Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Law frees 80 million hens from battery life

Farmers have freed more than 80 million hens from especially cruel and cramped lives in one of the most significant changes to animal welfare legislation in decades: the end of battery cages.

But while almost all British egg producers will be compliant with the new European Union-wide law - which will ban the keeping of egg-laying hens in barren battery cages from this Sunday - many European countries will continue to keep battery hens.

Read more in the New Zealand Herald...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emotional issue of slaughtering horses returns

Out of the spotlight for years, the gut-wrenching debate over slaughtering horses for human consumption is moving back to center stage.

Last month, what was effectively a ban on operating a company engaged in that practice was lifted. But Congress already is crafting a bill, called the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, that would outlaw the practice again.

Read the rest of the article in the San Antonio Express-News...

There oughta be a law

Commentary from Pork Magazine on the development of animal law (not surprisingly, the author is skeptical)...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Should Animals Be Considered People?

A lengthy feature piece on animal law in Miller-McCune today. Not a bad piece, but a few of the author's turns-of-phrase seem to give away her own viewpoints.

For example, in characterizing Steve Wise's efforts to gain at least some fundamental rights for some animals she writes: "Welfare laws notwithstanding, unless they are “legal persons,” to Wise they have no rights at all in the eyes of the law and therefore their lives don’t count." Similarly, after describing his first veterinary malpractice suit the author writes: "Wise found satisfaction in suing for damages."

You can read the Miller-McCune article for yourself...

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What a Dog Does When It's Cold

Once again, absolutely nothing to do with law whatsoever... but this video from www.lifewithdogs.tv sure is cute...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Animal Rights Activists Challenge 2006 Federal Law

A group of animal rights activists sued the U.S. government Thursday to challenge the constitutionality of a rarely used law they say treats them like terrorists if they cause a loss in profits for businesses that use or sell animal products.

Read more from the Associated Press...

Good news for research chimps (mostly...)

Even the National Institutes of Health may finally... if not somewhat grudgingly... be coming around to the view that it is not necessary to chimpanzees in research.

NPR reports...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cagebreak! Rats Will Work To Free A Trapped Pal

A new study shows that rats actually are empathetic and will altruistically lend a helping paw to a cage mate who is stuck in a trap.

Check out this fascinating story on NPR...

Friday, December 09, 2011

Dog rescues kittens discarded in a cat food bag

Been traveling... sorry it took me a few days to post this and it's been all over the internet already but...

More proof that animals not only think, but have the capacity for empathy. Iowa CBS affiliate WHO-TV has the story of Reagan, the hero dog...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Nothing biblical in factory farming

A thoughtful editorial by Nobel prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee (probably known to readers of this blog for his book "The Lives of Animals", although that is not specifically the work for which he received the prize) today (or guess yesterday by now, in Australia).

Coetzee was born in South Africa but moved to Australia as an adult and became an Australian citizen about five years ago. He has been a long-time vocal critic of apartheid, became outspoken on the issue of anti-terrorism laws after 911 and recently began speaking out against animal cruelty and in favor of animal rights as well.

Check out his editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald...

Bear Hunt Protests Go To Court

Does anybody know how today's court date went? Here is the Wall Street Journal article from early this morning.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Please bear with me... this oughta be good for $10 off my next order... (hey, at least I haven't monetized the blog, right?)

Stationery card
View the entire collection of cards.

Captive orca could test Endangered Species Act

Forty years after hunters lassoed a young killer whale off Whidbey Island and sold it to a Florida theme park, whale advocates are turning to an unusual tactic to try to force the orca's release: the Endangered Species Act.

In a move legal experts said could have significant implications for other zoos and aquariums, animal-rights activists recently sued the federal government, arguing that the law may require Lolita, the killer whale who still performs at the Miami Seaquarium, be reunited with pod members in the Northwest because Puget Sound's southern resident orcas were listed as endangered in 2005.

Read more in The Seattle Times...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Horse Slaughter to Resume in the U.S.?

Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.

The Associated Press has the story...

...and thanks to Professor Doug Powell of Barfblog for the heads-up here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More proof that cows think... of course, there's still no accounting for taste

As the colleague who forwarded this aptly explained, this has nothing to do with the practice of law.

But check out this quirky video of cows enjoying a serenade of sorts in their pasture! (Apologies for what appears to be advertising at the end of the video.) Thanks for sharing, Paul!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ringling Bros. Owner to Pay $270,000 in Animal-Welfare Case

The owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus paid a $270,000 civil penalty for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The fine paid by Feld Entertainment Inc. is the biggest ever assessed against an animal exhibitor, the USDA said today in an e-mailed statement. Vienna, Virginia-based Feld said in a statement that it didn’t admit any wrongdoing or violations.

Read more in Bloomberg Newsweek...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Calling all Nevada residents

Seems it's time to start sending those calls and letters to your state lawmakers. Word this weekend is that a felony animal abuse law which went into effect about a month ago apparently has language in it that bars discussing the case with the public... effectively giving alleged animal abusers more privacy rights than alleged rapists and murderers.

Don't these folks have proof readers?

Read more in the Reno Gazette Journal...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New law school program unleashes animal rights

Lewis & Clark Law School professor Pamela Frasch doesn’t think her views are radical, and maybe they aren’t, anymore.

It’s hard to pick up a newspaper these days without finding at least one story having to do with animal welfare. An exotic animal collector in Ohio lets loose lions and tigers, forcing police to hunt them down and kill them. Sea lions are shot and captured in order to save the salmon they eat. Animal rights protests at circuses, cat hoarders taken to jail, wolves both protected and hunted — signs are everywhere that the relationship between people and animals is shifting.

Read more in the Portland Tribune about the first law school to offer an advanced degree in animal law...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I found out this afternoon that the husband of one of my dearest friends was killed in an auto crash in Birmingham, Alabama Tuesday. Apparently a pick-up truck crossed the median and hit their car head-on; Stan was driving and died despite wearing a seat belt. Angi was hospitalized, either injured or critically injured, depending upon which story you read. At least this International Business Times article lists what hospital she is in. I had left a bunch of emails and phone messages down to mutual friends and former colleagues in Atlanta earlier this afternoon but (probably due to the holiday) hadn't heard back from anyone yet.

Angi is just about the kindest soul you could meet (whip-smart too, with a keen sense of humor) and Stan was undoubtedly her soulmate. They didn't meet until mid-life and I was so happy for both of them that they found each other. They both were very family-oriented, were huge news junkies and loved to travel. Every year Angi would send a holiday card with a picture of the two of them - usually smiling ear-to-ear, like this picture - from some interesting place they visited and enjoyed... almost as much as they enjoyed just being with each other.

My heart is heavy. I - along with many others I'm sure - will call, send cards, make donations, and do any of a million other things that people try to do for each other when someone is grieving. We all know it all falls short - nothing is going to bring Stan back - but we do it just the same because there is nothing else to do. So if you would, please include Angi, Stan and their families in your prayers tonight too. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spar-bye bye!

Two more Minnesota grocery chains have pulled Sparboe eggs off their shelves. (Since when did taking a public position on animal cruelty get to be so trendy in the food biz? Eh, who cares... just enjoy the fallout...)

A shout-out goes to Doug Powell of Barfblog for finding this story (how does he find all this stuff?) and read more in the Minneapolis StarTribune...
Non Sequitur

And shout-out to blog reader Bruce for this moment of levity!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Target Joins McD's in Ditching Egg Supplier

Target has joined Oak Brook-based McDonald's in ditching a Midwestern egg supplier after undercover video showed employees abusing hens.

NBC Chicago has more...


Friday, November 18, 2011


Ok, it's not like I'm going to turn into a fan of McDonald's any time soon, but its reaction to a 20/20 investigation of one of its - now former - egg suppliers is at least encouraging.

For its part, ABC News not only interviews Mercy for Animals and uses the group's rather disturbing undercover footage of appalling caged hen conditions at Sparboe Farms in its report, but reporter Brian Ross referred to cruelty concerns as part and parcel of the problem, rather than as a footnote or not at all.

Meanwhile, McDonald's took swift action to end its business relationship with Sparboe and issued a statement which read in part:
"McDonald's expects all of our suppliers to meet our stringent requirements for delivering high quality food prepared in a humane and responsible manner."

Click here for a link to the video...Link..

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Medlen v. Strickland - A HUGE DAY FOR ANIMAL LAW!!!!!!!

Congratulations to animal law attorney Randy Turner, for getting Texas' 2nd Court of Appeals to overturn 120 years of (really bad!) precedent... and allowing a grief-stricken couple to recover for the sentimental value of their dog, wrongly euthanized by a local animal shelter.

WAY TO GO, RANDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't usually cut-and-paste whole articles into this blog, but this decision is so important in this field that I don't want anyone to possibly miss it if the hyperlink breaks or your internet service is acting up or anything else. So here's a good article from a Texas legal journal in its entirety:

For the Love of Avery: Dog Owners Can Recover Sentimental-Value Damages for Loss of Pet

Fort Worth's 2nd Court of Appeals has ruled that value can be attached to the love of a dog, overruling a 120-year-old case in which the Texas Supreme Court held that plaintiffs can only recover for the market value of their pets. Randy Turner of Hurst represents the plaintiffs pro bono.

Texas Lawyer


In a decision sure to make canine lovers rejoice and veterinarians cringe, Fort Worth's 2nd Court of Appeals has ruled that value can be attached to the love of a dog, overruling a 120-year-old case in which the Texas Supreme Court held that plaintiffs can only recover for the market value of their pets.

On Nov. 3, the 2nd Court ruled in Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen v. Carla Strickland that dog owners can recover damages from a defendant based on the "sentimental value" related to the loss of their pet — a decision the defendant's lawyer argues could create new causes of action against vets.

According to the 2nd Court's opinion, the allegations in Medlen are as follows: In 2009, Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen's dog Avery escaped from their backyard and was picked up by animal control. Jeremy went to the animal shelter but did not have enough money to pay the fees. He was told he could return the next day, and a "hold for owner" tag was placed on Avery's cage, notifying the shelter employees that Avery was not to be euthanized.

Despite the "hold for owner" tag, Avery was put down the next day. When the Medlens returned to the shelter to pick up Avery, they learned what had happened.

The Medlens sued Carla Strickland, an employee at the shelter, alleging her negligence proximately caused Avery's death. They sued for "sentimental or intrinsic" damages because Avery had little or no market value and was irreplaceable.

Strickland objected to the Medlens' claims for damages on the ground that such damages are not recoverable for the death of a dog. The trial court dismissed the Medlens' suit for failure to state a claim for damages recognized by law — a ruling the Medlens appealed to the 2nd Court.

Unconditional Love

In its Nov. 3 decision, the 2nd Court took aim at the Texas Supreme Court's 1891 decision in Heiligmann v. Rose . Heiligmann involved a plaintiff who successfully sued a defendant after his dog was poisoned. In that case the high court ruled that a damage award for the loss of a canine may be determined by "either a market value, if the dog has any, or some special or pecuniary value to the owner, that may be ascertained by reference to usefulness and services of the dogs, and that they were of special value to the owner."

The 2nd Court pointed out that the Supreme Court has not addressed the value of a lost pet in the 120 years since it issued Heiligmann but has written several opinions in modern times that have "explicitly held that where personal property has little or no market value, and its main value is in sentiment, damages may be awarded based on this intrinsic or sentimental value."

"Because of the special position pets hold in their family, we see no reason why existing law should not be interpreted to allow recovery in the loss of a pet at least to the same extent as other personal property," wrote Justice Lee Gabriel in an opinion joined by justices Sue Walker and Bill Meier. [See the court's opinion in Medlen.]

"Dogs are unconditionally devoted to their owners. Today, we interpret timeworn supreme court law in light of subsequent supreme court law to acknowledge that the special value of 'man's best friend' should be protected," Gabriel wrote. "Because an owner may be awarded damages based on the sentimental value of lost personal property, and because dogs are personal property, the trial court erred in dismissing the Medlens' action against Strickland." The 2nd Court reversed the trial court and remanded the case.

Medlen is a huge victory for Randy Turner, a partner in Hurst's Turner & McKenzie and a dog lover who represents the Medlens pro bono. "I've said before I die or retire, I'm going to get this law changed," Turner says.

"I quote a study [in briefs] that says more than 50 percent of Americans would risk their lives to save their dog. And that's just a fact. And I'm one of those people," Turner says. "After Hurricane Katrina, people wouldn't leave because they wouldn't leave their dogs or cats. I defy you to find a piece of personal property that people value more than their pets. It can't be done."

The loss of Avery was especially hard on the Medlens, Turner says. They had raised the 80-pound brindle-coated dog since he was a puppy, he says. The dog was part of their family and even went on family vacations, Turner adds. Jeremy Medlen had his two children with him at the shelter when they learned Avery had been euthanized, Turner says.

"They are so devastated they have not gotten another dog. They are still grieving," Turner says of the Medlens.

Paul Boudloche, a partner in Fort Worth's Mason & Boudloche who represents Strickland, says he plans to file a motion with the 2nd Court seeking an en banc rehearing in Medlen .

"Our position is the law has been settled for 120 years not only by the Supreme Court but by the court of appeals. And the decision by the 2nd Court took us totally by surprise," Boudloche says.

"I think it's going to have a significant impact on the private sector, particularly veterinarians, kennel owners, even individuals who take care of their neighbors' pets. I mean, for example, on veterinarians, things which would be routine care for a pet, now they have to practice much more defensive medicine," Boudloche says. "[T]he value of a dog has changed in the eye of the law. So, if mistakes happen, the exposure for everybody is much greater."

Boudloche says the Texas Veterinary Medical Association already has contacted him about Medlen . Association spokeswoman Ashley Bustamante did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Yet Boudloche says he and his client understand and sympathize with the emotional price of losing a dog.

"I fully understand," Boudloche says. "I'm a dog lover. I've had a number of dogs and I've grieved every time one of them passed away. And my client was devastated that she may have had something do with this dog's death."

Green rangers arm up to protect rhinos

A former soldier is using military skills honed in Iraq to train a rag-tag, under-funded and out-gunned band of African rangers to combat poachers in a country where illegal game trafficking comprises the third largest criminal industry in the world.

A shout-out to blog reader Bruce, who provided a heads-up to this news story by Al Jazeera in Zimbabwe...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More proof that education does not necessarily lead to compassion

Lots of grumblings in the blogosphere that the Supreme Court seems poised to strike down California's ban prohibiting the slaughter of "downed" animals for food following yesterday's oral arguments.

The National Meat Association, of course, challenged the ban. Every downed cow that doesn't go into the food chain is lost profit.

California, in defense of its measure, is basically arguing that taking downed animals out of the food chain doesn't preempt federal law governing the slaughter of animals in any way because the state is simply removing certain animals from consideration as food animals.

The Justices did not seem to be buying that argument (although it is true that the tenor of any judge's questions is not necessarily indicative of how he or she is going to rule) according to a number of commentators, like The New York Times.

I'm not particularly surprised by the Court's pro-business tone.

Nor am I particularly surprised that there didn't seem to be much, if any, discussion about the value of recognizing at least some moral or ethical obligation to the most vulnerable and pathetic lives at the bottom of the food chain.

What I found most disappointing is that at least one member of the Court sees fit to trivialize death, none of the others took issue with him (at least publicly), and even the media isn't calling him out on it. As the NY Times reporter wrote:
Though much of the argument was a semantic tangle, there was at least one moment of clarity, when Justice Antonin Scalia reviewed the broader rules about which species may be slaughtered for food. “Lassie and Kitty are no good,” he said, “but Dobbin is all right.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

6th Circuit sides with homeowners in "breeding" case

In October 2008, undercover animal control officers in Louisville, Kentucky duped a couple of homeowners who were trying to sell puppies from their dogs' one and only litter into thinking that they were potential buyers... before busting in, seizing all of the animals and requiring the couple to alter and microchip all dogs... as well as pay a hefty fine... before being allowed to take the dogs home. All without ever actually charging them.

Louisville didn't see a problem with this. The lower court didn't see any constitutional issues. Yesterday however, the 6th Circuit said not so fast... read the opinion here...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

No Justice for Jack

The headline on MSNBC rather understated the whole matter: "Jack the cat dies after getting lost at JFK". For those of you who haven't been following this story, Jack was a companion animal that - due to some rather lax handling - escaped from his cage after being checked in for an American Airlines flight at one of the world's busiest airports in late August. The search for Jack gained international momentum on Facebook, and thousands of people all over the world were delighted when Jack, rather bedraggled but in decent spirits, resurfaced two months later.

Jack suffered extensive, and apparently inoperable, injuries, however. Despite reportedly great efforts, his companion, Karen Pascoe, in consultation with an apparently extensive number of vets, made the decision to euthanize Jack on Sunday. My condolences go out to her.

Not that this wasn't the humane thing to do. I have mixed feelings about euthanasia myself. Never really had a problem with Dr. Jack Kevorkian; his patients all made a conscious, reflective, deliberative decision that their quality of life was so poor that they did not want to go on. With animals, it's tougher because they can't explicitly weigh in on whether they agree that their quality of life is so low that it is not worth enduring any more suffering to enjoy one more meal, one more sunset, one more pet on the head. It is agonizing to make that decision for someone - anyone - else. I know this from painful experience. I have no doubt that Karen thought long and hard about her decision and did the best she can do. No doubt also this whole incident will weigh heavily on her for many years to come.

What is much less clear is whether there is any meaningful lesson here for American (or the airline industry as a general matter). Changes to the Animal Welfare Act (must be some ten years ago now?) came in response to other pet travel horror stories and were supposed to help prevent needless tragedies like Jack's. Obviously, those changes fell short. Supposedly stiffer penalties apparently were not stiff enough to persuade American Airlines to make safe baggage handling enough of a priority to actually avoid blunders like Jack's.

If ever there were a poster cat symbolizing the need for - Republicans, cover your eyes - MORE REGULATION of the airline industry, it's Jack. And I'll go one step further. If ever there were a fact pattern to argue for the fundamental fairness of extending the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress to non-human animals, this is it. (Illinois does not have a physical proximity or contemporaneous injury requirement; that's what I'm visualizing here.) Jack's story - despite the temporary black eye to AA - is basically nothing more than a heart-wrenching cost to be borne just about exclusively by Karen. Until the airline industry truly has to bear some of the cost of its actions, the only real question is: whose companion is next?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Cruelest Show on Earth

Bullhooks. Whippings. Electric shocks. Three-day train rides without breaks.

Mother Jones' yearlong investigation rips the big top off how Ringling Bros. treats its elephants.

(Thanks to blog reader Bruce for the heads-up on this article!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PETA: SeaWorld keeps orcas in "slavery"

A federal court is being asked to grant constitutional rights to five killer whales who perform at marine parks — an unprecedented and perhaps quixotic legal action that is nonetheless likely to stoke an ongoing, intense debate at America's law schools over expansion of animal rights.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld parks of keeping five star-performer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery. SeaWorld depicted the suit as baseless.

The chances of the suit succeeding are slim, according to legal experts not involved in the case, but ...as the Associated Press reports... PETA relishes engaging in the court of public opinion...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First graduate degree in animal law!

According to one internet magazine, Lewis and Clark announced the world's first masters degree in animal law at their 19th annual conference this past weekend. (Almost makes me want to go back to school... nah, who am I kidding? But this is cool.) Check out the Global Animal for more...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Police dog round-up

No, not literally of course. Just a couple of stories about police dogs in the news today:

In England: Londoner of the Day goes to a prize-winning furry law enforcement professional who was the victim of wuff justice (their goofy pun not mine...) during August’s riots.

Read all about Obi the police dog on London24.

And in Cartersville, Georgia: Social media and a bit of K9 karma helped reunite a police dog with his human partner.

See how another German Shepard named Riki found his way back to his family on Atlanta's WXIA-TV.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Animal welfare round-up

A slew of new animal welfare laws hitting the books around the U.S.. Here's a sampling:

Albany, New York
- County legislators unanimously passed a law Tuesday night establishing a registry of those convicted of abusing animals after lead sponsor Bryan Clenahan urged his colleagues to make Albany County "a real leader in the fight against animal abuse."

The Times Union reports...

Columbus, Ohio - A law to increase criminal penalties against operators at kennels who abuse animals is set for a final vote by the Ohio House.

WTRF-TV has more on "Nitro's Law"...

Sacramento, California - Among the long list of bills just signed into California law by Governor Brown, there are several which will make the State a better, safer place for animals.

Check out the measures to increase penalties for neglect, animal fighting and more in this SF Gate editorial...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Nevada gets with the program (finally...)

On Saturday, Nevada became the 48th state to enact a felony cruelty law.

As the Reno Gazette explained, "Cooney's Law" was named after a mixed breed female who suffered a particularly horrible fate at the hands of his owner, who could only be charged with a misdemeanor because Cooney was a mutt...

Friday, October 07, 2011

Hey kids, don't try this at home....

One Irish journalist recently had a close encounter with some seal pups while out on a documentary assignment to Antartica.

Check out this video on WTOP in Washington, D.C....Link

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Why Is Georgetown Law Helping to Promote Cruelty to Animals?

Excellent commentary in the Huffington Post by longtime animal advocate Bruce Friedrich on Georgetown Law's (disappointing but at least defensible) decision to help the National Meat Association prepare for a potentially precedent-setting argument before the Supreme Court... as opposed to its (rather dubious) explanation of why it is cloaking that decision in a shroud of secrecy....

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

West Hollywood delays final approval of ban on fur sales

The West Hollywood City Council has delayed final approval of an ordinance that would ban the sale of apparel made of fur.

The proposed ban, which was tentatively approved on Sept. 20, will be tabled for 30 days, Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Prang announced at the council's meeting Monday night.

Read what's behind the delay in The Los Angeles Times...

Monday, October 03, 2011

Nestle ad first to pitch to canine customers

Yes, advertising has truly gone to the dogs.

MSNBC/Reuters explains...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court hears factory farm case

In a lawsuit that could set a precedent across the Midwest... John Adams, seen above, along with a group of his neighbors and the town they live in are suing the state over a nearby factory farm that they say is polluting the water, the ground and the air they breathe.

Read more in the Wisconsin Law Journal...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quebec kennel seizure could largest Canada

Animal welfare authorities who raided a massive dog-breeding kennel near Shawville say it could be the largest operation of its kind in Canada.

More than 500 dogs were removed from the Paws “R” Us kennel in Clarendon Township, about 90 minutes northwest of Ottawa, during the weekend seizure...

...the Ottawa Citizen has the story...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BSL and Belfast, Ireland

An American Bulldog/Lab mix by the name of Lennox has been locked up for more than a year now.... while his family and other supporters battle the local government over some rather vague language in the local breed specific legislation banning "pit bull types". You can learn more about his story and the struggle over BSL - which appears not to work any better in Ireland than it's been shown not to work in the U.S. - at www.savelennox.co.uk. There was also a fairly recent blog post on Change.org.

Thanks to Jason, an attorney in DC, for the heads-up...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Infamous Illinois animal abuser waiting to learn her fate...

The Chicago Tribune reports that Diane Eldrup is facing the possibility of not only prison - but deportation - after she was (finally) found guilty last week of allowing dozens of animals supposedly in her care to die instead at her Muddy Paws pet rescue.

According to the Tribune, she failed to turn in her passport and now her estranged husband is fighting her efforts to get expanded visitation with her 9-year-old son...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

California bans foie gras

Chicago tried this briefly a few years back; I hope California has more success. Bloomberg Businessweek reports...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Lab chimps see daylight for the first time

Some very bittersweet (assuming it doesn't turn out to be faked) video circulating the internet of rescued research chimpanzees in Germany.

Thanks to blog reader Bruce for this link from the Huffington Post. All the media has been talking about the chimpanzees' reaction to daylight. Did anyone else notice the condition of these poor animals' fur?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Enough already

Michael Vick is in the news again. He received a six-year extension on his $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday. Of course, he appeared appropriately thoughtful and thankful about the opportunity during a press conference that was picked up apparently by every media outlet in the galaxy, including USA Today.

Still makes me shake my head (and yes, grit my teeth a little) though. I still wonder how many of his apologists would have jumped on the redemption bandwagon if he had committed multiple violent crimes against people. Who knows? Perhaps he would have had more supporters, since there certainly seems to be a definite lack of empathy for humans nowadays. But what if it had been crimes against children? Would the fan base have forgiven that? Would any child advocacy group have seized the opportunity to use Vick's behavior as a media platform?

My parents always taught me never to wish evil on anyone, no matter who they are. Decades later, I still hear their voices in my head every time I am about to wish that Mr. Vick would just break a leg or something and have to sit out football season. So I won't wish that. Sigh.

And I admit it, I'm jealous of Michael Vick. $100 million dollars is a lot of money! I spent years in school, am a hard worker and never hurt anyone in my life... but I am never going to see anywhere near that kind of money. Ever. Really just isn't fair. I know, life isn't fair. Sigh.

So maybe I will just make a direct appeal to the football star-turned-felon-turned-football-star-again (not that he is ever going to see this blog):

Please just go away. Take your money and enjoy your second chance. You got everything you wanted, now please just go away. You can play football, but you don't need to speak at press conferences. You don't have to make public appearances. You don't need any more media of any sort. Just GO AWAY.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Setback in ALDF's Tony the Tiger case

A Baton Rouge appeals court has thrown out a judge's ruling that barred state officials from issuing any new permits to an Iberville Parish truck stop to keep a 550-pound tiger on display.

As the Houston Chronicle reports, the appellate panel said the truck stop owner should have been present at the May hearing...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Robo-Rover? California bill would require microchips implanted in pets.

In a move backers say will greatly reduce the $300-million-per-year California taxpayers pay for housing and euthanizing stray animals, the state Assembly has passed the nation’s first mandatory microchipping-of-pets bill.

Read more in The Christian Science Monitor...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What is up with that?

News has been swirling around the internet this past week that one of the early adopters of the new .xxx domains is going to be PETA. The advocacy group has registered the name PETA.xxx and announced plans to launch a soft-core porn site by the end of the year.

Not that anyone who knows anything about the history of PETA's shock-and-awwwww campaigns was going to be surprised by the news. But it does have people around the world wondering: Is this still about animal rights?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fired Kasowitz First-Year Sues for $77M, Says Firm Didn’t Appreciate His ‘Superior Legal Mind’

Ok, not animal law but LOL!!!

Check out this item in the ABA Journal... (and don't miss the third comment...)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jury awards family $300,000 after police kill man’s dog during search

Thomas Russell III describes watching a police officer shoot his canine “best friend” two years ago as “the scariest thing I ever saw.”

On Thursday, a U.S. District Court jury decided Russell, 20, and his family deserved to be compensated for the Feb. 27, 2009, police search of the family’s South Side home during which “Lady,” the family’s black Labrador, was shot dead. The jury awarded the family about $300,000.

Read more in the Chicago Sun-Times...

(Note: this story doesn't say whether any of the damages were for the actual value of the dog herself, as opposed to the NIED claim for the person. Nonetheless, even an NIED recovery where the underlying harm was injury to an animal is (I believe) the first time that's happened in an Illinois case. Congrats to the plaintiff's attorney(s), and if anyone knows who they are, please let me know!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Animal activists hold protest at Korean consulate

Animal rights activists protested against the human consumption of dog meat Tuesday morning in front of the Korean consulate in San Francisco.

Get the rest of the story from KGO-TV...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

German Fugitive Cow, Yvonne, On The Run

A runaway cow has captivated the attention of the media, police authorities, hunters, animal rights activists and even the Hindu community.

Read more about the adventures of Yvonne in The Huffington Post...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dog fighting app is back

The maker of Dog Wars - yanked off the Android market last spring following public pressure - says the newest version of their app is the best yet. Yeesh.

At any rate, read more from KDAF-TV in Dallas. Even typically conservative Fox News doesn't seem to have much compassion for the First Amendment-pushing "game"...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A planet for all apes

Two new movies – one a science-fiction blockbuster, the other a revealing documentary – raise the issue of our relations with our closest non-human relatives, the great apes. Both dramatize insights and lessons that should not be ignored.

Read the rest of Peter Singer's commentary in The Globe and Mail...

(And thanks again to blog reader Bruce for the heads up!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

L.A. County ordinance to let animal control, not courts, label dogs 'vicious'

Not happy about this one at all. Read more in an LA Times blog here...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Animal Rights: What Legislation Is Reasonable?

Nice little public radio interview takes a look at the question. Guests include Joyce Tischler and Gene Bauer. Check it out on KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Egg Producers and Humane Society Urging Federal Standard on Hen Cages

Two groups that are usually squawking at each other — egg farmers and animal welfare advocates — announced an unusual agreement on Thursday to work together to seek a federal law that would require larger cages and other improved conditions for the nation’s 280 million laying hens.

Details in The New York Times...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Florida county revises its dangerous dog ordinance!

Marion County became the most recent municipality in the Sunshine State to tone down its draconian dangerous dog ordinance. Thanks go to Fred Kray - and all of the other animal law attorneys around the state - for all of the tireless efforts in bringing these cases for years now. Read more in the Ocala Star-Banner...

Friday, July 01, 2011

New antifreeze law in Illinois

A new law takes effect in Illinois today, requiring a bittering agent to be added to antifreeze. This will (hopefully) make it less attractive to anyone sniffing around the garage floor just to see what's going on. You can read (a little bit) more in the Illinois Statehouse News.

(And yes, the bigger deal is that Illinois finally put the death penalty to rest. Although (as the writer correctly observed just based on my own personal observations from living in Chicago for a dozen years), most state residents don't even realize Illinois still had a death penalty law on the books since the moratorium had been going on for so long.

The new so-called "Amazon tax" (nothing to do with animal law but it happens to be in the ISN story) is going to be interesting to watch. I imagine it will eventually catch on in all states.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hooray for the Dutch!

The Netherlands voted today to ban ritual slaughter!

As the UK's Financial Times reports, the watershed passage of this unprecedented legislation will make halal and kosher methods of slaughter - which do not use anesthesia - illegal. It has also inadvertently done what several thousand years of foreign diplomacy has never been able to achieve: unite Jews and Muslims on at least one issue.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The needless dichotomy between religious freedom and animal cruelty

The Netherlands is set to take an historic vote tomorrow (ok, well, it is almost time to get up there already...) on whether to ban halal and kosher slaughter. The legislation... which has pitted two small minorities against an even smaller animal rights party... is being watched worldwide. You can read more in The New York Times or the care2.com blog

The issue basically comes down to this: Jews and Muslims both believe that their methods of slaughter which - and yes, this is something of a oversimplification - basically involve a quick, deep slash of a conscious animal's throat are humane. More importantly, they are required by religious principles. Animal rights activists believe that the scientific evidence which - again, an oversimplification - shows that an animal needs to be stunned first in order to make the slaughter as humane as possible should be the guiding principle. And make no mistake, this is a passionate debate all around.

Moreover, the debate is not just between religious and animal advocates, but within the AR-AW community itself. I remember a number of years back suggesting to a colleague that, as Jews, we might be in a better position than others to try to persuade yet other Jews to endorse an effort to overturn the exemption for Kosher slaughter in the U.S., since no one could accuse us of being anti-Semitic. To my surprise, my normally very pro-animal colleague suddenly became very agitated and said kosher slaughter wasn't a problem. It quickly became very clear that I was not going to change my colleague's opinion any more than my colleague was going to change mine; we let the issue drop.

Don't get me wrong; I believe strongly that religious freedom is one of our country's most important values (and by extension, an important value for the Dutch as well). I have friends of all different religious backgrounds... I have hired staff of all different religious backgrounds... I have even gone so far as to not only encourage my gentile boyfriend to go to the church of his choice... but to accompany him on a pretty regular basis. This is despite the fact that the church of his choice is no less than an hour and a half (yes, you read that right) from our home. One way. In other words, Sunday morning church literally takes all of Sunday morning.

But I draw the line when someone says that their religious beliefs require someone else to suffer - and especially when those sufferers are even less able to defend their own interests. I don't think that is really what Islam or Judaism is about, and I encourage anyone who bristles at what I'm suggesting to really think about whether they think that's what these two belief systems are about. These two ancient traditions each claim to be based on the idea of a compassionate G-d. They have both adapted to other changing social mores without being destroyed. Why should this be any different? In other words, if it is possible to interpret a passage demanding "an eye for an eye" in a way that no longer requires blinding a wrongdoer, then surely it is possible to interpret passages demanding ritual slaughter in a way that acknowledges improvements in a process that were not available some 1,300... or 5,771... years ago.

Just as the right to free speech does not include the proverbial right to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre, there is no reason that the rubric of religious freedom should give safe harbor to a practice that would, under any other lens, be viewed as cruel.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

San Francisco’s pet cause is for the dogs

Why is a municipal commission trying to ban sales of dogs, cats and goldfish?

The city of San Francisco takes its name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Francis has been an effective advocate lately, because the municipal Commission of Animal Control and Welfare has proposed a new law to ban almost all pet sales within city limits.

Read more in this Chicago Sun-Times/National Review article...

I'm baaaaack....

Apologies for the break in posting... personal events again having overtaken blogging time... hopefully will have more time in the weeks to come...

Meantime, some terrific legislation just passed in NY for same-sex couples. (Gay rights being an area that seems to be a harbinger for the acceptance of animal rights.) So please see below!

The Road to Gay Marriage in New York

The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.

Read more about this historic leap in The New York Times...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An actual bipartisan effort in the Senate this week... as two senators join forces to introduce the "Against Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011."

The measure is intended to try to finally end the slaughter of American horses not just in the U.S. (where technically it has been banned for several years now), but to stop the export of horses for slaughter to Mexico, where it remains a disturbingly common and often cruel process.

Read more in the Examiner.com and Harnesslink.com...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Animal rights groups ask DA to investigate UW experiments involving mice fights

Two animal rights groups are asking Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to investigate whether UW-Madison researchers broke the law by conducting lab experiments in which mice fight.

Read more in the Wisconsin State Journal...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Midwest update

A few new laws going into effect:

Wisconsin: A new law for dog sellers, rescuers and shelters will take effect in Wisconsin on Wednesday.The law, called Act 90, will require breeders who sell 25 or more dogs a year from more than three litters to apply for a license and be subject to inspection from the state's Department of Agriculture. WISN-TV reports...

Ohio: Cleveland City Council voted to amend part of the City's vicious dog ordinance (Ord. 712-11) during its Monday night meeting. Major changes to the law include two classifications for threat dogs: Level I – Dangerous & Level II – Vicious. Emphasis on the classification is based upon evidence of behavior of the dog, not the breed. The pit bull breed will no longer be considered vicious. 19 Action News has that story...

Missouri: A stinging rebuke of the referendum process last week, as Governor Jay Nixon (a Democrat, no less... for shame!) caved to political pressure. He signed a measure repealing the Puppy Mill Prevention Cruelty Act that voters had approved in the last election and replacing it with some rather lame, watered-down provisions that the breeding industry feels it can live with. Read more in Kentucky's Lexington Herald...

Sunday, June 05, 2011

One if by tour bus, two if by... no, wait...

Ok, sorry it took me a couple of days, but this is just too priceless not to post. Here's the video clip of Sarah Palin's revisionist recounting of Paul Revere's apparently-not-as-famous-as-the-rest-of-us-were-taught ride.

I used be a newswriter at CNN Atlanta many, many moons ago. Had a really good friend and colleague Ken, (may he rest in peace), who used to always say "never let the facts get in the way of a good story." Now, of course, Ken would say that with a wink and smile.

For now, Ms. Palin is sticking with her story. She apologized this afternoon if she "stepped on" any of Mitt Romney's publicity the other day as the Palin mobile rolled into a nearby New Hampshire town (he was only announcing his candidacy - what a coincidence!), but she is adamant that she knows her U.S. history... even if none of the history books seem to know it the same way...

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Another good ruling!

Here's a tax court case - not nearly as sexy as punitives - but the court did allow a woman to claim a bunch of unreimbursed expenses for volunteering with a feral cat colony as charitable contributions. A shout-out to my beau, Greg (a tax attorney), for pointing it out. Thanks, Greg!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Excellent new valuation case in California!

An appellate court handed down a great ruling yesterday in the case of wrongful injury to a "pet animal"... holding that the owner can recover not only the costs of care, but also punitive damages if the injury is found to be intentional. Here's the link to: Kimes v. Grosser, et al.

Way to go!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

University Prosecutor won’t file charges in UW-Madison sheep deaths

A special prosecutor has declined to bring charges against nine UW-Madison researchers and officials responsible for experiments in which sheep died of decompression sickness.

Read more in the Wisconsin State-Journal...

It's the little things...

As United and Continental grapple with how to merge these two airline giants, it's nice to hear that they are considering animal welfare in the mix. A recent Wall Street Journal article mentioned - albeit briefly - that airline officials had to decide whether to adopt Continental's policy of sending animals up the conveyor belt facing the cargo hold, or United's policy of sending the animals facing the cargo workers. Apparently, they wondered whether it would be scary for the animals to see the hold, so United's policy won.

Ok, I admit, this isn't much. But it is something. Airlines are not going to give up the extra revenue from allowing pets on board so long as travelers request the service, and there's no sign that travelers are cutting back on requests to take their companions "with" them on a flight by sticking them in a cargo hold. So in the meantime, at least maybe the changes in federal law a few years back are really starting to take root in airline culture (even if the horror stories that prompted the changes hasn't had the same effect on customers).

Monday, May 23, 2011

A few new animal welfare laws...

... getting some mention in various news blurbs this morning.

In Missouri:

New guidelines have been issued by the St. Louis City Commissioner of Health which they say will put a stop to the abusive practice of using truck, tractor or hardware chains to restrain animals. Read more at CBS St. Louis...

In North Carolina:

A look at why animal welfare laws - from puppy mill regulation to the new anti-neglect bill, Chamberlin's Law - are always a tough sell at the NC General Assembly, year in and year out. WRAL reporter Laura Leslie reports...

And in New York:

One state assemblyman has introduced The Companion Animal Access and Rescue Act (CAARA) to create protections for homeless pets and end the so-called "convenience" killings (euthanizing animals when there are empty cages). It will also make it illegal to kill animals if rescue groups are willing to save them. Find out more at the Examiner.com...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Civil union law about to go into effect in Illinois

Nice little weekend feature on one couple as Illinois joins the growing ranks of states to recognize basic, fundamental rights for gay couples.

Read more in The News-Gazette...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unprecedented fur-free ordinance!

The City of West Hollywood voted unanimously this week to draft an ordinance banning the sale of fur apparel within city limits. WeHo, as it is affectionately known by locals, has been leading the nation for more than 20 years now in redefining itself as a cruelty-free zone. Read more in the WeHo News and Enhanced Online News.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A more worrisome terrorist than Bin Laden?

The FBI's infamous "ten most wanted terrorists" list is down to nine with the recent death of the 911 mastermind (apparently there's no number 11 waiting in the wings). Who are those nine, you might ask? Eight al Qaeda operatives and one animal rights extremist. And according to the research scientist who penned this opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal, it is perplexing why the public does not regard that individual, Daniel San Diego (at left) as more of a threat.

(Spoiler alert: this is not an animal-friendly piece. Aside from the fact that it's not a bad thing to keep tabs on what the opposition is saying, I was also just bemused that the FBI considers an animal rights extremist dangerous enough to edge out the countless other al quaeda minions who would no doubt clamor for a place on that list.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nation's first animal abuse registry gets some teeth

Lawmakers on Long Island, New York, passed a bill earlier this week that "bars pet stores, breeders and animal shelters from selling or giving animals to people listed on the county’s new animal abuse registry." Read more in the Wall Street Journal or Long Island Press.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Alpacas, anyone?

Cute little BBC piece on how one rancher is keeping the coyotes at bay...


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Back to the trenches...

Just like in the wake of Hurricane Katrina...

where news crews first reported on efforts to save people and then - as public interest started to wane when the disaster began to fade in the collective memories of all but those who were directly affected - on efforts to save animals...

news reports are starting to crop up on the efforts to save animals in the wake of the tornadoes that ripped through the South recently. Here's one look from NPR.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Wanna have sex with your dog? Not in Florida...

Well, it took long enough...

but the Florida legislature finally passed a measure banning bestiality in the Sunshine State. (Too easy; I'm gonna let that one go...) The measure now goes to Governor Rick Scott. I haven't read anything suggesting he's opposed to the bill - let's hope not - so hopefully we'll see him sign it into law soon. Read (a little) more in this Miami Herald blurb.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

LA neutering ordinance intact

But seriously, folks...

A California appellate court upheld an LA ordinance this week that requires owners to spay or neuter their companion animals unless they meet one of six exemptions. Citing "several issues related to the overpopulation problem including public health and safety concerns, inhumane treatment of animals, mass euthanasia of dogs/cats at local shelters, and rising costs for animal control", the court rejected arguments that the requirement violated owners' constitutional rights.

If anyone is familiar with the group that filed this suit, please feel free to chime in here. I couldn't really figure out what they were trying to accomplish. They argued, for example, that there was an exemption for people who intended to breed their dogs, but none for those who didn't want to breed their dogs yet still wanted to keep them intact. (Huh?) They also argued that they didn't want to apply for a breeder's permit and thus be viewed as a "breeder" because it has negative connotations. (Seems pretty whiny...) And there were a lot of other head-scratching arguments, such as contending that forced sterilization is a taking. (Really? Even if you don't want to breed the animal? How can one take away something that someone else was never going to have anyway? If a tree falls in the forest... well, you get the idea...)

Maybe I'm missing something here - and I am rarely on the side of animal control, so perhaps I Linkam missing something - but the decision seems pretty good to me. In fact, if I had written the ordinance, I'm not sure there would have even been as many as six exemptions... but I digress.

At any rate, you can read the opinion here at Concerned Dog Owners of California, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, et al.