it does seem that the animal rights movement is coming of age!)

(One other note: the title of the article is a little misleading. You have to scroll waaaay down before you get to where the author talks with Laidlaw about his views on the need for a separate police force and court system for animal issues.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

L.A. Unleashed

Not exactly animal law... but The Los Angeles Times blog ("all things animal in Southern California and beyond") has lots of activities in the coming weeks if you happen to be in the area.

From adoption events to National Elephant Appreciation Day, to find out more click on L.A. Unleashed!

Good Yontif...

... to all!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Denver man files suit over dog's electrocution

DENVER - A Denver man has filed a lawsuit against several contractors after his dog was electrocuted while the two of them walked through a parking lot in west Denver.

Read more in this KDVR Fox 31 Denver report...

PS: In case the plaintiff's attorney, Jennifer Edwards, happens to be reading this blog... I had a very similar suit against the Chicago Park District a few years ago. Feel free to call me if you want to chat.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Europe adopts new law on animal experiments

The European Parliament voted to adopt a new law on the use animals in research, saying it would reduce the number of animals used in experiments in laboratories in the EU from the current total of 12 million per year.

Read more in the BBC News or the
Science Business blog...

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the blogosphere... Diane Searcey wonders in the Wall Street Journal's Law blog: Are Criminal Animal-Abuse Charges Heading Toward N.C. Lab?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Celebrity animal cruelty round-up...

Animal welfare groups are accusing Britain's Prince Harry of animal cruelty after he continued to play in a polo game after his horse was allegedly wounded by spikes on the royal's riding spurs.

Read more in AOL News...


Kellan Lutz, who plays vampire Emmett Cullen in the hit film series, was so upset after seeing disturbing YouTube video footage of a giggling Bosnian girl throwing six helpless puppies into a river that he took to Twitter yesterday to express his anger.

Read more on CNN's entertainment blog...

Sunday, September 05, 2010

More press for Calley Gerber's vet mal case...

This one's in North Carolina's Star News. Way to go and good luck, Calley!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Don't forget all the other stuff...

The salmonella egg scare has brought a great deal of attention (deservedly so...) to factory farming and the unabashedly cruel conditions that billions of hens are forced to endure for the entire span of their all-too-short lives. Yes, most people view it as a food safety issue (which it undoubtedly is). The scale of the recalls (more than half a billion eggs) has also opened the door for many to ponder and debate the ethical issues that only a mess this size can force people to address. All of which is a good thing.

As important an issue as it is, however, I worry that it is overshadowing a lot of other also-disturbing battles on other fronts. Case in point: several hundred chimps that had finally been retired from research about 10 ten years ago are now potentially facing transport to a Texas lab for renewed experimentation. How unabashedly cruel.

Michael Haederle writes more in the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Yeah Bob Barker! (Again!)

No sooner does former The Price is Right host - and longtime animal advocate - Bob Parker chastise Costco for selling veal than the mega-chain stops selling it! In fact, Costco has gone one step further, openly deriding their former supplier. Sarah Skidmore reports for the Associated Press.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dancing Merengue Dog

This moment of levity courtesy of blog reader Bruce. Check out "el baile del perrito" (translation: little doggy dance). Thanks Bruce!

Illinois animal shelter slapped for improper euthanasia practices

— The Jefferson County Animal Shelter in Mount Vernon, Ill. has been fined $10,000 by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation for improperly euthanizing animals.

Read more by Len Wells in the Evansville Courier & Press...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anyone else watch the Emmys tonight?

That Temple Grandin movie really cleaned up, winning just about every award at the program. Not only did everyone who won thank Ms. Grandin (who was sitting in the audience), but at one point she was even on the stage herself accepting the best TV movie award right along with the cast and producers.

Am I the only one who was just sickened when that movie came out? It is bad enough the whole livestock industry thinks her perverse theories are the best thing since sliced bread (or perhaps make that sliced roast beef...). Now it seems that all of Hollywood (and thanks to Hollywood, all of the U.S.) is buying into it too. Shudder.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A couple of new animal law suits in the news...

Jennifer Edwards of the Animal Law Center is challenging Denver's 20-year-old pit bull ban on behalf of an Operation Desert Storm veteran and his pit bull service dog...

...while Calley Gerber of North Carolina's Animal Law Center (not related, to the best of my knowledge) is bringing a veterinary malpractice suit against the North Carolina State Veterinary Teaching Hospital on behalf of the family of a Jack Russell Terrier named Laci.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Anybody have a garbage pail for Mary Bale?

Ok, I don't normally advocate violence but if someone happens to stuff this woman in a garbage container for 15 hours, well... it might be fun.

For anyone who hasn't seen this truly despicable video yet, here's a link to the CBS News story.

The Ghost of Oreo

The controversial and disturbing ending to this dog's also-disturbing life continues to cause rifts in the animal welfare/rights and legal communities.

Michael Mountain, formerly of Best Friends, penned this blog commentary recently in "Zoe - It's Our Nature".

Massive egg recall opens window on inhumane farming

I haven't posted anything yet on the increasingly sweeping U.S. egg recall (more than 1/2 billion now!), since the recall itself is really basically a food safety issue.

However, I thought this Canadian Globe and Mail commentary by reporter Jessica Leeder offered a brief but worthwhile animal welfare - and non-U.S. - perspective to this concerning story.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Animal welfare takes a step backward in Australia

One local government has overturned a 10-year ban on the use of animals in circuses. The RSPCA and other animal welfare groups are denouncing the decision, according to Jennie Curtin of the Sydney Morning Herald....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Utah Police Department settles suit by animal-rights activists for $15,368

Read the rest of Pamela Manson's article in The Salt Lake Tribune...

Airline says heat may be factor in 7 puppy deaths

FORT WORTH, Texas — Heat might have killed seven puppies that died in the cargo hold of an American Airlines jet this month.

American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said Tuesday that necropsies on the puppies were inconclusive but found that heat "may have been a factor."

David Koenig reports for The Associated Press...

Monday, August 16, 2010

9th Circuit puts same-sex marriage on hold during appeal

Same-sex marriages are on hold in California at least until December according to a panel of federal judges today. The decision was disappointing to scores of gay couples who were already lining up to tie the knot - although at least one legal expert believes the ruling could actually work in their favor. The latest in this important legal battle is being reported by media all over the globe; here's one article close to home from today's Los Angeles Times.

Meantime, however, gay rights seems to be advancing in other parts of the world as a Mexican court upholds a gay adoption law and a German court rules an inheritance tax that disadvantages gay couples is unconstitutional.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

International Animal Law

A bunch of new articles are up on Ian Robertson's blog; check them out at International Animal Law.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Federal judge overturns California's ban on same-sex marriage!


Click here for an early New York Times article - one of more than 1,000 that have already been written on this decision!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Today's laugh... courtesy of blog reader Bruce (thanks again!)

(Click to enlarge - when I tried to post it in a larger size, it cut off the punchline.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Is There More in Your Burger Than Meat?

Not a bad little commentary by Christina Pirello in today's Huffington Post...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Animal law really starting to take hold in Australia...

SUPPORTERS of tougher protections for animals are hoping strategic litigation will help change corporate behaviour and improve conditions for about 500 million farm animals in Australia each year.

Animal law is becoming an increasingly serious discipline as barristers and corporate law firms sign up for what many are calling the next big social movement...

Read more in today's Stock and Land.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S....

Jordan Matyas, Illinois State Director for HSUS, sent out this nice email summary yesterday of various pending federal animal welfare legislation. Yes, these are all issues HSUS is working on, but I don't have the time to create an exhaustive list and this is much better than nothing, so thanks, Jordan:

Truth in Fur Labeling

This past Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480) by a voice vote. This legislation would protect consumers by bringing much-needed accuracy and disclosure to fur products. The bill closes a loophole in federal law that allows some animal fur garments to go unlabeled if the value of the fur is $150 or less, leaving consumers in the dark as to whether they are buying faux or animal fur. HSUS investigations have found jackets trimmed with animal fur being sold without labels and falsely advertised as “faux fur” across the country. Please urge your Senators to support this common sense legislation! Deserve Better

The government-run National Center for Research Resources is planning to move 202 chimpanzees to a biomedical research laboratory in Texas where these endangered animals would be readily available for harmful and invasive research experiments. Many of the animals are already elderly and have spent decades languishing in research laboratories already. These chimpanzees have suffered enough and it would be more humane and economical to instead retire them to sanctuary. Ask the federal government to save these chimps today.

Torture Videos

New information released today shows that videos depicting extreme forms of animal cruelty remain available online. The animal torture videos show the intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating and impaling of puppies, kittens and other live animals for the titillation of viewers. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5566 last week by a vote of 416-3. Please contact your federal Senators today and ask them to quickly pass legislation to ban interstate and foreign commerce in these obscene animal "crush" videos.

wild horsesNo More Horsing Around

Over the past 10 years, the costs of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Management program have skyrocketed; the agency keeps removing more horses from public lands, but fewer people are willing to adopt them. Illogically, the BLM hasn’t made controlling reproduction a part of its efforts to control the number of horses in the wild. Just this past July in Elko County, Nevada (the hottest month of the year in that region), the BLM removed more horses. At least a dozen mustangs have died from dehydration, water intoxication, and related complications. The HSUS has called for a moratorium on roundups.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) intends to remove another 12,000 wild horses from the range. If all goes as planned, by the end of 2011, there will be nearly twice as many wild horses in holding facilities (45,000) as are on the range (around 26,000). The BLM estimates that holding costs alone will rise to over $47 million annually. This is not a cost-effective or humane way to manage wildlife. The BLM is accepting public comments on its latest plan until August 3. Tell the agency make good on the change it has promised in the past and steer the program in a new, sustainable, and more humane direction.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Documentary on Canada’s treatment of food animals to air July 28th

As he winds down a decade-long gig as Global National

anchor, Kevin Newman is stirring the pot with a pair of arresting documentaries.

Airing Wednesday at 10 p.m., No Country for Animals challenges Canada’s record as a rights haven in light of rampant mistreatment of food animals. The program combines undercover footage of the abuse of captive animals destined for slaughter with disturbing images from puppy mills, interviews with activists, and data comparing Canadian legal standards with some American and European jurisdictions to make its point.

Read the rest of Ashante Infantry's article in the Toronto Star...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Petland in Austin closes as city steps up scrutiny of pet stores

For the first time in two years, Jeanne O'Neil left her picket sign at home Saturday. Instead of protesting near the local Petland store, she and other demonstrators are celebrating.

The lone franchise here decided last week to close because of a proposed city ordinance aimed at stores that might sell puppies and kittens from unscrupulous breeders.

Austin is at the forefront of efforts by cities around Texas to step up scrutiny of unregulated commercial breeding operations, which activists call "puppy mills."

Check out the rest of Erin Mulvaney's story in The Dallas Morning News...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Response to South African rhino poaching

News last week that poachers slaughtered the last female rhino in a popular South African game reserve - in front of her calf no less - has been prompting renewed calls to do something about the problem, which has apparently reached an all-time high according to this UK Guardian article.

Those calls took an interesting turn yesterday though... with a Times Live article quoting one owner of a rhino park who has some pretty unique ideas about about how to drive down demand for the rhino's prized horns...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Legislative round-up

A smattering of legislative activity to report:

The House on Wednesday passed legislation to make it a federal crime to sell videos depicting animal cruelty in response to a Supreme Court ruling that struck down an earlier version of the law. Read more in this Los Angeles Times article by Richard Simon...

Beginning tomorrow, dogs and cats across Massachusetts will have a right to free speech... [as a] new law banning the surgical devocalization of dogs and cats goes into effect.... Check out the rest of the story in this Boston Globe article by L. Finch...

And in Illinois... Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill a few days ago that added teeth to state law to deter organized dogfights by imposing harsher criminal penalties on dog sadists and fight organizers. Read more in David Ormsby's commentary in the Huffington Post...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


So I was googling for something else and came across this nice little blog post on Conflicts Check by Dan Canon from a couple of months ago called "The Finest Friend to Man and Lawyer Alike." Was thinking about linking to it, when, of all things, as my eyes scanned down the post... I saw that he linked to this site! :) So how could I resist linking back?

Better still, the blog post channels a number of 100-year-old opinions waxing poetic about the relationship between man and dog; it's actually a great little reference for brief writing.* Too cool! And good luck on your trial, Dan.

*Legal disclaimer: I have not cite-checked his references personally. Objects in rear view mirror are closer than they appear. Caution: may be hot to the touch. Items may shift during flight so use caution when opening the overhead bins. Harmful if swallowed. Not intended for children under three. If your erection lasts for more than four hours, call me... I mean a doctor...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Split custody of dog recognizes changing role of family pets

In what lawyers believe was a first in Maryland, a judge recently ordered a divorcing Calvert County couple to split custody of their dog, a recognition, experts say, that pets stand apart from other property.

Read the rest of Andrea F. Siegel's article in The Baltimore Sun...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nevada Judge Finds BLM Media Ban Unconstitutional but Lifts Death Stampede Injunction

A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Bureau of Land Management could proceed with its annual horse round-up, but that BLM's blanket closure of 27,000 acres of public land was unconstitutional.

Read more about Judge Hicks' split-the-baby decision in this lawsuit brought by plaintiff Laura Leigh (shown in photo) in this Horseback Magazine article by friend and colleague, Laura Allen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can Animal Rights Go Too Far?

Starting in 2015, every egg sold in California will have to comply with strict hen-rights rules. Cages will have to be large enough for the birds to stand up, lie down and spread their wings without touching each other or the sides of the cage. California voters adopted these rules for in-state egg producers two years ago. Last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law that extended the rules to out-of-state producers who want to sell their eggs in California.

The move was just the latest example of how animal rights are on the march — in the U.S. and much of the rest of the world. Even as human rights seems to have taken a few hits of late — with the U.S. government endorsing harsh interrogation techniques, also known as torture, and the Supreme Court whittling away at race-discrimination laws, defendants' rights and the Voting Rights Act — animal rights has moved further into the mainstream.

Click to read the rest of Adam Cohen's CNN-TIME commentary...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Loophole for Pit Bull ownership in Miami-Dade

Pit Bulls were banned in Miami-Dade in 1989 after an eight year old child was attacked and killed by a neighbor's dog, however four pit bulls have recently been registered as service animals for people with disabilities. Federal law does not require any special certification, and the Americans With Disabilities Acts restricts what the county can ask a person about their disabilities.

Read more in the rest of this article by Cheryl Hanna...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

New 'animal studies' courses look at culture, not biology

In his first year as an assistant professor in the University of Iowa's archaeology department, Matthew E. Hill made a move that many other junior faculty would have considered risky: he said he wanted to teach an undergraduate seminar on animals and culture.

"When I first proposed the course, I thought I would get a more negative response — 'Oh, it's fluffy' — and I still worry about some of my colleagues having that attitude," he says. "But my chair and other people have been supportive, interested."

As Jennifer Epstein writes in today's USA Today: "Hill's courses aren't outliers, but part of an emerging group of courses that meld approaches and texts from law, religion, ethics, literature, visual art, ecology, sociology and other fields to consider the role animals play in human culture."

Monday, July 05, 2010

A new day for the North Carolina animal shelter?...

... that was the subject of a decade's worth of protests as well as a recent lawsuit by animal activists, led by animal law attorney Calley Gerber. (See earlier posts)

Longtime self-described animal lover, 27-year-old April Lowry, took the helm of the notorious Robeson County Shelter last week. Today, everyone appears - as Gerber suggests - "cautiously optimistic."

Good luck, April.

Read more in the Fayetteville Observer.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

to one and all!

Canadian activists take new approach to protesting upcoming rodeo

With the Calgary Stampede less than a week away, animal rights activists have launched their first protest. This time they have a different target: Stampede sponsors.

CTV Calgary has the rest of the story...

Meanwhile, a parade in Iowa turned into a stampede - killing one person and injuring 23 others - when a couple of horses got spooked and trampled the crowd.

Read more in the Des Moines Register....

Friday, July 02, 2010

Michael Vick under investigation again...

Michael Vick - no description necessary; we all know who he is - may be in trouble with the law again. This time for a little shooting incident at his 30th birthday party. Now why can't those mean police leave him alone? Really, what's a little gun play amongst party goers? At least this time he's denying picking on someone more his own size. Perhaps if officials just armed his party guests and put a target on his back the rest of us would just call it a day...

Read more in this ABC News story by Russell Goldman...

Meanwhile... more on someone we care about...

Hundreds of mourners gathered in West Virginia today to honor the late Senator Robert Byrd. Read more in this NY Times article...