Last week, a Northern California restaurant was in hot water for serving lion meat. The East Bay restaurant, Mokutanya, also features peacock, iguana, deer, alligator, and kangaroo on its menu. But they bit off more than they could chew when they branched out to lion meat. Owner Jason Li Mokutanya purchased the carcass of an African lion from an Illinois processor and posted news of the dish on Facebook, unleashing a public uproar. The restaurant has now pulled the item off their menu.
Lion Meat on the Rise
Sales of lion "meat" (and the flesh of other exotic animals) are on the rise at restaurants across the U.S., as well as butcher shops and farmers markets. From a New York café to a Kansas restaurant, a pub in Philly and a bistro in Mesa, Arizona, lion has become a dish du jour, to the horror of animal lovers.
Where does this flesh come from? Eickman's Processing in Seward, IL is one of 16 slaughterhouses that process exotic animal carcasses, but is the only one that processes lion flesh. The company has admitted to selling the carcasses of tigers, lions, and mountain lions as "lion meat" at a profit of almost $40,000.
What's wrong with slaughtering captive lions and selling lion meat? To start, the U.S. trade in lion meat reflects the problems in our nation's treatment of exotic animals. With little real regulatory oversight from the FDA or USDA, the meat is largely uninspected. As with U.S. industrial agriculture in cows, pigs, and poultry, the contamination of antibiotics and other drugs in the animal flesh is not clearly identified, or monitored.
What's Wrong with Eating Lions?
How would we react if someone tried to eat Tony, the Bengal tiger confined for 13 years at a Louisiana truck stop that ALDF is working so hard to free? We call cows and pigs "beef" and "pork" so we don't have to think about the fact that they're sentient beings. Eating a predator like a lion destroys that illusion.
Are we equally outraged by the slaughter of other animals? There has been quite a stir about the presence of horsemeat sold on the black market, as in our landmark Florida backyard-slaughter case, or showing up in cow burgers. But why aren't more people upset about the cows?
- 10 billion farmed land animals are killed every year in the U.S.; nearly 65 billion worldwide.
- Americans eat 270.7 pounds of meat per person a year, more than almost any other country.
- We have highest risk of heart disease, which is directly linked to consumption of animal protein.
- Animal agriculture—killing animals for meat on industrial farms—is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses and climate change.
Is the Lion Meat Trade Breaking the Law?
It is unlikely that all lion brokers possess the proper USDA permits required by law to possess big cats in Illinois. Furthermore, if lions are transported out of state by brokers without proper licenses, they may be violating the federal Captive Wildlife Safety Act.
Lions are not protected by the federal Humane Slaughter Act, which requires animals to be rendered insensible to pain prior to slaughter. Many states have no laws governing the care and treatment of captive exotic animals. This failure not only allows the inhumane slaughter of sentient animals, but shameful conditions in roadside zoos, traveling shows, and private ownership.
Although considered "threatened," lions are not protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) either. This is one reason it's still legal to sell lions, hold them captive, and serve them in restaurants. But animal advocates are working hard to fight this trade on the state and federal level.
Lions need better laws. The public outcry, and the removal of lion meat from Mokutanya's menu, shows us that citizen voices are heard! Please support bill HB 2991, the Lion Meat Act, which would ban the slaughter and sale of lion meat for human consumption. Spread the word!
The number one health crisis of our time could well be the potential nightmare of "Superbugs"—infectious bacteria immune to antibiotics. On factory farms across the nation, animals are receiving antibiotics they don't need to pre-empt illnesses that would otherwise run rampant in the dirty, intensely crowded confinement (Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) in which the vast majority of animals are raised for food.
The rise of Superbugs has been linked to the routine feeding of antibiotics to animals on factory farms. In addition to preventing disease, the drugs are also used to promote rapid hormonal growth, meaning less need to feed animals, thus saving producers money. Factory farms are responsible for more than 10 billion land animals slaughtered in the U.S. every year. Along with the unimaginable suffering of animals and the horrors of intensive confinement, humans are at risk from the resulting superbugs. These bacteria mean a simple case of strep throat could become fatal.
Remember the controversy over "pink slime" in cow meat? The public was shocked to learn that the ag industry was selling animal scraps (usually discarded or used only in pet food) to our public schools, grocery stores, and fast food restaurants. This repulsive concoction was privy to bacteria like E. coli, so ammonia was added to fight the bacteria. Other recent revelations within the factory farming industry have included feeding candy to cows because proper food is expensive, confining pregnant pigs to cruel gestation crates, mutilating birds and cramming them into dark spaces the size of a piece of paper.
ALDF has tackled animal cruelty on factory farms in innovative legal actions against A & L Poultry, Cal Cruz Hatcheries, Corc Pork, Tyson Foods, to name a few. We've also filed petitions with the FDA to minimize the amount of the dangerous drug "ractopamine" added to animal feed, and to regulate deceptive labels on egg packaging. By combatting the cruelty and deception of factory farms, you can help us fight a massive chunk of animal cruelty. It is also one of the largest threats to public health in our time. As Americans, we demand greater public transparency.
This is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has petitioned the USDA to put labels on meat and poultry containing antibiotics. Millions of animals are suffering and as many consumers are unaware of the risks posed by the failure to accurately label food products. Please contact the USDA and ask them to support our petition to label meat and poultry containing antibiotics.
The corporate agriculture industry has responded by seeking to hide these problems from the public. Across the country, the industry is lobbying to pass "ag gag" laws that would cloak abuses on factory farms in secrecy. Not requiring the agricultural industry to disclose its use of antibiotics to consumers is just one more way factory farms get away with harming animals and putting the public at risk. We need the USDA to act.
The public has a right to know about antibiotic use on factory farms. The potential to make animals sick, human and nonhuman alike, is catastrophic. The secrecy of factory farms, whose critically dangerous practices, deception, and cruelty jeopardize the safety of animals and of consumers, has run its course. The public is fed up with this corporate world in which abusers profit and the rest of us suffer.
Take Action to Prevent Antibiotic Superbugs by contacting the USDA today! Demand that the USDA require labeling of antibiotic use!
Please call your U.S. Senators right away and urge them to vote NO on the "Grassley CAFO Amendment" to the 2013 Farm Bill. Then call your U.S. Representative and demand that Steve King's "Protect Interstate Commerce Amendment" be stripped from the House's version of the 2013 Farm Bill.
Grassley's Farm Bill Amendment
Yesterday Senator Charles Grassley R-IA, offered a harmful amendment to the Farm Bill in the U.S. Senate. Taking Ag-Gag to a federal agency level, Grassley's language would directly prevent the EPA from collecting the vital data & information it needs about CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) in order to fulfill its mandate to protect our nation's water supply. CAFOs are massive point sources of water contamination due to the roughly 500 million tons of manure they generate each year (more than triple the amount of annual U.S. human waste)!
CAFOs remain largely unregulated in this country, as exposed by an alarming GAO report entitled "Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations: US EPA Needs More Information and a Clearly Defined Strategy to Protect Air and Water Quality from Pollutants of Concern." In fact, no governmental entity even knows how many CAFOs exist or where they all are located. This information is also crucial to ensuring that such facilities are complying with animal welfare standards. Preferring to let CAFOs operate hidden from the view of agencies that enforce our public safety laws, Grassley even wants to prevent the EPA from using aircraft to investigate dangerous Ag-related pollution spills! While the language of the Grassley amendment is intentionally vague enough to mask its full, potential effect, experts have determined that it further could prevent the EPA from sharing key data with other federal agencies, such as the USDA, FDA, or the Department of Justice during law enforcement investigations.
Ag(ency) gag indeed!
King's Farm Bill Amendment
Last Wednesday, just days before Sen. Grassley offered his CAFO amendment, his Iowa counterpart in the U.S. House, Rep. Steve King R-IA, added another devastating amendment to its version of the Farm Bill––one that would outrageously prevent states from setting their own animal welfare & food safety standards! By forbidding states from applying their domestic safety & welfare regulations to ANY agricultural product that originates elsewhere, the King amendment would immediately end the California Foie Gras ban, jeopardize state nutritional requirements, and nullify CA's Prop 2 & other such ballot initiatives where voters have spoken to demand better treatment for the animals whose products are sold within their own state borders.
The King amendment inevitably would create a "race to the bottom" whereby the most abusive and dangerous rules in the country would become de facto national standards––since producers "doing it on the cheap" in one state always would undercut the prices of domestic producers in those states that care more about public health and animal welfare.
Don't let these Iowa Agribusiness apologists allow their special-interest, industry funders to dictate the health, safety & welfare standards of your own state. Call your Congressional delegates today!
We did it! Together, you and other animal advocates helped us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures on our citizen's petition to ban foie gras.
Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund is sending these signatures along with a formal appeal we filed Friday our lawsuit against the USDA for allowing diseased foie gras into the human food supply. In this lawsuit, we are joined by Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, and the Animal Protection and Rescue League.
Foie gras is the pathologically diseased liver of ducks and geese, who have been stuffed so full of food their livers expand to eight or more times their natural size. Ouch! This means that eating foie gras puts consumers at serious health risks for conditions like secondary amyloidosis, and who wants to eat diseased food at gourmet prices?
But foie gras also means hell for animals. A bird raised for foie gras endures daily force-feedings through a thick pipe crammed down his throat, so that colossal amounts of grain can be pumped into his stomach. He is likely to suffer infections, painful wounds to his beak and throat, and it is extremely likely that he will be so uncomfortable and top heavy his legs won't be able to hold him or allow him to move normally. If he gets sick, he may be simply tossed onto a trash heap. If he lives, he'll be gutted and his liver sold as pate.
ALDF is not the only one who thinks force-fed foie gras is cruel and inhumane. In fact, foie gras has not only been banned in the state of California—it is banned in over a dozen nations around the world. It's time for the USDA, the federal agency in charge of regulating the food supply, to ban foie gras once and for all—to protect animals and consumers.
We boxed up the signatures and they are ready to ship!
Read more about ALDF's fight against cruelly produced foie gras.
- Sign the petition!
- Landmark victory for ALDF in Foie Gras Lawsuit
- Read the press release about the Hudson Valley Foie Gras lawsuit.
- Read the press release about the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets lawsuit.
- Download a high-resolution version of the foie gras infographic for your blog or website.
- ALDF Sues La Toque Restaurant for Violating California's Ban on Force-Fed Foie Gras
- Stephen Wells Explains ALDF's Lawsuit against Napa Restaurant
- Updates in ALDF v. HVFG "Humane" False Advertising Lawsuit
While being interviewed by reporters after the tornado that struck Oklahoma City, a woman unexpectedly found her lost dog in the rubble. In the midst of a tragedy such as this it's heartwarming to remember what matters most is being close to the ones we love. Our thoughts go out to the victims of this tragedy, both human and nonhuman. Watch this YouTube video and share with your friends and family.
- List yourself as "safe and well" if you were in the affected area.
- Check Lost and Found Pets in the OKC Metro Area
- Facebook group to help people locate pets, OK Pets
- Put a collar on your dog, and find a pet friendly hotel to stay in.
- Learn more about disaster planning for pets.
- Lessons from previous disasters.
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Great news for animals! Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will veto a controversial ag gag bill that has received national public outcry. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been alerting the public about ag gag laws from the beginning, with tremendous support from ALDF members who urged Governor Haslam to veto the bill. Last week, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper called the ag gag bill "constitutionally suspect" and charged that it would violate the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ALDF applauds Governor Haslam and Bob Cooper for protecting the public from a law ultimately aimed to silence whistleblowers and protect animal abusers. Ag gag bills like these decimate undercover investigations on factory farms by banning photo and video evidence used to build fully-developed animal cruelty cases. This is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently demanded that the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) prove its claims to have evidence of investigative tampering. These bold and unsubstantiated claims mislead the public and unfairly defame the work of investigators.
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Undercover investigations are central to building cases against animal abusers—and those who profit from the exploitation of animals. This week, ABC 7 news exposed its undercover investigation of California restaurants who continue to violate the state ban on the sale and production of force-fed foie gras (diseased duck and goose liver). Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney John Melia sat down with investigative reporter Dan Noyes and the ABC 7 I-team to discuss ALDF's lawsuit against a Napa restaurant for flagrantly violating the state law. ABC's report alludes to the ongoing problems of animal cruelty at Hudson Valley Foie Gras—a foie gras producer involved in ALDF's false advertising lawsuit. The exposé aired May 6th and reveals the inherent cruelty in the force-feeding process, as backed up by numerous independent avian pathologists.
In other news, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally agreed to address the issue of deceptive egg labeling, and consider the petition filed by ALDF and Compassion over Killing. The petition asks the FDA to mandate the full disclosure of egg production methods—"eggs from caged hens," "cage-free," and "free-range"—so that consumers know what they're buying (or avoiding) and producers can't make premium profits off deceptively cruel foods (an issue first raised in 2006). We're delighted the FDA has decided to pay attention to the growing public demand for transparency.
How many times have young activists, sometimes just out of high school, stopped me and asked "What is the best way to help animals?" I used to tell them: "Go to law school, the way I did, and make the legal system work for animals."
I say that less now.
I've learned the hard way the system only works for animals when judges, prosecutors, and regulators rigorously apply the law. Yes, we need better laws for animals; but there are good laws that can help animals right now—laws that lawyers and law students can find, if they search hard, and can bring before our courts and other officials to change the way animals are treated.
But our officials and even judges are only human, as Matthew Liebman recently pointed out, and are inevitably part of a culture where most animals are for eating or wearing, and little else. And yes, lawyers representing animals' interests are asking officials to apply the law so that sometimes animals' interests come out over what some humans, standing there in court and backed by expensive lawyers, are asking for. Doing that cuts against much in our culture and even our base nature that says "but it's only an animal!"
When that happens it is crucial that officials keep this in mind: Laws that protect animals represent a special political compromise between humans, a limitation on our behavior derived from our democratic process that says: there are some things you cannot do to animals. Animal law is that special compromise, settling what would otherwise be violent disputes between animal abusers and the more brave and compassionate among us that would step in to prevent the animals' abuse. As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said in 1908:
Cruel treatment of helpless animals at once arouses the sympathy and indignation of every person possessed of human instincts,—sympathy for the helpless creature abused, and indignation towards the perpetrator of the act; and in a city, where such treatment would be witnessed by many, legislation like that in question [anticruelty law] is in the interest of peace and order and conduces to the morals and general welfare of the community.
Johnson v. District of Columbia, 30 App. D.C. 520, 522 (D.C. Cir. 1908)
But when our officials refuse to apply the dominant standards in the law that speak directly to how animals are treated, and instead find some way out by focusing on handy doctrines that speak to less pressing values, they are breaking that compromise. They are wearing down the basic structure of our system by eroding confidence that the compromise about how animals ought to be treated will actually be enforced, and they are promoting public indignation and outrage by not applying the law so as to actually stop the illegal cruelty. In short, by not applying the law and instead finding a way out, they are doing exactly what the Johnson court warned against.
And despite lawyers' resistance to being open and honest and critiquing public officials, as I am doing now, it is especially important to do so when it comes to animal rights because these cases involve a burgeoning social movement that is relying upon officials to enforce a compromise between millions of people over a potentially explosive moral issue: if and when the suffering of innocents is justified. For that reason lawyering (and officiating) for animal rights is not like other forms of lawyering, not like representing two businesses disputing a contract where there is little reason for objective moral outrage.
Lawyering for animal rights carries with it a duty to critique the system, to point out where it fails, because animal rights cases put so much more at stake; public peace and order are contingent on the system actually applying the rules—the terms of agreement—that come out of the political compromise because as the Johnson court pointed out cruelty brings, and ought to bring, indignation. Officials who do not apply the rules, who do not enforce the contract, are inviting return to the underlying political dispute much the way courts in the South invited dispute and dissidence by refusing to apply the emerging civil rights laws of that era.
Today I tell fewer young people to go to law school if they want to help animals. Many young activists think I'm an old fool for believing officials will simply, and boldly, apply the law even when it means an animal will triumph. Law students know that animal lawyers, even when there are blatant violations of the law, spend most of their time arguing about why they and their clients have the right to even be in court, why they have legal "standing." They know about the legal doctrines, invented by judges, designed to get cases thrown out of court to minimize the courts' workload.
These students tell me they will find other ways to help animals. They know the horror stories told to them by lawyers who practice animal law—regulators who ignore their own rules, prosecutors who pretend animal cruelty laws don't exist when the abuser is powerful or a profit-making enterprise, and judges who find any excuse under the sun to avoid actually applying the law.
I find it harder to respond to the more cynical students because I have seen the difficulties first-hand: a small-town judge in Pennsylvania that acquitted the locally influential Esbenshade Farms without even trying to explain why, despite video evidence of hens dying of thirst and impaled on broken cage wires; the New York court that dismissed a case against foie gras producers by relying on arguments the plaintiffs never made; the federal judge in Washington, D.C. whose clear animus towards a witness has meant millions of dollars that were donated to help animals instead being sent to an industry that actually abuses them; and a state court judge in California that "equitably abstained" in a cruelty case, citing the burden of hearing a case that involved too many animals and out of deference to federal authorities, even when Congress and those very authorities have encouraged courts not to abstain.
Any judge, prosecutor, or regulator that deals with animal cases should spend some time with the young lawyers that I do, the ones that, despite the horror stories, made the choice to become animal lawyers and to at least try to see justice carried out. They come fresh out of law school, eager and perhaps naïve enough to want to use the law to help animals. They have enough faith in our legal system (which pays these officials' salaries) to get all the way through law school, and to work for a fraction of what they would have earned—simply because they want to make animals' lives better. I think officials would have a harder time ignoring animal law if they saw the faith I see in these young lawyers.
Being around these young lawyers reminds me why I work for animals. Many officials do apply the law, whether it's prosecutors charging Michael Vick, USDA officials fining the notorious Ringling Brothers' Circus, or a court in North Carolina recently ordering the release of Ben the Bear. To see young lawyers reacting to our system—when it works—makes it worth doing this work. They see their hard work to make our political compromise real and effective actually pay off, and not just for them but for everyone relying upon our system, including animals. I hope they keep their faith—at least long enough to become officials themselves, but with the respect for animals that our law, if not our culture, often shows.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance (“AAA”) is holding a conference in Arlington, Virginia on May 1st and 2nd called “Activists at the Door: Protecting Animals, Farms, Food & Consumer Confidence.” Judging by the title of the conference, one would think the purpose of the conference is to protect animals, farms, food, and consumer confidence. Why then is the AAA then prescreening all registrants and denying attendance to members of the public willing to pay their $425 registration fee? This is a question I was forced to ask myself when my registration this week was rejected.
I received an email from Emily Metz Meredith, the Communications Director for AAA stating the following:
Dear Ms. Roth,
I have received your registration for the 12th Annual Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit in May; however, your registration has been declined and your credit card has not been charged.
As it clearly states on our registration page, “To ensure that this Summit provides an optimal educational experience for all attendees, your registration is subject to the Animal Agriculture Alliance's final approval,” we reserve the right to deny registration to anyone who we feel will not aid our organization and industry stakeholders in positive, collaborative discourse.
The speakers’ presentations on May 1, 2013 will be streaming live, and information about where to view the live feed will be made available on our website closer to the date of the Summit.
Thank you for your interest.
Emily Metz Meredith
Animal Agriculture Alliance
Ms. Meredith did not give me a reason for declining my registration and rejecting my money. My guess is someone at the AAA is conducting background checks on everyone applying to the conference to ensure that the information provided at the conference does not get into the hands of the public. Why else would an attorney, mom of two, with no criminal record or history of civil disobedience be denied access? Maybe it is because I am on the Board of Directors of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Not only is the AAA prohibiting law abiding citizens like myself access to the conference, the AAA has also denied press passes to reporters known to critique their practices. Reporter Will Potter, author of Green Is The New Red, was similarly denied access. It would seem that the AAA is going to some length to ensure that people with strong voices on one side of the issue are not in the room for their conferences. That might make sense if the AAA’s agenda is to protect the businesses and profits of the agriculture industry. If they want to protect consumers, food, and animals, as they claim, then sharing information and having an intelligent debate would better serve their interests.
You may say “But she said the presentations will be streamed live! How can they be hiding information?” Well, the AAA supposedly recorded the conference last year and made the presentations available to the public but significant portions of the conference are not available. For example, a presentation on “Communicating Shared Values Across the Food Chain” was scheduled to last an hour during the 2012 conference but the video available to the public is only 22:11 minutes long. Similarly, a panel on “Agriculture’s Voice in Today’s Media” was scheduled for an hour and a half yet the videos available to the public are only 16:30 and 27:08 minutes long. You can check out similar inconsistencies yourself, including entire missing presentations. The 2012 schedule is available here, and the videos of the 2012 conference are available here. Forgive me for not trusting the AAA that the conference presentations will be not be similarly edited this year.
The Animal Agriculture Alliance is a coalition of individuals and businesses involved in animal agriculture. They claim their members are “interested in helping consumers better understand the role animal agriculture plays in providing a safe, abundant food supply to a hungry world.” I am a consumer. Why am I not allowed to attend the conference to “better understand” animal agriculture? Last year’s AAA conference attendees were urged to “open the barn doors and showcase the importance of modern food production.” How is denying access to the conference “opening the barn doors?”
In reality, the AAA and the animal agriculture industry is doing everything in its power to ensure that we do not see inside the barns (or, more accurately, inside the warehouses) which house almost 10 billion farm animals in the United States yearly. The animal agriculture industry has pushed 11 states to introduce ag gag bills aimed at criminalizing undercover investigations and silencing individuals who expose cruel, corrupt, and even illegal practices at factory farms and slaughterhouses. AAA’s Communications Director, Emily Meredith, (the same person who denied my access to the conference) has been debating the ag gag bills in the media stating that the animal agriculture industry is “transparent” and these bills are designed to make information about animal abuse in the agriculture industry public as soon as it occurs. In reality, these bills would prevent undercover investigations resulting in criminal convictions for animal cruelty such as the recent Wyoming convictions of workers at a Tyson Foods supplier and the North Carolina convictions of workers at a Butterball Turkey farm because they would prevent the documentation of systemic abuse which lead to higher penalties.
Rather than focusing on how to prevent cruelty, the animal agriculture industry is focused on how to cover it up. Out of 12 presentations scheduled for the 2013 Animal Agriculture Alliance Conference, not one deals with how to prevent problems like animal cruelty from occurring. Instead, the animal agriculture industry wants to talk about how to prevent the information of animal cruelty from going public and how to manage the ensuing crisis when that information goes public. Why not make all of the animal agriculture industry’s practices transparent and see what the public thinks? Consumers deserve to know how their food is produced and animals deserve to be treated humanely.
This Just In…
The Animal Legal Defense Fund had a great week in our fight to protect the lives and advance the interest of animals!
- On April 24, 2013 the National Marine Fisheries Service found that ALDF & PETA have presented a worthy case in our joint petition to win Lolita protections under the Endangered Species Act like the rest of her pod. Our petition for Lolita, who is confined to the smallest orca tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium, will now move forward.
- On April 25, 2013 the Louisiana Court of Appeal ruled in our favor by upholding a lower court ruling in our battle to free Tony the Tiger from a Louisiana truck stop. Read more about our case. It is a victory that brings Tony one step closer to life at a sanctuary, like he deserves.
Great wins for animals this week. Thanks for your support!
The Bad News
Last week, amidst the tragedy in Boston, the country was keeping a keen eye on two states: California and Tennessee. These states were considering "ag gag" laws that could have a disastrous impact on animals, our environment, our workers, the safety of our food, and the ability of law enforcement to do its job.
What is ag gag? In the simplest terms, ag gag bills aim to hide conditions on factory farms by making it illegal to effectively gather information, photos, and video at these facilities. Proponents push these anti-whistleblower laws forward to avoid exposure and potential prosecution or lawsuits. Make no mistake: these corporate-backed laws prevent the prosecution of criminal animal abuse. Instead, they criminalize people who report animal abuse or public health and safety concerns on factory farms. It's a good deal for corporate factory farms, but a bad deal for everyone else, especially the animals.
Who is behind these ag gag bills? As we discussed in our interview with Will Potter, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded organization that drafts pro-corporate and anti-consumer model bills for legislators- this secretive group is also behind ag gag bills. On the other hand, groups like the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the National District Attorneys Association oppose ag gag laws. They know undercover investigations are absolutely crucial to law enforcement in criminal prosecution. Undercover investigations have exposed serious food safety violations and led to the largest beef recall in US history when 143 million pounds of tainted beef was revealed to be poisoning our children's lunches in the National School Lunch Program. This would not have been discovered without horrifying undercover video that publically exposed the abuse of cows at the plant—just what ag gag laws hope to prevent.
Thankfully, California's bill was removed, though it may return soon. California's bill was aimed at destroying the collection of evidence over time that demonstrates a pattern of abuse or generally abusive conditions.
Unfortunately, Tennessee's legislature voted to pass an ag gag bill that would allow agricultural facilities to get away with animal abuse—like the horrifying "soring" of Tennessee horses—which is currently illegal under the U.S. Horse Protection Act. Although corporate lobbyists managed to push the bill through the legislature, the public is becoming increasingly outraged.
Many are blasting Tennessee's bill as unconstitutional and a violation of the Tennessee Shield Law § 24-1-208, a whistleblower protection law. A chorus of public interest groups, from ALDF to the ACLU and groups like the National Press Photographers Association are calling for Tennessee's Governor Haslam to veto the bill. It's truly a question of corporate influence versus public interest. Stay tuned.
These bills "gag" information from reaching the public and plant the seed of terror in those who witness illegal activity—a strategy known legally as "the chilling effect." Factory farms are already protected by criminal trespass and fraud laws. So what do they have to hide?
Please join us to fight ag gag legislation! You can sign the petition—and learn more about these issues—at our site: ProtectYourFood.org
Yesterday the Louisiana Court of Appeal issued its long-awaited opinion in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. State of Louisiana, holding that Michael Sandlin is ineligible for a permit to confine Tony the Tiger in a cage at the Tiger Truck Stop.
Although the court held that ALDF lacked standing to be a plaintiff in the case, it nevertheless confirmed that our clients—Louisiana residents and taxpayers—do have standing to challenge illegal actions by the government, in this case the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
In ruling on the merits, the court agreed with ALDF’s argument that Michael Sandlin cannot receive a grandfather permit to continue to keep Tony because Sandlin does not meet the legal requirements for such a permit. As the court put it:
The record establishes that on August 15, 2006, Tony was not owned by Michael Sandlin; rather, he was owned by Tiger Truck Stop. Additionally, on August 15, 2006, the ownership and possession of Tony by Tiger Truck Stop and the possession by Michael Sandlin in Iberville Parish was in violation of a local ordinance, and thus, illegal. Although that local ordinance was amended in 2009 retroactive to August 15, 2006, the amendment to the ordinance did not change the fact that on August 15, 2006, neither Tiger Truck Stop nor Michael Sandlin legally possessed or legally owned Tony. Only an individual who legally possessed an exotic cat (such as a tiger) and who could prove legal ownership of that exotic cat is entitled to a permit for that cat. Accordingly, that part of the judgment of the trial court granting a final/permanent injunction against DWF, enjoining it from issuing any new permits to Michael Sandlin and/or Tiger Truck Stop for the tiger ("Tony" microchip #477E201A4C) now located at Tiger Truck Stop in Iberville Parish is affirmed.
The decision marks a significant step towards Tony’s freedom, as the second-highest court in Louisiana has confirmed that the Department erred when it issued Sandlin a permit. Sandlin’s lawyer has said she intends to seek rehearing of the Court of Appeal’s decision, as well as review by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Sandlin also has his own lawsuit to invalidate the state’s big cat ban. But rest assured ALDF will fight every step of the way to make sure Tony ends up in a reputable sanctuary. We still have a long road ahead, but we’ve cleared a major hurdle and have earned this moment of celebration.
At midnight on June 16th, I will lace up my shoes and brave the hilliest city in the U.S.—San Francisco—to run the San Francisco Marathon…twice. According to The Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Marathon is a race that even marathoners fear! I’ll run the first marathon in reverse—starting at the finish line and ending at the starting line. As soon as I cross the finish line—well, the starting line—I will then run the San Francisco Marathon…again. I had to do something extraordinary to call attention to the millions of animals who suffer and die as a result of animal testing, on factory farms, and for roadside entertainment.
William training hard before the big run
Every day, the Animal Legal Defense Fund works to protect animals by:
- Filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand the boundaries of animal law.
- Providing free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases.
- Working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes.
- Encouraging the federal government to enforce existing animal protection laws.
- Nurturing the future of animal law through Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters and our Animal Law Program.
- Providing public education through seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts.
Lasting change can only come when the law reflects what most of us already believe to be true—that abusing an animal is wrong.
Please help me raise $10,000. A tax deductible donation of any size - $10, $20 or even $100—will help me get closer to my $10,000 goal and will make a big difference in the lives of animals.
June 16th will be the toughest day (and night) I’ve ever experienced. It will be about 11 hours of running, numerous blisters, extremely sore muscles, black toenails, and chafing in some rather painful areas. But my run is nothing in comparison to the plight of animals.
I know I can do it with your support. I also know that working together we can be the legal voice for animal victims of cruelty and demand that society hold abusers accountable for their crimes.
I urge you to please make as generous a donation as you can. Your support is vital to everything we do.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for your generous support!
Working to protect animals is emotionally draining and people often ask us how we continue to do this work without burning out. The fact is: some of us do burn out, and that’s sad because the animals end up losing a valuable advocate.
Over the years, I’ve developed several techniques to avoid burn-out. I strive to keep a sense of balance in my life, stay close to friends and family, read good books and create quiet time to appreciate the present moment. I also spend many hours with my companion animal family members and take note of other animals who are doing just fine and enjoying their lives.
Recently, I was in Brussels, Belgium to participate in a panel on the use of animals in toxicology, a subject that often makes me feel angry and depressed. After the panel was done and the work was complete, I found myself walking around the lovely cities of Brussels and Bruges. Of course, I noticed the dogs.
In fact, if you and I were walking down the street in Washington, D.C, and you saw the White House, I would notice the cute dog walking in front of the White House. Story of my life…
So, here I was in beautiful Belgium and while the architecture is gorgeous, I kept noticing well cared for dogs on one end of the leash. These lucky canines were obviously part of the family. I noted that there were Jack Russell terriers and English Bulldogs, as well as other great looking dogs, some who were pure bred and others who were mutts like me.
As I stood waiting for a bus, a tram stopped nearby, the door opened and there stood a beautiful Bull Terrier, on his way home with the human who held his leash. I tried to grab my phone and take a photo, but I was too slow. None-the-less, the seed was planted: I wanted to capture the happy faces of these Belgian dogs.
As I walked down the streets and saw dogs, I stopped their guardians and asked if I might snap a photo of their animal companions. You would think this was an everyday occurrence, because their humans didn’t look at all surprised and were only too willing to indulge the odd little American woman.
I was delighted and the photo sessions opened up conversations about their relationships with their dogs. One man even announced to his dog, “Vous êtes arrives!” (You have arrived!) And so, for those of you, like me, who always to see the dogs first, I offer these pictures of Les Chiens de Belgique (the dogs of Belgium).
On March 29, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission responded to ALDF's complaint against Tyson Foods, Inc., assuring ALDF that it will give the concerns expressed in the complaint "full consideration and appropriate attention" and noting that policing the truthfulness of environmental claims like those made by Tyson is an agency "enforcement priority."
Lodged over two months earlier, ALDF's complaint to the FTC called on the agency to investigate and enforce against false and misleading advertising by meat processing giant Tyson. Namely, ALDF pointed out Tyson's deceptive marketing tactic of broadly advertising a quotation by Tyson Chairman and CEO John Tyson, claiming that the meat processor is "leading the industry pursuit . . . to further enhance animal well-being."
This flies in the face of Tyson's actual reliance upon inhumane factory farming practices.
Tyson uses gestation crates, in which pregnant sows are unable to turn around, lie down comfortably, or take more than a step forward or backward. Many U.S. states ban gestation crates and numerous animal experts consider the crates inhumane. Yet across its promotional materials, Tyson claims to provide environments "favorable" to pigs. Tyson has simply renamed its gestation crates as "individual housing"—changing the name, rather than the practice, in a deceptive move to appeal to ethically conscious consumers.
Similarly, Tyson says it provides a "comfortable environment" for chickens. Tyson's methods fit no definition of comfortable. Reviewing Tyson's strict policies on chicken housing density, housing lighting, and weight gain, animal welfare groups have found that Tyson produces no humanely raised chicken products. Animal advocates routinely expose animal cruelty in slaughterhouses connected to Tyson.
Recently, five employees of a Tyson pig supplier were found guilty of criminal animal cruelty based on an HSUS undercover investigation of conditions at a Wyoming pig facility. The undercover video footage shows abhorrent living conditions for mother pigs in gestation crates, as well as workers kicking and punching pigs, highlighting the absurdity of Tyson's "animal well-being" claims. But as the New York Times has reported, states under pressure from big agribusiness are attempting to eliminate any peek into the internal operations of factory farms through ag gag—or "anti-whistleblower"—laws. With the public increasingly unable to see into the meat production jungle, the FTC must step up its enforcement against deceptive advertising.
Tyson also claims to be environmentally sound, yet multiple courts have held Tyson responsible for environmental hazards. And as recently as this April 4, Tyson settled with the EPA for nearly $4 million with regard to the company's release of dangerously high levels of ammonia, critically injuring and killing employees.
ALDF urges the FTC to correct Tyson's attempts to reel in ethical consumers with deception.
As the days grow warmer here in Northern California, the Animal Legal Defense Fund docket is heating up with innovative ways to fight animal cruelty. ALDF launched a video series and a brand new smartphone app for reporting animal abuse. And we are funding an Oregon state prosecutor focused exclusively on prosecuting animal abuse. Our legal battle to end the cruelty of force-fed foie gras is also gaining steam. All in all, we are leading the fight for justice for animals!
This Just In!
In a rare criminal prosecution of farmed animal abuse, felony criminal charges were filed against the owners of A & L Poultry. You might remember this story from last year, when ALDF filed a civil lawsuit in the largest California farmed animal rescue in history. The defendants abandoned 50,000 hens to starve to death. Thanks to the enormous efforts of volunteers, three animal sanctuaries, which ALDF is representing, were able to rescue the surviving 5,000 hens.
Animal testing facilities have also been taking big hits. We filed a first-of-its kind lawsuit to hold Santa Cruz Biotechnology (a biomedical manufacturer that harvests blood from goats) accountable for animal abuse. Goats were found starving, with untreated skin conditions, broken bones, and painful respiratory ailments. The USDA is investigating the lab for 20 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Santa Cruz Biotech could face at least a $200,000 penalty.
Want to know more about animal law? Check out ALDF's new 30 Second Animal Law video series, where experts answer questions in 30 seconds or less! In my video, I answered the question "what is the biggest problem for animals under the law?" But we’ve also got great videos featuring champion cyclist Levi Leipheimer speaking out against puppy mills and Hampton Creek Foods, a company celebrated by Bill Gates for its plant-based product "Beyond Eggs." Our latest video answers the question, "So you want to be an animal lawyer?"
Our Animal Book Club is off and running with our interview with bestselling Rin Tin Tin author Susan Orlean. We also sat down with Kim McCoy, former Whale Wars star and current executive director of One World One Ocean Foundation, to talk about her work protecting marine animals. Taking things in a new direction, we also interviewed Aaron Simpson, a vegan mixed martial artist and animal advocate.
Fighting for animals just got easier with "ALDF Crime Tips": a first-of-its-kind app designed to let people discreetly report animal abuse in their community right from their smartphone. It’s a great way for people to join forces with ALDF in stopping animal abusers.
A Just Cause
"Cage-free" and "free-range"—when juxtaposed with misleading images on egg cartons, these terms can confuse well-meaning consumers. Our egg labeling lawsuit with Compassion Over Killing aims to hold government agencies responsible for proper labeling on egg cartons. During our Easter Egg Action Week, a whopping %51 of survey respondents said they don’t eat eggs at all! Way to go animal advocates!
In my opinion piece in the Napa Valley Register, I explained how ALDF undercover investigators have shown Napa restaurant "La Toque" is violating California’s ban on force-fed foie gras. ALDF’s lawsuit aims to protect animals from such bullying—and to give Californians the assurances provided by the law, especially when it comes to the production of food! Meanwhile our case continues against Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest producer of force-fed foie gras in the nation. ALDF is doing everything we can to serve up justice and to protect animals from exploitation—gourmet priced or not.
A new "puppy lemon law" has been introduced in Illinois, known as Senate Bill 1639, that would provide consumer protection for pet owners whose puppies die as a result of puppy mill abuse. This legislation would potentially make it more appealing to litigate puppy mill cases, since the bill would impose explicit duties upon pet store operators. Under the bill, a pet store operator must provide certain disclosures regarding the origins of the dog (or cat), including known diseases, vaccines, and the name and address of the breeding facility where the animal was born. The Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act already provides requirements for the same disclosures but are willfully ignored by many pet store operators.
Will this new law, though worthy in cause, really make a difference? Hopefully, this will reduce the number of commercial breeding facilities and protect consumers from the heartbreaking experience of losing a brand new puppy.
Puppy mills have come under attack since the animals that reside in them are physically restricted in small cages, neglected, and provided dirty water. Many puppy mills go as far as putting up a home "front". This is when a large commercial breeder displays a handful of puppies in a grassy bright safe haven to customers (the "front"), while the hundreds of other puppies are hidden elsewhere—in dirty wire cases with no space to move freely or even turn around. The puppies are paid no human attention and receive little to no medical care. Often, cages are so rarely cleaned that puppies will sit in their own excrement for long stretches of time, often leading to health problems imminently or later in life. The worst atrocity of the puppy mill are the breeding mothers, who are kept pregnant as much as possible, are isolated from their pups at an unnaturally early age, and spend the entirety of their lives in a dirty, confined cage. Once a breeding dog is no longer able to produce litters, she will often be killed, having never known a life outside of a cage.
Puppies in mills often suffer from potentially fatal conditions such as heart or kidney disease and diabetes, in addition to other chronic disorders such as anemia, hearing or vision problems. Conditions such as hip dysplasia can cause lameness and chronic arthritic pain. Due to the squalor these pups are raised in, they are at a greater risk for heartworm, giardia, distemper, and kennel cough, all of which can lead to death.
Puppy brokers, the intermediary between the mills and the pet stores, retrieve the puppies, pile the puppies on top of each other in a hot, enclosed van, and transport them to pet stores. By the time the puppies arrive to the pet store, many are irretrievably damaged and suffer long-term illnesses or even death.
The Clinton Law Firm and Attorney Stephanie Capps have taken action against Happiness is Pets, a pet store chain in Illinois, alleging consumer fraud in the sale of puppies. The suit alleges that Happiness is Pets sells puppies under the guise of healthy, privately bred puppies, when in reality they are sick and bred in some of the most deplorable conditions imaginable: Puppy mills. The pet stores' defense to misleading customers about the origin of their pets and covering the fact that they are often sick puppy mill dogs? They argue that telling consumers their puppies are "healthy" and from "reputable breeders" is simply "puffing"—or sales talk. Is selling puppies the same as selling used cars? We don't think so.
Recently, I went to Brussels, Belgium to moderate a panel at the European Parliament. The panel was titled, "Worldwide Implementation of the 3Rs in Regulatory Toxicology: What are the Leadership Challenges and Opportunities?"
The "3 Rs" refers to a framework and, in some countries, legal mandates about the use of animals in research and testing. The first "R" is replacement, and it refers to the use of alternatives, such as cell cultures, computer modeling or other methods, instead of using live animals. The second "R" is reduction, figuring out how to use fewer animals in order to get comparable levels of information in a given test. The third "R" is refinement, which means improving the procedures and caging so that the animals experience less suffering, for example, the use of appropriate pain relief (analgesics and anesthetics).
The use of animals in research and testing has long been and always will be a highly controversial and contentious issue. On one end of the spectrum are people who consider replacement the only ethical "R;" on the other end are those who believe that animals always will be (and should be) used in science. Those arguments haven't changed much in the 35 years that I've been involved in the debate. What has changed in the last decade is exciting technological progress to replace animals in toxicology and a groundswell of support among scientists who see in vitro or non-animal testing as the road to faster, cheaper and more reliable results. Finally, we can see light, however small and distant, at the end of a long, dark tunnel.
But, what has also become obvious is that the 3Rs are meaningless unless they are implemented in good faith. The Brussels panel brought together experts from various parts of the globe to describe and illustrate which of the 3Rs is being implemented in their region. It became clear that there is a great deal of variety in commitment to the 3Rs.
For example, in the U.S., as my colleague, Dr. Paul Locke of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins pointed out, refinement and reduction are getting greater attention and funding than replacement. We need to change that. Dr. Richard Fosse of GlaxoSmithKline pointed out that China, intent on attracting business, appears to show little interest in anything other than refinement.
On the other hand, Dr. Tuula Heinonen, Director of the Finnish Centre for Alternative Methods described the European Union's regulatory approach as the most progressive in the world. Pursuant to the European Union's Directive 2010/63, a researcher must first consider alternatives which will replace the use of animals. This may not sound like a lot, but it forces the researcher to consider methods which do not use animals before simply assuming that animals will be used. If no alternative exists, then the researcher must consider how to reduce the number of animals used (reduction) and how to minimize suffering (refinement). Mandating the implementation of this sort of structured approach on a worldwide basis would go a long way to reduce the reliance on animals and encourage the development of alternatives.
In Latin America, discussions about the 3Rs have only recently begun and organizations have been forming over the past decade to study and discuss the 3Rs. Dr. Octavio Presgrave of BraCVAM, the Brazilian Centre for Validation of Alternatives, described the nascent activities occurring in that region, but it will be some time before we can assess whether implementation of the 3Rs will become a reality.
Dr. Brett Lidbury, Assistant Professor of Alternatives to Animal Research and Fellow of the Medical Advances Without Animals (MAWA) Trust, Australian National University (ANU) described the situation in Australia and New Zealand as one in which there is a good deal of interest and some activity in the development of replacement tools, but no centralized coordination of efforts to bring about replacement. He hopes that his work at ANU will provide the leadership needed to push toward replacement in that region.
As the session drew to a close, I asked our audience to remember that animals are sentient beings who have not volunteered to be used in research and that we must find ways to replace their use. The way forward is to harmonize the most progressive approaches on a worldwide basis and to develop and validate alternatives at a much faster pace.
This event was part of an ongoing coalition effort of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, the Environmental Law Institute and the Center for Animal Law Studies.
To learn more about animal testing, check out ALDF's new animal testing resource.
The European Union (EU) banned commercial trade in seal products in 2009, in response to overwhelming European public opinion that seal hunting is cruel and unnecessary. Canada and Norway have challenged the ban at the World Trade Organization (WTO). (See the EU's First Written Submission setting out its legal arguments in defense of the ban here.) Hearings at the "world trade court" in Geneva took place this February, and a decision should be made later this year. The case, known as EC-Seal Products, raises important issues about the interaction of animal welfare legislation and international trade law, and it has implications for other progressive European animal protection laws like the ban on animal-tested cosmetics that came into full force this year.
The European legislation prohibits commercial marketing of all seal products, whether domestic or imported. On the face of it there is no discrimination against other WTO members. But there are some limited exceptions to the ban; for example, products of traditional subsistence hunting by indigenous peoples can still be placed on the market. Canada and Norway say the exceptions discriminate against their products, and that including these carve-outs in the legislation undermines the EU's claim that its objective is to prevent animal suffering (they say the real purpose is to shut out certain seal products based on where they come from). According to Canada and Norway, protecting animal welfare cannot be the real purpose of the EU law, because in some circumstances that purpose is overriden by other values like the rights of indigenous communities. In reality, of course, virtually all animal protection law is based a similar kind of balancing and compromise between the protection of animals and other ethical and practical considerations.
Canada and Norway also say that the EU ban is more trade-restrictive than needed to address European citizens' concerns about the cruelty of seal hunting. They propose an alternative: a labeling program to certify that products come from 'humanely' hunted seals. They claim that they could sell products into the EU under this alternative system, because their own seal hunts are well regulated to ensure that seals do not suffer unnecessarily. That claim was belied by video evidence presented by the EU at the hearings in Geneva, showing seals in the Canadian hunt suffering prolonged agony. The video evidence underlines what opponents of the seal hunt have been saying for years: given the combination of harsh weather conditions, a remote location, and commercial pressures to bring in as many seals as quickly as possible, the seal hunt is inherently inhumane. The hearings were live-blogged on the International Economic Law and Policy blog by Professor Robert Howse of NYU, who reported that the chair of the WTO panel was so affected by the horrific video footage that he recommended everyone present should avoid having meat for dinner that night. (Professor Howse submitted an amicus curiae brief to the panel, co-written with me and Joanna Langille, which can be found here; see also "Permitting Pluralism: The Seal Products Dispute and Why the WTO Should Permit Trade Restrictions Justified by Noninstrumental Moral Values" by Robert Howse and Joanna Langille.)
Global justice activists and environmentalists often criticize the WTO for prioritizing trade flows over non-commercial values, and often their concerns are not misplaced. But the WTO's adjudication system is sophisticated and well respected, and in many cases it has struck an appropriate balance between fair dealing among members of the global trade system and the legitimate principles that WTO members seek to uphold in their domestic legislation. Everyone who cares about animal law should watch the EC-Seal Products case with interest, and see whether the WTO gets the balance right in this one.
Katie Sykes is a JSD student at the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie
University in Canada
Several months ago, I developed a terrible pain in my stomach that wouldn’t go away. Not being fond of doctors, I ignored it as long as I possibly could. The pain was relentless for weeks. Initially, the doctor assumed I had some sort of mild acid reflux disorder but after noticing an abnormality with my blood tests, he told me, "I see scoping in your future." The endoscopy involved sliding a thin, flexible viewing instrument into my mouth and down my esophagus to view my stomach. Before the procedure started I was assured that most people remain unconscious and don’t remember a thing. I was given an IV and sedated, but I woke up in the middle of the procedure choking.
It’s hard to describe the sense of panic and complete helplessness I experienced. I was suddenly awake and very aware of the fact that I was uncontrollably gagging and choking on the tube. I realized in that moment how completely vulnerable I was. I wanted to scream at them to stop and to put my arms out in protest, but the tube was already down my throat. I couldn’t open my eyes and the sedation prevented me from doing anything but jerking my body in uncontrollable spasms while my throat reflexively tried to eject the foreign object.
It was at this time that I heard my nurse’s voice. Although she sounded alarmed, she touched my arm and told me that everything was OK. "Just try to relax. Just try to breathe and relax your throat. We need you to swallow." I have a lot of self-control, but her instructions were difficult to follow. It took time, but I managed to force myself to breathe a little more deeply. Eventually, I mustered up the strength to will my throat to relax and swallow. The second I swallowed the doctor shoved the tube further down my throat into my stomach. My body jerked in protest but I continued to do my best to fight my natural instinct to escape. It was painful and terrifying.
I’m not sure if they increased my sedation or if I passed out, but the next thing I remember I was being taken to recovery. While the incident probably only lasted a few minutes it felt like an eternity. Still groggy in recovery, I started to reflect on my episode during the procedure and a clear picture came into my mind from a video about Foie Gras on ALDF’s website that shows a tube being shoved down a duck’s throat to pump food directly into his stomach. I remember seeing the indentation of the tube pressing against the duck’s throat - it could be seen protruding from the outside as it was thrust into his stomach.
Suddenly, I had this horrifying epiphany about exactly how much ducks and geese suffer in in the production of foie gras. These beautiful birds are force fed abnormally large amounts of food, several times a day, through a pipe that is much larger than what they used during my procedure. The result causes liver disease and often cripples and poisons the birds. It is this diseased liver that is used for foie gras. There is a good reason why this practice has been banned in over a dozen countries—it’s is terribly cruel and inhumane. Anyone who doesn’t believe this fact should try undergoing an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, without sedation. After my procedure, my throat was sore for weeks.
I understood in my mind they were trying to help me but my body didn't understand that. My body felt like it was being battered. For the birds, there is no logical understanding. There is no compassion. There is only brutality, betrayal, and pain.
When the doctor came in to talk to me about my results, I watched his lips move but I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t shake the image of that tube being callously forced down that poor ducks throat. I am grateful for the sedative I was mercifully given (even if it didn’t quite work), the medical staff that was trying to help me instead of harm me, and the knowledge that they were trying to find the cause of my discomfort, not create it.
For me, it’s a gift and a curse that I now have a glimpse of understanding into what the duck in that video and others like him have endured, and, sadly, continue to endure.
If, like most Americans, you and your loved ones eat meat as a regular part of your diet, you should consider the following: an astounding eighty (80%) of all antibiotics sold in this country is fed to farmed animals. That's because the standard practice in raising farmed animals today is to house them in crowded and unsanitary factory-like facilities. Adding antibiotics to their feed or water helps prevent infections and sickness that occur when the animals are raised in these substandard conditions. It also helps promote faster growth.
This mass use of antibiotics in animal feed is enabling bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics. In other words, the continuing overuse of antibiotics for farmed animals is creating "superbugs" that don't respond to the antibiotics that doctors normally employ to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and other infections.
A new study, published last week in EMBO Molecular Medicine confirms that antibiotic-resistant bacteria, specifically methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been transmitted from livestock to human beings. Responding to this public health risk, Rep. Louise Slaughter (the only microbiologist in the U.S. Congress) is demanding that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration take immediate action to reduce the use of antibiotics fed to livestock. Please read what she has to say.
Here's what you can do:
- Become an informed consumer—learn more about factory farming and what is in the meat you eat.
- Oppose the mass use of antibiotics in farmed animal feed. Support Rep. Slaughter's efforts.
- Ask your Senator or Congress member to introduce federal legislation that offers basic health and welfare protections to animals raised for food. The European Union is way ahead of the U.S. on these common sense reforms and has adapted the "Five Freedoms," which include:
- "Freedom from Hunger and Thirst—by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- "Freedom from Discomfort—by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- "Freedom from Pain, Injury, or Disease—by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- "Freedom to Express Normal Behavior—by providing sufficient space, proper facilities, and company of the animals' own kind.
- "Freedom from Fear and Distress—by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering."
- Support "Pasture Based" farming. Thousands of farmers in the U.S. are returning to the tradition of raising animals in the field and allowing them to eat grass and move around freely. A smart pasture operation (SPO) is a growing phenomenon in the U.S. SPOs don't require the mass use of antibiotics because the animals are not under the terrible stress that they are in factory facilities.
- Join the movement toward Meatless Mondays—find out just how great vegetarian and vegan options are.
- Go vegan: good for you, good for the cow, and good for the chicken! You can find thousands of delicious recipes on the web.
I always knew I had finally landed at the best job ever here at ALDF, but this past week just confirmed it.
Last September, I bought my first house that has a beautiful backyard surrounded by large trees. Birds flocked to my home in the trees and bushes. I was so excited to finally be able to put out feeders and sit on my deck and watch the birds—finches, doves, blue jays. And, then a friend took me to a lecture on the “language of birds” and I learned to appreciate them even more.
So, when I got a call from an activist with a strange, non-believable bird story asking for help, of course I had to follow through to see if the story was true. It seems that a prisoner in a southern California facility had found a baby bird some months back and smuggled it into his prison cell, where he fed the bird on prison food. The bird thrived and became attached to the prisoner, sleeping on his chest at night. The prisoner soon learned that he was to be transferred to another facility and fearing the fate of the bird (would the guards release or would another inmate kill her?), he began reaching out to various organizations asking for help. One of the organizations called the prison and the prison denied there was any such bird.
Having worked in jails, myself, I was finding it really hard to believe the story. But, on the possibility that it could be true, I reached out to a prison ombudsman and asked him to help. Although his first reaction was similar to mine, and his second reaction was if it was true, the guards would just
release it. I reminded him, that since so many organizations had already been contacted about this bird, that would probably not be very good publicity for the prison.
As it turns out, the story was true—the bird was located and animal control was called. Animal Control picked up the bird and turned it over to a bird rehab, Project Wildlife. The little finch is thriving, doesn’t really know what to do with other finches and created a great story for all the groups involved about breaking a bird out of prison!
It's time for another edition of the Animal Legal Defense Fund Pinterest Board! Tofu-scramble, breakfast burritos, cupcakes, cookies, and smoothies—for an easy breezy brunch. It's time for all the sweets that spring holidays bring—but without the eggs and hold the cruelty. Click on any images in this article to visit our Pinterest board. See what it's all about!
Why are we so gung-ho about cutting out eggs and improving the regulation of egg-labeling? For one thing, we love happy hens! Did you know that the U.S. produces almost 75 billion eggs a year? Probably 95% of the hens that produce America's eggs live in truly unimaginable conditions of confinement. Many people like to believe that eggs from cage-free or free-range eggs are suitable alternatives, but the truth is the hens producing these eggs suffer too. A safe way to ensure that no animals are harmed, to improve your overall health, and to best steward the health of the environment, is to go egg-free.
That is why this week the Animal Legal Defense Fund brought you Egg Action Week. It's not too late for you to join in and take action for animals!
- On Monday, we asked you to take our quick survey about the kind of eggs you eat, or don't eat. Check out the results!
|321 people responded to the poll.
- On Tuesday, we asked you to take action by telling us if you were duped by the messaging of an industrial egg producer in California called Olivera's Cage Free.
- On Wednesday, we asked you to move Beyond Eggs with Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, a company poised to take us into the future of plant-based foods, and heralded by Bill Gates as one of the top three innovative producers of alternative foods.
- On Thursday, we told you about our joint egg labeling lawsuit against government agencies, and asked you to join in our scavenger hunt by sharing photos of egg cartons that distort the fact that they come from industrially-produced eggs.
Today, we ask you to share your favorite egg-free recipes for the holiday weekend and to check out our Pinterest board. What do you make with egg alternatives like "Beyond Eggs"?
We've collected our favorite recipes for an #EggFreeEaster and #PlantBasedPassover. Chock-full of protein, vitamins, and yumminess, these eggless recipes are good for you and delicious too! Check out Zelana Montminy's egg-free "egg salad," it's low on cholesterol and has zero grams of cruelty to animals. Or maybe you want to make Joonbug's Vegan Easter Nest Cupcakes to share with friends or… to not share!
What to do with children who want to dye Easter eggs? Why not try Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life vegan "marshmallow" dyeing guide?
The LunchboxBunch offers happy, healthy and 100% vegan recipes, including 30 recipes for Vegan Easter Brunch. I can't wait to try her lemon poppy seed muffins!
Of course, HealthyVoyager's Spring Frittata sounds pretty good too for a Passover Brunch—along with an Easter Bunny Ambrosia salad!
So check out our Egg Free Easter board! If you have a favorite recipe you want to share, please tweet us at @ALDF or post to our Facebook page. We can't wait to hear from you! Have a great weekend!
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Share our graphic on Facebook to encourage your friends to have a plant-based holiday!
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The United States and the small African nation of Gabon are the only two countries in the world that continue to use chimpanzees as test subjects in behavioral and biomedical research. Such testing has brought little in the way of scientific breakthrough, but has, instead, inflicted a host of horrors on our closest genetic relatives. Tragically, many chimpanzees have served as research specimens for decades without relief, often confined to small cages with no access to other members of their species or the outdoors—conditions tantamount to physical, emotional, and psychological torture. It is widely acknowledged that such terrible conditions irreparably harm these highly intelligent and social creatures.
Late in 2010, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) forecasted that a change in policy might be on the horizon. After decades of scrutiny and pressure from animal rights groups, the general public and, increasingly, the international community, the NIH requisitioned a study from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine the use of chimpanzees in NIH-funded behavioral and biomedical research. That report, issued one year later in December 2011, concluded that "most current biomedical use of chimpanzees is unnecessary" and suggested that future research on chimpanzees be limited and guided by the following three principles:
(1) the research must be necessary to advance public health;
(2) there is no other suitable research model available; and
(3) the chimpanzee research subjects be maintained in an ethological environment focused on meeting both their social and physical needs.
Following the IOM study, a Working Group was tasked with reviewing the IOM proposals and advising on their implementation. The Working Group issued a report on January 22, 2013, which offered twenty-eight recommendations. The NIH published this report as part of a "Request for Information" through which it sought public comment on the recommendations.
ALDF, together with pro bono legal counsel from the law firm of Proskauer Rose, once again welcomed the chance to defend captive chimpanzees from the agonies of behavioral and biomedical research.
Although long overdue, the Working Group's recommendations are an important step forward in the fight for chimpanzee rights. Importantly, the report recommended that "[t]he majority of NIH-owned chimpanzees should be designated for retirement and transferred to the federal sanctuary system." The report also proposed dramatic improvements in the housing of research chimpanzees—by requiring them to cohabit in social groups of at least seven individuals and improving the size and layout of their living space, as well as requiring access to the outdoors and veterinary care. These changes to policy, if implemented, would help to alleviate the suffering of chimpanzees used in research.
But they do not go far enough.
To demonstrate that NIH policy is out-of-step with international standards and still lags behind the rest of the world in its treatment of chimpanzees, our comments included a survey of the laws of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, which, particularly in recent years, have banned or otherwise restricted chimpanzee-based research.
Our comments also urged the NIH to embrace public opinion, as polls have shown that a majority of Americans favor banning the practice of experimenting on chimpanzees. Moreover, we exhorted the NIH to follow the lead of other federal government agencies taking steps to provide greater protections for captive chimpanzees. In particular, we highlighted the recent petition to the Fish & Wildlife Service to classify captive chimpanzees, like their wild counterparts, as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
Accordingly, our comments insisted that the NIH go beyond the Working Group recommendations and implement a ban on all future chimpanzee testing in any NIH-funded research. With such a ban, not only would there be no need to retain at government expense the proposed colony of fifty research-ready chimpanzees, but such resources could be better invested in developing non-animal research models. Indeed, it is our long-term goal that the NIH will forego the recommendation to explore alternative animal research models (such as genetically altered mice), and instead adopt more humane, ethical, and reliable research protocols.
Given recent trends, the NIH should seize this seminal moment in history and stop the suffering of research chimpanzees once and for all. As the Working Group report conceded, "[i]n light of evidence suggesting that research involving chimpanzees has rarely accelerated new discoveries or the advancement of human health for infectious diseases," it is not logical, ethical, or humane to squander precious government funds to exacerbate the plight of our fellow primates.
Do we have the right to know how eggs are really produced? Consumers are increasingly concerned about the abusive, intensive confinement of the vast majority of the millions of egg-laying hens in the U.S. Strictly regulated labels like "cage-free," "free-range," and "eggs from caged hens" marking all egg cartons would allow U.S. consumers to make informed decisions about the origins of their eggs. That is why the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with Compassion Over Killing, filed a lawsuit today against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for not regulating labeling on egg packaging. We have already requested full disclosure of egg-production methods—yet government agencies have taken no action.
The more people learn about the inhumane conditions hens suffer to produce these eggs, the more willing they are to spend more on eggs they think come from humanely treated hens. Several studies indicate that more than 75% of Americans find the harsh confinement of hens to be totally unacceptable. Thus, the multi-billion dollar egg industry provides producers with colossal incentives to mislead the public.
This is where the need for truth-in-advertising comes in. Images on egg cartons often imply egg-laying hens are raised in natural, outdoor environments that allow them to move freely, engage in natural behavior, and be amongst their chicks or roosters. But this is almost never the case, and nearly every carton fails to admit it when the eggs come from caged hens. Our lawsuit would require egg producers nationwide to mark their egg cartons with one of three statements: "Cage-Free," "Free-Range," or "Eggs from Caged Hens."
Meanwhile, this Easter, as a part of our Egg Action Week, we have a special "Easter-egg hunt" for you. We need your help finding deceptive egg packaging in grocery stores, farmers markets, or anywhere eggs are sold!
What to look for:
- Images of chickens in green pastures, small red barns, shining sun, green grass.
- Words like "all-natural," "open-air," "free-roaming," "animal-friendly," "lovingly-cared-for," or "gently-cared-for," or "farm-fresh."
- Names like "Sunny Meadows" or anything suggesting open space, ranch, family farm, ranch, happy hens, or havens.
If you are one of our many Twitter followers, tweet a photo to @ALDF of egg packaging that you believe might be deceptive. Make sure to include the brand of the egg in question. You can also email your photos to email@example.com. Happy hunting!
In March 2013 ALDF visited Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek Foods, at his SOMA headquarters to talk about the future of humane eggs. The company is getting lots of attention in the media and was recently endorsed by Bill Gates for having a unique and visionary mission. Its goal? To make factory farmed eggs obsolete by replacing them with plant-based ingredients—a truly humane egg.
Watch our latest 30 Second Animal Law to learn more about how Hampton Creek Foods is aiming to revolutionize our food system, one muffin at a time.
Cracking the Code
Founded on the premise that the majority of uses of eggs—muffins, cookies, bread—can be easily replaced with more healthful, humane, and environmentally sustainable plant-based ingredients, the company's flagship product, Beyond Eggs, has already won over numerous critics in taste tests. See our full interview with Josh Tetrick below for more insights on how his egg replacer can drastically improve the lives of animals, simply by eliminating an unnecessarily cruel ingredient.
Sit, Speak, Share!
No trip to Hampton Creek Foods would be complete without meeting Jake, Josh's best friend and co-commuter who greets all visitors with a wagging tail.
Click on Jake to share this interview with your Facebook friends!
Retweet to Your Twitter Followers
Champion cyclist Levi Leipheimer is going the distance with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to protect dogs! Among his many victories, Levi is the winner of the 2007, 2008, and 2009 editions of the Tour of California, the 2011 Tour de Suisse, the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and the 2006 Dauphiné Libéré—not to mention his four top-ten finishes in the Tour de France. And now Levi is doing a victory lap for animals by helping ALDF fight puppy mills.
Bringing paws to a cause, recently Levi visited ALDF headquarters with his dog Scooter to shoot a video for ALDF's 30 Second Animal Law. Levi's video helps spread the word about the dangers of puppy mills, and how important it is to adopt companion animals from shelters and rescues. So many shelters are overcrowded with animals who desperately want to cross the finish line into a forever home.
Levi knows these lessons only too well. His furry friend Scooter, a Chihuahua, was about to be euthanized only moments before being rescued by "an angel of a woman" who connected with Levi's wife Odessa. Scooter is now a pack member in the Leipheimer household. "He's been awesome," Levi says. "We're lucky to have him." Yet many consumers continue to spend big bucks for commercially-bred dogs. The system needs better regulation and truth-in-advertising.
ALDF's ongoing lawsuit against Barkworks, a Southern California pet store chain, aims to do just that. The lawsuit alleges that through fraud and false advertising the chain attempts to hide the fact that they get puppies from abusive "puppy mills"—large-scale commercial dog breeding facilities. These mills often house hundreds of puppies and dogs in extremely close conditions without proper food, water, veterinary care, or playtime. Animals run through puppy mills are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases, hip dysplasia, heart disease, and respiratory disorders. Levi explains, "What I like about the Animal Legal Defense Fund is that animals are basically defenseless - policies and laws have to change in order to protect them. And that's what ALDF is doing."
A longtime animal lover, Levi says "I've always been an animal lover, ever since I was a kid… I had dogs growing up that were my best friends, and we would go on hikes together for hours and have adventures." This great affection for four-legged friends has only magnified with his wife, and he says "together we've grown into very passionate animal advocates." Levi and his wife foster animals and advocate for animal groups near their home in Northern California. Levi is especially dedicated to animal rescue and is an outspoken advocate for spay and neuter programs.
Not one to merely spin his wheels, Levi's dedication to animals truly puts him ahead of the pack. In championing animal rescue, Levi believes the best way to fight puppy mills is to cut the demand. In his video, he explains that "Puppy mills are factory farms for dogs." In fact, Levi notes, "If only 3% of Americans were to rescue, rather than buying from a pet store, the shelters would be empty." Instead of buying animals at a store, "rescue a dog and save a life!"
Want to do more? Take action to stop puppy mills by supporting the federal PUPS Act.
|FFA Parade Float
The South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (Section 30-4-10 of the South Carolina Code of Laws) clearly states in part in their preamble that:
"..it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner …"
But, despite the importance of an open government, a new law passed in June 2012 known as the Farm Animal and Research Protection Act gives the State Veterinarian complete control to exempt all records in their possession from public view.
The Farm Animal and Research Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator Daniel Verdin, states that all information prepared or in possession of the State Veterinarian is exempt from disclosure unless disclosure is necessary to prevent the spread of animal disease or to protect public health.
I wondered if protecting State Veterinarian records was an industry standard or perhaps South Carolina was just now catching up. But, after researching every state's guidelines, I discovered there are only eight states that have similar exemptions.
Who is this Senator Verdin and why does he care so much about keeping State Veterinarian records a secret? Does his background give insight into his bill proposals and voting habits? Senator Verdin is the son of a veterinarian and the owner of Verdin's Farm and Garden Center. He was named Legislator of the year by the SC Veterinarian Association in 2006 and by the SC Farm Bureau in 2007, and served as the Agriculture and Natural Resources Adviser in 87-80 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. He was also awarded the highest and most prestigious award from the Future Farmers of America—the "Honorary American FFA degree".
Other laws or amendments the Senator is sponsoring or has sponsored include making sure the South Carolina SPCA or any other organization organized for the same purpose has no arrest powers under the state's Animal Cruelty Act; making the agritourism business completely free of liability for any injuries or death by participants and amending the Livestock and Poultry Regulations to prohibit local governments from passing laws to protect poultry. You can search Senator Verdin's sponsored bills and voting record online.
Laws such as the Farm Animal and Research Protection Act do little to protect animals. Denying access to the public records only furthers the potential for abuse to the animals as there is no way to know what is happening to the monkeys that are coming into the state. Are they going to zoos, being sold to the public or perhaps being sent to research labs? Right now, we just don't know and it does not appear that we will know anything in the foreseeable future.
Who wears fur anymore? It is an unquestionably cruel luxury that only the most callous would put on their shopping list. Plus, with recent federal legislation on fur labeling and the ubiquity of faux trims and linings it seems like real fur is becoming a thing of the past. Sadly, that isn't the case and there may be many consumers wearing real fur who don't even realize it.
Earlier this month, the Humane Society of the United States released the details of an undercover investigation into the use and labeling of fur in the fashion industry. The investigation revealed that some of the fur used on designer jackets and sweaters was not identified by its labeling at all. Worse still, the investigation found several Marc Jacobs jackets, sold on-line by retailer Century 21, that were labeled "faux fur" but were in fact made from the hair of Chinese raccoon dogs. The raccoon dog is a wild member of the canine family, often raised in deplorable conditions on Chinese fur farms and then skinned alive. Their pelts are used to manufacture garments because they are frequently cheaper than fake fur.
Consumers who purchased these items believing that they were constructed from synthetic materials are likely outraged, and rightly so. Despite federal law that requires the name and county of origin of fur to appear on a garment's label and their own best efforts to avoid products that cause animal suffering, these consumers were duped. They trusted the store and the designer's advertisement and ended up with a product they found objectionable. This highlights the most upsetting part of this story in my opinion, the failure of the fashion industry to take responsibility for providing consumers with accurate information.
Marc Jacobs has yet to comment on the investigation and Century 21 posted on its Facebook page in an attempt to shift the blame to garment manufacturers. Jacobs and Century 21 should be telling the public how they plan to change their practices. They should be responding to this investigation with efforts to ensure that the items they sell are what they claim to be. Instead they are trying to pass the buck to factories in China. Consumers deserve to be able to make animal friendly decisions. Having accurate information is a prerequisite to doing so. Retail stores and designers should be the leading voices for truthful information about their products. Instead their excuses for why mislabeling is not their fault make this situation even more offensive.
For "sled dogs," animal cruelty has become a corporate-sponsored industry. Beginning on March 2, 2013 Alaska will hold the annual "Iditarod"—in which teams of dogs are forced to pull a sled over 1,100 miles across the Alaska wilderness, often running at a grueling pace of over 100 miles per day for ten straight days. The race has become a huge money maker for corporate sponsors.
According to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, since the race began in 1973, over 140 dogs have died during the event. Dogs suffer heart attacks, pneumonia, muscle deterioration, dehydration, diarrhea, and spine injuries. They are impaled on sleds, drowned, or accidentally strangled. During the off-season the dogs are crowded into small kennels with no state management or oversight. Many are tethered on short chains at all times, unable to play, forced to sit, stand, and lie in the same small area in which they eat and defecate—conditions that cause untold emotional and physical stress. When these "money-makers" are no longer profitable, they are destroyed, as are the puppies who aren’t qualified to race. The Sled Dog Action Coalition notes that the dogs often aren’t even humanely euthanized, but merely shot in the head.
What does the law have to say? In some states, dog sledding conditions might be considered criminally cruel. California’s cruelty law, for example, makes it a crime to deprive any animal of proper food, water, or shelter, or to inflict "needless suffering" or "unnecessary cruelty" upon an animal, particularly for overloading or overworking any animal. Violations can result in up to three years in prison and fines of up to $20,000 under California Penal Code section 597(b). However, Alaska’s cruelty law conveniently does not protect animals from such overwork. Alaska Stat. § 11.61.140(e) states that the crime of animal cruelty "does not apply to generally accepted dog mushing or pulling contests or practices." So the event continues, with the industry defining "generally accepted" practices, shielding themselves from meaningful scrutiny.
Cloaked in claims that dogs have "fun" in this traditional event, the truth is that this event is nothing more than corporate-sponsored cruelty. Please take action to help ALDF speak out for sled dogs by asking the corporate sponsors of events like the Iditarod to withdraw their support.
Thank you for taking action to help these sled dogs! By emailing the major corporate sponsors of the event you send a clear message that using dogs in this way is not acceptable. Want to do more?
Unfortunately for the dogs, this race has many more sponsors. By sending an additional personalized email, or making a phone call, you make a larger impact and send a clear signal to all sponsors of the race that you do not support this type of corporate-sponsored cruelty. You can find a full list of contacts for all of the sponsors of the Iditarod on the Sled Dog Action Coalition's website.
If you are in Canada please take a moment to contact your Legislative Assembly and demand they put a stop to the savage cruelty of the dog sledding industry. Find your MLA here. For more background on the issue please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website.
Share This Action
Help us get the word out about this action to help dogs used for the Iditarod. Share this action with a friend over email or your social networks.
|(Photo by Ebb and Flow Photography)|
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been nominated for three awards:
- BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
- BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
- BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
As the end-credits roll, the familiar disclaimer appears, "No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of This Film." But 27 animals were killed in the making of this film. As the Associated Press reported, three horses, six goats, six sheep, and a dozen chickens died at the New Zealand ranch, where they were housed while production continued. Yet, the American Humane Association (AHA)—the only industry body that certifies the humane care of animals in Screen Actors Guild films—gave its approval.
The deaths were attributed to dangerous conditions such as "bluffs, sinkholes and jagged fencing," according to wranglers at the ranch. A mini pony named Rainbow broke his back and suffered overnight before being found and euthanized. A horse named Claire fell off a bluff, and chickens were torn apart by dogs, say the wranglers. Other horses were injured by fencing. The wranglers say they repeatedly alerted the production company to alert them to the abuse. But media reports suggest that while film executives admit two horses died preventable deaths, they say there was no wrongdoing, and instead questioned the credibility of the wranglers, who were dismissed after reporting the animal abuse.
|(Photo by Nico Deaux)
How would audiences feel if, at the end of a film like The Hobbit, AHA's end-statement said: "no animals were documented as being harmed on the set, to our knowledge, but many were killed off the set..."? Perhaps far greater care would be afforded to protect animals during filming; perhaps the use of live animals would be replaced with CGI. Perhaps films that kill dozens of animals wouldn't receive acclaim from the academy. Perhaps audiences would be outraged.
Enormous amounts of money are invested in getting shots right, and the pressure for animals to perform on cue is high. The Hobbit, for example, is the first in a $500 million dollar trilogy. Are we to trust that filmmakers properly care for their money-makers under these conditions? Some media sources report that Peter Jackson, director of The Hobbit, who has denied that animals were mistreated during the production of his film, called an animal protection organization "pretty pathetic" for its concern with the deaths of animals in this film.
If we can't trust filmmakers, can we rely upon the American Humane Association? As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the AHA has called the cruelty behind the scenes of The Hobbit "unacceptable." In its own guidelines the AHA announces it is the only group "able to document a production's humane care of animals." The problem is: how much do they document if they can't supervise off-set care?
|This award is given to people who fight animal cruelty, click on the image to learn more.
The animal cruelty behind the scenes of The Hobbit is by no means an anomaly in the film world. Countless animals are harmed in the making of many films. And Buzkashi Boys—a movie that features the Afghani national sport of Buzkashi, a brutal game of horse polo played by dragging about a dead goat, is up for an Oscar for best short film.
Where do we draw the line between telling masterful cinematic stories—and exploiting animals for our own amusement? "No animals were harmed" must mean exactly that.
Animals don't deserve to die for our entertainment.
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is: Fight animal abuse from your home computer.
|(Photo by Giacomo Bucci)|
Fight animal abuse and honor animal victims from your home computer. Join the hundreds of thousands across the nation who have already taken action online to support critical ALDF campaigns, which are designed to have the maximum impact for animals. A better world for animals is at your fingertips!
Animal Bill of Rights
If you haven’t yet joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed the Animal Bill of Rights—take action now! Let Congress and all of our elected officials know that the law should protect the basic needs of all animals—and should provide justice for those who are abused and exploited.
Expose Animal Abusers
Communities have good reason to be concerned about the whereabouts of animal abusers. In story after heartbreaking story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and often go on to victimize people as well. Keep your animals and your families safe. Visit ExposeAnimalAbusers.org to contact your local legislators in a single click and ask for an animal abuser registry where you live.
First Strike and You're Out
Currently, most states have no mandatory requirements keeping those who are convicted of animal abuse crimes away from animals following their convictions. ALDF’s model "First Strike and You're Out" law will help in the fight against animal neglect and cruelty by keeping offenders away from potential new animal victims and will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities.
Contact your state legislators today and ask them to support a "First Strike and You're Out" law for those who are convicted of animal neglect or cruelty.
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is: Help ALDF Help Animals
Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves—so concerned citizens and our legal system must speak up for them. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system for over thirty years. And we want you to be a part of that critical, desperately important work—day in and day out, 365 days a year. Now, you can help animals every month of the year by making a monthly donation to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
ALDF’s Partners in Protection program gives you a simple and convenient way to make regular contributions to ALDF via your credit card or electronic funds transfer. As a Partner in Protection, your gifts will provide a reliable, ongoing source of funding that is critical to our work on behalf animals.
Whether your monthly donation is $10 or $100, every dollar counts in the fight against animal abuse. Be a part of ALDF’s cutting-edge work to push the law to provide real, lasting protections for animals—and to get real justice for animal victims. Become an ALDF Partner in Protection by signing up today to make easy, automatic monthly donations. If you can’t make a monthly pledge today, please make a one-time donation in honor of National Justice for Animals Week—honoring animal victims with your support for ALDF’s ongoing fight to put animal abusers behind bars.
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is to make news for animals!
Write a Letter to the Editor
|Sunny at his new adoptive home.
Let your own community members know how they can join the campaign to fight animal abuse with a clear, concise letter. “Letters to the Editor” are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper and can reach a large audience. These letters allow community members to comment on the way animal issues are being addressed in the media and influence the topics covered by the local paper. Elected officials often monitor this section of the newspaper and take notice of public opinions.
If your letter is published, share it with us, and we’ll send you an ALDF prize pack including a reusable ALDF tote bag, bumper sticker, and other ALDF goodies! Email the link to the online newspaper to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail a hard copy to us at:
Include your name, mailing address, and copy of your published letter. Letters must be received by March 31, 2013 and must relate to the theme of National Justice for Animals Week to be eligible to win.
Animal Legal Defense Fund
c/o Megan Backus
170 East Cotati Ave
Cotati, CA 94931
We've made it easy for you to contact your local newspaper with your views, but editors want to hear from you in your own words.Visit ALDF’s Letter to the Editor Action Center for more information.
Sunny is a sweet dog who was rescued from a serial dog abuser. Celebrate National Justice for Animals Week with ALDF by sharing Sunny's happy ending. Watch the video and share!
In marquee headline text February 11, the New York Times reported that "Tests in Mice Misled Researchers on 3 Diseases, Study Says." The cited scientific study highlights the major costs inherent in unregulated animal research. In addition, it reinforces ALDF’s efforts to strengthen the broken legal structures that purport to protect laboratory animals.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with lead author Dr. H. Shaw Warren, is notable because on its wide reaching conclusions. Ten years of data analyzed by 39 researchers show that experiments on mice are unhelpful analogues for burns, sepsis and trauma. Sepsis is the number one killer in intensive-care units, affecting 750,000 patients and costing the U.S. $17 billion each year.
But the study’s premise is not altogether novel. Many other scientists and studies have questioned the human benefits of animal experiments. In 2006, the Medical Research Modernization Committee published a report stating that "[i]n contrast to human clinical investigation, animal experimentation involves manipulations of artificially induced conditions" of laboratories. Professor Mylan Engel points to penicillin to show the flip problem of animal experimentation: false positives. Discoveries that benefit humans can kill other animal species. Had Alexander Fleming tested his miracle drug on rats, the drug would have failed and "the age of antibiotics might never have come into being."
We are long past the Cartesian belief that animals are machines for scientific study, to be strung on a rack and dissected alive. Science constantly discovers that new species feel pain and have empathy, or "sentience." In his Psychology Today column, professor Marc Bekoff follows studies proving that species like rats, mice, and chickens feel their fellows’ pain; one study finds that a rat will liberate another from an unpleasant trap and even save food for the trapped compatriot. "The data about sentience exist, and the agency [that regulates research] knows the data, but does not factor it in," Bekoff says. "There’s tons of information about sentience that is not all that new, but is ignored."
Similarly, studies like the one authored by the Warren group discover that animals suffer and heal in their own unique fashion, limiting their applicability to human uses.
Industry interests tied to animal use in research fight to stifle findings of inapplicability. As the Times article notes, the study’s authors attempted to publish their paper in both Science and Nature, but were rejected without any comment on the science. Ironically, Nature itself has expressed concerns of industry capture: it concluded an October 2000 editorial by foreboding that "research lobbyists who have often stated that it is a privilege to use lab animals now risk giving the impression that some of them consider it a right. If that continues, research could suffer." When a scientifically rigorous study on the errors of using mice struggles to find publication, research is suffering.
Knowledge, however, has a funny way of escaping the locked laboratory. But in order for truth to set mice free of unnecessary suffering, the law needs to catch up.
One federal law governing laboratory animal research—the Animal Welfare Act—is in the worst shape. Exemplifying how far it lags behind current science, the AWA defines "animal" as excluding rats, mice and birds used in research. The AWA does not provide its protections to excluded animals. These protections, which include animal research review and oversight by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), would likely limit the human, animal and financial costs of erroneous research that are evidenced so clearly by Warren group’s study.
Science, long-term economic growth, and federal spending will all benefit from AWA coverage of rats, mice and birds in research. Straining research through the IACUC review structure improves the scientific product because researchers using rats, mice, and birds—like all other scientists—benefit from peer review. Better science, in turn, leads to economic growth. In addition, IACUC review from the added coverage of rats, mice, and birds can positively impact federal spending. By providing another layer of oversight that signals to funding bodies that approved research will still receive scrutiny (even if IACUC review is not all that rigorous), the IACUC structure could ensure taxpayer dollars are used efficiently in research. An overemphasis on unreliable animal research without checks for duplication and alternatives to painful procedures can send science down the wrong track.
The Warren group study, showing the pitfalls of experimentation on mice, was given the full attention it deserved—center placement on the New York Times web page. Let us learn from our past mistakes, and adjust the law to ensure that animals are not sacrificed unnecessarily, human lives are not ignored, and money is not squandered.
"She's ok!" This was part of the tweet sent on February 9, 2013 after an Andean condor named Queen Victoria, the mascot for the Bakersfield Condors hockey team, escaped from her "handler" during the national anthem before a game.
As the announcers demonstrate, this video has been widely seen as a hilarious mishap. However, from Queen Victoria's perspective, this was likely far from hilarious, and she is far from "OK."
From the start of the video her fear is apparent, as her captor holds her beak and pulls her from her cage. She is then introduced into a loud, cold, bright, artificial environment packed with people and brought to the middle of the ice, a vulnerable position from anyone's perspective. It is no surprise that she tried to escape to a safe place, only to be chased, grabbed, and from her perspective, tackled to the ground when her captor slipped.
Wild animals are held in captivity for a variety of reasons, including, as here, for entertainment. Whether in aquariums, movies, truck stops, or sports events, these animals all suffer immensely from the captivity itself, regardless of whether they experience physical trauma. Their trauma is emotional and very real; their days are filled with loneliness, boredom, and fear of what horrifying environment they will be subjected to next. Physical trauma is not the only way an animal can experience cruelty at the hands of humans. Captivity itself can be extremely cruel, whether it takes place in a zoo or in a lab.
The notion that Queen Victoria is "OK" demonstrates the empathetic disconnect many people experience when they see an animal outside of its natural environment. Imagine being in a small studio apartment, with sufficient food and water, and maybe a book or a TV. You live here alone, or perhaps with one other person. Now imagine you can never leave, and one wall is made of glass. No one physically harms you, they just watch you, all the time. Who would not plot their escape? Even if she experienced no physical injury as a result of this incident, Queen Victoria will still live in captivity, and she will still live in fear. There are answers for animals that have been so used by humans that they can no longer survive without them. These are special sanctuaries designed not to display animals, but to give them dignity. This is where Queen Victoria belongs, along with her other mascot peers.
Tweet Back to the Team
- Tell the Bakersfield Condos that keeping a wild animal for entertainment is not OK. Tweet this: Hey, @Condors, the mascot is not OK! Real condors belong in the wild, not on the ice.http://bit.ly/Y7x5oZ
The University of Wisconsin is at it again with the renewal of horrific "maternal deprivation tests." Recently in hot water for their horrendous experiments on cats, the UW's psychological tests on monkeys top the list of sadistic treatment of sentient beings.
What do the tests do?
Infant monkeys are immediately removed from their mothers after birth and kept in total isolation. They will be given "surrogate" materials known to provoke heightened anxieties. For 42 days, the confused infants will be subjected to relentless fear and panic-inducing tests while totally isolated. These tests include being intentionally terrified by human researchers, being left alone with a live King snake, and being left alone in a strange room with a strange monkey. They will then be killed and dissected.
Haven't we done this before?
A 10-year study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has already determined that isolating infant monkeys leads to self-mutilation. Surely we could establish this common-sense observation without tormenting monkeys. Mammals, particularly primates, rely upon their mother for safety and nurturance crucial to their psychological well-being. One only needs to observe humans, or animals in the wild, to see that distressing experiences, while deprived of one's mother, are terrifically destructive. There is no justification for continually frightening baby monkeys and depriving them of basic care.
In the late 1950s, Harry Harlow's infamous University of Wisconsin tests, in which he psychologically tortured baby monkeys by separating them from their mothers, caused a public outcry. Yet, here we go again.
By law, all university research must undergo approval by review committees, called Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUCs). These review committees are supposed to rigorously review research protocols to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Yet, according to Lori Gruen, the University of Wisconsin's IACUC almost never denies a research plan, no matter how brutal the proposed test. Instead, they wonder whether they even have the authority to question NIH-approved research. They not only have the authority to do so, but they are legally required to ensure all research complies with the AWA, including NIH-funded research. Review committees are obligated to ensure that alternatives to the use of animals in experiments are thoroughly explored and that pain is minimized. And they are obligated to deny research protocols when these conditions are not met.
Are the experiments cruel?
These tests will cause serious psychological torment to baby monkeys. That is the entire goal of these unnecessary experiments. Even among those researchers who support animal testing, these tests are highly controversial and consistently called into question by leading scientific authorities. Yet the University of Wisconsin proceeds, without listening to anyone.
ALDF thinks it is time that they do listen, and we hope you will make your voice heard.
- Contact the University of Wisconsin's IACUC (politely) to ask them not to allow the cruel and unethical maternal-deprivation of primates, as these tests bring the university into disrepute.
- Spread the word—ask everyone associated with the University of Wisconsin to sign the pledge from Not In Our Name against this most horrific exploitation of baby monkeys.
- Alliance for Animals is organizing an alumni pledge that promises to withhold donations to the university until this cruel testing is stopped.
- Contact your alma mater and urge it to adopt humane teaching methods without animal testing.
- Contact local medical schools and ask that they drop the use of animal testing in their labs.
- Educate others on the cruelty of animal testing and the dangers it poses to scientific validity.
- Avoid commercial products from companies that test on animals. Use animal-free alternatives.
|The Medlen family with their dog, Avery
Those who live with animal companions know their incredible worth. For most, the need to translate that worth to a monetary value never arises. In instances of the wrongful death of a companion, however, the owner is asked by a court to do just that. Because animals are considered personal property under the law, calculating an animal's value for purposes of a damages award is based on the same calculation used for other types of personal property, such as cars, clothes, or furniture. The calculation varies from state to state. Last week, in the case Strickland v. Medlen, the Texas Supreme Court was asked to look at its own valuation and determine whether the sentiment that an owner feels for his or her dog can be taken into account when calculating damages for the loss of that dog.
Many states do not allow consideration of an owner's feelings to be taken into account when determining damages. Instead, damages are based on how much the animal could be sold for or the value of the services that the animal provides to the owner. Texas also follows these basic rules. However, Texas also allows an owner to recover sentimental value in circumstances where the greatest value of the property lies in sentiment, such as the case with heirlooms or family photos. The basic question before the Court, then, was whether an owner's sentiment for his or her dog is a relevant consideration in determining the dog's property value.
A factor that contributes to the confusion in this case is that most states, including Texas, do not allow an owner to recover for the emotional distress that an owner feels when his or her animal is taken through the negligence of others. Although recovery for emotional distress may be available when the animal is destroyed intentionally to cause the distress, courts draw the line at allowing such a cause of action when the destruction of the animal was by accident. In those cases, the owner is allowed to recover the value of the dog as property only, but is not allowed a measure of damages based on the owner's reaction to the dog's destruction (i.e., the owner's mental anguish or emotional distress).
It is this confusion that lies at the center of the Texas case. Strickland v. Medlen involves simple facts. Avery, a Labrador mix, escaped from the backyard of his owners (the Medlens) and was picked up by city animal control. Avery's owners located Avery at the city shelter but were unable to immediately pay the fees for Avery's return. Although assured by the shelter that a "hold for owner" tag would be placed on Avery's cage, upon return with proper payment, the owners found that Avery had already been euthanized after his name was accidently placed on a euthanization list by a shelter employee (Strickland). The owners sued the shelter and asked the court for the intrinsic value of Avery because Avery had no monetary value otherwise and was irreplaceable. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, reading Texas law as saying that intrinsic value was not compensable.
On review, a Texas appellate court held that Texas law does allow recovery for intrinsic and sentimental value of a dog. Looking at a Texas Supreme Court decision from 1891 that established the method to calculate the value of a dog, the appellate court determined that that method had been modified by another Texas Supreme Court case which allowed recovery of sentimental value for heirlooms and other similar types of property.
It is the appeal of this decision that was heard by the Texas Supreme Court last week. The lawyers for the parties in the case looked at the problem from different perspectives. Strickland's lawyer, John Cayce, equated the sentimental value sought for Avery's property value to the cases that prohibited recovery for emotional distress. Cayce argued that since Texas law does not allow emotional distress damages for the loss of a dog or even for the injury or death of a sibling or friend, the Court should not allow emotion to enter into the calculation of a dog's property value. He said this distinction should be made because dogs are not like other property because humans form an emotional bond with dogs.
The lawyer for the Medlens, Randy Turner, focused on protecting the property rights of dog owners. If the law protects an owner's rights to property like heirlooms or family photos, he asks, why shouldn't the law also protect an owner's interest in his dog? Turner's argument was fully realized when asked a hypothetical by one of the Justices. Imagine a person walking with both her dog and her twin down the street, the Justice said. If an accident should occur, killing the twin and the dog, wouldn't it be strange to recover damages for the dog but not for the twin? Turner responded by changing the hypothetical—what if the person was walking with her twin and a cherished family heirloom instead of a dog. If an accident killed the twin and destroyed the heirloom, Turner explained, the person could recover for the heirloom, but not for the twin. "That would be a strange result," Turner said, "but that's the law."
The Texas Supreme Court is not expected to rule on this case for several weeks, leaving people wondering exactly how a dog should be valued. What do you think? Should an owner's emotions be calculated into the damage award for the loss of his or her dog?
You can see the lawyers argue their case on the Texas Supreme Court's website.
Fran Ortiz is Director of the Animal Law Clinic, and Professor of Law at South Texas College of Law, Houston, Texas
Symba is my three-legged miracle kitty, my sweet buddy hopping on his back leg through the forest, a rascally adventurer, who is made of love. If you accidentally step on his tail, he licks your face, as if he made the mistake. He spreads his body over my computer, as if to say what more could you possibly be doing with your life when I am right here ready to love you…
Every night he sleeps in the crook of my arm heaving warm sighs as he dreams, safe in the arms of his human friend, who lies awake afraid to move and ruin a cherished moment of warmth, trust, and contentment. He waits for me in the window of the front door—ready to spin in circles to celebrate my return. He keeps me company in the house and peers in the shower, and paws at the curtain. When I make the bed he climbs under the fitted sheet until I ask him, teasing, where's Symba?
That's the question I ask only to myself now. Where is my Symba? For although I watched his life fade away two months ago, I keep expecting to hear him pawing at the front door or see him stretching in a sunbeam. There's one food bowl too many on the floor. Sometimes I imagine him springing around the corner with a thumpety thump of his three legs, to find my lap waiting, warm, and his alone.
I want that so very much. I miss his tiger face & green emerald eyes, his stinky kisses, and the way his tail wagged perpetually. Where is it wagging now? I'll never find another Symba. Not in a million years or a hundred miles of trees and stars. Wherever he is, he has my heart.
My One & Only Symba
When I learned Symba had cancer, I was shocked. He was only nine. I hadn't planned on saying goodbye any time soon. He was full of life, so happy, and wasn't suffering. I thought that sad day was years away.
So when I shared my grief, and someone said I should put him down and get another animal—that if I really loved animals, that's what I'd do—I felt wounded. If I had lost a child or a best human friend, no one would tell me to put them down immediately and go get another child or best friend. That would have been unspeakable. So why can't others recognize the place animals have in our hearts?
Animals are individuals. Symba was an individual. He is irreplaceable, and the hole left by his absence can never be filled. It is and will always be his own shape. As in life, so in death: there is only one Symba.
Even now a few months later, the mere thought of him makes me sob—deep, gut-wrenching tears. I miss him so much I almost cannot bear it. It hurts when I speak of him in the past tense. It seems like a nightmare I might wake up from: there is still that undying hope. I see him out of the corner of my eye and when I remember he isn't there, the pain rips through me all over again.
Symba is the only Symba. Everybody who met him could see he was special. There was just something in his soul that fellow travelers recognized. And he taught me about unbridled joy and love. Because all animals are different, we don't love animals the same way. Our bonds with some animals are stronger than with others. I live with another kitty but she is not Symba. We wallow in our hollow grief together, both of us missing the clever little three-legged angel who featured in our lives for so long, but my relationship with Symba was about the love of an absolute deep down once-in-a-lifetime best friend.
I'm heartbroken and I only bear it because I must. There isn't any choice. I am uncomforted by the sentiment that "this too shall pass." Symba will never pass as long as I am here. We don't have metaphors to explain this feeling, and words won't fit. The closest I can come to explaining it is heartbreak. I have love in my heart to give, but I'll never give it with an unbroken heart again.
On Symba's last night, I begged him to go on his own. He was full of life—walking, playing, kissing, sleeping, eating, and loving. He was still Symba. But in the morning he gave me a look I'll never forget. It was time. He was struggling and I had to do what I never wanted to do, and what I sometimes wish I could undo. I helped end the life of my best friend. I called the vet and pleaded with her to come to my home. She ended his suffering, while I held him in my arms, thanking him, telling him he was a good boy, that everything would be okay, and that it was okay to go. And then his light was gone.
Symba died in my arms, his head in my hands, his eyes locked on mine. His tail was still wagging as he died, because that's how incredible Symba was: sweet, trusting, and full of life even in death. It was the worst moment of my life. I regret doing it. But I don't regret that he isn't hurting anymore.
It's hard wondering what else I could have done for him. Did I give him enough love? Should I have done invasive surgery? I wanted him to play in the grass, happily stretching in the sun, just one more time. But there's no way to barter. You don't get to say. You can beg, you can cry, you can hope, you can pray. What you can't do is stop death. Love means grief, and loss. I just don't see any way around that.
What You Can Do
If you know someone who is losing their friend, please don't tell them to put their friend down and find another. Acknowledge their grief and their loss, and allow them to feel it. Why are we so afraid of acknowledging the reality of grief, and the pain of loss? It is what is real, and it is what is true. The person will decide when they are ready to make a new bond. And I am not ready. Because love comes with grief, I must first heal my heart, where it burns for Symba still. Maybe it always will.
Love also means gratitude, for every moment with those we love, whether human animals or nonhuman animals. Even if they are taken away long before we are ready—even if we are filled with rage, with horror, with sadness, with sorrow. We must hold them close today because life is fleeting, and every moment shared is more precious than we can know, until we hold only their memories and no more.
|Southern resident orca (Photo by Miles Ritter)|
The incredibly self-aware group of whales (orcas) living off the coast of southern Washington are also known as Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW)—the pod that Lolita was taken from years ago. The distinct population segment, made up of about 84 individual orcas and listed as endangered since 2005, are "resident" fish-eating whales who spend time each year in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. Like humans, the southern orcas engage in family behaviors such as babysitting and food-sharing. Marine experts have declared that these orcas truly need all the protection we can provide.
So who is trying to remove these protections? The petition is brought by the corporate-backed Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), allegedly on behalf of farmers who want water from the Sacramento River. This water is off limits because it holds endangered Chinook salmon, who the southern orcas depend upon for their survival. Thus, farmers wouldn't get access to the water, regardless of this petition. A previous lawsuit to de-list the orcas was dismissed for lack of standing. PLF's new strategy, with arguments about farmers and semantics about species designation, carries with it a veiled threat of further lawsuits.
|Southern resident orca (Photo by Miles Ritter)
Don't be fooled. This petition is about weighing profit against the protection of endangered animals and complex marine ecosystems. At the heart of the petition is an underlying motivation to destroy the Endangered Species Act entirely. The ESA, a crucial, inestimable law for wildlife, gets in the way of business: that is the real issue. It is imperative that we protect orcas, and not allow profit-seeking groups to set in motion the complete destruction of the ESA.
These financial motivations truly violate the intention of the Endangered Species Act. The ESA mandates the protection of endangered species, period—the PLF's petition is a shameful diversion of government agency resources. The NMFS is obligated to only weigh issues of the best science in this case, not potential profit from desecrating our oceans and rivers. We must not become a nation that removes animal protection laws for the purpose of allowing unmitigated commercial enterprise.
This dangerous petition could have dire consequences for the cherished orcas of southern Washington. The NMFS will consider the petition for 12 months, but they will only consider comments until January 28, 2013.
Please protect orcas and let your voice be heard! Tell the NMFS that orcas in southern Washington should not be removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act! (The comment period has expired.)
- The SRKW are as endangered as they ever were. Numbers have not recovered since listing in 2005 and the protection of the Endangered Species Act is crucial to their survival.
- This delisting petition is a shameful diversion of agency resources. NMFS has already thoroughly considered the status of the SRKW and decided the orcas should remain on the endangered list.
- The petition is motivated by financial concerns that violate the intent of the ESA. The ESA mandates protecting animals no matter what the cost. NMFS cannot consider financial concerns, only science.
|(Photo by Andreas Beer)
Ractopamine hydrochloride enhances animal growth by inhibiting fat growth, stimulating lipolysis, increasing protein synthesis, and reducing protein breakdown in muscle. The generic names for this drug are "Paylean" for swine, and "Optaflexx" and "Heifermax" for cattle. Studies conclude that ractopamine use allows producers to increase their profits by as much as $2 per head. Ractopamine is linked to significant health problems and behavioral changes in animals, such as cardiovascular stress, muscular skeletal tremors, "downer" animals, increased aggression, and hyperactivity. The FDA approves of its use.
What does this mean? In order to increase profits by making animals "meatier," factory farmers feed animals a drug that makes them sick. That’s right—these "farmers" intentionally drug animals and make them sick, in order to make more money. This is not conjecture, or a baseless accusation. Read more about the thirty-seven page petition we just filed.
The next time you hear factory farmers say they do right by animals, think instead about this and what it means. This is an industry that has no shame.
Animals need to be heard. Pinterest is a social media tool that can allow us to spread the messages people need to hear, like important animal rights cases in the news, stories of cruelty and legal victories, important books to read, movies to see, groups to join, and ideas to learn. On Pinterest, people create “boards” that they “pin” images too from their favorite websites. Many have boards for crafts, shopping, recipes, photography, and reading lists. We’ve created a series of boards with animal law-related and animal themes we think you’ll enjoy. We hope you will join us. The Official Pinterest Board for the Animal Legal Defense Fund can be found here.
Recipes & Festivities!
- Just in time for the holidays, we have a board where we’ve collected over one hundred Vegan Holiday Recipes, where you can get delicious ideas for cruelty-free meals!
- Looking for good gifts this season? Check out our Shop ALDF board, where we link to our store where you can buy ALDF merchandise that helps support our legal battle to protect animal lives and advance animal interests. Or check out our Animal Law Reading List and Animal Films boards.
- Not in the festive mood, but curious about an animal-free diet? Check out ALDF’s Vegan Kitchen, where we’ve stored literally hundreds of scrumptious yum yums for our hungry harm-free followers!
- Many followers just love our ever-popular Animals at Play board, where we collect stunning photography of animals doing what animals do—many that challenge our stereotypes of animals.
Animals in the News
- Keep up to date! In our In the News board, you can find updates on ALDF’s major cases. Hard to Believe is our board where we post updates in the larger world of animal cruelty cases and animal rights issues.
Animals in our Office
- Get to know ALDF Staff! If you haven’t checked out our new staff pages, you can check out our Office Companions board to see the beautiful animals that live and work with ALDF staff—read some heartwarming stories of how they came into our lives!
Fighting for Animals
Want to see what else we have? We have highlights from cases we post on our website, such as Advice & Resources, Blogging for Animals, Interviews with Animal Experts, but we also have unique content you won’t find anywhere else, like Rescue Tails, Understanding Animals, boards for recipes, and boards for our companion animals in costume, and so much more!
This week, ALDF joined forces with Center for Food Safety (CFS) to petition the FDA to rethink its mistaken approval of high levels of the dangerous animal drug ractopamine.
On the factory farm, ractopamine is mixed into animal feed to make leaner meat. Its actual effects run the gamut in bringing about suffering. Ractopamine is known to cause tremors, chronically elevated heart rates, broken limbs, higher risks of hoof lesions, and death in farm animals. Scientists associate the drug with both non-ambulatory (“downer”) and over-excited behavior. The effects are no small matter: 60 to 80 percent of U.S. pigs are treated with ractopamine, and the FDA has received over 160,000 reports of pig suffering since the drug was approved in 1999.
ALDF’s petition shines a light into the shadowy overlap between human health and animal welfare threats in food production. Ractopamine is added to cattle, pig and turkey feed for several weeks before the slaughterhouse. Application of the drug for any longer before slaughter risks putting the animals in a condition unsuitable for even the low standards of factory meat. Because ractopamine operates within animal muscles, its residues remain locked into the meat.
Foreign markets, such as the European Union, China, and most recently Russia, have banned imports of meat with any traces of ractopamine residue. Their consumers don’t want to taste the tremors. By petitioning the FDA to significantly lower allowable levels of ractopamine use, ALDF and CFS have pushed the U.S. to follow suit.
- Read the press release on ALDF's recent petition to the FDA
|Dozer Boy and Kyera playing in their yard.
Last week, a 73-year-old Firestone, Colorado man, Joseph Losinsksi, was sentenced to nine and a half years in prison. His crime: poisoning a chocolate Labrador ( "Dozer Boy") and a German shepherd ( "Kyera") with strychnine-laced meatballs. He pleaded guilty in October to charges of felony aggravated animal cruelty and intimidating a witness. It is an outstanding conclusion to a sad case, and one helped every step of the way by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
|ALDF Contract Attorney, Diane Balkin
ALDF also helped speed the case along by footing the bill for the expensive lab tests at the VGL Lab at U.C. Davis Veterinary School. These tests confirmed that the ground meat found in the stomachs of the dogs was indeed ground pork which was consistent with an empty meat package found in the defendant’s trash. The ground pork was laced with strychnine.
In August of 2011, Joseph Losinski fed poisoned meatballs to the dogs, who were in their own yard. Tesla Dougherty watched as her dog Kyera struggled unsuccessfully to survive the poisoning, and did her best to comfort her as she died. After the death of both dogs, Losinski terrorized his neighbors, according to media reports, many of whom armed themselves and installed security cameras.
Losinkski was sentenced on an "Alford" plea—a guilty plea in which a defendant concedes there is enough evidence to convict, and avails of a plea bargain, but still claims his innocence. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed this type of plea in North Carolina v. Alford, 400 US 25 (1970). Losinski pled to two charges: (1) one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty and (2) one count of witness intimidation for sending a threatening letter to a witness in the case. He received nine and a half years: one and a half for the animal cruelty charge and eight for witness tampering. These sentences will be run consecutively, particularly in light of Losinski’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes and due to the risk he presents to the community. Although Losinski did not admit his guilt, Weld District Judge Todd Taylor was convinced beyond doubt that Losinski was responsible.
Judge Taylor expressed concern that the defendant seemed to be "motivated by cruelty and some sort of sadistic pleasure." Media reports suggest Losinski had previously been accused of poisoning animals in Minnesota. This case reminds us of the link between cruelty to animals and violence towards humans. But it also shows us that with cooperation and diligence, animal abusers can be locked away and face the prison time they deserve.
Elephants confined in zoos often face a parade of horribles, and ALDF is responding on all fronts.
This week, ALDF called on the Oregon Zoo to void a cruel agreement that gives ownership of newborn baby elephant Lily to known abuser Have Trunk Will Travel. The contract reveals a sinister side of zoo breeding programs that zoos tout as helping to recover dwindling species populations. After weaning in front of adoring zoo visitors, babies like Lily can be transferred into the anonymity of the entertainment industry. With full ownership rights to Lily, Have Trunk Will Travel has free rein to cart Lily down to their ranch and install her within the ranks of abused elephants who toil for human entertainment. Have Trunk Will Travel’s methods of training elephants for entertainment are notoriously abusive: a recent undercover video shows the company’s employees and owners using sharp metal bullhooks and stun guns on adult and baby elephants. ALDF will continue to pressure the Oregon Zoo to ensure its new baby Lily remains free from cruel entertainment labor.
Yet life as a zoo exhibit is not necessarily without suffering. ALDF’s efforts to highlight the plight of elephants in inadequate and outdated zoo exhibits were validated last week by an extensive, two-part report by the Seattle Times on the Woodland Park Zoo and its elephants, Bamboo, Chai, Watoto, Sri, and the late Hansa.
The story confirmed what ALDF alleged in the lawsuit it filed on behalf of Washington residents against the City of Seattle in 2010: that the Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant exhibit causes these animals to suffer unjustifiably and that its breeding program, far from being a promising avenue for conserving these endangered animals, is a cruel failure. As the Seattle Times put it, “the decades-long effort by zoos to preserve and protect elephants is failing, exacerbated by substandard conditions and denial of mounting scientific evidence that most elephants do not thrive in captivity.” After analyzing the deaths of 390 elephants at accredited U.S. zoos over the last fifty years, the Times concluded that “most of the elephants died from injury or disease linked to conditions of their captivity, from chronic foot problems caused by standing on hard surfaces to musculoskeletal disorders from inactivity caused by being penned or chained for days and weeks at a time.”
Not only do the conditions of the elephants’ confinement cause them to suffer physically, but the denial of their natural instincts to roam and establish matrilineal social bonds causes them to suffer psychologically, resulting in compulsive and abnormal behavior, such as swaying and pacing. As if this physical and emotional torment weren’t enough, the Woodland Park Zoo has attempted to artificially inseminate Chai at least 112 times with no success.
In light of the revelations of the Seattle Times story, the paper’s editorial board took the remarkable step of calling for an end to Woodland Park Zoo’s elephant exhibit and the removal of the elephants to a sanctuary where they can “live out their lives with room to move at will across truly open spaces.” The editorial board recognized that “[c]onfinement for large mammals with a physical and instinctual need for space insults their bodies and their minds. Grotesque reproductive drills and stunted lives for infants are no argument for continuing, literally, business as usual.”
Unfortunately, just a few days after the Seattle Times published this forward-thinking editorial, the Washington Court of Appeals held that the plaintiffs in our lawsuit lacked standing to sue the City of Seattle for funding the Woodland Park Zoo. The court did not reach the merits of the cruelty claims, however, and dismissed the case on procedural grounds. We are still evaluating our next steps in the case, but even if this is the end of the lawsuit, our fight will undoubtedly continue.
|(Photo by Yathin)
When I told this story to a friend over dinner she said, in a completely matter-of-fact way, “there is something wrong with those people—the people that killed that bear.”
As an attorney, someone trained to see both sides, my reaction was that her way of seeing it could not be right. We can never say the other person is simply wrong. We have to understand that the other person just has another opinion, that they are seeing things differently, and we should try to see it from their perspective and understand that everyone is entitled to their point of view. If I were in the shoes of the Mountain Air landowners and management I would understand and appreciate the need to kill this disabled bear.
I think now, however, that I was wrong about that. Yes, appreciating others’ positions, others’ needs and desires, is the right way to go. We need to “walk a mile” in others’ shoes to truly understand, and function better in, the world around us. Those that don’t do it, criminals that fail to appreciate and respond correctly to their would-be victims’ suffering by not committing the crime, are taken away. And that is exactly why there is something wrong with the people that killed the bear. They didn’t do that. They failed to do that. They evidently did not place themselves in the position of a hungry, three-legged bear needing food from the wealthy owners of vacation homes just to survive, owners all too capable of easily relocating him to a place that would have been safe for everyone. And this wasn’t something novel or hard to feel, to appreciate and empathize with. It was hunger, something we can all, or should, appreciate and know. It’s a universal currency nobody wants—not even three legged bears.
I’ve come to understand that my friend was right—sometimes, there is something wrong with other people.
I recently watched the film Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring the inimitable Daniel Day Lewis. Lincoln has been an interesting figure for animal advocates because of several quotes attributed him regarding the rights and status of animals. However the accuracy, veracity, and origin of these quotations have been highly contested. What is more interesting to me is the legacy and legend of Lincoln’s humane ethical views and his legal conundrum in the abolition of slavery.
The similarity to the struggle to abolish animal use and abuse struck me as I watched the film. Day Lewis’ Lincoln explains to his cabinet that his goal in the war is to deny the claim of the South that some humans, in this case slaves, are property—to be owned and traded by whites. But if he admits to the states that slaves are property, he can thereby recover them. Even though the war is to establish that slaves are not property. What can he do?
So too does animal law wrestle with this conundrum. Animal advocates do not believe animals are “things” but sentient beings, not something but someone. And yet, the law says differently. So we fight—not only to achieve the status of rights and personhood, a birth of freedom and protection for animals heretofore unseen—but to meet the law where it stands, in order to assure that as long as the law treats animals like property it must thereby protect that “property.”
And so we fight with two hands, one with shorter term trials and tribulations, the here, the now, the immediacy of animal suffering—and the other fighting a longer vision of the future and the day when animals are recognized for the sentience they possess.
Today’s laws fail to reflect the reality we all know is true: that we are all of us animals, that animals have rights and interests, and that animals are far more than mere property. In one scene, Lincoln discusses Euclid’s first common notion: “things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” This mathematical rule of mechanical law is “self-evident.” In many ways this is true of animal advocacy as well, though not all can yet see it.
So too were objections to abolition of slavery met with notions that we were “not ready” to abolish the injustice of slavery, as today’s animal advocates are told society is not ready to move into a greater age of compassion where animals exist in their own right, and not on our plate.
But make no mistake. The slavery of humans in our country eventually met the tide of freedom with a strong embrace. It did end. So too will the shackles of animal cruelty meet the coming era of compassion and the legal tide of rights, respect, and protection. We must keep that day in our sights, believe in it, and continue the struggle towards it.
And on that day, as we look back on slavery as a barbarous and shameful blight on our history, we will look back on our treatment of animals as property as a dark memory of un-enlightenment, and as a failure of the law to meet its better self in ubiquitous justice. That day will come.
Regardless of how you voted in the presidential election, if you are someone who cares about the welfare of animals, you’ll have to agree that November 6, 2012 was a bad day at the polls.
North Dakota: Serving as undeniable testimony to the tactical effectiveness of vilifying your opponent, Measure 5 failed, with 65% of the voters rejecting that notion. This proposal would have made it a felony to “maliciously and intentionally burn, poison, crush, suffocate, impale, drown, blind, skin, beat to death, drag to death, exsanguinate, disembowel, or dismember any living dog, cat or horse.” Opponents of Measure 5 seemed to take great pride in the success of their smear campaign characterizing supporters as “extremists” who were advancing a “radical agenda” while summarily ignoring that those who engage in intentional acts of aggravated animal cruelty (the conduct targeted by Measure 5) are five-times more likely to commit acts of violence against humans. The irony of the measure number is not lost on your author.
While rejecting Measure 5, the citizens of North Dakota opted to amend their state constitution by approving Measure 3, which adds Section 29 to Article XI of the North Dakota Constitution and reads: “The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” Roll out the welcome mat, because those who profit from intensive confinement are likely to be interested in the safe harbor this amendment provides. Supremacy clause and federal preemption issues notwithstanding, the passage of this state constitutional amendment will most assuredly impact the debate on a federal “egg bill.”
Idaho: With 73.4% of the voters saying “yes,” HJR 2 passed. It amendments the Idaho Constitution “to provide that the rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping; to provide that public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing wildlife; and to provide that the rights set forth do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights, and shall not prevent the suspension or revocation, pursuant to statute enacted by the Legislature, of an individual's hunting, fishing or trapping license[.]”
Kentucky: Eighty-four-percent of Kentucky’s voters approved an amendment to their state constitution by passing House Bill 1. It reads: “The citizens of Kentucky have the personal right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, using traditional methods, subject only to statutes enacted by the Legislature, and to administrative regulations adopted by the designated state agency to promote wildlife conservation and management and to preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Public hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to modify any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or the regulation of commercial activities.”
Nebraska: With 77% of the voters saying, “yes” to Amendment 2, Nebraska’s constitution now contains this clause: “Fishing, trapping, and hunting are a valued part of the heritage of the people and will be a right forever preserved for the people subject to reasonable restrictions as prescribed by law.”
Wyoming: With just under 90% of the vote, Wyoming passed Constitutional Amendment B. Article I, Section 38 of their state constitution now reads: “The opportunity to harvest wild bird, fish and game is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property, diminish other private rights or diminish the duty of the state to manage wild bird, fish and game in such a manner that ensures adequate populations and sustained use.”
California: While not directly addressing the welfare of animals, California voters rejected Prop 37. Had it passed, Prop 37 would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food.
One bit of
Florida notwithstanding, the misguided
The Animal Legal Defense Fund urges all New Mexico residents to tell the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners not to drop their historic animal cruelty law—a dangerous precedent for all of New Mexico up for consideration when the Board meets on November 27, 2012.
The Board is under pressure by a notorious private laboratory, the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, which engages in cruel and harmful testing on helpless dogs, primates, and other animals. Tests include making animals inhale cigarette smoke and coal-burning exhaust. The laboratory wants Bernalillo’s law dropped because they know they are probably violating it. This could begin a dangerous trend that could spread across New Mexico, inviting cruelty as local animal laws disappear.
Some Commissioners mistakenly believe that because the laboratory is also regulated under federal laws like the Animal Welfare Act, Bernalillo County is free to drop their ordinance. The truth is that none of the federal laws cover the sort of cruelty addressed by the County’s ordinance—that is why Lovelace only needs the local law off the books. Attorneys at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, experts in the relevant federal laws, confirmed that the federal Animal Welfare Act is not a comprehensive anti-cruelty law and does not prevent cruel experiments like those conducted at Lovelace.
"Make no doubt about it—if the County repeals the ordinance it is taking the position that animal cruelty is now acceptable in the Albuquerque and the County," said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "When the County passed this law it was saying—it’s cruel to treat animals in this way. Now they are saying, it’s OK, we made a mistake. What message does it send when government drops legal protection for animals because those that abuse the animals simply ask?"
Please call, email, fax, or write the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners and ask them
- not to throw away their animal cruelty law just because a notorious laboratory asks them to
- alternatively, to delay a vote and work with ALDF to address the problems at Lovelace
- please remind them that federal law—which is minimal and virtually unenforced—does not and was not intended protect Bernalillo’s animals.
Simon A. Kubiak, Commissioner District 1
One Civic Plaza NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
Fax: (505) 768-4329
Art De La Cruz, Chair
One Civic Plaza, NW Albuquerque, NM 87102
Maggie Hart Stebbins, Vice Chair
One Civic Plaza, NW Albuquerque, NM 87102
Michael C. Wiener, Commissioner District 4
One Civic Plaza, NW Albuquerque, NM 87102
ALDF’s Litigation Program is going to court this week to shed light on the living condition of hens in the egg industry. It’s well known that 95% of the 300 million egg-laying hens in the United States live in a battery cage housing system. These cages line the inside of giant industrial barns like boxes in a warehouse. Each bird crammed in these cages has as much space as a single sheet of paper. The cages often become filled with waste and dead birds because there are not enough workers to properly monitor the tens or hundreds of thousands of birds at the facility. Not only are the conditions horrid for animal welfare but they are associated with higher rates of food-borne diseases like Salmonella.
The Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) inspects these egg production facilities to ensure food safety and records data including the cage size, birds per cage, and hen population. ALDF sought this information about Texas egg producers pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) but the FDA is withholding it in order to protect the competitive position of the producers. ALDF sued the FDA this August in protest because the conditions at issue are set by industry standards and therefore public disclosure will not hurt the egg producers position amongst their competitors. We will be going to court this week to discuss our litigation plan with the judge and hope to resolve the lawsuit early next year.
The FOIA case against the FDA is part of a larger effort by ALDF to hold the egg industry accountable for subjecting birds to the horrors of battery cage housing. The FOIA request targeted Texas egg farms because ALDF is engaged in an important case there to ensure administration of state law that prohibits overcrowding birds or keeping them in unsanitary conditions. Texas state agencies refused to enforce the law after deplorable conditions at Cal-Maine, a Texas egg company, were caught on video.
In addition to our legal efforts to help birds this week, many ALDF staff members will be eating cruelty-free. Delicious meat-free roasts like Tofurkey are available at most grocery stores now and are the perfect substitute for a turkey. The use of eggs in desserts and other dishes can also be easily avoided with plant-based substitutes. Check out this link for some great Thanksgiving recipes.
As disturbing undercover video investigations of the Butterball turkey plants have shown, Butterball is abusing turkeys—again. Butterball claims it will fire these employees. But the cruelty is chronic; the abuse is always. Despite annual violations (last year its employees were charged with felony animal cruelty violations), Butterball claims it has a “zero tolerance policy” for animal abuse. If you want to support that policy… don’t buy from the turkey section of the grocery store this Thanksgiving.
Zero Tolerance for Animal Cruelty
A zero tolerance policy for animal abuse starts with a vegan diet. When we think of animals as things to put in our mouths we are complicit in condoning the treatment of animals as objects to overstuff, toss about, and hack apart.
Nearly 300 million turkeys are killed each year in the United States. Turkeys are crammed into dark, windowless “grower houses” and their beaks and toes chopped off without anesthesia. They are slaughtered at rates of up to 1,500 an hour. Many die on the way to the slaughterhouse from hypothermia or stress-related heart failure. They are not protected by federal regulations during slaughter—meaning they do not have to be rendered senseless before they are hung upside down, their throats slit, and are thrown (dead or alive) into the scalding tank, to remove their feathers.
What’s on Your Plate?
Don’t like genetically modified food? Then you’re really not going to like eating turkey. Turkeys are genetically fast-bred to be severely heavy breasted. Most turkeys cannot walk, as fast-breeding leads to bone disorders, muscle disease, and heart-ruptures. Pumped full of antibiotics to fight the terrible health conditions turkeys are kept in, such as wading through their own fecal matter, turkeys are also contaminated with dangerous pathogens. Much of this manure ends up in our drinking water.
A Cruelty-Free Day of Thanks: What You Can Do
This year, my family is allowing me to cook a vegan dinner for Thanksgiving. My beloved three-legged kitty Symba, who was my best friend for almost a decade, died two weeks ago. After holding my little guy in my arms while he left this earth, I couldn’t sit at a table filled with glazed animal carcasses. So, I am excited about the prospect of a truly cruelty-free meal with friends and family. I’d like to share some tips for how you too can share a meal with friends and family without hurting any animals.
- Sponsor a Turkey – don’t eat turkeys: meet turkeys! Donate, help care for, and visit a turkey at a sanctuary like Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary or Animal Place in California, Poplar Spring Sanctuary in Maryland, or, in New York: Woodstock Sanctuary—including Woodstock’s mouth-watering Thanksgiving Recipe booklet—or Farm Sanctuary’s Annual Adopt-A-Turkey campaign.
- Host a Meal – try your hand at a fully vegan Thanksgiving, or encourage your guests to bring vegan dishes. Veganism is better for animals, better for the planet, and better for your heart.
- Feed the less fortunate – many shelters automatically serve turkeys and canned cranberries. Why not donate healthy, cruelty-free products?
- Eat Out! Find veg-friendly restaurants in your community with the help of VegGuide.org.
- Share a Vegan Thanksgiving Meal – Find Potluck in your community. For example:
Have good suggestions for recipes? Share below!
A vegan holiday is fun, healthy, creative, and cruelty-free. Turkeys will thank you for it. Show Butterball, and other companies, that compassion and gratitude cannot include slaughter. Thank you all for supporting ALDF’s fight to protect animals. Have a very happy Thanksgiving!
What cruelty-free meals are you sharing this Thanksgiving?
|(Photo by Don Graham)
- The Right of all animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse.
- The Right of animals in laboratories not to be used in cruel or unnecessary experiments.
- The Right of farmed animals to an environment that meets their physical and psychological needs.
- The Right of companion animals to a healthy diet, shelter, and adequate medical care.
- The Right of wildlife to a natural habitat, ecologically sufficient to a normal existence and self-sustaining species population.
- The Right of animals to have their interests represented in court and safeguarded by the law of the land.
We must mend the growing chasm between the human world and the natural world, for they are but one and the same. In this great divide, we falsely imagine ourselves as separate from nature and distinct from nonhuman animals. We live in a world that permits the exploitation of animals in laboratory facilities, in industries of entertainment, clothing, and agriculture, and fails to protect animals from even the harshest of cruelty. So many animals, because their legal rights are not protected, know horrors few of us can bear to imagine.
Recently in the U.S., we have delisted endangered animals like wolves so we might “hunt” them again—in the air, in their dens, and in barbaric medieval trapping devices. We’ve passed legislation barring truth-telling by undercover investigators at corporate farms. We’ve failed to penalize violations of the Animal Welfare Acts at roadside zoos and amusement park aquariums. We’ve failed to realize in law what we know in our hearts—that nonhuman animals have interests and intelligence, feel pain, express joy, and not only have the capacity to love but the right to live.
When we label inhumanely-produced eggs “free range” and tuna as “dolphin-safe,” we need better laws. When tigers are caged at truck stops, chimps are tortured in labs, dogs are used in savage blood-sport, and the “pink slime” of candy-fed cows slapped onto our children’s plates at schools across the nation, we need better laws. To achieve rights for animals and reunite humans with the natural world, we must each be heroes. Now is the time for heroes and for our greatest humanity—now is the time for animals to be protected by right and by law.
Whoever wins the presidential election, a seat in the House or Senate, a ticket to the show in state legislatures and city councils, and agendas of various groups in ballot initiatives, the case for animal rights must be made. As we move forward in the 21st century, animal rights must be at the forefront of our legal, cultural, and political efforts. To end the abuse of animals is to meet the dawn of a new era of humane living.
Show your support for change for America’s animals—sign the Animal Bill of Rights!
|(Photo by Andy Whiteley)
The decision came in two cases that presented the same issue and were consolidated on appeal. In Martinez v. Robledo, the plaintiff alleged that his two-year-old German Shepherd named Gunner was shot by a neighbor in connection with a dispute. As a result, one of Gunner’s legs was amputated, and the plaintiff incurred over $20,000 in veterinarian bills. In Workman v. Klause, the plaintiff alleged that a veterinarian negligently operated on the plaintiff’s nine-year-old Golden Retriever named Katie. After the surgery, Katie began vomiting blood and exhibited signs of pain and internal bleeding, and the plaintiff brought her to another animal hospital for emergency surgery. The surgery was successful, but plaintiff was billed $37,766.06.
In each case, the trial court ruled just before trial that the measure of damages would be limited to the “market value” of the dog, which would be little or nothing. Had the trial courts’ rulings held, even if the plaintiffs could show that such veterinary costs were caused by a wrongful shooting (in Gunner’s case) or a botched operation (in Katie’s case), the plaintiffs would not have been entitled to recover the substantial veterinary costs required to save the lives of the injured dogs.
After the plaintiffs sought appellate review in the Second District Court of Appeal, ALDF (represented by ALDF Senior Attorney, Matthew Liebman and myself) filed amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in support of the plaintiffs. In explaining why injured animals should not be treated the same way as a damaged table or car, the ALDF highlighted how other areas of law treat animals in unique ways—for instance, by holding animal owners criminally liable for mistreating or neglecting animals. ALDF also surveyed decisions from other states to show that recovery of veterinary bills has been permitted in Florida, Illinois, New York and Kansas. Based on the extensive precedent in California and throughout the country for recognizing animals as living, sentient beings, ALDF argued that the recovery of necessary medical costs necessitated by the tortious injury to the animal should not be curtailed by application of a rule applicable to inanimate objects that can be replaced.
The Court of Appeals agreed, and ruled for the plaintiffs. In so doing, the Court held that “the determination of a pet’s value cannot be made by solely looking to the marketplace.” This is because “while people typically place substantial value on their own animal companions, as evidenced by the large sums of money spent on food, medical care, toys, boarding and grooming, etc., there is generally no market for other people’s pets.” The Court also cited a collection of animal cruelty laws from around the country available on ALDF’s website and concluded that “the law already treats animals differently from other forms of personal property.” Indeed, the Court stated that this special distinction between animals and other forms of property is longstanding. “In California, the Legislature has recognized since 1872 that animals are special, sentient beings, because unlike other forms of property, animals feel pain, suffer and die.”
Together with a similar decision issued by the First District last year, Kimes v. Grosser, the Second District’s decision solidifies the shift in California law away from an anachronistic treatment of injured animals as mere property, and toward a recognition that animals are living beings whose true value is not dependant on the marketplace. These two cases now will go back to the trial courts for trial, and the plaintiffs will be able to introduce evidence of the substantial amounts they incurred to save the lives of their dogs.
This guest blog was written by David Zaft, Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, who served as co-counsel for ALDF, amicus curiae in the Martinez and Workman appeals.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 20th Annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark Law School. In addition to enjoying the informative and inspiring panels and keynote speakers (including Carol Adams, whose eco-feminist classic, The Sexual Politics of Meat, also recently celebrated its 20th anniversary), I was able to meet several of our wonderful Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) members in person. It is always such a pleasure to put faces to the many names I know only through email.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Celebrating 20 Years of Animal Law: Looking Back and Looking Ahead” and although I have been with ALDF for seven years, not twenty, I have seen tremendous progress in my relatively short tenure as animal law has increasingly moved into the spotlight. Perhaps the most tangible benchmark is the growth in our SALDF program. When I started with ALDF in 2005 there were about 60 law schools with student ALDF chapters; last week, our 186th chapter formed! For an even more dramatic comparison, consider that in 2000, when ALDF began tracking student chapter growth, there were only 12 chapters. The increase in the number of law schools offering courses in animal law has kept pace with the growth in student chapters, which is not surprising; often SALDF members are the driving force behind getting more animal law educational opportunities added to the curriculum at their schools, frequently with ALDF’s support.
Although there were many great panels at this year’s conference, including ones on laws suppressing activist speech, orcas and the 13th amendment, animals and domestic violence, sustainable meat, vegan nutrition, service animals and breed bans, antibiotics on the farm, animal welfare in China, and new developments in litigation and legislation, the highlight of my weekend was the SALDF Breakfast on Saturday morning. The breakfast is an annual tradition, and in my opinion this was the best one yet.
The annual breakfast is a chance for student leaders from SALDF chapters around the U.S. and Canada to get together in person and share ideas. Despite the early hour on the first day of the conference, attendance was robust. The breakfast was moderated by me and the co-directors of the Lewis & Clark SALDF chapter (the very first student chapter ever to form, in 1992). I talked briefly about ALDF’s resources for students (including clerkships, fellowships, scholarships, project and travel grants, free tabling materials, animal law advocacy resources, career services packet, and more.) and the L&C chapter talked about some of their ongoing projects. Then we went around the room and asked everyone to introduce themselves and say which chapter they were from and a few projects they have worked on. This year, everyone had so much to say that we ran out of time! The hour and 15 minutes was over before we had even finished going around the room for introductions; this is the first year that has happened.
In previous years, there are usually several students who say they feel stuck, or isolated, or are the only one at their school interested in animal legal issues and advocacy; they are at a loss for ideas about what to do on campus (for those people our project ideas and SALDF spotlights are a good place to start). But this year’s students had so much going on! Every single chapter, even ones whose members felt they were not in environments hospitable to animal advocacy (e.g. those in more rural agricultural communities), were working for animals in impressive ways.
Some of the projects chapters are working on included lobbying for animal abuser registries and other ALDF campaigns, sanctuary volunteer days, pro bono research for animal protection nonprofits and local attorneys, animal law course advocacy, planning regional animal law symposia and speaker events (often collaborating with other law groups on campus – for example criminal law, environmental law, constitutional law, and family law – to broaden awareness of animal issues and their prevalence across diverse areas of life and the law), vegan advocacy (e.g. “Meatless Mondays” and vegan Thanksgiving events), anti-puppy mill campaigns, charity events to raise money for local shelter and rescue groups, submitting comments on pending regulations and legislation, screenings of films about animal issues, and participation in educational events like the Annual Animal Law Conference and National Animal Law Competitions.
It was inspiring to hear everything our SALDF chapters are working on and all the ways they are helping animals in their communities and beyond – all while juggling careers as busy law students! There was even a student in his very first semester of law school who traveled from New York City to Portland to attend the conference and the SALDF Breakfast. That’s dedication, considering the first semester of law school can be notoriously overwhelming. These students are not just going to do amazing things for animals in their professional careers as lawyers, legislators, judges, and policy makers; they are already doing important work, and they serve as a reminder of how much can be done no matter how busy we think we are.
In a profession that often makes me feel hopeless, I am optimistic about the future when I see the passion, dedication, and talent of our student members. Here’s to the next twenty years, and a world where animals’ interests are finally taken seriously. Today’s law students will be instrumental in creating that world.
|(Photo by Marcos S. González Valdés)
A herd of zombies, like a herd of cattle, or buffalo.
For a lot of folks that probably feels like a fitting term. As they did for Descartes, animals—especially ungulates—seem like insensate automatons, so different from us, unable to communicate or really relate to us, or be convinced by rational argument, and only intent on consuming what they can. Of course, this view of animals has nothing to do with reality. Animals are, in general, self-aware, empathetic, and highly-socialized, with a complex consciousness comparable to our own.
But reality has never stopped people from believing what they will. If you have ever seen late night talk show hosts quiz the general public, you will learn our species is, on average, misinformed but undaunted. Education, awareness, and the truth do not get in our way of doing things—even when we have formed a personal bond with animals. Bill & Lou are a well-known and popular pair of oxen that have been dutifully plowing the fields at the Green Mountain College eco-farming program in Vermont. Recently their caretakers have announced that they will slaughter and eat the oxen despite offers from sanctuaries to take them.
And here is the irony. While comparing animals to zombies makes no sense, insensate and unfeeling consumers of the world around them, and impervious to reason, is an apt description of humans at their worst. From the perspective of factory farmed animals, for example, humans are probably a lot like zombies: voracious automatons incapable of empathy, lined up by the hundreds of millions in fast-food drive-thrus bent on eating the flesh of others. Of course it doesn’t have to be that way. We can educate ourselves and learn to empathize with animals, care for them, or when they prefer, leave them alone. For those of us that won’t, being undead, or unfeeling and irrational, is a fitting analogy.
|Dog left in rain by guardian.
A few things to keep in mind to help your companion animal:
- Make sure animals have permanent identification, such as a microchip, and possibly a pet recovery service.
- Store pet medicine, identification, health records, and other important papers in waterproof bags or containers.
- In your travel plans, check lodgings for companion animal-friendly accommodations.
- Carry a water-proof picture of you and your companion animal, which can help identify and prove ‘ownership’ in an emergency or after a separation.
- Bring food for three days, as well as bedding, carriers, water bowls, and medication.
- If forced to evacuate, do not leave your animal behind and please never leave an animal chained up.
Also, see ALDF's resource, Responding to Disasters.
|Photo by Andy Marion, Lewis & Clark Law School
Sowing Deep Roots
The opening keynote, “Persistence and Progress in Animal Law,” by Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government affairs at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), inspired the audience with the notion of persistence. Nancy told the story of Declan Gregg, a ten year old boy who learned about cruelty to slaughter-bound horses. Declan started a popular blog called Children4Horses and even gave speeches from the floor of the United States Congress. We each have a different contribution to make, Nancy says. But we must overcome obstacles with the conviction of knowing history will bear us out. “Imagine the deep roots we sow, so deep nobody can push us over.”
A Movement Under Siege
| Will Potter and Lewis Bollard (Photo by Andy Marion, Lewis & Clark Law School)
Domestic Violence & Animal Protection
| Scott Heiser and Maya Gupta (Photo by Andy Marion, Lewis & Clark Law School)
Maya Gupta of Ahimsa House also spoke about the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty. The dedicated staff members of Ahimsa House provide emergency pet shelter, veterinary care, a crisis line, and other services to help the human and animal victims of domestic violence across Georgia.
Unfortunately, most women’s shelters do not have a place for animals. Maya explained that in the cycle of abuse, animal cruelty is present at every point along the wheel. Many abused women stay in violent households because they are terrified to leave the animals behind. What can we do? We can build more organizations like Ahisma House; encourage victims to report damage (or threats) to including animals, and help victims establish proof of animal ownership for all custody suits and protection orders.
What You Can Do For Animals—Our Hen House
|Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan (Photo by Andy Marion, Lewis & Clark Law School)
Pragmatic Politics & Abolitionism
As we come together to embody change, the lively panel “Animal Rights Isolationism v. Pragmatic Politics” asked whether activists must compromise deeply held positions to achieve more limited goals, when they work in cooperation with the very industries they seek to change. Led by ALDF Founder Joyce Tischler and Pamela Frasch, assistant dean of Animal Law Program and executive director of CALS, the panel garnered vibrant discussion from very different voices in the standing-room-only audience. Questions arose such as whether a group can take money from the industry it advocates against, or whether progress is carved out in incremental steps or in leaps and bounds. Do the “eat local” and “sustainable agriculture” movements merely facilitate feeling good about eating cruelly-produced meat? Do minor steps suffice when they end an animal’s immediate suffering? How do we bring industry to the table and what are our limits? What is the alternative path?
|Carol J. Adams, Earl Blumenauer, and Pamela Frasch (Photo by Andy Marion, Lewis & Clark Law School)
It’s Only The Beginning
Next fall, ALDF will be organizing the Animal Law Conference and we hope you will join us! Until then, check out some of our animal law resources:
- Animal Law Courses
- Animal Law 101
- Animal Law Program
- Animal Law Institute
- Animal Protection Law Compendium
- Animal Bill of Rights
I can’t remember when I first saw the faded bumper-sticker that read “We May Be The Only Lawyers On Earth Whose Clients Are All Innocent," but I remember it struck me hard. “That is oddly true,” I thought. Representing the interests of defenseless and blameless animals against persons too dense or damaged to see and react to their suffering and desire for autonomy would be what my friends in the South call “God’s work.” It would be something altogether different from what most lawyers do, and it would mean playing a role in a progressive movement millennia ahead of what often passes for progressive today.
Today’s report, ALDF’s Animal Law Institute, details some of the recent work of the Animal Law Institute, the formal body within ALDF that trains lawyers through civil litigation to represent the interests of animals. The report hits some of the highlights of what ALDF has been doing to bring the interests of animals into the courtroom and before administrative agencies, and to train law students and other attorneys do to the same. Can we do more? Yes, and we will. But the report gives some small indication of what the law can do for animals, of what is possible in the future if lawyers put the well-paid work on hold and stand up - even for a short while—for those that need them the most.
Of course there are obstacles: courts remain inclined to frame animal cases as especially political and abstain, even when existing law applies; law firms run into positional conflicts when they represent industries that use and abuse animals; the general public, misled by years of animal industry campaigns, often suppose that because animals cannot represent their legal interests (go to court) they have no legal interests; and legislatures remain in the grips of corporate control—if corporations dominate workers in our ailing system you can easily imagine what they do to animals.
But inroads to improving the lives of animals are forming, and growing wider. ALDF’s Animal Law Institute report gives a glimpse of a few. Our hope is that it will inspire others to join us, and build more.
| Photo by By Frank Durr
ALDF strongly supports more transparency in food labeling across the board. As evidenced by much of our legal work, we believe consumers deserve honesty and clarity from food producers. And one of the major reasons we support this measure is that it applies to the food we feed our companion animals. We believe we deserve to know what goes into our food, and theirs. Don’t you?
The politics of food are increasingly at the forefront of social debates, and the food movement is a search for both an economic and a social justice. Industrially produced agriculture, for example, is taking hits from personal health concerns with the food we eat, to the environmental impact of unregulated farming methods, to serious concerns with animal cruelty issues in factory farms across the U.S. With these concerns, and facing one of the worst droughts of history, consumers are looking for changes in sustainable agriculture, healthy eating, humane farming, and transparency in labeling.
Corporate food producers, on the other hand, are highly invested in doing the opposite. The prospect of labeling foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) terrifies corporate producers because they fear that if consumers know what is really in our food we won’t buy it. Monsanto, Dupont, and their gang of multi-national food manufacturing corporations have flushed tens of millions dollars into the anti-transparency campaign to prevent consumers from learning what is in the product they peddle.
Renowned food movement author Michael Pollan writes:
Monsanto has become the symbol of everything people dislike about industrial agriculture: corporate control of the regulatory process; lack of transparency (for consumers) and lack of choice (for farmers); an intensifying rain of pesticides on ever-expanding monocultures; and the monopolization of seeds, which is to say, of the genetic resources on which all of humanity depends.
On the other hand, groups who have endorsed Prop 37 include: Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Earth Island Institute, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Working Group, Food Empowerment Project, and the Factory Farming Awareness Coaliton.
Unfortunately politics sometimes becomes a shouting match to see who can scream the loudest, and the truth gets lost in the shuffle. Food safety must not be determined by who has the largest cash reserves. Labeling foods simply allows consumers to have a choice. Knowing what’s in our food gives consumers power that is rightly theirs.
You see, the fight behind Prop 37 isn’t just about food safety, personal health, animal health and welfare, environmental concerns—it is about something more: radically shifting the balance of power from large corporate control to consumer education, about allowing an open dialogue and smart food choices, rather than stifled debate and special interests in Washington. More than 60 countries around the world have seen fit to label genetically modified food, including those in the European Union, Japan, Russia, and China.
If Prop 37 passes, processed pet food will not be able to carry the label “natural.” Rather than actually making natural dog food, producers worry they will no longer get away with saying their products are natural without in fact being natural. Anti-labeling advocates also claim labeling will hurt pet food producers. One such group suggests that “putting scary sounding labels on pet food packaging will likely mislead consumers and impact their purchasing choices.” Consumers are smart enough to make their own decisions about what is “scary;” consumers, not pet food producers, should decide what goes into their beloved pet’s diet.
The truth might hurt corporate manufacturing, but it will help consumers. Prop 37 has the power to change our food policies, not just in California, but nationally. If consumers win the fight in California, it will impact food-labeling across the nation. Food producers won’t spend money on state-by-state labeling and will instead likely use a single national label on genetically modified foods. California will have the opportunity to lead the nation this November when they vote on Prop 37, which simply requires labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, including pet food. And that is why ALDF stands behind this measure; with labeling come empowered consumers, educated animal-lovers, and healthier animal companions.
Whether for the safety of food for animals, for the concern over the documented threat genetically engineered organisms pose to wildlife and biodiversity, or simply the right to know what goes in our food: Prop 37’s plain request—“stop hiding the truth and label it!”—deserves your support.
Take Action! Share this alert with friends and family—on election-day vote YES on Prop 37!Make sure you are registered to vote! Voter registration ends October 22.
| Grandma, a rescued guinea fowl living at Harvest Home animal sanctuary (Photo by Christine Morrissey)
Last Friday, Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, two students at Berkeley Law, were arrested in Las Vegas for brutally killing a helmeted guinea fowl at the Flamingo Hotel. They have not had the benefit of a full trial yet and so the charges are not proven, but the evidence from the police report is damning indeed. The students were caught on surveillance cameras chasing the frightened bird into a secluded area on the hotel grounds. Soon after, they were recorded emerging holding the animal’s body and severed head. Later, a witness overheard one of them boasting about having “fucking killed wildlife.” These two deserve to be heard and fairly tried as much as anyone, but given the available evidence I would be hard pressed to come up with an explanation to get them out of this one.
I deal with animal cruelty on a daily basis, but this is different. These suspects are students at Berkeley Law, the same school I graduated from a year and a half ago. They walk the same halls I did, listen to the same lectures, and enjoy the same quirky traditions that made Berkeley Law an excellent place to study. If the allegations against Cuellar and Teixeria are, as I suspect, true, it will bring down the reputation of an institution that I esteem highly. And for that I would feel betrayed.
To have Berkeley Law’s name associated with this malicious act of violence is a disservice to the school and those who study there. Berkeley was where my passion for animal law developed into the foundation of my career. Not just because of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund or the Animal Law instructors there, but because of students and faculty members across legal specialties. It was my Consumer Law and Advanced Legal Research professors, who listened to my animal protection theories and arguments with open and curious minds. It was my fellow students, with focuses ranging from environmental law to taxes and patents, who showed genuine compassion for animals in their daily actions. The Berkeley I remember, and the one that still exists today as far as I can tell, is an environment where students can direct their love of animals, human and nonhuman, in productive and extraordinary ways. I was lucky to be a part of it.
Cuellar, Teixeria, Berkeley Law deserves better. And so does the legal profession.
|Eric Cuellar by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department||Justin Teixeira by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Taking glee in the suffering of a living, feeling being is never okay, and those who don’t understand that don’t deserve the trust that clients put in their attorneys. The Nevada legal system will take care of Cuellar and Teixeria’s criminal prosecution, but Berkeley Law has an independent obligation to determine whether it will send these two out into the world as lawyers. To that end I respectfully ask that Berkeley Law initiate independent disciplinary proceedings and investigation of this incident. Cuellar and Teixeria should, of course, have the opportunity to speak their piece, but if they can’t explain away the compelling evidence currently against them, they should be dismissed from the law school. Too many of us have worked too hard to make Berkeley Law an environment that inspires compassion for the powerless. Anyone who would torment and kill an innocent animal has no place there.
To those of you not affiliated with Berkeley Law, I ask you to stay vigilant wherever you are for acts of animal cruelty. Even if, especially if, you think your community is free from it. Violence like this is hard to confront, and it is easy to ignore or minimize it. Unless we take decisive action to oppose animal abusers, whoever they are, they will continue to cause harm without consequence.
We are proud to announce the winner of the 2012 Rescue Tails Photo Contest. Over eight thousand votes were cast, and the winner is Mr. Darcy! Congratulations! You will be featured on the ALDF holiday card.
The Winner is...Mr. Darcy!
Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and voted!
The contest has produced some amazing results. Staff blogged about ALDF's own Rescue Tails. Chronicles of an obsession with cat photography, what happens when the law saves the life of a rabbit, and the phenomenon of black cats being harder to get adopted at shelters—along with a stunning photo gallery of Rescue Tails on Pinterest.
Below are the runners up.
(Click the images to read the whole Rescue Tail.)
Lennox, Leillani and Dhalia
Thanks for voting, submitting photos, and sharing your stories!
| Photo by Bob Winter
The great state of Pennsylvania has recently seen fit to address this huge shortcoming in its criminal code with HB 2409. House Bill 2409 has already been passed in the House and just moved to the Senate. While one could criticize HB 2409 for being a bit too conservative with its $15/day/animal cap on the pre-trial costs of care, it is a good law. In short, when enacted, HB 2409 authorizes a trial court to order (as part of a civil hearing—emphasis on “civil”—on a petition to address costs) the owner of the victim animals to pay for the ongoing expenses of rehabilitating and caring for the impounded victim animals. House Bill 2409 only applies to animals that were lawfully seized—it would not cover cases where the Fourth Amendment was violated. If the owner/offender fails to post the costs ordered by the Court, then the owner/offender forfeits ownership and the animals can be adopted out to loving homes. Where a car is legally towed away, ownership will transfer to the towing company if the storage costs are not paid—the concept is the same.
This is sound public policy that is predicated on the basic notion that with individual rights (i.e., ownership of an animal) come personal responsibilities (i.e., the duty to provide for the animal’s care). Why then would the American Kennel Club (AKC) oppose such a bill? The AKC states, “As currently written, however, several provisions in this bill [HB 2409] could have detrimental impacts on animal owners ultimately found ‘not guilty’ or released of charges.” The guilt or innocence of the offender has nothing to do with the analysis of whether an owner of animals has a legal duty to provide for their care. When an owner/offender is lawfully relieved of physical possession of the victim animals, but retains legal ownership of those animals, it is the owner/offender’s financial responsibility to cover the costs of their care. Further, to those who are quick to retort “But the defendant’s presumption of innocence is being violated here…” I must remind you of two key facts: (1) this is a civil proceeding, not a criminal proceeding, so the presumption of innocence has no application; and (2) even if this process were somehow characterized as a criminal matter, the presumption of innocence has no role in pretrial matters—if it did, then courts could not hold defendants in custody pre-trial or set bail and/or conditions of release. Have a look at Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979) where the Supreme Court noted that “Without question, the presumption of innocence plays an important role in our criminal justice system. ‘The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.’ Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 453 (1895). But it has no application to a determination of the rights of a pretrial detainee during confinement before his trial has even begun.” (Emphasis added).
The reality is that more than a decade ago, the Oregon Court of Appeals rejected the AKC’s above line of reasoning where the Court upheld the civil forfeiture of seized animals despite the fact that a jury acquitted the offender. State v. Branstetter, 181 Or App 57 (2002). It is disappointing that the AKC is drawing into question its true commitment to victims of animal abuse. Sure, the AKC pays lip service to the notion of “humane treatment of dogs” in its opposition rhetoric, but when one considers this statement in the context of its objection to such a fundamental tenant (namely an owner’s responsibility to pay for the care of his/her animals) as embodied in HB 2409 (and recent anti-puppy mill laws), one can reasonably conclude that the AKC ‘s self-professed concern for the humane treatment of dogs is something other than sincere.
Contact members of the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them you support HB 2409, to provide costs of care of seized animals.
Sen. Steward J. Greenleaf, Chair (District 12)
Phone: (717) 787-9684
District Phone: (215) 657-7700
Sen. Mary Jo White, Vice Chair (District 21)
Phone: (717) 787-6599
District Phone: (814) 432-4345
Sen. Daylin Leach, Minority Chair (District 17)
Phone: (717) 787-5544
District Phone: (610) 768-4200
Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati III, ex-officio (District 25)
Phone: (717) 787-7084
District Phone: (814) 726-7201
Sen. Richard L. Alloway II (District 33)
Phone: (717) 787-4651
District Phone: (717) 264-6100
Sen. Lisa M. Boscola (District 18)
Phone: (717) 787-4236
District Phone: (610) 868-8667
Sen. Jane M. Earll (District 49)
Phone: (717) 787-8927
District Phone: (814) 453-2515
Sen. Lawrence M. Farnese, Jr. (District 1)
Phone: (717) 787-5662
District Phone: (215) 952-3121
Sen. John R. Gordner (District 27)
Phone: (717) 787-8928
District Phone: (570) 784-3464
Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (District 7)
Phone: (717) 787-7112
District Phone: (215) 879-7777
Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola (District 15)
Phone: (717) 787-6801
District Phone: (717) 896-7714
Sen. John C. Rafferty, Jr. (District 44)
Phone: (717) 787-1398
District Phone: (610) 831-8830
Sen. Michael J. Stack (District 5)
Phone: (717) 787-9608
District Phone: (215) 281-2539
ALDF is excited to announce the release of our new 2012 Animal Law Compendium: a comprehensive legal resource that lays out the current anti-cruelty laws in the U.S. and Canada.
2012 Compendium: Animal Protection Laws of the U.S. & Canada
With this compendium, attorneys, law students, animal law instructors, and grassroots animal rights advocates can easily research animal protection laws. By simply clicking on a state, readers can find information about animal law, including classification of crimes, exemptions, protective orders, law enforcement policies, restitution, seizure, and so much more. This well researched compendium even provides fully searchable content and the full-text of all referenced statutes in animal law.
When we hear about animal cruelty cases, we may want to believe these stories are unusual—but across North America, animals are being routinely exploited—for our entertainment (in movies, theme parks, and rodeos), for our experiments (unnecessary and cruel), for our food (farmed animals deprived of basic physiological needs and subjected to horrific, unimaginable cruelty). Even a quick look at ALDF’s Animal Law Compendium demonstrates just how much animals need legal protection.
Why Are Animal Rights Important?
In the United States, our “rights” are a point of pride. Why don’t animals have rights, too?
The Animal Legal Defense Fund advocates for animals to receive the full protection of the law as a right. Without legal protection, animals are defenseless against exploitation and abuse by humans. From the shameful treatment of exotic animals—like Ben the Bear and Tony the Tiger—who have been imprisoned in roadside cages, to wildlife who are penned, hounded, trapped, shot, and terrorized, to the dogs savagely torn apart for profit in dogfighting rings, to puppies treated like disposable machines in puppy mills, to ducks force-fed to the point of disease so people can eat gourmet treats, to the animals confined by hoarders in the most horrifying of conditions.
The Animal Bill of Rights
That is why ALDF urges you to sign the Animal Bill of Rights and encourage your representatives to pass legislation that gives animals the rights they deserve:
- The Right of animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse.
- The Right of laboratory animals not to be used in cruel or unnecessary experiments.
- The Right of farm animals to an environment that satisfies their basic physical and psychological needs.
- The Right of companion animals to a healthy diet, protective shelter, and adequate medical care.
- The Right of wildlife to a natural habitat, ecologically sufficient to a normal existence and self-sustaining species population.
- The Right of animals to have their interests represented in court and safeguarded by the law of the land.
When you sign the Animal Bill of Rights, you can also alert your Congressional representatives with just a click that you support stronger laws to protect animals. More than a quarter of a million Americans have signed ALDF’s petition.
Please join them and take action for animals today!
This blog is part of our "Rescue Tails" blog series. Want to share your animal rescue story? Enter your rescued pet in our Rescue Tails photo contest!
When a friend of mine has a cat-related question, I’m the person she calls. Yeah…I’m that lady. If I showed you the camera roll in my iPhone right now, you’d see about 5% are pics of my human loved ones, 5% scenic vistas and ironic urban happenings, and 90% pics and videos of my cats. Cats in repose in patches of sunlight. Cats playing with their catnip toys. Cats arranged in adorable proximity to each other. To a less artistic eye, many of these photos might seem indistinguishable from each other, but give me just a few hours, and I will happily detail their nuances for you.
I have been the doting mom to three rescued cats, and the full story of my own “rescue tails” could, in my humble opinion, more appropriately take epic book form (pre-order now!). Fifteen years ago, my first cat Seamus, age 5, jumped from his cage at the Providence Animal Rescue League, where I was a volunteer, and into my arms. That warm summer night at my apartment on Medway Street, after exploring every nook and cranny of his new digs, Seamus leapt up onto the couch, settled himself down on my chest, and began purring. It was the most exquisite little weight upon my heart.
A few months later, we moved to California, Seamus in a specialty carry-on bag beneath my feet on our cross-country flight. A couple of years after that, now a volunteer at the San Francisco SPCA, I would bring home Theo, a frightfully shy tuxedo guy, afraid of everyone, myself included. It would take many years for Theo to slowly come out of his shell with people—but his love for Seamus was immediate and absolute, and about a decade of my life is documented almost exclusively by photos of the two in various states of snuggle.
After Seamus died, it was bringing home rambunctious Gus from Oakland Animal Services that healed my heart. I got the impression he had been waiting patiently in his clean but small cage for the months he had been there, confident that he would finally be unleashed on a world full of toys and playful photo-ops. Smart kitty.
Now that the sun is casting its familiar October light through the shortening days, I know that it’s once again time to start brainstorming the art direction of my annual holiday card. Theo and Gus are ready for their close-ups.Please send us your own photos and rescue tails, and your animal can star on ALDF’s 2012 holiday card! The deadline for entry is today!
This blog is part of our "Rescue Tails" blog series. Want to share your animal rescue story? Enter your rescued pet in our Rescue Tails photo contest!
|Austin after being confiscated from a flea market, then rescued from the shelter. (Photo by Ian Elwood)
Shortly after the law went into effect I was at an Oakland flea market with my partner, and we saw a man selling puppies out of a cardboard box. He was just outside the flea market, selling the dogs on the street corner. The puppies had no food or water, and they were sitting in the hot sun. They were clearly uncomfortable, and dehydrated, with their mother nowhere in sight. The seller—like so many others who the new law sought to regulate—was trying to make a quick buck by selling the dogs, without caring about the wellbeing of the animals.
We called Animal Control, but when the officer arrived the puppy seller managed to disappear into the crowd; however, after a sweep of the area, two more animals were found. Two emaciated white baby bunnies, covered in urine and feces.
Austin was one of the babies, born only three weeks before that day. She was confiscated by the animal control officer from the bottom of a bucket, abandoned by the person selling her as a flea market trinket alongside two-for-a-dollar t-shirts and plastic kids’ toys stamped “Made in China.” Both rabbits were too young to be away from their mother’s milk, and Austin was hours from death, covered in parasites, starving, and gasping for breath from a severe case of pneumonia.
After she was confiscated, Harvest Home animal sanctuary agreed to pull Austin from the shelter to save her life out of concern that she wouldn’t make it through the night. Austin came to live at our house, where she received twice-daily nebulizer treatments, parasite treatments, antibiotics, syringe-feeding, and kitten milk replacer thanks to my partner, who has become an expert at caring for special needs rabbits from similar situations in the past.
|Austin after being rehabilitated, happily hopping on the couch. (Photo by Ian Elwood)
Over the course of a month, she began to take wobbly first steps, often walking straight into the side of our sofa. But she had the will to live and the supportive medical care that she needed, and soon began to hop and play like a normal house rabbit.
After months of medical care in our home, she was adopted into her forever home by a couple with several rescued felines—a few of them black cats. Austin now enjoys living indoors with her adoptive parents and chasing her kitty companions around the living room. And she no longer bumps into the sofa while doing so.
Do you have a Rescue Tail like Austin’s? Do you have photos? Send us your photos now and your companion animal could be on the official ALDF holiday card. Holiday themed photos are encouraged but not necessary!
Deadline is October 5, 2012. To enter, submit a high-resolution photo to email@example.com or send them in by mail. For official rules see our contest page.
This blog is part of our "Rescue Tails" blog series. Want to share your animal rescue story? Enter your rescued pet in our Rescue Tails photo contest!
It’s October, and supermarket candy aisles, campy advertisements, and pop-up costume shops are already reminding us that Halloween is right around the corner. But while the cardboard cutouts of vampires and zombies will disappear on November 1, one famous mascot of Halloween will remain with us the whole year round: the black cat.
Black cats may enjoy seasonal fame around Halloween, but the rest of the year their beautiful black coats bring many of them bad luck. Unfortunately, black cats in shelters have significantly lower adoption rates than their lighter-colored counterparts. While no formal studies have been done on this phenomenon, it is widely reported by shelter workers across country. Black Cat Syndrome, as it is commonly known, traps thousands of otherwise adoptable animals in overcrowded shelters, and causes many to be euthanized. Whether it’s because of their relatively plain appearance or the persistent superstitions about black cats being bad luck, Black Cat Syndrome is a serious problem for innumerable shelter cats.
Despite the superstitions that haunt them, black cats can make wonderful household companions. I’m not just making this up, but speak from experience. One of my first cats, Truffle, was a longhaired black cat who brought me a surprisingly large amount of joy for being such a small animal. Like most cats she had a certain amount of feline insanity: her two greatest enemies were grocery bags and my old pair of Crocs. Her affinity for play and affection, however, did much to make my apartment feel like a home. Truffle is currently living in the Bay Area with her sister, Pepper, and their two awesome humans.
But you don’t need to trust me on this. Though black cats have a widespread reputation for bad luck, many cultures throughout history have viewed these animals in a much more positive light. Scottish tradition holds that finding a black cat on your doorstep will bring good luck. Sailors in centuries past used to keep black cats on their ships for protection.
Black cats also enjoyed a revered position in ancient cultures. Ancient Egyptians believed they could gain favor from the cat goddess Bast by hosting black cats in their homes, and in Norse mythology two black cats pulled the chariot of Freya, the goddess of love.
For those looking for more practical reasons to adopt a black cat, the San Francisco Gate recently posted a list of reasons that black cats make particularly good pets (including the excellent point that they won’t leave visible hair on your black formalwear).
If you’re in a shelter this month considering which lucky cat to bring home with you, give a little extra thought to the black cats in the crowd. Chances are they’ll have a harder time finding homes than the other cats you see, and as a group they’re amazing animals. So in the spirit of Halloween, think about adopting a needy black cat this month. You’ll be lucky to have each other the whole year round.
Find A Black Cat Now!
To find a black cat near you, simply click the button below to take action, and enter your zip code into Petfinder. A list of adoptable black cats near you will be returned, with photos, videos and a description of your new lucky friend.
|Superimposed lollipop, these cows were not fed candy.|
Dumpster Diving Dairy
This year’s drought is leading U.S. farmers to cut corners—in cost and in animal welfare. Instead of buying increasingly expensive feed-corn, they are feeding cows any scraps they get their hands on.
Yes, the prices of corn have skyrocketed with the drought. However, the irony of this complaint is that corn isn’t good for cows in the first place! Feedlots are inhumane, and studies show grass-fed beef is by far the healthier option—for cows, for humans, and for the planet. Bemoaning the price of feedlot corn doesn’t garner sympathy. Let them eat grass, like they should.
What is disturbing is that cows are being fed junk food—before they too become junk food.
Where’s the Beef?
Remember that old Wendy’s commercial? “Where’s the beef?” Or the Taco Bell scandal about how much of their “meat” product is really beef? It’s a smart question to ask: what is in the beef (besides “pink slime”)?
Some of the (s)crap items being fed to cows includes:
- fruit loops
- orange peels
- dried fruit
- ice cream sprinkles
- gummy worms (made from gelatin, which is an animal byproduct)
- scraps from a local chocolate factory
- taco shells
- refried beans
- cottonseed hulls
- rice products
- potato products
- peanut pellet
- wheat "middlings" a byproduct of milling wheat for flour
Just how much can farmers get away with? How far can we get from treating animals with respect and caring about their welfare or our nutrients? What goes in our bodies, and theirs, should be about health and safety, not simply higher profit and mass production. Animals are not junk food.
Cows are not a waste-disposal processing plant. Ki Fanning, a nutritionist with Great Plains Livestock Consulting told the Orlando Sentinel:
The big advantage to that is you can turn something you normally throw away into something that can be consumed.
Just because you can do something doesn’t make it moral, healthy, or acceptable. It is embarrassing to be part of a culture so disrespectful to animals. Cows are living, sentient beings that deserve our care.
|Cows in Kentucky were being fed "Sour Belts" candy. (Photo by Steven Depolo)
Producers of soy and corn alternatives raise their prices when corn costs rise, which puts farmers in a bind. But agricultural producers cannot simply do anything to save a buck. They have a legal and moral responsibility to treat animals humanely and provide healthy food. Innocent animals do not deserve to pay the price of human foibles, and people deserve to know what they are eating.
You Are What You Eat
Eating leftover confectionery goes against everything nature intended. Cows are designed to eat grass and roughage. They chew and digest it slowly to transform nutrients into healthy proteins. But now, cows have become mere vessels for our ice-cream. In an endless cycle of sugar, they eat ice-cream and then become it. This isn’t happy cows eating sugar and producing sugary delights. This is the denial of essential nutrition to cows forced to eat the rejected waste from candy factories.
What’s more, a diet spiked with candy is one rife with high-fructose corn syrup—a product that has been linked with decreased concentration, autism, and other health disorders. And gummy worms contain gelatin, which derives from horse, pig, chicken, and cow byproducts. Cannibalism cuts costs?
That’s the milk that goes in your children’s cereal. Responsible parents are choosing nutritious cereals. And now they’re going to pour junk on it? When childhood obesity is rapidly on the rise and heart disease the number one U.S. killer, feeding animals candy is flat out irresponsible.
Just Say NO
Friends don’t let friends feed cows candy. Across the world, cows are fed enough calories to support nearly 9 billion people. If cows stopped eating candy and corn, and humans stopped eating cows, we could feed the world.
Halloween may come 365 days a year for the American households who drink milk and eat burgers. But it’s not cute, it’s not funny, and it’s not recycling. It is feeding junk food to animals so farmers can make a larger profit, and there’s nothing sweet about that.
It’s really a no brainer. Cows shouldn’t be forced to eat candy and the USDA should take action. The USDA has a responsibility to make sure that meat and dairy producers treat cows humanely. And we have a responsibility to make smart consumer choices—ethically, economically, and healthfully.
Contact the USDA and tell them “no candy for cows” this Halloween!
For many years, I taught courses in which students argued the cruelty that comes with factory farmed meat is acceptable because humans are at the top of the “food chain.” Separate, unique, and dominant. But are we? And does it matter? Just what are animal rights—and what are our responsibilities as humans to uphold those rights?
Top of the Food Chain
We like to imagine ourselves as age-old hunters—yet evidence shows we were mostly scavengers, and harvesters of nuts and berries. We see ourselves as master of our domain—and yet we claim we must protect ourselves from animals who are bigger, stronger, wilder. We insist we are unique—yet we find other animals capable of language, tool-building, cultural heritage, and deep, astounding empathic connections. Dogs who sense when we are having seizures. Gorillas who can communicate using sign language. Chimps who adopt baby tigers. Horses who protect turtles. And animals who die of a broken heart when their family members are murdered.
We imagine ourselves as tribal, war-like, competitive beings. But—like closing a book part of the way through—this is not the whole story. We are also capable of friendship, love, and compassion. Empathy is part of our nature. It is not a side dish; it is the main entrée. And because we are amazingly complex beings, we can choose what we eat. We can partake of the brutal, or we can eat of the empathetic.
What is empathy?
If sympathy is an emotional connection with someone of a shared experience, empathy is having that compassion without any shared experience or frame of reference. It is perhaps the most beautiful part of our nature. The ability to feel, to imagine, and to care, combined with our ability to reason and to make sense of the mystery. It makes us who we are. And we share it with animals too.
Empathy is moral. Frans de Waal, professor of psychology at Emory University, challenges this age-old belief that our actions, decisions, feelings are merely selfish. In his book, The Age of Empathy, he shows that we don’t just feel for another. We feel with them. When you yawn, I yawn. When you smile, I smile. When you cry, I get a little choked up myself. We hold hands. We run together. When we speak, our bodies mirror each other in the language of symmetry. We survive through cooperation.
The Animal Kingdom
And though we may like to distance ourselves from the “animal kingdom,” by placing ourselves above it, again the truth is that we are neither kings nor paupers. We are a part of that animal community—and the language that shapes our worldviews reflects our fascination with our animal nature.
Bear with me. And quit horsing around!
Yes, I’m talking to you. I mean, just look what the cat dragged in.
What’s wrong? Ants in your pants? Bee in your bonnet? Cat got your tongue?
I’m sorry, am I badgering you? Don’t be such a chicken!
You know you’re foxy! You big turkey! You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Especially when you make puppy eyes!
In fact, you’re cock of the walk! The cat’s meow!
Though you’re also a bull in a china shop.
You’re like the elephant in the room! A fly on the wall. A fish out of water. You really get my goat.
At least, after my cat-nap. Because I’m so dog tired. Let’s not open that can of worms.
It’s all monkey business.
From our sayings to fairytales, myth, and lore, animals feature prominently in our imaginative landscapes. But we distance ourselves with words like property, pets, pests, objects of study, test subjects, nuisance, creatures, wildlife—and none of these terms are quite adequate. We use animals to market our products, and products with an animal logo sell at a much higher rate than those without. Our sports teams call up wild, powerful animal icons. As children, we sleep with “stuffed” animals. From our goat-like vision of the Devil to our cultural preoccupation with vampires, werewolves, the Loch Ness monster, we secretly long to feel reconnected with our own animal nature, even while we fear it.
Why Animal Rights?
So why do we speak of animal rights? A concern only with animal welfare, like tolerance for diversity, still allows us to dominate and choose what we tolerate. It isn’t the same thing as affording equal protection under the law. Using animals but trying to be nice about it still fundamentally allows us to determine when, how, and where we choose to be kind to animals. We must draw upon our empathic nature and respect the rights of sentient beings, whether human or nonhuman.
Certainly, rights are not enough. We already abuse human rights as we abuse the rights of animals. We must change our mindset from one of fear, cowardice, and dominance—to one of interconnection. We are all connected, from the roots to the sky; from the banana tree to the chimpanzee.
Joining the team at the Animal Legal Defense Fund gives me hope for our future, despite the overwhelming brutality we see every day and the obstacles we face. I truly believe that by understanding our empathic nature we can coexist.
What can you do?
We believe animals need lawyers. If you are interested in getting involved, or serving as a litigation fellow at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, please check out our Events & Opportunities page, info for Law Students, Scholarships, and Clerkships, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
|(Photo by Stefano Mortellaro)
By and large there has been massive support for the concept of abuser registries from within the animal protection community and from law enforcement—the abuser registry law in New York's Suffolk County, the first jurisdiction in the nation to enact such a law, was passed in 2010 and is being implemented with strong support and close oversight from the local police and SPCA. As seen in the long list of state-level abuser registry bills that have been proposed in just the past few years, it's an issue that is seeing increasing and broad-ranging bipartisan support across the country.
At ALDF, we'd be the first to argue that there needs to be tougher enforcement and penalties associated with existing laws to protect animals. Sadly, of the many hundreds of cruelty cases that come across our desks every year, in far too many of them, charges are never brought, abusers cop a plea, or, even if convicted, get off with little more than a slap on the wrist. So the stated concern that everyone who ever looks sideways at a neighbor's barking dog is going to end up listed on an abuser registry, is, frankly, unfounded. I’m deeply sorry to offer the reminder that, by and large, most animal abusers in this country have evaded true justice and are going about their business scot-free.
|(Photo by Picture Zealot)
I have yet to hear from anyone who works tirelessly (and often, thanklessly) at an animal shelter who does not think such a tool would be valuable. While it's true that, as with sex offender registries, the level of interest and vigilance of private citizens in referencing such a database might vary, our shelters are the organizations we charge with protecting the interests of homeless animals—truly among the most defenseless beings in our society. Shouldn't they have a way to confirm that they are not sending an animal who has perhaps already experienced significant trauma—at the very least, the trauma of abandonment—home with a repeat-offender animal hoarder? A convicted dogfighter? A man convicted of torturing his girlfriend's beloved pets?
There are widely varying cost estimates for registries, and many options for funding them—including fines levied on convicted abusers. And let us not forget the very high cost to communities for prosecuting animal abuse cases and caring for the animal victims left in their wake. A single large-scale hoarding case can bankrupt a municipal animal shelter. Any such crime that an abuser registry could prevent will be a cost savings to that jurisdiction. Also, sex offender registries already exist nationwide, so the infrastructure for such databases is there for the replication. Just as a concern that there is not perfect enforcement of laws targeting sex offenders does not mean we dismiss the relative value of sex offender registries, so too will the provisions of Council Member Peter Vallone Jr’s proposed New York City law and other animal abuser registry proposals reinforce the overall stance that crimes against animals must be taken seriously, and that our criminal justice system has a duty to protect potential victims—both animal and human—by taking reasonable steps to prevent likely future crimes against them.
|Photo by Laura Gooch|
As the next generation of lawyers, they will be in a position to effect change and impact the lives of animals. That is why ALDF is proud to mentor and provide essential experiences to law students while they are school. There are many ways to get to advocate for animals while in law school. For starters, if there isn’t a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) Chapter at your law school, be the first to start one and bring animal law to your school. If there is already an established chapter at your school, became a member and get involved. There are fantastic opportunities for our SALDF members. Just this week, ALDF announced our 2012 fall scholarship opportunities. The ALDF Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships are available to law student members of our student chapters and are awarded based upon demonstrated commitment to ALDF’s mission. Scholarships range from $2,500-$5,000. The deadline for applications is October 15, so don’t delay!
Additionally, through ALDF’s student chapter grants program, established SALDF chapters can apply for funding from ALDF to support student chapter projects, including travel to animal law conferences and competitions. To learn more about these exciting projects, campaigns and initiatives, check out our Chapter Spotlight Series, which features the many ways SALDF chapters advocate on behalf of animals and raise awareness about animal protection issues.
For those law students who are interested in animal law clerkship opportunities, during the academic year and summer, qualifying law students are given the opportunity to learn more about animal law by participating in the ALDF Clerkship Program. There are limitless ways law students can get involved and partner with ALDF to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system.
It is an exciting time to be a law student. There is so much that needs to be done to alleviate animal suffering and abuse. Law students are in a unique position to leverage their legal education and skills to effect great change for animals.
- Check out our other animal law related events and opportunities!
|(Photo by Annica Sweenie)|
We were victorious with SB 1221, but one more important bill which we had hoped would pass was vetoed by Governor Brown.
SB 1221 bans the cruel practice of “hound hunting” of bears and bobcats in California, and was signed into law by Jerry Brown on September 26, 2012. But SB 1480, which would have prevented barbaric forms of trapping that are cruel and inhumane, was vetoed.
Thank Jerry Brown for making a positive change for animals in California! If you have never called a
government official before as an animal advocate, here’s what to do:
- Dial (916) 445-2841. To reach a representative, first press 1, and then press 6. You may have to hold.
- “Hello. I am calling to thank Jerry Brown for signing SB1221 into law. I would like to thank the Governor for being an advocate for animals in California.”
The staffer may ask for a few other
details, but usually this is all that is required. It’s quick and easy!
Pick up the phone and make the call today!
|(Photo by Jethro Taylor)|
“Standing” is the term for someone’s right to bring a claim before a court. As a general rule, a party only has standing if they have alleged some particular, personal harm as a result of the defendant’s conduct. Even when challenging a government action, which generally affects a large number of people, plaintiffs must show that they have been harmed more than an average member of the public. In animal rights litigation, where animals are invariably suffering much more than any human in the case, showing a plaintiff’s standing is often difficult. Unless a human plaintiff can prove they have been personally harmed by the defendant, the case will usually be thrown out before the judge can even hear the merits of the case.
Many states recognize a limited exception to the usual standing rule called “Public Rights Standing.” Public rights standing applies when a government body has some mandatory, statutory duty pertaining to a matter of general public concern. If the government is shirking that duty, any member of the public can sue to compel the government to enforce the law, even if the plaintiff has not suffered any personal harm as the result of the government’s inaction. Public rights doctrine in Indiana has been most commonly applied to unconstitutional government action or urgent matters of public safety. These cases are, however, exceptional, and judges almost always require plaintiffs to show standing under the general rule.
In the case at hand, ALDF argued that the IDNR has a statutory duty to properly administer state wildlife regulations, and that Indiana residents have an interest in the protection of the state’s wild animal population. The judge agreed, holding that the Indiana plaintiffs in the case had public rights standing to sue the IDNR even though they had suffered no personal harm. Though the decision did not deeply analyze the issue, it implicitly recognized wildlife preservation as a major public concern for the residents of Indiana, and that the government has a duty to manage that wildlife in the public interest. Never before had Indiana’s public rights doctrine been applied to allow the general public to protect animals, and if applied to other situations it could greatly expand the ability of Hoosiers to make the IDNR take wildlife protection seriously. And given the IDNR’s historical reluctance to stand up for the state’s animal denizens, it’s about time a court recognized that the general public has the right to do so.
As a state trial court decision this victory may appear relatively minor on its face. It is, however, an important first step that could make future fights for animal rights in Indiana easier. Happy as I am to see this decision come out, I’m even more excited to see where it will lead.
|(Photo by Spaydey09)|
Contrary to conventional wisdom, popular belief, and prevailing myth, prosecuting felony animal cruelty cases is not hard. It's certainly no more difficult than prosecuting most any other case, and it's a lot easier than many. It's not rocket science. It lacks the intricacies of RICO1, CCE2, or child cyber porn.3 Ninety-nine percent of the time, it's not even a "who-done-it?" In fact, cruelty cases offer several distinct prosecutorial advantages:
1. The victims are particularly vulnerable and defenseless and are, therefore, sympathetic. Lots of times they're actually very cute.
2. The victims are usually (a lot) smaller than the abuser and are never armed.
3. The victims don't recant their accusations (like some domestic violence victims have been known to do, calling the day before trial to say they've kissed and made up and will no longer cooperate), and they always show up on time for their doctor's appointments.
4. The victims don't have their own agendas.
5. The victims are blameless4 and will never be impeached.
Juries throughout the country are instructed that the State has to prove two things—a crime was committed, and the defendant did it. How hard is that? You've got an animal with a bullet or knife wound. You've got a horse that is 300 pounds underweight because he hasn't been fed decent hay. You've got a dog that is dying of heartworms and hasn't ever been taken to a vet. You have a cat so dehydrated she’s near death. You have a puppy gradually losing his mind tied to a tree on a 6' logging chain and wearing a 6" deep circle into the ground. You have a hoarder with hundreds of filthy, sick, and dead animals in little wire cages with little food, insufficient shelter, and no water. In addition, you have an owner or a person responsible for the care of the animal. What more could a prosecutor ask for? Most animal cruelty trials, in my experience, take no more than a day or two to try. There is seldom a burdensome amount of physical evidence, and there is usually a manageable number of witnesses.
In many states felony animal cruelty requires proof of only one, yes one, element. In Florida—where I prosecuted for almost 15 years—it is that "the defendant intentionally committed an act to an animal which resulted in the excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to the animal or the animal's cruel death."5 You don't even have to prove that the defendant intended to cause the pain or death, only that he intended the act. And, the act can be one of omission like failing to provide shelter, food, water, or veterinary care.6 Sure, some felony statutes aren't that good7—file at least a misdemeanor instead. I know—your investigating agency isn't helping much. Deal with it. Is that so uncommon in any of your other cases? Get your in-house investigators on the case. Bug the hell out of anybody who won't return your calls. Be a squeaky wheel.
Sure, you need some of that annoying stuff called "evidence." You've automatically got the complaining witness, you've got the animal control officer(s) or law enforcement officer(s) who responded, you've got a veterinarian and, of course, you've got an abused animal. Tell your investigating officer to have a chat with the accused as soon as possible—you'll likely get a valuable plethora of both admissions and refutable lies. Make sure a lot of photographs are taken—get them printed in gruesome 8"x10" color and prepare to blow them up on the courtroom wall 8 feet high and 10 feet across. If your jury isn't crying when they see in HD Technicolor spread across the wall an emaciated and bloodied three-month-old Fido tied to a tree with a twenty-pound logging chain, you're in the wrong courtroom.
If you need tax records to show who owned the property where the animal was found, make a call to your local tax assessor. A subpoena duces tecum can be your best friend if a polite request doesn't suffice. If you need a necropsy, ask your vet for help. If you need a warrant, sit down with your affiant and draft one. If you need forensics, don't be intimidated—you don't have to be an expert on DNA to present a winning DNA case—you just have to know the right questions to ask. What's the best way to prepare them? Ask your expert for a list of the right questions, and she'll carry the ball from there. If you need to refute the defendant's excuse that he wasn't near the scene, call Verizon and get his cell phone "ping records." Have your investigator talk to neighbors. You can get as sophisticated as you want but—and the point is—you don't have to. Don't let yourself get paralyzed because you can't see the forest for the trees. Sometimes the most effective presentation is the most straightforward. In other words, don't hesitate to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid).
You don't ever have to reinvent the wheel. Twenty minutes on the phone in the beginning will set all the necessary steps in motion. Ask questions. Ask for help. Contact ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program.8
You're going to be pleasantly surprised. Judges are going to respect your dedication to the prosecution of violent crimes. Juries will vindicate your efforts by their consistent guilty verdicts (and, in my experience, big smiles and "thank yous" as they leave the courtroom). Animal control and shelter workers will love you. You will educate everyone who even hears about your case on the horrors of animal abuse. The media will pick up on the fact that animal cruelty is a grave and violent crime that is being taken seriously. You will receive unsolicited letters of praise from like-minded citizens. You will inspire other prosecutors to follow your lead. You will even, if you care about such things, up your conviction stats. And, most important, you'll feel really good about what you've done.
Geoffrey C. Fleck - ALDF contract attorney and former prosecutor for the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida
1 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization; 18 U.S.C. § 1961–1968
2 Continuing Criminal Enterprise; 21 U.S.C. § 848
3 The Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998
4 ALDF - "We May Be the Only Lawyers on Earth Whose Clients Are All Innocent."
5 Fla. Statute § 828.12(2); JI 29.13
6 Fla. Statute § 828.02
7 See, ALDF's ranking of state animal protection laws
8 Action1@aldf.org. ALDF offers a host of services to prosecutors from investigative help to model voir dire questions, to helping place seized animals.
Last week, the federal government removed wolves from the Endangered Species list in the state of Wyoming. Without protection, wolves and pups in Wyoming will be hunted ferociously. September 30 may mark the beginning of an unregulated no-holds-barred killing spree on the gray wolf population of the Northern Rockies.
Some suggested means of killing wolves and their pups have included shooting them with arrows, luring them into steel kill traps and snares using dogs, poisoning, and gassing wolf pups in their dens. Unprotected, wolves can be taunted, torn apart, and tortured; shot by bullets, shot by arrows, shot from the air, shot from the ground, and even shot in their dens.
Open Season on Wolves
While ranchers lobby politicians to remove protections from wolves in order to protect “livestock,” many suggest that the threat wolves pose to livestock is exaggerated. Ranchers are angry when wolves kill their cattle, before they can kill the cattle themselves. Hunters support delisting because it allows them to hunt predator and prey: wolf and elk. Delisting leaves wildlife management responsibilities up to the state—an agency which stands to gain considerably from killing wolves, rather than protecting them. Not only did the hunting of wolves not alleviate the livestock problem but Montana profited almost $300,000 when wolves were delisted. There is a great deal of money at stake beyond protecting livestock. Yet some things don’t justify profit—and slaughtering wolves is one of them.
An Endangered Species
|(Photo by Center for Biological Action)|
When discussing what we’ve done to wolves in the last century, we tend to use the word “decimated.” If we had not stepped in to protect wolves, the word we would be using is “exterminated.” We very nearly wiped wolves off the face of the earth. Over many decades, and with great effort, we brought their numbers back.
The decision to delist the gray wolf opens the door to a potential nightmare in which the wolf population is hunted mercilessly. The intention behind the delisting of an animal is not the removal of all protections from an endangered species. Nor is it intended to maintain the minimum possible population. Rather, it is meant to be a hopeful step, based on hard-science, toward stability of recovery. That is not the case for the gray wolf.
The Politics of Wolf Hunting
Many claim wolf hunting and biological management is based on scientific study. However, these studies have often been questioned or discredited. Supposed quotas are arguably arbitrary. Hunters are asked by management agencies to report wolf sightings. Using hunters as a resource for wolf population data presents a clear conflict of interest.
The Endangered Species Act is held as one of the top works of environmental legislation because the endangered-species designation is determined by science, not politics. However, politicians in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho have used the ESA to propel their reelection campaigns and meet the desires of vocal minorities, particularly hunters who compete with wolves for elk and other animals and ranchers who insist they must destroy wolves to protect their “livestock.” They—and not biologists—have successfully pushed for the delisting of wolves in all three states by attaching last-minute riders in budget bills. They’ve even attached clauses to prevent judicial review of delisting judgments.
Traditional wildlife management is not necessarily appropriate given the importance wolves have to the structure of their natural ecosystems. Wolf hunting hurts more than just the individuals shot as “trophies.” Removing a large number of pack-members and destroying extended family systems drastically disrupts the entire region.
|The wolf mother hunts because she has pups to feed and because she is part of that natural world. Humans hunt wolves out of misconstrued fear, bloodthirsty sport, financial gain, and a need for domination of animals in the world around us. (Photo by Fremlin)
Fear and the Final Frontier
Some may see wolf-hunting as part of a long standing tradition of human dominance over animals—and the tension between the wild frontier and the farmlands, where animals are dominated, domesticated, tamed, and killed. Wolves are not hunted for meat. Wolves are hunted for money, for fear, and for the final vestige of triumph over the wild. Hunting serves, for many, not as a means of subsistence, but as a means of experiencing a sense of internal “wilderness.” Animals should not serve as a means of us working out our psycho-dramas.
As a nation, we can choose to pin ourselves against the mythic, fairytale creature of the West: the much maligned demon who lurks along the borderlands of the wild frontier. Or we can co-exist in a world with other highly intelligent, social, family-oriented, and emotionally complex creatures.
We are the gatekeepers to the frontier. We must not set the clock back to a time when the great wolf was hunted like a monster. We must balance our human need for security and prosperity with the needs and rights of animals. When we fail to see our part in the ecosystem, we neglect our duties as caretakers of our environment, and jeopardize the balance of the land.
Our great wilderness can only suffer so much exploitation before it collapses. While farmers and hunters fight for their territorial rights, it is also our duty to protect and defend the wilderness they threaten. Wolves are living, sentient beings, and are fundamental to that wilderness. To hunt them is to cross a frontier that is final.
It is time for wolves to be permanently protected, and to make wildlife management decisions on the best wildlife practices, rather than the influence of politics, money, or fear. Perhaps the challenge of the frontier is to learn from history and allow both the wild and the domestic to co-exist. We must put gray wolves of the Northern Rockies back on the Endangered Species list.
The foie gras industry has a long history of lying about its product, but Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the nation's largest producer, recently took this mendacity to a whole new level. This summer, the company began prominently advertising itself as "The Humane Choice" on its website, Facebook page, and other promotional materials. I have a lot of words that I'd use to describe HVFG, but humane is certainly not one of them. Due to the torturous force-feeding process universally employed in the industry, foie gras, whether from HVFG or any other producer, is never The Humane Choice.
Foie gras is by definition the bloated, diseased liver of a duck or goose.1 In order to transform birds' normal livers into foie gras, HVFG forces massive amounts of grain into its animals over the last three to four weeks of their lives. Each duck is force-fed several times per day through a tube shoved down their esophagus. Force-feeding causes fat to rapidly accumulate in the ducks' livers, inducing a disease called hepatic lipidosis. In a few short weeks, the ducks' livers balloon to about ten times their normal size, and normal liver function begins to shut down. Without a working liver, the ducks are susceptible to rapid accumulation of harmful toxins in their bloodstreams. The ducks' other organs also become strained and crowded by the oversized liver, and the animals experience significant difficulty walking and breathing. Were the ducks not slaughtered after only a few weeks of force-feeding, the process itself would kill them. Force-feeding cannot be rendered humane through providing animals with better living conditions. The practice necessarily induces a debilitating and painful disease in affected ducks, meaning that force-feeding is necessarily cruel and inhumane.
The cruelty of force-feeding has inspired over a dozen countries, including Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Norway, and Poland, to ban the practice. In 2003 the Supreme Court of Israel, formerly one of the world's largest producers of foie gras, declared force-feeding to be a violation of the nation's animal cruelty laws. In July of this year, California became the first US state to ban the practice.
Opposition to force-feeding is widespread in the international scientific community. Leading avian veterinarians agree that force-feeding subjects ducks and geese to a number of painful diseases and other ailments.
Dr. Yvan Beck, DVM, one of the foremost specialists in the world on foie gras, describes the consequences of force-feeding, stating that
The direct consequence of a chronic accumulation of lipids in the hepatic cell (steatosis) is the progressive appearance of secondary necrotic phenomena which, at the end of their evolution, will cause a generalized fibrosis of this organ. All the liver diseases causing a fibrosis interfere with the hepatic vascularization and are at the origin of vascular anastomoses. These shunts bypass the hepatocyte, an intermediary between the splanchnic circulation and the portal system. They also cause the manifestations of hepatic encephalopathy described.
Speaking more generally, Dr. Beck concluded that "foie gras production is directly or indirectly the source of several problems affecting animal welfare and health."
Dr. Greg Harrison, DVM, DABVP, DECAMS, is a leading author and recognized expert in avian medicine. Having analyzed various necropsies and other clinical evidence collected specifically regarding foie gras production in New York state, and relying on treatises and recently published studies, he states that the evidence indicates
various forms of what is generally known as hepatic lipidosis, a disease indicated by yellow discoloration and hepatomegaly (enlargement) of the liver due to fatty degeneration and subsequent impairment of the parenchymal cells, which can eventually lead to liver failure and death of birds diagnosed with it. Put simply, the cellular changes associated with hepatic lipidosis alter the ability of the liver to function normally, resulting in impaired animal health and if left untreated, death.
Dr. Robert E. Schmidt, DVM, PhD, DACVP, a board-certified veterinary pathologist, avian medicine expert, and author of several authoritative texts on avian pathology, concludes that
[h]epatic lipidosis can be accompanied by various clinical signs including anorexia, depression, diarrhea, biliverdinuria, obesity, poor feathering, dyspnea, and abdominal enlargement, and via impairment of the liver's function, may lead to hepatic encephalopathy, with clinical signs of seizures, ataxia, and muscle tremors.
In addition to relying on various published studies, and an examination of the various necropsies and other clinical evidence collected specifically regarding foie gras production in New York state, Dr. Schmidt personally examined samples of livers from birds used in foie gras production at the facilities of two New York foie gras producers. He concluded that
all of the liver samples showed abnormal hepatocytes (liver cells), representing a pathological condition, which would impair cellular functions, and which in turn can lead to clinical illness. This condition, known as hepatic lipidosis or hepatic steatosis, is well documented in published literature, and recognized as a metabolic disease.
The opinions of Drs. Beck, Schmidt, and Harrison are not anomalies, but reflect the general scientific consensus that force-feeding induces disease in animals subjected to the practice. In 1998, the European Union Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, an official and permanent committee of the European Commission, adopted a 93-page official report on the production of foie gras, which states that "because normal liver function is seriously impaired in birds with the hypertrophied liver which occurs at the end of force feeding this level of steatosis should be considered pathological."
Recent analysis has only reaffirmed the cruelty of force-fed foie gras. Humane Society of the United States released a report in March of 2012 presenting an overview of the scientific literature about of the foie gras industry. After reviewing the available data, the report concluded that "force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras production causes significant welfare issues, including disease, injury, and increased mortality." The report illustrates that the foie gras industry is, as it always has been, rife with inhumane and unhealthy production methods.
Video evidence further reveals the inhumane conditions at HVFG. Last year, Animal Protection and Rescue League conducted investigations of HVFG and Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras. At both facilities, investigators discovered that birds were kept in poor conditions, and appeared to be suffering from numerous health problems. The animals were held in small, filthy pens, unable to go outside. Most of the ducks appeared to be having trouble breathing and walking. Many had mucus crusted around their eyes and nostrils, and some were suffering from untreated wounds and skin conditions. The investigators found several dead ducks as well, either tossed into garbage bins or laying in the pens alongside their living cagemates. Most people would be more likely to call these conditions appalling rather than humane.
Given the widely recognized cruelty of force-feeding, it is difficult to imagine how HVFG can call itself the humane choice. One could give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they just don't know what the word means, but it's more likely they're just lying to sell more product. In any event, as long as the company continues force-feeding ducks to intentionally induce painful liver disease, HVFG has no claim to the word humane. In light of the many available food options that don't involve torturing animals, I propose HVFG adopt a new, more accurate slogan.
1. While foie gras may be made from goose liver, American foie gras is almost exclusively made from duck liver.
Close your eyes. Cover your ears. You don’t want to see what’s been in the news: recent undercover video taken over a two week period at the Central Valley Meat Company, a slaughterhouse in Hanford, California, which shows horrible abuse of dairy cows being slaughtered for food. Several hours of video were supplied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by our colleagues at Compassion Over Killing (COK).
After viewing the COK video, the USDA publicly stated that the videotape showed evidence of "egregious humane handling violations" and closed the facility for one week. USDA continues to investigate; however, it was unwilling to comment why its own inspectors—who had been at that facility during the two week period the undercover video was recorded—did not take action to correct obvious wrong-doing.
Is the abuse shown in the video against the law? Yes; it is. The federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1958, 7 USC Sec. 1901, states, "It is the policy of the United States that the slaughtering of livestock and the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter shall be carried out only by humane methods." Congress ordered the USDA to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act "by ensuring that humane methods in the slaughter of livestock… prevent needless suffering;"
In other words, the cows who were at Central Valley Meat Company had to be rendered unconscious quickly (single blow or gunshot), before they were hoisted into the air and bled to death. Yet the COK video shows dairy cows who can barely walk being shocked or prodded to keep them moving to slaughter, or being shot in the head repeatedly. One cow, who has been shot in the head, but is still conscious, is lying on the ground and a facility worker has his boot on her muzzle, in order to suffocate her. Another cow, fully conscious, is hanging by one rear leg and struggling, in pain and terror, as she is sent down the line to have her neck slashed. The video shows dairy cows in agony, receiving treatment that is anything but humane.
Who is responsible for this; who can we blame? The slaughterhouse workers? Sure; that’s an easy out: they’ve run amok, totally ignoring the standards carefully set for them by management. Color me cynical, but I would bet that the workers were not doing anything out of the ordinary at that facility.
Do we blame the slaughterhouse management? That’s a good place to start. They claim to be surprised by what the video shows; I guess they were on vacation for the two weeks in which this happened. Never happened before? In fact, the American meat industry is continually pressuring the federal government for less regulation and faster "chain" speeds (the speed at which animals are stunned, killed and processed). The chain speed has more than doubled since the early 1970s. Less regulation and a faster chain speed means more pressure on the slaughterhouse workers to quickly move those animals through the kill line: stun them faster, kill them faster, process them faster, less care, more mistakes, more frustration… You get the picture.
But, what about you and me; do we bear any responsibility for what happens in slaughterhouses? Oh; for crying out loud, who wants to think about what goes on in a slaughterhouse?! As long as the meat and dairy are cheap, not us. Or, if we do think about meat production, we prefer to imagine that the cows are wheeled in on padded gurneys, with soft music playing in the background, as they are gently rocked to everlasting sleep. Or, maybe we envision those dairy cows prancing into the slaughterhouse, singing "take me; I’ve waited all my life to be a burger!" Wouldn’t that be grand? No muss; no fuss; no harm; no foul. No feelings of guilt, as we sip on our milkshakes. As Professor Amy Fitzgerald notes in her recent article, A Social History of the Slaughterhouse: From Inception to Contemporary Implications, "We seldom think about the slaughtering of non-humans animals…for meat, much less the space in which it takes place. This is no accident or simple oversight: it is intentional."
Let’s be honest. Nobody wants to think about what happens in slaughterhouses. The meat and dairy industries are enormous businesses and they continually show us images of happy animals, as they encourage us to eat more of their products. The last thing they want is for us to associate the torture of cows with that hamburger you will eat at In-N-Out Burger (which, by the way, conveniently severed ties with the Central Valley Meat Company after the video footage was released). The abuse of those defenseless animals at Central Valley is not an isolated incident. It’s part of the system. It happens because, as a society, we have a gentleman’s agreement to turn away, close our eyes; cover our ears.
Now, I hear you saying, "hey, Joyce; I’m not the one who committed those terrible acts in that slaughterhouse. How dare you suggest that I’m somehow responsible for that suffering?! After all, I’m a compassionate, hardworking person; shouldn’t I have the right to eat a burger and drink my latte without being preached at?
But, follow the dots here: if you purchase meat and dairy, you create the demand for those items and you share responsibility for how those cows were treated. Change is not going to come from industry; it’s up to the consumers. By remaining silent and forking over your hard earned cash for that burger, you unknowingly support everything happening in that video.
It’s time for a new way: open your eyes; uncover your ears; take responsibility. As a consumer, you can demand change. You can even choose to boycott those products. No excuses.
Not that many years ago my dog Ben was living in unthinkable conditions with a hoarder and 300+ other dogs. Fortunately for Ben ALDF took an interest in representing him and the dogs on the Woodley property. The case resulted in a victory and the dogs were adopted into loving homes where they could walk on grass, sleep in clean areas and learn to trust humans.
We shun thinking of the life Ben would have had—or not had—if ALDF had not come to Ben’s rescue. Ben blossomed into a character and shares his love of life with us daily. Once again he has inspired a Dog-friendly Benefit with three fun ways to support his life saver ALDF. Consider attending his Benefit Party, Buying a Raffle Ticket or a Ben’s T-shirt.
- Join us in Annapolis, Maryland on September 8, call today to get tickets. The phone number is 410-263-8683.
- Can't make it? Get the T-Shirt! All proceeds benefit ALDF.
Ben’s Waterfront Benefit Bash takes place in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday, September 8 with live music by Dave Tieff, a wine tasting by Wine Cellars of Annapolis and other refreshments including vegan finger foods. Generous businesses and individuals have donated amazing prizes to the night’s silent auction which offers something for everyone! Ben “works” at Paws pet boutique, so you can give them a call at 410-263-8683 for details on how to join him for his private donor party on September 8! Space is limited.
|Get one of these t-shirts today, all proceeds benefit ALDF! Click the picture!|
Dick of The Smothers Brothers donated his unique Cruisin’ Bike to be raffled off for the animals. He would love to meet you at Ben’s Benefit when he draws the ticket. The winner need not be present to win, but is responsible for transporting the bike from Annapolis to its final destination. If you are a "Dancing with the Stars" fan the raffle for two VIP tickets to a Live Performance Show will get your foot tapping.
On September 30 the winner will be drawn with Ben’s assistance. Again you do not need to be present to win, but please note that these show tickets are not for resale by the winner and any such attempted or actual sale or transfer will invalidate the tickets. Raffle tickets are $20 each or 6 for $100 with all proceeds donated to ALDF. Stop in Paws pet boutique or call 410-263-8683 to purchase raffle tickets for either prize.
You can share in Ben’s efforts and success in life by sporting one of his nifty Benefit t-shirts! Shirts are only $25 each with proceeds from the sales going to help animals through ALDF. Available at Paws pet boutique in Annapolis or online. Thanks to Red Leash Pet Photography for the excellent shots of Ben!
Lastly, but so importantly, we want to thank IT staffing company The Squires Group for once again matching ALDF donations from Ben’s efforts up to $10,000! Let’s join together and make a difference for the animals with ALDF! Wouldn’t that be something if Ben and The Squires Group inspired others around the country to host a fundraiser for ALDF?
Make a tail wag. It’ll make your day. Ben wags daily now thanks to ALDF!
Free animals are only as free as the habitat they live in, yet trappers in California are still allowed to use barbaric practices to ensnare and kill animals in the wild with very few limitations. Even family dogs and cats get caught in these traps on a regular basis.
A new bill would curtail the most extreme killing methods and hold trappers who break the rules accountable. The bill prohibits killing trapped wildlife by drowning, chest-crushing, and painfully injecting chemical solvents. It creates a paper-trail, making sure that written contracts are in place between trappers and their clients. The bill also places additional restriction on killer-type traps, to protect family companion animals from being inadvertently killed.
Please call your Assemblymember today and ask him or her to vote YES on SB1480, the Consumer and Wildlife Protection Act.
- Look up your assemblymember here and call them today!
An oikos, in Athens, is a house. When Heraclitus busied himself at oikonomia—from which we get our word “economy”—he wasn’t calculating gross domestic product, he was tending to his housekeeping.
“Economy,” then, doesn’t refer merely to markets and labor, to GDP and inflation, nor even to interest rates and presidential approval ratings. Etymologically speaking, my economy is how I handle my affairs, how I keep my house.
In the field of law we sometimes speak of “judicial economy.” The judicial economy refers, in some measure, to how a judge manages her docket—to the housekeeping of her courtroom. But the concept of judicial economy derives less from what we mean by the word “economy” than from what we mean by the word “economical.”
To behave economically is to exhibit care with resources, to avoid waste. Bringing your own five-pound bag of peanuts to the Coliseum, as was the custom in my family, is economical. Spending thirty dollars on a wee bag of shells and a couple of beers, which has become my habit, is not.
So judicial economy signals not merely managing the docket but managing the docket with prudence and thrift. Insofar as judicial economy involves a judge’s effort to conserve resources, it’s rather more like the austerity measures in modern Athens than Heraclitus’ sweeping out his entryway and dusting his red-figure pottery.
Judicial economy is a good thing for those of us fed up with administrative waste and government inefficiency. Courts should exhibit care with resources, because judicial resources consist mainly of our tax dollars and litigants’ time.
On the other hand, a commitment to judicial economy might feel on occasion a little too streamlined, a little overcautious.
Earlier this month a federal court in Los Angeles exhibited just such overcaution when it denied ALDF’s application to help the State of California defend the recently enacted ban on the production and sale of foie gras. The lawsuit at issue concerns the claim of producers and retailers of foie gras in New York, California, and Quebec that California’s ban is unconstitutionally vague and that it treads on Congress’ exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce. Exercising judicial economy, the court ruled that ALDF’s participation would cause the lawsuit to suffer “undue delay” and would have the unwelcome effect of “multiply[ing] the proceedings.”
The court’s decision likewise foreclosed the participation of Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA), and the Marin Humane Society, all of whom applied alongside ALDF to “intervene,” or to participate voluntarily in the lawsuit.
In addition to its fear of “delay” and “multiplication,” the court insisted that the attorney general and other state officials—because they are charged with upholding state laws—must surely be qualified to defend the ban’s constitutionality. That the governor and attorney general did not oppose ALDF’s participation in the lawsuit failed to impress the court.
Neither was the court impressed by ALDF’s concern that—their qualifications aside—state officials represent the interests of the public at large, and the public at large includes the meat industry. ALDF submitted to the court that there might be something different at stake for animal welfare organizations than for elected officials. For one thing, two of the proposed defendant-intervenors—Farm Sanctuary and the HSVMA—were official sponsors of the legislation, having helped draft the bill that Schwarzenegger signed into law nearly eight years ago. For another thing, a third proposed defendant-intervenor—the Marin Humane Society—is tasked with enforcing the ban, which includes collecting fines for violations.
As far as judicial economy goes, the court’s refusal to admit the animal welfare organizations as defendant-intervenors may be sound. Nobody wants an undue delay or an unjustified multiplication of arguments and proceedings. That would be messy and costly and, well, annoying. We can’t have people clogging up the courts willy nilly.
But as far as justice goes, the judge’s refusal may be less sound.
Consider the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (on appeal to the Ninth Circuit Perry v. Brown, and now, on certiorari to the Supreme Court, Hollingsworth v. Perry), in which a different federal courthouse in California granted ProtectMarriage.com (the special interest group that sponsored Proposition 8) the right to participate as defendant-intervenors.
There, as here, plaintiffs challenged a California policy on the grounds that it violated protections in the US Constitution. There, as here, the named defendants included California’s governor, attorney general, and other state officials, all presumably qualified to defend the policy’s constitutionality. There, but not here, the trial court found that the proposed defendant-intervenors would contribute meaningfully to a courtroom discussion about the policy’s constitutionality.
And that’s not all. When the trial court held for the plaintiffs—finding that the Prop 8 marriage ban violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment—ProtectMarriage sought an appeal, but Governor Schwarzenegger and then-Attorney General Brown refused to defend the initiative any further. Since ProtectMarriage was only an intervenor and not the originally named defendant, the Ninth Circuit asked the California Supreme Court for help: the Ninth Circuit wanted to know whether anything in California law might grant the proponents of a ballot initiative a “particularized interest” to defend the initiative’s validity on appeal even when state officials refused to do so. The California Supreme Court answered yes, such proponents did have standing independent of the originally named defendants, and the appeal went through to the Ninth Circuit. (The outcome? The Ninth Circuit agreed with the trial court that the marriage ban is unconstitutional, and ProtectMarriage has since petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn both the District and Circuit decisions.)
Admittedly there may be a meaningful distinction between the intervention at issue in Perry and the intervention at issue here. Whether ProtectMarriage could participate in Perry turned in part on California’s commitment to “direct democracy,” that quirky institution that, from time to time, has rendered the state nearly impossible to govern. In contrast, whether the animal welfare organizations should participate in the foie gras lawsuit concerns a sort of “citizen-participation representative democracy,” in which nongovernmental organizations helped to draft legislation that passed through ordinary legislative channels.
Nevertheless, the decision to allow ProtectMarriage to participate in trial and to carry forward multiple appeals on its own recognizes that the proponents of a given policy may have something different—or something more—at stake than the state officials who may (or may not) vigorously defend the constitutionality of that policy and who may (or may not) vigilantly enforce that policy.
Are Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris qualified to answer questions about the constitutionality of California’s foie gras ban? Certainly: they’re both fine attorneys. Will they bring the same interests, and the same effort, in answering those questions as might the proponents of the foie gras ban? I’m not so sure.
As an ordinarily tidy person, I consider good housekeeping a virtue. Nevertheless, I believe a house was meant to be lived in. Too much housekeeping—too much economy—can get in the way of a good thing.
August 27, 2012: One last step to making sure this bill goes to the Governor's desk to become law! Please make a brief, polite phone call to your senator, asking for support for SB 1221. Look them up here.
August 22, 2012: Thanks to everyone who called, the bill to protect bears and bobcats has passed the Assembly!
August 20, 2012
Bears and bobcats in California have a good chance of getting stronger legal protections this year. Senate Bill 1221 would ban hunters from using dogs to hunt bears and bobcats, a hunting method which is unsafe and inhumane for all nonhuman animals involved.
Much ink has been spilled about the pros and cons of this law, but to anyone who takes the interests of animals seriously it is clear that the practice of “hounding” needs to stop. The resistance to this new animal protection measure has been fierce—hunters and others who have an interest in harming bears and bobcats have fought hard to keep their cruel hobby from being banned. That’s why we need your help.
My husband and I immediately bonded over our love for nonhuman animals. We do many things together, like cook, eat at vegan restaurants—especially in Portland—volunteer at animal protection organizations, participate in vegetarian societies, and spend time with our three rescued companion animals.
Naturally, our love for animals influenced our wedding. We chose to elope in Costa Rica because of the plethora of wildlife there. We stayed in a bungalow in the rainforest, hoping to experience some of Costa Rica’s amazing wildlife ourselves. Our trip did not disappoint. We were able to listen to the howler monkeys’ call at dusk, watch white-faced capuchin monkeys pick and eat mangos, have a picnic near a peccary, watch a family of coatis travel through the forest, explore a bat cave, view a sea turtle while snorkeling, and visit Rainsong Wildlife Sanctuary.
Our love for animals also influenced our wedding ceremony itself. Our wedding officiant, Marcelo Galli, runs the only vegetarian association in Costa Rica, Association for the Promotion of Ethical Vegetarianism. This organization promotes a plant-based diet by providing information on ethics, nutrition, environmental impact and recipes for the Costa Rican public through tabling, talks, tastings, and boycotts. Before the ceremony, we had a conversation with Marcelo about animal farming in Costa Rica and ALDF’s work. Marcelo knew that compassion for animals was dear to our hearts and made it a theme running through our ceremony. He held our ceremony papers in a specially made ALDF folder.
It was amazing to see not only the impacts that ALDF has around the world but also the good things that are happening for animals around the world. Because of Marcelo, there is now a voice in Costa Rica spreading the word about compassionate living and kindness to animals. My hope is that ALDF and other animal protection organizations can influence many more people in the years to come.
Kelly LaToza Levenda is a 3L studying Animal Law at Lewis and Clark Law in Portland, Oregon. She loves spending time with her husband, Anthony, their dog, Bernie, and their cats, Mori and Ollie.
How much is that puppy in the window of your local pet store? A lot more than just the $1,000 price tag. Lurking behind the shimmering windows and puppy eyes is a sordid underground of puppy, kitten and rabbit mills that churn out a steady supply young animals to stock the shelves.
These mills are large-scale breeding operations where females are constantly breeding in caged, unsanitary conditions with very little care or oversight. These animals often suffer from serious health ailments due to the unsanitary conditions and occasional inbreeding. Government regulations are insufficient and under-enforced. Additionally, animals purchased at pet stores displace shelter adoptions at a time when a shocking 4 million unwanted cats and dogs are euthanized in United States shelters every year.
Against this backdrop, organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund are pushing back hard against puppy mills. ALDF recently asked the USDA to finalize a rule to regulate internet pet stores and step up its overall enforcement. ALDF also filed a class-action lawsuit against a Los Angeles pet store that sold unhealthy puppy mill puppies leading to tragedy for the dogs and their adopters.
In a welcome and surprising move, the Los Angeles City Council is considering an ordinance that validates puppy mill criticism from groups like ALDF. The proposed ordinance requires that all dogs, cats, and rabbits sold in Los Angeles pet stores come exclusively from shelters, humane societies, or authorized rescue groups. If the ordinance passes, Los Angeles would join a growing community of cities that ban the sale of cats and dogs in pet stores.
Contact members of the LA City Council and tell them that you support the retail pet sale ban! You don't have to live in LA to show your support!
If you live in LA, you can find your council district here. Click on the name of a council member to email them.
|Dennis P. Zine
|Herb J. Wesson, Jr.
A symbol of wilderness lost, the last gray wolf in California was killed in 1924. The subject of European superstition and viewed as competitors for wild game and a threat to domestic animals and even people, wolves were hunted to oblivion across most of the continental United States. But wolves are making a comeback. Last December a lone wolf wandered into northern California from Oregon, the first in nearly 90 years. He faces many natural challenges—especially finding a mate!—but his biggest threat is the same human fear, greed and superstition that his distant ancestors faced decades before. Thankfully, though wolves are still far from being a certainty in California, the state’s Fish and Game agency has recommended that wolves, should they return, be protected by California’s Endangered Species law.
Since the 1950s, biologists began to understand wolves’ vital role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. Predation strengthened prey species by weeding out genetically unfit animals and selecting for the strongest to survive and breed. This understanding led to efforts to restore wolves that have brought the species back to several states after decades-long absence. In Yellowstone, where wolves were reintroduced in the 1990s studies have shown the benefits of predation on not just the wildlife but the entire ecosystem there—even trees! Aspens, once a dominant tree in the park, were nearing elimination due to oversized elk herds that, in the absence of natural predation, lingered along river and stream beds all winter devastating the young aspen shoots. The presence of wolves in winter has forced the elk to keep moving and because they can no longer linger indefinitely on river beds, the aspens are once again growing.
This successful return of wolves has been a cause for celebration amongst most biologists and Americans. Unfortunately, many hunters, unwilling to compete with natural predators for wild game, and ranchers, who fear financial loss, are not happy about the wolf’s return. Calls by their powerful lobbies for wolf trapping, snaring, poisoning and even shooting from helicopters are being heard by state governments.
Caving into pressure from those western state’s lobbies, in May, 2011, the US Congress removed federal Endangered Species Act protection from wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, leaving the states of Montana and Idaho to “manage” their recently established wolf populations. This unprecedented attack on the nation’s heralded wildlife protection law has had predictable and devastating results. In just a year, Idaho has lost 40 percent of its wolf population to hunting and trapping. Wolf numbers are now estimated at fewer than 600. Meanwhile, Montana is estimated to have killed a third of its wolf population since May, with reports of about 260 wolves killed. State officials there are now moving toward an aggressive anti-wolf policy similar to Idaho’s.
This same mentality poses a threat to Journey and his kin in California. Though there is plenty of room for wolves in California from a biological perspective, his arrival has already sparked fear-mongering by the state’s ranchers and hunters. And our irrational fears are still there too. Just witness the release of the film, The Gray earlier this year, an egregious work of fiction that depicted wolves in much the same way that the movie Jaws depicted sharks—as bloodthirsty man hunters.
The recommendation by the California Department of Fish and Game to assure protection of wolves should they establish a population in the state, is a step in the right direction. It signals that the state may put science and healthy wildlife populations above the greed of hunters and ranchers. Its proposal will be considered by the California Fish and Game Commission, which will decide in October whether to accept the recommendation.
Please send a polite letter or e-mail supporting this recommendation to:
California Fish and Game Commission
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
Sometimes an event comes along that can change how we view the world. Sometimes it might lead us to a greater connection to self or maybe even, if we are so fortunate, a common connection to those around us. In working through many anthropology, psychology, sociology & a few science and religion related books, I’ve come to understand how humans might be the one species who see themselves as separate from the whole picture. We view ourselves and our experiences as unique. I feel, however, as many do, that it is our similar experiences which can connect us and lead us to a greater understanding of one another, including other cultures, animals, etc. and hopefully, may lead to greater compassion for each other on an everyday level.
I recently went tent camping with a friend in Tahoe. Upon arrival at camp and while enjoying the smell of the trees, the sounds of the river, and greeting our fellow neighbors, we began to unpack. I felt at ease and a familiar sense of well-being came over me. While setting up our campsite, I found myself smiling as I watched several chipmunks greet us with enthusiasm. As a non-experienced human camper, I absently left a supply bag on the ground and one chipmunk already had his head in it, poking around to see if he could find any available treats. His face and body had disappeared inside the bag, leaving only his tail exposed. Just then, another chipmunk saw him and ran toward him as fast as he could. He grabbed the other’s tail, startling him to jump up and screech loudly. I giggled a bit in remembering how many times I had done that very same thing. I was always hiding behind the corner to yell, “BOO!” when an innocent person walked by. It’s not that I was a brat on purpose—as a child I just couldn’t help it. I looked at the chipmunk who frightened the other (and who was now grooming himself) and thought, are they really so different from us? Though I will most likely never really know if that was the chipmunk’s intent, I still felt a connection to him all the same. The question lingered throughout the evening and as the words were slowly etched on the pages of my journal, they disappeared by the dissipating fire light.
The next morning as my friend and I were enjoying our coffee, a fellow-camper’s young son came out from behind a bush. It was obvious he was lurking, but for what reason I did not know. I watched him, watching a large blue jay in the tree overhead. He turned and though I could not clearly see him, pulled out a readymade sling shot and with a small rock, loaded his weapon. The blue jay stared down at him from the branch of the tree with a look of bewilderment in his eyes. The blue jay did not flutter or move, he sat there seemingly calm. As the boy arched his arm to fire, my friend spoke up intently and said, “Please don’t do that!” That was all she needed to say. The boy turned and looked at her, his face red now with assumed embarrassment and frustration. She looked at me with tears in her eyes. Anger rose up within me. What just happened? I could only remember that look in the eyes of the blue jay. I knew all too well that look of bewilderment, that innocent look into another person’s eyes not realizing that they would ever do harm to you.
You see, 10 years ago, I had moved into a new apartment complex and awoke nine days later with the maintenance man standing over me, watching me sleep. When I opened my eyes, I swear I almost smiled at him. I found myself staring at him in disbelief that there would ever be a person in this world who would want to harm me; who would have the intent to kill. I was fortunate; I survived without incident as a simple call to 911 on my cell phone saved my life—the same way my friend’s voice saved the blue jay. That bewildered look in the blue jay’s eyes, was it a similar connection to the one that had been in mine? The question came up again, are we really so different?
I looked up to the tree branch and the blue jay was still sitting there. I watched him as he flew away, feeling a connection to him and more significantly, feeling a greater connection to the world around me. If we shared a common experience, a common look, I will never know for sure. But what I do know is that the connection, one of many over the course of these past few years, has changed me forever. Connections made through the animals in my life have brought greater trust and strength in recovering from tragedy. I am learning to live again. Working with the dogs at the local shelter has taught me some of the greatest lessons in recovery, but only within the wisdom that they share from the depths of their own hearts, can we truly understand how they feel and what we can do to help them. It can heal our own hearts as well.
To understand life through another’s eyes, or to walk a mile in their shoes, is one of the greatest gifts. It does however come with consequences and those consequences could lead to our own fundamental change. So we may no longer be able to tolerate gestation crates for pigs or battery cages for hens in factory farms and may choose a different diet. We may no longer tolerate animal testing and may choose cruelty free products. We may no longer tolerate someone’s child killing a blue jay for sport. We may choose to change our lives because of our awareness, because of our knowledge. And because within our ability to connect with others, we might have to have enough compassion to feel what they feel and to recognize how they might be suffering at our own expense.Once we step foot in the knowledge of how other’s live, we may gain a greater viewpoint of the world, indeed. And we just might take steps toward others, connecting with them, instead of seeing ourselves as separate and our experiences as unique among ourselves. We just might be able to treat others, animals included, as we would want to be treated. For my life to come, this is my greatest hope. And I choose daily to live my life, inspired by those who surround me—be it a vegan human being or a beautiful blue jay. There is still so much to learn and I am grateful to have so many opportunities to do so.
The USDA recently provided a glimpse into its inner workings when—at the direction of a meat industry trade group—it removed an office newsletter from its website which suggested that employees take part in the Meatless Monday campaign.
This incident confirms what is widely believed, that the USDA is controlled largely by the very industries it is tasked with regulating. Meatless Monday is a global health initiative promoted by Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, which makes the modest suggestion that people eat other foods than meat one day a week. The suggestion to take part in the campaign came in an article written by a USDA employee promoting a more environmentally friendly office. When a spokesperson from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association contacted the USDA about the newsletter, it was immediately removed from the website and the USDA stated publically that it does not support Meatless Monday.
When an agency responsible for setting nutritional guidelines and ensuring that agricultural practices are sustainable retreats at the mere suggestion of a voluntary practice which promotes health and sustainability, it stands to reason that the agency is guided by something other than its legal mandate—namely, the meat industry. The industry's influence is so infused within the agency that with one phone call it can control the content of an interoffice newsletter. This is the agency we trust to inspect our food for safety, recommend a healthy diet, decide what counts as organic, choose what SNAP (food stamp) recipients can buy, and enforce animal slaughter regulations.
There's a reason we do not trust the meat industry to do these things and the USDA's failure to resist industry pressure essentially puts industry in charge of regulating itself. This type of industry influence undermines the democratic process by which the laws the USDA is supposed to enforce were passed. This is not the first example of the USDA catering to the whims of the meat industry and it will surely not be the last.
What Can You Do?
Let's show the USDA that participating in Meatless Monday is a great way to increase human health while reducing animal suffering, and greenhouse gasses. Take the Meatless Monday pledge today!
In a mass animal neglect case in which ALDF filed an amicus brief in support of the state’s appeal, we just got a fantastic result from the Oregon Court of Appeals. The case is State v. Nix and the facts are simple. In 2008-2009 the defendant neglected many horses in Umatilla County. In March of 2010 the defendant was tried on multiple charges of animal neglect (each count alleging the same timeframe and thus the conduct was treated as one criminal episode).
The jury convicted the defendant of 20 separate counts of animal neglect involving 20 individual horses. At sentencing, the trial court adopted the defendant’s argument that animals are not legal persons and as such they cannot be considered “victims.” Thus, under Oregon law, the argument goes, the state is the only victim, which means that the defendant can only be punished for one count of animal neglect (the remaining 19 counts must all “merge” into the first count). The practical results from the trial court’s ruling include: the defendant only has to pay one fine rather than 20; the defendant can only serve one jail term rather than multiple, consecutive terms; and with just one conviction on the books, the defendant would be eligible to wipe his criminal record clean (a process called expungement).
The State of Oregon appealed this ruling and asked ALDF to consider filing a brief as well—we were delighted to do so. In an opinion issued on August 1, 2012, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, adopting some key arguments we made in support of the state’s case, e.g.: (1) a significant component in the test to determine a “victim” is to evaluate the substantive statute and identify the person or being who suffered the harm that is at the core of the underlying crime; (2) Oregon’s post-verdict forfeiture and lien laws evidence a legislative intent to treat animals as something other than mere property of a human, and there is a broader public interest in their health, care, and well-being—holding that “In short, based on the text and context of ORS 167.325 [the animal neglect statute at issue], it appears that the legislature’s primary concern was to protect individual animals as sentient beings, rather than to vindicate the more generalized public interests in their welfare”; and (3) to adopt the defendant’s rationale would produce rather inconsistent results (e.g., cases of mass neglect where each animal was the property of a different owner would produce more punishable crimes than if, as was the circumstance in the Nix case, all of the animals were owned by the same person).
This is a very good opinion for animals—recognizing their sentiency as a compelling interest over and above the general public interest associated with crimes related to “keeping the peace.” In Oregon, this opinion will ensure that those offenders who harm multiple animals will be exposed to separate and distinct punishment for each victim animal who suffered under the offender’s charge. Further, it will help prosecutors reverse adverse rulings in states like Michigan [People v. Kruithoff, 242739, 2003 WL 22961698 (Mich. Ct. App. 2003) (a dog is legally an animal and not a person and it cannot qualify as a victim within the meaning of the legislative sentencing guidelines)] and Wyoming [Amrein v. State, 836 P.2d 862 (Wyo. 1992) (ruling that the trial court violated defendant’s double jeopardy rights in convicting him of separate counts for neglect of nine animals; Wyoming Supreme Court found that the failure to feed all animals gave rise to only one cruelty count and noted that “[a]s a general proposition, with few exceptions, in crimes against the person, when contrasted with crimes against property, there are as many offenses as individuals affected”)].
Please join me in congratulating the state’s appellate attorney, Assistant Attorney General Jamie Contreras, for a job well done.
This July you may have have heard about the three animals who ALDF attorneys are dedicated to winning justice for. As a part of our 2012 Annual Fund Drive, we profiled Lolita the orca, Tony the tiger, and Ben the bear. All three are wild animals who have been suffering for years in captivity, and all three are represented in a court of law by ALDF.
We take on these cases because we know that animals deserve to have their interests protected by the law. Whether on land or at sea, all animals deserve to be able to live their lives free from abuse in an environment where they can express their natural behaviors and interact with members of their own species.
We take on these landmark cases, and fight for the rights of these animals, because we are their only voice—they cannot speak for themselves. But this work is only possible because of the generous support of individual people like you.
This is the last chance to donate to our 2012 Annual Fund Drive! Please give generously to allow ALDF to continue to do this lifesaving work.
Thank you for your ongoing support and compassion for Lolita, Tony, Ben, and all other animals that yearn to live free.
Authorities in North Carolina saved 150 puppy mill dogs crammed in squalid, waste-covered conditions in a February 7, 2012 raid. One witness described the scene as “heartbreaking.” The owners—who sold the puppies online—received 27 counts of animal cruelty charges.
Sadly, a loophole in the Animal Welfare Act for retail pet stores exempts puppy mill breeders like these who sell puppies directly from their property. This exemption made sense when the law was passed in the 1960s because purchasers had to physically enter the breeder’s home or pet store to buy a puppy. However, it creates a dangerous lapse of oversight in the internet age where puppies are technically sold from someone’s property in droves without any other person ever observing the living conditions there.
The proposed APHIS rule (APHIS is a federal agency that oversees many animal issues) would close this loophole for online sales by requiring that purchasers actually step foot on the property before the breeder qualifies under the retail pet store exemption. Regrettably, the rule would broaden another exemption by increasing the number of females that “hobby breeders” can possess from three to four.
At the same time, ALDF calls on APHIS to go even further. For starters, the allowance for the hobby breeder exemption should not be expanded. Such a move is unnecessary and offers an opportunity for puppy mills to evade regulatory oversight.
Additionally, APHIS should also put some bite behind its bark by taking steps to ensure adequate enforcement actions against puppy mills. A 2010 audit by the agency found that a striking 64% of breeders inspected for the first time were in violation of the Animal Welfare Act but very few were subject to any penalties. Even more astonishing is that the audit found that 52% of repeat offenders received no penalty. APHIS must respond to this pervasive culture of animal welfare violations by amending the rule to require: automatic penalties against first-time offenders, automatic license suspension for repeat offenders, rescue of all distressed animals, disclosure of past violations to puppy purchasers, and permit private individuals to directly enforce the law when the agency refuses to act.
You can voice your support for the closing the online sales loophole and ask APHIS to amend the proposed rule to require tougher enforcement against puppy mills. Take action by
Wild animals kept in captivity, whether born there or captured in the wild, are inherently dangerous. The recently surfaced video of a trainer being held under water by an orca at SeaWorld highlights this reality. No matter how much human contact they receive, these animals remain, at core, unpredictable. And why should we expect them to be otherwise? Why should large, predatory animals, held captive in artificial environments, forced to modify their natural behaviors for human entertainment, be considered safe? See the video below (contains no audio).
ALDF filed a petition asking OSHA to require a barrier between workers and captive wild animals, just as OSHA currently does for other inherently dangerous workplace hazards. This petition highlights the reality of animal entertainment: it is not a playful demonstration of an animal’s favorite tricks, but a contrived interaction with a wild animal that is dangerous to both animal and human alike. This petition reminds spectators that what they are seeing is a wild animal isolated from his natural home, deprived of the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors, and expected to gently and safely interact with his human captors.
Trainer Daniel Beck is bitten by a captive alligator after Beck repeatedly puts his hand in the animal's mouth. This footage was shot on the cellphone camera of an audience member at the Cuyahoga County Fair in Ohio on August 9, 2012, and uploaded to LiveLeak.com. Daniel Beck is a trainer with Kachunga & the Alligator Show and received stiches for his injury at an area hospital.
July 25, 2012
After years of living in a small, barren enclosure with a dirty concrete floor, Ben the bear bites at the chain link fence, an outward sign of the deep emotional despair he suffers in confinement. Like many of the other captive animals at Jambbas Ranch in North Carolina, Ben doesn’t get to express his natural behaviors the same way he would in the wild. Ben can’t run, swim, climb, or interact with members of his own species.
He paces in his cage. He is forced to drink from the same rusty trough in which he bathes. His diet consists of dog kibble, plus the occasional piece of bread thrown on the floor by attendees. He isn’t even given basic bedding to provide him a small amount of comfort. His life is a dismal substitute for the life of a bear living wild and free in nature. You can help us free Ben from these substandard conditions.
Since October 2006, the USDA has cited Jambbas Ranch over 30 times for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Violations include unsanitary conditions, hazardous enclosures, failure to provide adequate veterinary care, and failure to supply sufficient quantities of food and potable water. Despite Jambbas Ranch’s repeated violations of basic animal welfare standards, the USDA has continued to renew its AWA license. ALDF is aggressively pursuing a revocation of Jambbas Ranch’s exhibitor license because without it, it can’t lawfully keep Ben in captivity. If we are successful, Jambbas Ranch could be compelled to surrender Ben—and many of the other captive animals—to a humane animal sanctuary where they will be able to live out their lives in comfort and dignity.
Freeing Ben and the other captive animals from the neglectful conditions they suffer at Jambbas Ranch won’t be easy. Despite many obstacles, the ALDF is committed to seeing these animals freed from captivity, and we won’t stop until we are victorious. But we can’t do it without your help.
Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $250,000 during our 2012 Annual Fund Drive. With your help, we can free Ben from captivity.
August 28, 2012: The DOT just issued an extension on the comment period, so keep those comments rolling in! We have until the 27th of September! Take action now, by visiting the DOT website. See below for instructions on how to most effectively comment.
July 24, 2012
In the summer of 2010, we read the heartbreaking headlines about the deaths of seven puppies who were being transported in a cargo hold on an American Airlines flight from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago. Finally, nearly two years later, in response to an ALDF petition, the Department of Transportation is taking action to require more accurate reporting of the real dangers of shipping animals in commercial airline cargo holds.
On the August 2010 American Airlines flight, the plane had sat on the tarmac for over an hour prior to take-off in the blazing summer heat, which according to news reports was already 86 degrees by 7 am that morning. When 14 puppies taken from the cargo hold were finally removed from the plane to be transported to connecting gates, baggage handlers noticed they looked dangerously lethargic. Half of them did not survive the ordeal.
This news-making tragedy was a high profile example of a tragedy that ALDF hears about all too often—animals injured or killed while being transported in cargo holds (as opposed to in the main cabin of the plane). Transporting animals in cargo is a risky, controversial practice, and many commercial airlines refuse to do it.
Despite this risk, the Department of Transportation only requires airlines to report the deaths or disappearances of animals considered “pets”—meaning that there has been no accurate reporting on in-flight harm to dogs shipped by puppy mills or other animals transported as cargo. By such standards, no one would be required to report on the deaths of the seven puppies that blazing August day—shipped by a puppy mill or breeder, they were not “family pets,” and their lives would go unaccounted for.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund swiftly submitted a petition to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation to promulgate new rules requiring airlines to report deaths, injuries, and losses of all animals, whether or not the animals are pets.Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) also drafted a joint letter to the Secretary of Transportation, arguing that a “flawed interpretation of laws” allowed animal death reporting to “slip through the cracks.”
In late June, the Department of Transportation finally took action in response to ALDF’s petition. The DOT’s new proposed rule would broaden requirements so that the safety of all cats and dogs—including those shipped by breeders and puppy mill owners—be accounted for—a critical step in the right direction.
Unfortunately, that still leaves many animals categorized as they are right now as far as the Department of Transportation is concerned—nothing more than cargo. Concerned members of the public have until August 28 to take action and comment on the DOT’s proposed rule.
The deadline for commenting on the new reporting regulation is on August 28th, 2012, so write the DOT today. Tell them that all animals deserve protection during air transport. The DOT is accepting comments through an online form; please write a short, polite message—preferably in your own words—to tell the DOT that you:
- support the expansion of DOT reporting requirement to non-pet dogs and cats;
- want the DOT to extend these crucial reporting requirements to all animals, not just pets;
- believe that extended reporting requirements are necessary to inform consumers about the risks of air travel, allowing people to make informed decisions about transporting animals safely.
No. The two are unique social movements that each deserve to be distinguished and understood for what they are. The civil rights movement is generally understood to refer specifically to the worldwide movement for racial equality under the law that occurred in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. The animal rights movement, by comparison, seems amorphous. But that does not mean there are no similarities between the two; exploring those similarities is controversial but may help us understand both better.
Here are four similarities:
- They are true movements, referring to changes in the fundamental cultural, political, and legal rules by which we all operate, rules about whom one can own, who has rights, what those rights are, etc. They are not like “’movements,” in relatively unimportant things like fashion, food, and music. Fashionistas, like all humans, care a lot more about whether they will be forced to do heavy manual labor than they do about clothes.
- Both refer to groups of powerful individuals exploiting weaker individuals. This should be painfully obvious. Generally speaking, white people in the United States have and continue to exploit the fact that black people have less resources in order to obtain their labor. The farmer exploits the facts that the pig cannot escape, and when fed grows profitable at slaughter, to exploit the value of the pig’s body. Of course there are differences, but also similarities: in both, the stronger exploits the weaker. The word “movement” refers to the struggle to change that imbalance.
- During these movements most people sit on the sidelines. They are unaware the changes are occurring, and if made aware most stand apart and remain uninvolved, other than continuing to take the benefits of the status quo they are accustomed to: cheap labor, degrading forms of entertainment, forced companionship, meat, etc. When older persons seem apathetic about or criticize the notion of animal rights I often ask them what they were doing at the height of the civil rights movement. The answer is predictable—very little if anything.
- The stronger use systematic violence to suppress the weaker. White violence upon black people is, today, well known. It has been used to publicly demonstrate the disparity of power between the two races, and to terrorize. Anyone who has seen one of the dozens of undercover videos revealing how factory farm and slaughterhouse workers systematically kick, punch, and otherwise abuse animals to force compliance might see something at least comparable to this. The exploiter uses violence to remain on top.
The standard objection to comparing civil rights and animal rights is that it requires comparing black people to animals. There is none of that here. Civil rights and animal rights both involve the move away from violent exploitation—a move we all should feel obliged to support.
San Francisco Animal Care and Control (SFACC) Deputy Director Kathleen Brown is quoted as saying the recent foie gras ban in California has some "some major loopholes," and that the agency won't issue citations to chefs who give away foie gras for free. If agencies such as SFACC act as if upholding the ban is outside their purview, how are we to expect producers and distributors of foie gras to obey the law?
Despite originally openly defying the law, even restaurants like The Presidio Social Club are publicly announcing that they are taking foie gras off the menu—after being pressured by their landlord The Presidio Trust. This suggests that the time is right for a change. So why the hands off approach on the part of regulators?
- Read ALDF's letter to SFACC's director, Rebecca Katz, requesting that the ban be enforced.
The deadline has been extended to September 27. Please leave a comment today!
Animals transported on airplanes have very few protections under the law. Currently, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that airlines report death, injury, and loss only if the animal is a household pet. There is a lack of reliable statistics about the numbers and fates of animals shipped via air each year, so how could anyone assess the real risks involved in shipping animals as “cargo” on commercial airline flights?
A recently proposed rule would broaden requirements so that the safety of all cats and dogs—including those shipped by breeders and puppy mill owners—be accounted for (not just family “pets”), which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, that still leaves many animals categorized as they are right now as far as the Department of Transportation is concerned—nothing more than cargo. Tragedies like the deaths of 15 monkeys being shipped from Miami to Bangkok should be factored in to the general public’s decisions about the safety of transporting animals in airline cargo holds.
In order to protect animals traveling by plane, the DOT should require airlines to report all instances of animals being killed, injured, or lost in transit—regardless of species or pet-status. Here’s how you can help.
The deadline for commenting on the new reporting regulation is on September 27, 2012, so
- support the expansion of DOT reporting requirement to non-pet dogs and cats;
- want the DOT to extend these crucial reporting requirements to all animals, not just pets;
- believe that extended reporting requirements are necessary to inform consumers about the risks of air travel, allowing people to make informed decisions about transporting animals safely.
Dog lovers across the political spectrum have been barking mad all election season over the now-infamous tale of Mitt Romney’s family road trip with his Irish Setter, Seamus, strapped to the roof of his car. The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s new infographic about Mitt’s very own “Crate-Gate” depicts not only the down-and-dirty details of Seamus’ terrifying 12 hour trip—it outlines the anti-cruelty laws in each of the jurisdictions the Romneys passed through that would clearly prohibit such a rooftop journey. As Lanny Davis wrote for Fox News, “This is the ultimate Purple Issue — it cuts across Republicans, Democrats, blue states, red states, liberals and conservatives.”
Thanks to Nancy Mendoza at Datagram for creating this infographic! She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Download a high-resolution version of this infographic for your blog or website.
- Download too slow? Click here to get a download friendly version (.ZIP).
- Print resolution copies of this infographic are available upon request.
Free foie gras, “foie-kage” fees, boycotting California wines—the attempts to shake off the recent foie gras ban in California are reminiscent of the Dr. Seuss story, “Green Eggs and Ham.” But whether you are eating foie gras on a plane, on a train, or on Federal land inside the City of San Francisco, the opportunity to gorge on diseased duck liver has passed.
Yesterday, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and the Marin Humane Society filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed last week by Hot’s Restaurant Group, Canada’s Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec and New York-based producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras, claiming California’s foie gras ban is “unconstitutional, vague and interferes with federal commerce laws.” California’s foie gras ban went into effect on July 1. The groups are also asking the court to reject the foie gras industry's request to temporarily suspend the law.
ALDF’s filing clarifies that the state’s new law is in no way vague about banning the specific practice of force-feeding of ducks and geese—called “gavage.” The intervention also explains that restaurateurs can easily determine when the product they are purchasing is the result of force-feeding, as gavage causes the birds’ livers to swell to ten times their normal size.
Further, the intervention clarifies that California’s ban does not improperly interfere with interstate and foreign commerce, as the foie gras industry insiders’ lawsuit claims. A similar claim was shot down by the court when Chicago’s foie gras ban was contested several years ago.
The animal protection groups note that their interest in preserving legislation they spent resources supporting gives them standing to intervene in the industry’s lawsuit.
Tony, a Siberian-Bengal tiger, paces on the hard concrete surface of his cage. He has spent every day and night of the last eleven years on display at the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana – nearly his whole life. It’s no life for a tiger, or any other animal.
That’s why, despite all legal obstacles, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is tireless in our fight to make sure that Tony finds his way to a reputable, accredited sanctuary where he can live out his life in a nurturing environment, rather than one that exploits him as a profitable spectacle. Help us raise $250,000 during our 2012 Annual Fund Drive and join our fight to free Tony!
ALDF is currently involved in three separate lawsuits concerning Tony – a no holds barred effort to free him from the miserable conditions he’s forced to endure day and night. ALDF’s victory last year against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries prevented the Department from renewing the annual permit that allowed Michael Sandlin, owner of Grosse Tete’s Tiger Truck Stop, to display Tony.
However, the Department has refused to seize Tony until Mr. Sandlin’s own lawsuit against the Department has resolved. Once Mr. Sandlin’s case is over, the Department should do its duty by acting quickly to ensure Tony’s removal to a humane sanctuary.
We are optimistic that we will prevail, and the court will uphold Louisiana’s right to protect public safety and animal welfare by prohibiting private possession of majestic animals like Tony.
Your support makes our fight for Tony possible! Join ALDF in fighting for Tony’s freedom – freedom from diesel fumes, harassment, and the unimaginable suffering of life in his lonely cage.
Can we realistically expect judges to render trail-blazing pro-animal decisions in the afternoon when they dined on animals’ flesh in the morning?
So asks ALDF senior attorney Matthew Liebman in an article recently published in the Animal Law Review. “Who the Judge Ate for Breakfast: On the Limits of Creativity in Animal Law and the Redeeming Power of Powerlessness” applies a legal realist and critical legal studies perspective to the question of how far litigation can take us on behalf of animals; more specifically, Matthew addresses the limits of creativity in the courtroom. Creativity is essential given the profound substantive and procedural hurdles to protecting animals through litigation; because of these obstacles, animal protection lawyers must “search for new and innovative interpretations of existing statutes and precedent to promote the interests of animals.” This strategy has worked in a number of instances, and ALDF (and the animal protection movement more broadly) has won legal victories for animals. While recognizing and lauding these successes, Matthew cautions:
We have to recognize that the success of our creativity hinges on forces beyond ourselves and beyond our control… Adjudication is not done in an academic vacuum by unbiased arbiters, but rather by human beings, by judges reared on the ideologies of a legal system, and a society, that is profoundly speciesist…Judicial interpretation is never an objective deduction of plain meaning or congressional intent, but rather the interplay of normative judgments, biases, and subjective values.
In other words, judges are products of the anthropocentric society in which they live, not omniscient robots passing value-neutral judgments from a mythical Archimedean point. Non-legal factors affect adjudication; judges have the power to selectively emphasize facts and precedents, while leaving others in the background that may have justified a contradictory position. In the context of judicial indeterminacy (a concept which is the subject of debate), interpretation is a political act and, whether consciously or unconsciously, the tendency is to make determinations that reinforce rather than challenge existing power relations.
The problem of indeterminacy is not confined to animal law, but the stakes are particularly high for our clients because, as Matthew plainly puts it, “When we lose, when our proposed interpretation of the applicable law fails to convince the judge, animals die.” To compound matters, the ideology of judicial restraint, which encourages judges to limit their own power, makes even sympathetic judges generally unlikely to consider creative legal arguments.
Matthew’s argument is not that we should do nothing. There are incremental changes that can (and have!) been won for animals through the legal system. But when it comes to changing large scale, industrial exploitation of animals through strategic impact litigation, we face profound challenges.
The second part of the article gets more personal and addresses the feelings of despair and powerlessness that can threaten to engulf us when we become aware of the overwhelming extent of animal suffering and, more importantly, our inability to stop (most of) it. Many animal advocates are familiar with the feelings of sorrow and hopelessness that accompany the realization that animals are suffering every single minute of every single day, in research labs, factory farms, puppy mills, circuses, and on and on…and on. To know we can’t stop the machinery of animal exploitation or save the countless individual animals whose lives are being extinguished as I write (or who are lingering in silent suffering) can be traumatic. I struggle with those painful feelings and try to find ways to nurture myself so that they do not calcify into depression and paralysis. This is a common psychological hazard of animal advocacy; the problem is huge, the suffering and violence (much of it routine, legal) is unfathomable.
As Matthew writes (in reference to ALDF v. Mendes, in which our lawsuit against a calf ranch for violating California’s anti-cruelty law was dismissed for lack of standing), “we see cruel confinement that is not only unethical, but also illegal, yet we cannot overcome the legal obstacles to enforcing the law.” He is careful to clarify he does not believe “we are always powerless or that we can never do anything to improve the lives of animals…But we can’t do everything, which makes feelings of powerlessness inevitable.”
The sad fact is we cannot save the vast majority of animals. What do we do with our grief as we contemplate the obstinate reality facing us? Matthew makes an interesting suggestion:
Rather than fleeing from this vulnerability, consider holding onto it for a while, taking from it the window it offers on the lived experiences of disempowered animals. This process deepens our commitment to defending animals, brings empathic serenity to situations that are beyond our power to change, and reorients our focus to more effective strategies and tactics.
The invitation to embrace, or at least acknowledge, our powerlessness is interesting. I think the tendency is to suppress, ignore, or deflect these feelings in self-defense – a perfectly understandable survival mechanism (especially for those of us “overly” sensitive types who experience a jolt of existential horror upon catching the eye of a doomed chicken, or pig, or cow crammed into a truck bound for the slaughterhouse, with no hope for rescue or escape). Another coping mechanism is a constant compulsion to do something (anything!) to fix the problem, which may lead us to “skip over the important stage of dwelling with grief and understanding the depths of the problem.” Sitting with our occasional feelings of despair not only can connect us with the lived experiences of the vulnerable animals we work so hard to protect, but can also give us an opportunity to pause, reflect, and contemplate the best course forward.
For me, one of the psychological antidotes to existential despair as it relates to animal exploitation has been to love an animal, even if just one, with all my heart and to care for that animal as if he or she were the most special, cherished being on the planet – because for me, she is. The society in which I live devalues animals, but I do not. The disjuncture between my values and dominant social norms can at times make me feel dizzy and alone, like a visitor from another planet. But in a culture that denigrates animal activists and ruthlessly exploits animals for the merest convenience, love can provide safe harbor from the disorientation of alienation. I may not be able to change the social structure or dominant ideology today, but my ideals and values can at least find positive expression through my relationships with the individual animals I love: the precious few whose lives I can directly affect, even if they are statistically insignificant… proverbial drops in the bucket. As a vegan, I resist systemic animal exploitation through my consumer choices. Through my relationship with my dog Teagan, I also resist the cultural idea (encoded in our laws) that animals are mere property, legal things, and most of all, disposable.
Thus my animal companions have served as “happiness-buffers,” shielding me in significant ways from being crushed under the weight of a hopelessness that might otherwise overwhelm my psyche. When I look into the eyes of my rescued dog, I know I am not helpless, although the scope of my agency is certainly limited. Love is affirmative resistance and can be a protective barrier against the potentially hazardous effects of traumatic knowledge. Nurturing relationships with companion animals are not our only potential happiness-buffers; I have had similar experiences volunteering at farmed animal sanctuaries and making connections with individual animals at these wonderful havens. Rescued farmed animals, by the mere fact of their existence outside the means of production, are living signifiers of an alternate reality.
I believe the article’s last section on vulnerability lays important groundwork for future conversations among animal protection activists. Although most of us in the animal movement are familiar with the problem of burnout, we do not often talk about the larger, more existential issue of despair. This is valuable area for reflection and analysis1. And while we may not all be haunted by the gloomy specter of powerlessness, more people might be than I sometimes think. Reading Matthew’s words was like seeing my own existential despair laid bare, and it made me feel marginally better to know someone else experiences this too, but keeps fighting for – and feeling with – the animals.
On July 1, 2012 California’s ban on the production and sale of foie gras, which is the grossly enlarged liver of force-fed ducks, went into effect. To make foie gras a feeding tube is jammed down ducks’ esophagi, and food is pumped into the ducks’ digestive system over a period of weeks until their livers swell ten or more time their normal size. By the time the ducks are killed they are suffering and gravely ill, essentially dying from liver failure.
The California ban is a basic prohibition on torturing animals to make them taste better. That is why I was shocked to hear statements by several California officials, including police and some animal control officers, suggesting they would not enforce the ban, or that they would interpret the ban loosely to ignore the legislature’s clear intent to protect ducks from abuse.
These comments are shocking because state and local officials, who make a living off of taxpayers and are entrusted with a duty to uphold the law, are playing right into the hands of animal activists that say the legal system does nothing good for animals, that it is a waste of time, and that one must go outside the law to actually do something for animals. As an attorney and Director of Litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund I have chosen to work inside the law. But I constantly hear arguments from activists who say we are wasting our time, that even if we are successful in getting laws passed they will never be enforced, and worse yet that we are wasting donors’ hard-earned money and giving animal lovers a false sense of progress. At ALDF we do our best to show these activists that they are mistaken, that working within the legal system helps animals.
These scofflaw officials are doing their best to prove us wrong and are encouraging citizens to work outside of the law. That makes our jobs, those who actually work to help animals within the system, that much harder. Laws that protect animals, our most vulnerable population, are meant to be enforced. Anything less threatens the very system we humans depend upon and invites vigilante tactics no official should want.
Theodore is the impromptu name my friends and I gave to a raccoon sullenly limping through downtown Berkeley last Friday night. But he wasn’t just limping – he slogged forward with speed that would boost the self-esteem of a sloth. He barely even bothered to glance over his shoulder to keep his curious human onlookers in check.
I looked up the emergency number for Yggrasil, a local wildlife rescue that specializes in rehabilitating free-roaming mammals. A friend made the call while I fended off inebriated UC Berkeley undergrads gawking and pointing at our new furry friend. The emergency number on the Yggrasil voicemail message led us to someone who was only able to refer us to Berkeley Animal Control due to the limited help available that late at night.
Concerned about the risk of euthanasia for Theodore at the hands of Animal Control, we decided that the best thing we could do for him was to offer him some sustenance, and leave him alone. I offered the only thing resembling raccoon food available to me – peanut butter dog treats.
The way Theodore ate the peanut butter treats struck a chord with me because it was eerily similar to how my dogs eat. As he happily gobbled down the treats I felt ambivalent, knowing that he probably needed more help but wary of intervening if it wasn’t necessary.
The next day I knew I had to do something. So I did what I always do, I hit the books. Hopefully my lessons learned in interacting with Theodore, and researching ways to help wildlife, will help readers who come across a similar situation in the future.
Does the animal need help?
The first step in this type of situation is to determine whether the animal needs help. This question is especially important when dealing with baby animals because parents often leave babies alone for several hours at a time.
Wildlife rehabilitators estimate that the majority of “rescued” orphan animals were not really orphans at all. Whether an animal needs help will also vary based on the species of animal, and the behavior she is exhibiting. Wild rabbits only “check in” with their kits once or twice a day to nurse them, staying away from the nest at other times to avoid calling the attention of predators to the babies. If in doubt, consult a reputable wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group, such as WildCare or Yggrasil.
What are the nearby wildlife rescue groups?
If you are sure the animal needs help, locate the phone numbers to local wildlife rescue groups that specialize in the type of animal you found. Searching the internet (or calling somebody who has internet access) is the best way to find these groups. Be persistent, if you don’t get an answer, keep calling around.
Is animal control the best option for the animal?
If no wildlife rescue groups are available, consider whether to call animal control or a state wildlife agency. Municipal animal control and state agencies often have policies to euthanize wildlife right away instead of rehabilitating them. Find out their euthanasia policy before surrendering any animal. Unless you plan on helping the animal survive, the best option may be to leave them alone. In the case of Theodore, I thought that leaving him alone was a better option than calling animal control since he was strong enough to eat, move (albeit slowly), and was not endangering anybody’s safety.
Will my intervention help or harm?
If there is no help available from a rescue group, and you do not want to call animal control, look online to see if there is any safe and effective assistance you can offer. Wild animals can be dangerous and can carry disease, so be cautious when dealing with them. As far as the animal is concerned, your well-meaning intervention might cause more harm than good. Interactions with humans can be stressful, and the treatment you offer might not be appropriate.
My friends and I found ourselves at this last step since the rescue groups were closed and felt animal control was not an option. As unsatisfied as I was stepping away from Theodore, I felt that his best chance of survival at that time was on his own, without human intervention.
Ultimately it’s impossible to know whether our actions caused the most ideal outcome, but we utilized the available resources and acted reasonably with Theodore’s best interest in mind. We can only hope that all animals are someday treated this way by humans.
She swims in endless circles in a tiny, barren tank. Lolita was captured and taken from her family at the age of four, and for the last 40 years, the endangered orca has been forced to live and perform meaningless tricks at the Miami Seaquarium. Her tank, where she has lived without an orca companion for more than 30 years, is the smallest orca tank in North America -- the orca equivalent of a concrete bathtub.
That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund is fighting to ensure that Lolita receives the federal protections she is rightfully due. Join ALDF's fight for Lolita and help us raise $250,000 during our 2012 Annual Fund Drive!
After Lolita was captured off the coast of Washington State four decades ago, wild members of her pod were granted Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections. However, captive members of the pod, like Lolita, were excluded from ESA protections with no explanation given by the National Marine Fisheries Services. ALDF is suing the federal government, arguing Lolita's exclusion from federal protections is blatantly illegal.
It is only right that Lolita be granted the protections under federal law which she is rightfully due and which best ensure her survival and well-being, which could include transferring her to a sea pen in her home waters and releasing her back to her family pod. Help free Lolita from the miserable, lonely conditions she is forced to endure. Donate to ALDF's Annual Fund Drive today!