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...