Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year, everyone!

Been so busy with plans for the first Animal History Museum Friendraiser that I don't think I even posted the usual two-second holiday greetings this year, so here goes:  Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Joyous Kwanzaa!  And at least I'm not late for: Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

If you haven't had a chance to check out our museum website yet, please do.  And like every other NFP out there, I'll also add the obligatory: there's still time to make a donation - or buy tickets to our Friendraiser - in order to get a  charitable deduction on your taxes in a few months! :)

See you in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012


Feld Entertainment, Inc., the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus, announced today that the company has reached a legal settlement with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in connection with two federal court cases. Under the settlement, ASPCA has paid Feld Entertainment $9.3 million to settle all claims related to its part in more than a decade of manufactured litigation that attempted to outlaw elephants in the company's Ringling Bros. ® Circus.  This settlement applies only to the ASPCA.  Feld Entertainment's legal proceedings, including its claims for litigation abuse and racketeering, will continue against the remaining defendants, Humane Society of the United States, the Fund for Animals, Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Protection Institute United with Born Free USA, Tom Rider and the attorneys involved.

Read more in the HeraldOnline....

Thanks to Joan Schaffner for the heads-up on this one...

Read more here:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dutch law will ban mink farming by 2024!

The Dutch senate on Tuesday passed a ban on mink farming in the Netherlands, the world's third-largest producer of the animal fur, in a ruling that will phase out the industry by 2024. The bill, tabled by both the Labour Party and the Socialist Party, was passed by a majority of lawmakers in a vote of 46 to 29, according to a statement on the senate website.

Read more here...

And it looks like I forgot to post the other week that Costa Rica has banned hunting! My bad.  Anyone checking this blog has probably read all about it by now, but in case not, here's a link to more...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Two great animal welfare bills pass U.S. Senate!

As an ASPCA guest blogger aptly notes:

With all the political gridlock in Washington D.C., it seems that Congress has nearly ground to a complete halt. So it was very exciting late yesterday when the U.S. Senate considered two important measures to help animals in need!

One bill allows for the adoption of retired military dogs and the other gives law enforcement more tools to crack down on dog and cockfighting.

Read more in this ASPCA blog post...

Great news for whales!

After drawing international criticism in July following its announcement that is was considering the resumption of whaling for “scientific research,” Seoul has opted not to submit notice of plans for a whale hunt to the International Whaling Commission by a Dec. 3 deadline.

Read more in the Wall Street Journal...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Animal rights group sues California restaurant over foie gras ban

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The animal rights group PETA sued a California restaurant on Wednesday that it says serves outlawed foie gras to patrons, in what appears to be the first lawsuit to enforce a state ban on the delicacy, PETA officials said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that Hot's Kitchen claimed to have stopped selling foie gras when a ban on producing or selling it took effect in July, but was offering it as a complimentary side dish to customers who order "THE Burger."

Read more in the Chicago Tribune...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

California animal law crawls forward...

A good opinion by a California appellate court last week.  Apologies for the delay in posting this; just dropped the in-laws off at LAX and am catching up on things.

At any rate, I say "good" rather than "great" because while Martinez v. Robledo holds that companion animal owners may recover reasonable costs for the treatment of a wrongfully injured companion - as opposed to mere market value - the court expressly stops short of acknowledging any sentimental, intrinsic or other value.  Very disappointing for a state that often leads the nation in progressive thinking in so many other regards. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Championing Life And Liberty For Animals

And here's a great feature about Steve Wise's pioneering efforts to gain some genuine measure of rights for non-humans, and what we can look forward to in 2013 and beyond from the Nonhuman Rights Project

You go, Steve!

Read the story from NPR...

L.A. council votes to ban stores from selling non-rescue dogs, cats


Credit for the heads-up on this one goes to Steve Wells at ALDF - read more in the L.A. Times Local...

Australian Department Stores Ban Retail Fur

VegNews Magazine is reporting that the Humane Society International is reporting that "animal fur has been abolished from all Australian department stores."

Read more here... Haven't seen anyone else reporting on this yet...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

World’s 1st masters of laws program concentrates on animal law, lures animal welfare advocates

Way to go, CALS! Great write-up in today's Washington Post about their new LL.M. program... and just days after wrapping up their TWENTIETH annual animal law conference!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And perhaps even better news?!...

It appears that Canada may have stopped accepting U.S. horses for slaughter!  Read more in the Daily Racing Form, and a big shout-out to food safety guru Doug Powell at Kansas State for the heads-up on this one!

More good news!

Our friends at University of Pennsylvania Law School report that animal law is back on campus there.  Read more here.  Congrats, guys - keep up the good work!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Good news!

Word has it that Idaho is now the 23rd state to approve an animal law practice section for its state bar association! Yay!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Nepal deploys drones to fight rhino poachers

See more about this we-mean-business law enforcement technique in this Youtube video. Thanks to blog reader Bruce for forwarding the link...

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The irony is not lost here...

70-year-old Oregon farmer eaten by his hogs

On Wednesday morning, Terry V. Garner, a 70-year-old Oregon farmer, went to feed his animals. Several hours later, when he hadn’t returned, a family member went to look for him and found, on the ground of the hog enclosure, his dentures. 

Read more from NBC News...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blood Ivory - Can the Slaughter of Elephants for their tusks be stopped?

IN JANUARY 2012 A HUNDRED RAIDERS ON HORSEBACK CHARGED OUT OF CHAD INTO CAMEROON’S BOUBA NDJIDAH NATIONAL PARK, SLAUGHTERING HUNDREDS OF ELEPHANTS—entire families—in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision reminiscent of a 2006 butchering outside Chad’s Zakouma National Park. And then some stopped to pray to Allah. Seen from the ground, each of the bloated elephant carcasses is a monument to human greed. Elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years. From the air too the scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene—you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together, the latest of the tens of thousands of elephants killed across Africa each year. Seen from higher still, from the vantage of history, this killing field is not new at all. It is timeless, and it is now.
Read the rest of Bryan Christy's insightful and sobering article in National Geographic...

Thanks to blog reader, Bruce, for the heads-up on this piece.  Want to add a personal note too; as terrific as National Geographic is - and has been for decades - the National Geographic Channel seems to have taken on some unfortunate, evil alter-ego.   It regularly airs TV programming that makes at best dubious use of animals, including bonobos, for entertainment.  NGC recently became the target of a global Facebook protest when it became known that one of planned stars for an upcoming reality show was a well-known trophy hunter.  If you have FB, you can check out that page here:

NGC uninvited Ms. Bachman when it realized the public relations nightmare it had created, but I'm not aware of whether it changed any of its other programming.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

L'Shana Tova!

Happy New Year to all our readers celebrating Rosh Hashanah this evening!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Another great CA appellate ruling: Court OKs emotional distress damages for owners of battered dog!

John Meihaus Jr. says he was only acting in self-defense when a neighbor's miniature pinscher ran onto his property and began barking at him. Meihaus grabbed a baseball bat and used it to "guide" the 12-inch-tall, 15-pound dog back onto David and Joyce Plotnik's property.

Neither the jury nor the appellate court bought that argument. has the story...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Whatever happened to wishing for World Peace?

Miss Universe Canada has joined the fight for a pit bull ban in B.C., and plans to make the effort a major part of her reign, according to the Vancouver Sun.

26-year-old Sahar Biniaz was the victim of a pit bull attack herself when she was 14, which of course was very unfortunate and undoubtedly influenced her opinions here.  Imho, however, it's also unfortunate that in the dozen years since, she hasn't been able to develop a broader perspective.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

CA appellate court upholds spay/neuter clause in foster agreement!

Congrats to animal law attorney Terri Macellaro and colleagues for this terrific appellate win!

Click the link to read the decision...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Court eases up in pit bull case

Maryland’s highest court on Tuesday partly backed off its April decision that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, admitting that it went too far when it applied its standard to crossbred dogs. But the new ruling, which affects only purebred animals, does not clear the waters, according to experts.

Read more in the Washington Post...

Convicted felon escapes jail time in animal cruelty case

Chicago, IL - A convicted felon charged with animal cruelty for allegedly leaving his dog panting and foaming at the mouth in a car with the windows closed on one of the hottest days of the year got off with six months probation and 50 hours of community service on Monday amid questions about the city’s handling of the case.

Read more in the Chicago Sun-Times...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

ABA finally takes a stand against breed bias!

After many years of negotiation and debate, the ABA House of Delegates approved a resolution Monday calling for breed-neutral dangerous dog laws that focus on behavior rather than breed.

Read more in the ABA Journal...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Estonia To Change Law On Religious Slaughter

Estonia will change its law on religious slaughter, government officials have said.
The change is necessary because religious slaughter “does not take new scientific knowledge into account,” the head of Estonia's Animal Welfare Bureau, Sirje Jalakas, told JTA.

Read more in The Jewish Week...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

L.A. judge rejects bid to halt foie gras ban

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in Los Angeles today rejected an emergency bid to freeze California's recently enacted ban on the sale of foie gras, the delicacy prepared from the force-feeding of ducks and geese.

Read the rest of the Daily News article here... 

Thanks to Stephen Wells at ALDF for the heads-up!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Legal battle over Lennox ends with his death... or does it?

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Marty Becker via Ledy VanKavage)

Very sad and disheartening news out of Belfast, Northern Ireland yesterday.  A two-year court battle over a dog that "resembled" a pit bull ended with word that the local government forged ahead and put the dog down - despite offers to re-settle the dog, named Lennox, as far away as the U.S..

You can read more about this story in the Huffington Post... not to mention scores of other articles and commentaries popping up all over the internet and blogosphere.

Too bad Lennox had no idea how many people cared about him.  He spent the last two years of his life in a cramped cage at a pound.  The photos circulating on that are just too depressing to share, although my guess is that anyone who is reading this blog knows exactly what those pictures look like without having to actually see them.  Irish authorities claimed that the dog was too unpredictable and dangerous to be placed in any society.  Advocates would argue that anyone stuffed into a cage for two years would be in a pretty unpredictable and sour mood - but those empathetic arguments fell on deaf ears.  Officials even refused to let Lennox's owner be present at the euthanasia - telling her instead that they would mail her the ashes. 

Mail her the ashes?  Seriously?  Why stop there?  Maybe burn down a homeless shelter or blind a few orphans on the way to the post office.  The human capacity for cruelty really amazes me sometimes.

So what's the take-away here?  My entire professional career has been focused on trying to avoid all of the moral, touchy-feely approaches (even tho my heart is screaming "how would YOU like to be stuffed into a cage?!" as much as the next person) because I know they never work on the sorts of people that controlled Lennox's fate.  Sadly, none of the well-reasoned legal arguments or practical alternatives didn't either.  Now there are calls to boycott tourism in Northern Ireland.  Can't hurt to try, but it seems like a longshot to affect future cases and certainly does nothing for Lennox or his family now.

So what's left?  What works?   I don't know.  I doubt anyone knows (or, to borrow from a Keith Urban song, we'd all be doing it right now).  Whenever I use this blog space to vent I try to end on at least something of an uplifting note, but there just really isn't one here.   We have to keep asking ourselves the question  "what will work?" and pushing for an answer - for all of the Lennoxes out there - not to mention for all of us whose hearts and minds are forever scarred with the memory of every failure.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court upholds health care law!

Who would've thought?!

Bottom line: the Congress doesn't have power to impose an individual mandate under its power to regulate interstate commerce... but the individual mandate is constitutional as a tax!

Here's the link to a USA Today article... and the actual decision!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Congrats, ALDF! Settlement in Palm Springs Lawsuit

In a big step forward for Palm Springs’ homeless dogs and cats, a settlement is being entered in California Superior Court resolving a lawsuit against the city, police and animal control officials, and the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter that alleged systematic abuses at the city’s shelter and improper use of the term “no kill.”

Read more from ALDF's website....

Friday, June 15, 2012

A couple of good stories drawing me back to the blog today...

Congrats to animal law attorney Randy Turner, who just scored another big legal victory, this time for Bat World Sanctuary.  Could not find it on the web, but here's the press release from Randy's office:

Bat World Sanctuary, a non-profit organization devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating bats, and it’s president, Amanda Lollar of Mineral Wells were awarded $6.1 million in damages by a Tarrant County district judge today in a defamation lawsuit.  After a four-day trial the court found that Mary Cummins of Los Angeles, California had committed defamation against Amanda Lollar and had breached her internship contract with Bat World Sanctuary.
In 2010 Mary Cummins was accepted for an internship at Bat World Sanctuary at Mineral Wells.  While at Bat World she became dissatisfied with the program and left the internship early.  According to the plaintiffs she went back to California and began posting “horrific allegations of animal cruelty against Amanda Lollar on the internet.”   She accused Amanda Lollar of performing “illegal surgeries” on bats without anesthesia, possessing and distributing controlled substances without a DEA license, throwing dead bats in the trash, allowing interns to be repeatedly bitten by rabid bats, breeding bats illegally, giving human rabies vaccinations to interns, and neglecting her pet dogs.   She filed reports of animal cruelty with numerous wildlife and conservation organizations as well as humane and animal welfare organizations.  She also complained to a foundation that had been providing funding to Bat World but stopped doing so after receiving Cummins’ complaint.  She filed complaints with the Texas Department of Health, the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Attorney General, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the USDA, the Mineral Wells Police Department, the Mineral Wells Fire Department, the Palo Pinto District Attorney and other agencies.  According to Eric Shupps, the plaintiff’s expert on information technology, Cummins used “search engine optimization” and “Google bombs” to spread her defamation far and wide across the internet.
Judge William Brigham, who was the visiting judge in the 352nd District Court of Tarrant County, announced at the conclusion of the trial that Amanda Lollar is world-renowned and is to bats what Jane Goodall is to primates.  He said that Mary Cummins’ defamation of Amanda Lollar was “intentional, malicious, and egregious” and ordered her to pay $3.0 million in compensatory damages and $3.0 million in punitive damages.  He also ordered her to pay $10,000 for breach of her contract with Bat World and $176,700 in attorney’s fees.
Lollar’s attorney, Randy Turner with the firm, Bailey & Galyen, said “this judgment sends a powerful message to cyberstalkers and others who use the internet to harass people or to harm their reputations.  Innocent victims like Amanda Lollar often don’t have the resources, expertise, or ability to defend themselves against such vicious internet attacks.  Hopefully this judgment will make someone think twice before engaging in an internet smear campaign.”  Bat World Sanctuary is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association and verified by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

Score one for equal rights in Illinois!

I used to live in Chicago so was really pleased to see this article this morning.  As I've said before, betterment of rights for any group generally bodes well for everyone.  This from today's Chicago Tribune:
The fight for same-sex marriage rights in Illinois took an unprecedented turn Thursday as Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez conceded that the state's ban on gay marriage violates the Illinois Constitution, essentially agreeing with a pair of lawsuits her office was expected to oppose.
Even the Lamba Legal attorney was surprised! Read more in today's Trib...

Monday, June 04, 2012

Oh, so close...

This morning's Huffington Post commentary comes oh-so-close to actually getting the point (see last couple of paragraphs).  Closer than the Obama administration at any rate (whose response has (once again) fallen short of where I really would have thought it would go in oh-so-many ways...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This just in!

From Ledy Vankavage: "Whooohooooooo Cincinnati Ohio! Repealed their Breed Discriminatory Law 8-1 today!"

Way to go to everyone who worked on this issue! Congratulations!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Animal advocates seek new pit bull legislation in special session

Apologies for the break in posting.  My fiance and I moved, we're out of town this week on business, blah blah blah...

At any rate, as most of you already know, there was a particularly narrow-minded appellate ruling in Maryland late last month concerning pit bulls.  Basically said that victims of a PB attack no longer had to show that the owner knew the dog was dangerous, only that it was at least part PB.  Worse still, it would hold landlords liable (basically discouraging LLs from ever renting to a PB owner).

Well, some advocates don't want to wait until the next regular session of the Maryland legislature to eventually look at the issue, they are asking Md. lawmakers to do something about it now.  Thanks to Ledy for the heads-up on this article in The Baltimore Sun...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pit Bull Owners Are Now “Strictly Liable” For Their Dog’s Attacks In Maryland

In a highly controversial opinion, especially for pit bull dog owners and breeders, the Maryland Court of Appeals yesterday rendered an opinion which establishes “strict liability” on pit bull dog owners when pit bulls attack humans. The opinion also establishes strict liability on “cross bred” pit bulls that injure humans. 

Read more on this Maryland attorney's webpage... 

Thanks to Richard Bruce Rosenthal and Joan Schaffner for the heads-up on this disappointing decision...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Burger King: cage-free pork, chicken by 2017?

The movement by U.S. food corporations toward more humane treatment of animals experienced a whopper of a shift Wednesday when Burger King announced that all of its eggs and pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs by 2017.

Read more in the Christian Science Monitor...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Colorado judge awards owner of deceased dog $65,000 for emotional distress!

A huge thanks to my friend Ira for the heads-up on this one!  Here's the article from

In a precedent-setting case, a Colorado judge awarded a Denver woman $65,000 for the death of her 18-month old dog Ruthie, who was struck by a car after a cleaning service accidentally let her out.

Jenna Greene
April 20, 2012
Any pet lover will tell you that dogs are more than just property. Now, courts are starting to see it that way too.

In a precedent-setting case, a Colorado judge awarded a Denver woman $65,000 for the death of her 18-month old dog Ruthie, who was struck by a car after a cleaning service accidentally let her out. The cleaners left the dying dog under the dining room table.

The dog's owner, Robin Lohre, sued the company, Posh Maids, in Denver County District Court, alleging negligence and emotional distress. She said she specifically told the cleaners not to let Ruthie out, and to use the back door so the dog couldn't escape.

After Ruthie was hit by the car, Lohre said the cleaners did not contact her or seek emergency veterinary care. They claimed that at the time they left, the dog was alive and "whimpering a little."

Courts have typically viewed pets like furniture — they're worth their replacement value, which the case of Ruthie, a mixed breed, would have been negligible.

Last month, Judge Eric Elliff awarded Lohre $65,000, which Lohre's attorneys believe is the most for the death of a pet in state history.

"The ruling sets a damages precedent that animals are worth more than their replacement value," said Jennifer Edwards, the founder of The Animal Law Center, who represented Lohre. "When we lose a pet, we do suffer emotional distress and heartache, just as we would with any other member of our families."

Edwards said she presented evidence of damages including therapy bills for Lohre and her daughter and lost business income. "My client was extraordinarily devastated by the loss of Ruthie," she said, adding that she hopes the decision will change the way courts value pets. "The court system needs to get more in line with the way people feel about their animals," she said.

The ruling comes on the heels of a Texas case, when Fort Worth's 2nd Court of Appeals in November reinterpreted a 120-year-old precedent from the Texas Supreme Court that plaintiffs could recover only an animal's market value.

"Dogs are unconditionally devoted to their owners," the three judge panel found. "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."

The case, Medlen v. Stickland, began in 2009 when the Medlen's dog, Avery, escaped and was picked up by animal control. Jeremy Medlen went to the shelter to get the dog, but did not have enough money to pay the fee.

He was told he could come back in a few days, and that a "hold for owner" tag would be placed on Avery's cage, notifying employees that the dog was not to be euthanized. Despite the tag, shelter employee Carla Stickland put the dog on the list to be put down, and Avery was killed the following day.

The Medlens sued for negligence, seeking damages for Avery's sentimental or intrinsic value because he had little or no market value and was irreplaceable.

Represented by Randall Turner of Bailey & Galyen, they argued that the Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly held that where personal property like a family photograph has little or no market value, damages can be awarded based on intrinsic or sentimental value. Therefore, the Medlens argued, they should be able to recover the intrinsic value of their dog.

Opposing counsel R. Paul Boudloche of Mason & Boudloche argued intrinsic value only applies to heirlooms or property that takes a long time to replace, like a tree. "According to Strickland's position, intrinsic damages could be awarded for a sentimental photograph of a family and its dog, but not for the dog itself," the judges wrote. "We find little reason in this argument and do not believe that it reflects the attachment owners have to their beloved family pets."

In remanding the case, the panel concluded, "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 any other personal property."

Contact Jenna Greene at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Go Adam!

A huge shout-out to friend and colleague Adam Karp, who just helped his client recover $25,000 against her ex-husband for killing her cat.  Notably, the award was broken down as: $15,000 for the intrinsic value of the cat and $10,000 for the woman's emotional suffering. 

Read more in The Olympian...

Congratulations, Adam!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicago cop suspended over dog attack at lakeshore

I only wish I were back in Chicago so I could sue CPD again...

...story in the Chicago Tribune (including a WGN video clip of an interview with the victim dog's family)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another attempt to mend his ways?...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has made another effort to say animal cruelty is wrong, urging Alabama lawmakers to increase penalties for cockfighting.

Read more at Fox News...

Monday, April 09, 2012

New Foie Gras suit against SoCal restaurant

A shout-out to colleague Bryan Pease, who recently filed suit on behalf of the Animal Protection and Rescue League against Hot's Kitchen and its executive chef in Hermosa Beach. Read more about the restaurant's advertising for its foie gras burger that gave rise to the complaint in this Courthouse News Service bulletin...

Good luck, Bryan!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Happy Pesach!

Though there was a will, Fifth Third found a way to save Boots

Boots, an 11-year-old cat from Berwyn, has narrowly avoided using up the last of her nine lives, thanks to trust officers at Fifth Third Bank who resisted carrying out a death sentence stipulated in the will of the cat's owner.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Finch Dog Rescue Saga Ends With Unique Foreclosure Auction in Burlington

A big shout-out to colleague Adam Karp and the Washington State organization "Saving Pets One at a Time" (SPOT) for a significant - and really creative - rescue victory for 37 dogs!


Judge accepts Scott's Miracle-Gro guilty plea in bird seed case

And S-l-i-g-h-t-l-y off-topic, but still worth posting:

Scott's coated its seed in an insecticide known to be toxic to fish and birds and that is not approved for use in bird food. The company has proposed paying a fine of at least $4 million. More from the Mother Nature Network...

Thanks to my friend, Jim M., for the heads-up on this!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Take THAT, New York Times!....

Ok, this is slightly off-topic, but it's my blog so I guess that's ok... plus, I think it would appeal to most, if not all, of this blog's subscribers.

Just found out about an essay contest Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan are running on "Our Hen House" (which if you are not familiar with, it's very good and you ought to go give it a look-see anyway...). The point of the contest is to provide a platform to counter a recent NYT essay contest on why it's ethical to eat meat. Find out more at: Calling All Herbivores: Tell Us Why It's Unethical to Eat Meat: A Contest. Winner gets a tote bag (well, and the satisfaction of winning, of course) - good luck!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A great day for animals! (Not to mention animal law attorneys!)

A huge WOW! goes out to attorney Rebekah Lusk who won a six hundred and twenty THOUSAND dollar jury award in Maryland yesterday for the shooting death of Roger and Sandi Jenkins' lab, Brandi, by a sheriff's deputy. Read more here in the Frederick News Post...

Way to go, Rebekah!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Nobody Minds Dyeing the Egg, but the Chicken Is Another Story

Good editorial in the NY Times today, but it is remarkable that society is not past this yet...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nuisance farming suit goes up to Illinois Supreme Court

Apologies for the break in blogging... my old office laptop crashed about a week and a half ago. Thankfully, everything was backed up (I'd also been using that for the new Animal History Museum) but it's still been painful getting back up to speed.

Anywho... just saw this morning in the ISBA Digest e-clips that the state supreme court granted a petition for leave to appeal in this matter yesterday:

Toftoy v. Rosenwinkel, No. 113569, 2nd Dist.
This case presents question as to whether Farm Nuisance Act (Act) provides defendants-cattle farmers with immunity from plaintiffs' lawsuit alleging that defendant's cattle farm was nuisance due to excessive flies that emanated from said farm. Appellate Court found that although defendants had commenced farming operations prior to plaintiffs moving into vacant home, immunity conferred under Act did not apply since at time defendants had purchased their property individuals were living in nearby home on land eventually deeded to plaintiffs, and fact that plaintiffs subsequently demolished said home and built new home on same location did not cause defendant's cattle operation to become nuisance so as to trigger immunity provisions of said Act. (Dissent filed.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is Rick Santorum a Closet Animal Rights Activist?

Thought you might also find this recent Forbes article interesting...

Monday, March 05, 2012

Anti-animal law...

On Friday, Iowa became the first state in the country to enact a law criminalizing activists who go undercover to report animal abuse. For some reason, most of the coverage on this new law was today. Read more in the Los Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune.

Meanwhile, as the Sioux City Journal reports, activists remain undeterred...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Legislative Round-up

A couple of legislative items catching my eye this morning...

Members of the legislature in Ontario, Canada are pushing to end the ban on pit bulls. Read more in the Toronto Star...

And back stateside, legislators in Maryland pass a gay marriage bill. (Again, not directly related to animal law, but you know I view this as a good sign...) Read more in this L.A. Times article...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Animal law may get some help from animal science...

At a recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, researchers agreed that dolphin and whale brains actually have a complexity that rivals human brains, and that they also possess a sense of self. As such, the deliberate killing of these individuals is as ethically wrong as killing a human. You can read more about the conference in animal cognition expert Marc Bekoff's commentary in Psychology Today.

On a somewhat related note, the AVMA says that the human-animal bond will be emphasized at its 2013 convention. You can read more about that conference in JAVMA News. (Speaking from personal experience, no matter what vets say at their conferences, I'll wait for the AVMA to put its money where its mouth is... and stop defending (and trivializing) all vet mal suits on the grounds that animals have no market value and therefore - even if the vet did something wrong - they don't owe much or anything to the family of harmed animal.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Just In - Way to Go, Ohio!

From Ledy VanKavage: The Ohio governor signed HB 14, eradicating breed discrimination in the Buckeye state! The story is so new I don't see anything written on it yet...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hunters take aim at an animal rights group's video droneAn animal rights group's inventive plan to use a remote-controlled spycraft to record the acti

An animal rights group's inventive plan to use a remote-controlled spycraft to record the actions of hunters was thwarted when the hunters turned their guns on the mini plane.

Read more in the U.K. Daily Mail...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

OMG: McDonald’s Does the Right Thing

There are more than a few improvements McDonald’s could make to better the treatment of its customers and workers, of the animals that provide the meat it sells and of the environment. On Monday, after years of internal and external pressure, the company announced a laudable course of action regarding the sows (female pigs) in their supply chain: McDonald’s is requiring, by May, that its suppliers of pork provide plans for phasing out gestation crates. Once those plans are delivered, says Bob Langert, the company’s vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s will create a timetable to end the use of gestation crates in its supply chain. “Considering that 90 percent [of the pregnant sows] in the United States are in gestation stalls, this is a huge issue,” he says, and he’s right.

Read the rest of Mark Bittman's editorial in the New York Times...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Legislative Round-up

Pet lovers barking over California budget proposal

Pet advocates are fighting like cats and dogs to stop a deficit-slashing proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown that aims to save $23 million by ending reimbursements to animal shelters for the cost of keeping strays alive.

Read more in the San Jose Mercury News...

Hanna berates Ohio legislators on exotic pet laws

Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna criticized Ohio lawmakers Thursday for not yet passing a bill to regulate exotic animals, months after authorities shot dozens of lions, tigers, bears and other wild creatures let loose by their suicidal owner.

Read more in the Albany Times Union...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Animal History Museum 1st Annual Valentine's Photo Contest!

Send us your best photo of a heartfelt moment between a person and their animal companion - we'll post the entries on our photo wall and then on Monday our viewers will vote on a winner!

*The winning picture will be featured in our Tuesday, February 14th post - and DISPLAYED IN THE PERMANENT COLLECTION OF OUR "HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND" EXHIBIT!* (Once the museum opens, of course.)

Please send all photos to:

Fine print: by sending a photo, you agree that the Animal History Museum may use and display it. We will not sell, exchange or otherwise give your photo to any other person or entity. One entry per person please. Contest closes Sunday, February 12, 2012 at 8:00pm. Any obscene or inappropriate photos will be deleted. We reserve the right to add extra rules if we forgot anything...

Judge dismisses suit accusing SeaWorld of enslaving whales

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out an animal rights group's lawsuit accusing SeaWorld of enslaving captive killer whales, ruling that orcas had no standing to seek the same constitutional rights as people.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, had accused the chain of aquatic theme parks of violating the rights of whales under the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery in the United States.

Here's the rest of the Reuters article...

For a more detailed analysis of PETA's suit, as well as alternative approaches to gaining legal rights for non-humans, please check out noted animal law attorney Steve Wise's efforts at

Thursday, February 09, 2012

House axes 25-year-old 'pit bull' law

A bill eliminating a 25-year-old Ohio law automatically declaring the "pit bull" to be an inherently vicious dog was overwhelmingly approved by the state House Wednesday and is headed for Gov. John Kasich's signature.

Read more in the Toledo Blade...

(And congrats to my friend and lobbyist extraordinaire, Ledy VanKavage, and everyone else who has worked relentlessly to see this ban overturned!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Court: Calif. gay-marriage ban unconstitutional

One small step for the gay/lesbian community... maybe not quite a giant leap yet for mankind (but definitely a move in the direction of advancing a compassionate society)... and if you ask me, this is still also a good harbinger for animal issues...

CBS News reports...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Drury University Launches Animal Studies Minor Funded by Bob Barker

Students at Drury University in Springfield, Mo. now have the opportunity to earn a minor in Animal Studies thanks to donations from Drury alumnus and former Price is Right host Bob Barker. According to Dr. Patricia McEachern (Mc-Karen), the Dorothy Jo Barker Endowed Professor of Animal Rights, several students have already begun pursuing the minor.

Read more in this Business Wire press release...

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Way to go, Ohio!

Ohio was one of the few - in fact, I think maybe the only remaining - state to entirely ban pit bulls by breed. (If you've never heard of "canine profiling", think "racial profiling" and it becomes easy to see why this is just flat-out wrong.)

Thankfully, it looks like that is about to change. A measure is expected to be on its way to the Governor's desk soon that would outlaw breed discrimination in the state. A huge shout-out to Ledy VanKavage and everyone else who has worked so tirelessly to get this done!

Read more in The Columbus Dispatch...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Soap opera actor kills self after feeling pressured into euthanizing his dog

Ok, not exactly animal law... but another story that undeniably demonstrates that people can, and do, form extremely intense emotional bonds with non-humans... and the law really ought to take that value into account.

A down-on-his-luck soap-opera actor took his own life this week after he was forced to put his beloved dog to sleep under pressure from his Upper West Side condo and became wracked by grief, pals said.

The New York Post has more...

I wasn't going to blog about this initially because, well, it was just so disturbing to read that I (as I imagine many others did too) pushed it away. But after several people brought it to my attention, I changed my mind. Pushing it away does not change anything.

The likely outcome here is that nothing will happen to these condo neighbors. At best, Nick's parents or siblings (if he has any and assuming they are alive and actually maintained a close relation to him) might have an attenuated claim of some sort for emotional distress (and assuming NY law doesn't have a contemporaneous injury requirement, which many states do). One colleague suggested that perhaps karma will find the complaining neighbors. I wouldn't be opposed to that, but I wouldn't peg any hopes on that, either. Many people behave terribly towards each other all the time; they never lose sleep over it and nothing bad happens to them as a result of it.

We can't make the condo neighbors be better human beings. But we can push harder for laws that will constrain or criminalize their bullying behavior to the point where this outcome can be avoided. We can push harder for education to teach people not to arbitrarily fear based on immutable traits. And we can make it clear through our own better conduct that the time for that sort of garbage has passed. RIP Nick and Rocco.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Congrats and good luck!

Once again, a post with little to do with animal law...

But I wanted to give a big shout-out to friends, former clients and fellow animal lovers, Jim and Kris Noyes, who recently started their own new business and website. Congrats! You can check it all out at: They're also on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck, guys!

Latest development in PETA's orca lawsuit

According to Steven Wise:
"Over the objections of both PETA and SeaWorld, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey T. Miller granted a request by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to appear as an amicus curiae, or "Friend of the Court," in the case PETA filed on behalf of five orcas against SeaWorld. The NhRP had not sought to appear as an amicus on behalf of either PETA or SeaWorld, but solely to assist the Court in understanding certain issues that were raised within the context of this litigation and to further the interests of the orcas."
See the full press release at

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can't believe I forgot to post here!

Ok, so this should put to rest any doubt that my brain is truly made of swiss cheese...

I completely forgot to post about the web launch for the newest incarnation of my animal-related career. Here's Monday's announcement:

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues:

It is with great pleasure that we announce plans for the Animal History Museum! It will be the first brick-and-mortar museum to focus on the always complex, but historically marginalized, relationship between humans, (non-human) animals and society in general. As described in our mission statement , the museum's "purpose is to serve and educate the public through the creation of a museum in Los Angeles County, California, for the collection, preservation and exploration of the history, culture, science and law relating to the relationship between human and non-human animals; by presenting exhibitions, lectures and other activities that are consistent with, and supportive of, the museum's educational goals and purpose."

Today is our social media launch! Check us out at:

If you like what you see, please take a minute to like the page, and/or follow us on Twitter! Most importantly, please re-post and re-tweet on your accounts to help us get the word out as widely as possible! Thank you!!!

What's it gonna take?

For the first time ever, Congress is considering a measure that would take the emotional well-being of chickens into account. And just as notably, the nation's biggest egg producer and biggest animal welfare organization are actually on the same side - lobbying in favor of the measure! Yet, the deal still might not get done.

NPR explains why...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Death of an Ordinary Housecat

There's nothing to see here. Move along. Nothing, that is, but this report of a minor incident in Russellville, Arkansas: "Democratic Congressional candidate Ken Aden's campaign manager returned home to find his family pet slaughtered, with the word 'liberal' painted on the animal's corpse."

Read this extremely thoughtful, unapologetic look at what some may try to paint as an "isolated incident" in the Huffington Post...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Supreme Court overturns Calif. law on euthanizing downed livestock

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a California law that would require euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses to keep the meat out of the nation’s food system.

Read more in this Associated Press article picked up by The Washington Post...

Friday, January 20, 2012

New breed of grandparents fawn over grandpuppies

It's one thing for a dog to be man's best friend. But a growing number of baby boomers are taking puppy love to a whole new level. Some parents, anxiously awaiting the day when they become grandparents, are showering affection on their children's pets. They're known as grandpuppies.

CBS This Morning reports...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Animal rescuers arrested in Tennessee had been watched in California

Three days before animal rescuers Hearts for Hounds left California for Virginia, officials from the Long Beach Animal Care Services stopped by to investigate complaints about noise and odor.

During the Jan. 12 visit, officers found far more than the 75 animals the group was licensed to house, and a followup visit was scheduled for Jan. 17.

"Between that time and our followup visit, that Sunday afternoon, they left town," said John Keisler, acting manager at Long Beach Animal Care Services.

According to The Commercial Appeal, the two women arrested now face more than 100 charges of aggravated animal cruelty and bonds of $100,000 each...

(Interestingly, the founder of frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry was released on just $60,000 bail after allegedly attacking a homeless man with a tire iron...)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Where's the legal line drawn in animal-rights activism?

A federal courthouse in Boston and a ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley present competing faces of the animal rights movement.

One side is peaceful. The other, decidedly, is not. Both can feel the weight of the law and the sting of being called a terrorist.

The Sacramento Bee has the rest of this thoughtful article...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Homeless v. Helpless

An effort to ban animals on the Las Vegas Strip is stirring debate over whether the measure is really intended to help prevent animals from cruelty or is just a backhanded attempt to target the homeless.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Animal Hospice praised by celebs facing cruelty charges

If you are a fan of Oprah, or Food Network's Rachel Ray, you may have heard of Angel's Gate in New York. It's become something of a celebrity animal hospice these past few years. (To the extent that shelters enjoy a celebrity status, that is.)

Angel's Gate is back in the news, but it's probably not enjoying the spotlight this time. After receiving a tip from a job applicant, PETA sent in one of its undercover volunteers and turned over its secret video to prosecutors.

The hospice is now facing multiple cruelty charges. Sounds terrible at first blush, but it seems that the issue centers around whether some of the animals are in such bad shape that, according to PETA, they should be humanely euthanized instead.

NPR has more on this morality-laden controversy...

Friday, January 06, 2012

First-ever forensic veterinarian for NJ SPCA...

The New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is adding a new position to its staff that may be more familiar to fans of human-centered crime shows.

Dr. Ernest Rogers is joining the NJSPCA as its first ever "forensic veterinarian." The Associated Press has the story...

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Puppy lawyer says suffering pooch is like child, not dog

The lawyer for the Manhattan dog owner who is taking an Upper East Side pet shop to court over the animal's "pain and suffering" compared the pooch to a child, saying today the puppy is worth more than property.

The suit, filed on behalf of "Elena Zakharova for herself and as representative of her dog, Umka," contends the petite Brussels Griffon should be recognized as a living being instead of property, as state law currently contends.

Read more in the New York Post...

Sunday, January 01, 2012