Revenge Is Not Best Served Fried

Via the AP (here), this weird story:

Authorities say a Houston-area woman who was burned up at her former common-law husband fried their pet goldfish and ate some of them.
Pasadena police say it’s a civil matter and no charges will be filed. The seven goldfish were purchased together by the couple during happier times.
Police spokesman Vance Mitchell says the man reported on Saturday that the woman took the goldfish from his apartment.
Mitchell says the two argued earlier about some jewelry the man had given her but took back. She wanted the jewelry returned.
Officers who were dispatched to the woman’s home arrived to find four fried goldfish on a plate. The woman said she already ate the other three.

If it is a crime to stomp on a goldfish, why is it not a crime to eat them?

-Bridget Crawford

Never Say Never: Bikers and Puppies, a good mix.

Gillian Lyons

bio_batsoThe other day I received an email from a family friend who had recently discovered a new National Geographic show that focuses itself around the rescue group Rescue Ink. Rescue Ink is, according to its website, “a rescue group unlike any you’ve seen before: a bunch of tattooed, motorcycle-riding tough guys who have joined together to fight animal cruelty.” My family friend wanted to know how I felt about the show- she thought it was a hilarious new idea.

New idea? I was perplexed by this statement at first- what’s so new about a Rescue Group? But as I thought about it, I realized what she meant. Any practicing vegetarian, vegan or animal welfarist will tell you that they’ve come across people who have teased them about their beliefs and practices. Why is this? Perhaps it’s because, in a lot of ways, the general public has a picture of people who place animal rights high on their list of priorities as emotional, wimpy and quite frankly- silly.

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The Horses Aren’t the Only Ones Wearing Blinders

Elizabeth Bennett

business-man-wearing_~dpr0002Strolling along Central Park South, one is overcome by the rancid smell of horse urine and manure.  Looking up, there are ornate carriages that mimic fairy tales and majestic horses who would love to go for a stroll.  To many, this is picturesque and the perfect addition to a romantic getaway in New York City.  But if you look closer… you will see that most of these horses look scared, tired, injured, and just want a break from their nine hour workdays.

There has long been public outcry against horse drawn carriages in New York City.  Numerous protests, dangerous accidents, and the death of countless horses have not been enough to convince City Hall that the time has come for these rides to end.  Horse drawn carriage rides have been banned in many cities in the United States and various countries and New York City remains behind the trend.  It seems to me that it would be common sense that these horses must be in pain and that they surely could not enjoy pulling a carriage along a busy, uneven street full of loud noises, speeding cars, and flashing lights, as this clearly goes against a horse’s nature.  However, many do not stop to think about this before boarding their magical, romantic carriage ride.  This is not to say that these people, many of them tourists, are bad people who care little for animals- many of them likely love animals and are drawn to this form of entertainment for that purpose, not thinking about how cruel the practice really is.  As with most forms of animal cruelty, the cruelty part is usually as well hidden as possible.

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CLONED BEEF, It’s what’s for dinner.

Tara Dugo

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The world was fascinated when Dolly, the first cloned animal, was introduced in 1996.  As factory farmers have always been struggling to obtain livestock that produce more meat, milk, eggs, etc., it is no surprise that the cloning of Dolly made way for the introduction of cloning to

the farming industry.  Many farmers have found that a benefit to using cloned livestock is that genetically superior animals can be bred.  These animals, such as fast growing beef cattle and cows that produce copious amount of milk would ultimately result in higher profits for the farmers.

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Massachusetts Greyhound Track Holds its Last Race

ItalianGreyhoundWDH_UwD8

Lindsay MacLeod

The Greyhound Protection Act (GPA) is a Massachusetts statute that will phase out commercial dog racing by 2010. It was enacted as Question 3 on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Massachusetts.  It will shut down Massachusetts two remaining race tracks, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, by January 1, 2010. Violators would face minimum fines of $20,000 by the State Racing Commission.

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Michigan Farm Animal Welfare Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

David Cassuto

The Michigan legislature has passed a bill that would give animals used in agriculture some breathing and living space.  Among other requirements, the bill requires that:

A FARM OWNER OR OPERATOR SHALL NOT TETHER OR CONFINE ANY COVERED ANIMAL ON A FARM FOR ALL OR THE MAJORITY OF ANY DAY, IN A MANNER THAT PREVENTS  SUCH ANIMAL  FROM DOING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
(A) LYING DOWN, STANDING UP, OR FULLY EXTENDING ITS LIMBS.
(B) TURNING AROUND FREELY.

The bill also creates an “Animal Care Advisory Council” that is similar in many respects to the one proposed in Ohio’s Issue 2 (see Laura’s post for more on Issue 2).  It bears noting, however, that Issue 2 is a proposed constitutional amendment whereas the Michigan legislation, if enacted, would be a simple statute.  You can read a legislative analysis of the Michigan bill here.

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Oral Sex, Animals, and the Criminal Code

calf_aIs oral sex a crime?  Not necessarily, of course.  But absent consent, it sounds like a crime to me.

Not so if the mouth belongs to an animal, according to a Burlington County, New Jersey judge who dismissed charges against a police officer accused of putting his penis in the mouths of at least 5 calves for the purpose of gaining sexual pleasure.  The judge said it was questionable that the acts constituted animal cruelty.  Why don’t calves deserve protection from sexual predators?  It doesn’t make any sense.

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Mansploitation for the Animal Cause

September 24th, 2009

SeattleImage2image source: The Stranger, Sep 24 – 30, 2009, Vol. 19, No. 3

Ummm…this Seattle alt paper (think Village Voice, left-coast style) takes a page from PETA’s playbook (see here, e.g.) and then flips it, exploiting men’s bods for the animal cause.  That’s not ok, either.

The image is an interesting visual play on an affectionate name for a cat and a (sometimes-not-so-affectionate) name for a woman’s genitalia.  I imagine the guy out in front of a pet store saying, “Look at my ….”

-Bridget Crawford

cross post: Feminist Law Professors

Dog Fighting in a Day Care Center

Maybe those who maintain that humanity represents the acme of evolution (or even something better) can help explain this.

–David Cassuto

Why do anti-cruelty laws protect companion animals more than non-companion animals?

Most jurisdictions punish animal cruelty more severely if the creature harmed is a “companion animal”. Is it justified to afford more legal protection to companion animals than to non-companion animals? Some would argue that it is not. If what makes non human animals worthy of legal protection is that they are capable of feeling pain, distinguishing between companion and non companion animals for legal purposes appears to be unwarranted. The line should be drawn, the argument would go, between sentient and non-sentient animals rather than between companion and companion animals. Therefore, unjustifiably inflicting pain on a sentient animal should be punished in the same manner regardless of whether the creature harmed is a companion or non companion animal.

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Monkeys, Torture and Tort Law

David Cassuto

monkeyInVivo Therapeutics Corp. recently sued the Oregon Health and Science University, alleging that the rhesus monkeys InVivo purchased were defective.  Apparently, many of the monkeys — which were slated for spinal cord experiments — did not survive the surgery that was supposed to prepare them for their ordeal. InVivo had to abandon its project and is seeking damages.

There is much one could say about this but I choose to focus on the way the story was covered in the Boston Herald.  The lede states that the monkeys had to suffer in the name of medical science but that InVivo did not expect the monkeys to have to suffer more than necessary.  Hence the lawsuit. Continue reading

The Standing Conundrum

Gillian Lyons


One of today’s hottest debates in the field of animal law is the status of animals as property. (For more on one aspect of this property debate- take a look at Gary Francione’s Animals as Property.)  To my mind, one of the most important aspects of this debate is how this current property status can hinder individuals from taking legal action when they see private citizens abusing or neglecting their pets.

Volunteering for an animal law attorney this semester, I’ve come to realize just how complicated this issue is. If you see animal abuse or neglect- can you achieve a legal remedy? The answer is yes- sometimes. Reading Cass Sunstein’s article Can Animals Sue? (in the book Animal Rights edited by Cass Sunstein and Martha Nussbaum) he acknowledges that there are three circumstances where a human can protect animals in the federal court system: when the human seeks information about animal welfare, when the government failure to protect animals inflicts a competitive injury on the human plaintiff and when a human visits or works with an animal that is threatened with illness death or harm. My question is, if you don’t fit neatly into these three categories and you witness animal abuse, can you take legal action? As things currently stand, you can’t- unless the animal is considered your property or you can convince your local government to pursue criminal action (which quite sadly, would be quite difficult in most of the country.) This is because, as things stand, you would be hard pressed to convince a court that you have the injury-in-fact needed for constitutional standing.

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Could the Murder of 32 Dogs be the Key to Tougher Anti-Cruelty Laws in Russia?

Irina Knopp

As a Russian-American, I am familiar with the culture that values expensive furs and leather boots well above the rights of the animals used to make the products.  The furs are a status symbol and an asset.  Leather is used because it’s more durable and reliable, a leftover of the Soviet Era when a month’s salary would buy you a pair of leather boots-if they were in stock. With such a love of animal products and until recently, a surprising disregard for the welfare of animals, it is no wonder that Russia has been notoriously slow to develop anti-animal cruelty legislation, falling far behind the EU and the United States.  However, over the last decade small changes have started setting a trend of animal protection.  For example, in 2007 legislation was put forth to protect small forest animals such as hedgehogs from being hunted or having their habitats deliberately damaged.

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“Pain-Free” Meat?

Jennifer Church

Adam Shriver, a philosopher at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, published an article earlier this month in Neuroethics, contending that cows should be genetically engineered to be unable to feel pain.  Several news articles and blogs have discussed his idea, including Telegraph and Animal Law Online. Playing off of Peter Singer’s classic argument that animals can suffer and therefore humans have a duty to alleviate that suffering, Shriver asserts that humans have an ethical duty to produce these pain-free cows.   He seems to suggest that pain-free cows are guilt-free meat for humans.  Apparently, recent progress in neuroscience and genetic studies could make pain-free cows a real possibility in the near future.  Shriver points to the fact that factory farming and meat consumption has only continued to grow, with no decline foreseeable anytime soon.  If the continuation of factory farming is inevitable, the least we could do is make the cows more comfortable – seems to be his argument.

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It was a Mistake to Kill All the Pigs…

egypt pigs-420x0

From the Fallibility Desk: Apparently, it was a mistake for Egypt to react to fear of the swine flu by killing all of its pigs.  Gee, you think?

–David Cassuto

Animal Law — Sometimes It’s Personal

I recently received an email from a colleague telling me about this blog: http://justicefordunkin.blogspot.com/.  The blog focuses on the plight of a woman whose dog was killed by the police during a traffic stop.  I know nothing about this case or the people involved but the woman’s horror and grief at the loss of her companion speak for themselves.   This is animal law on a deeply personal level.  Sometimes, amid all the global and national horrors, we forget that a lot of animal law is about individual animals and people who suffer egregious wrongs at the hands of an indifferent society.  It would behoove us to try to remember always that this is so.

–David Cassuto

Call for Papers: Mid-Atlantic Symposium on Animal Law

Call for Papers

The Animal Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association, in conjunction with the University Of Baltimore School Of Law and the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Law, will host the first-ever regional Mid-Atlantic symposium on animal law.  The Impact On & Opportunities For Animals in the Current Political and Economic Climate will be a one-day symposium that will occur at the University Of Baltimore School Of Law on Friday, April 9, 2010, from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.  The Animal Law Section is pleased to partner with the Journal of Animal Law and Ethics at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Law to publish the articles, commentaries, or papers for the symposium.  To be considered to provide an article or paper, and to hence, present, at the symposium, please contact Gary C. Norman, Esq., Chair of the MSBA Animal Law Section at either (410) 786-0043 or at GLNorman15@hotmail.com to obtain a submission form.

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Florida’s Python Predicament

Jonathan Vandina

burmese_pythonIt’s 4 PM. The hot Florida sun has warmed the thermo regulated American alligator (Alligator missipiensis) with the ability to satisfy its day long hunger. The tiny touch receptors on the mouth of the apex predator feel an unexpected yet familiar sensation. It’s a slight ripple, a change in water motion coming from the shore. In the mangroves a sub-adult raccoon is cautiously entering the water. The gator sees it. With only its eyes and nostrils protruding from the water it slowly makes its way over to the raccoon as quiet and inconspicuous as a branch caught in the current.  It’s within 8 feet now. The raccoon is playfully digging up shellfish oblivious to the imminent danger. Four feet now, then two then WHAM! An invasive 9 foot Southeast Asian Burmese python (Python bivittatus) strikes from an above hanging mangrove. The gator stops and watches as this alien predator constricts, suffocates, and swallows its long sought after meal. The weather has cooled down. The gators body temperature and energy levels are too low to attack another meal. It will not feed today. What now?

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CAFOs — An Unregulated Assault on the Air & Water

hog-cafo-798035David Cassuto

Today’s NYT does a good job of describing the environmental and human health crisis wrought by CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations).  It does a less good job of describing the horrendous conditions imposed on the animals thus confined.  Still, a lot of tragedy gets captured in this little vignette:

In June, Mr. Natzke explained to visiting kindergarteners that his cows produced 1.5 million gallons of manure a month. The dairy owns 1,000 acres and rents another 1,800 acres to dispose of that waste and grow crops to feed the cows.

“Where does the poop go?” one boy asked. “And what happens to the cow when it gets old?”

“The waste helps grow food,” Mr. Natzke replied. “And that’s what the cow becomes, too.”

The thrust of the article concerns the lack of regulations controlling CAFO emissions as well as the ways that Big Ag squashes all attempts to change the status quo.  Consider this: Five thousand pigs produce as much raw sewage as a town of 20,000 people.  That statistic alone makes factory farming environmentally problematic and in need of regulatory oversight.  But there’s more.

Pig waste is more concentrated than human waste and tends to contain both pathogens and antibiotics.  Yet, waste from pigs does not go to a sewage treatment facility; it tends to go straight on to the ground, where it eventually makes its way into the groundwater and into the air, causing respiratory problems, antibiotic resistance, and more.  Habitat loss and degradation, erosion, water depletion, pollution and salinization, agrochemical contamination, the above-mentioned animal waste and air pollution are also serious and growing CAFO-related problems.  And still, industrial agriculture remains virtually unregulated.

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Ohio’s Issue 2

Laura Schierhoff

In February, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) met with members of Ohio’s livestock industry to discuss passing humane legislation in that state.  HSUS had its eye on Ohio to pass legislation to ban the use of poultry cages, veal crates and gestation stalls.  Agribusiness in Ohio knew this was not such a far fetched idea, given California’s Proposition 2 landslide ballot-initiative win last November.  Proposition 2 banned the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.  (Arizona and Florida have also passed similar measures.)  The meeting was said to be “extremely cordial” according to a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau.  However, with the fear of something like Proposition 2 going on the ballot in November, big agriculture in Ohio was scared.

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A Victory for “Flipper”

dolphin-01Chris Cuomo

Each year hunters in the western Japanese town of Taiji hunt and kill over 2,000 dolphins by hand.  Activists worldwide have attempted to end this gruesome display of animal cruelty, but have been unsuccessful. Under International Whaling Commission regulations, whaling is banned, but the hunting of dolphins is still permitted.   Apparently Japan has also found a loophole that would allow them to kill whales under the guise of scientific research. Fortunately, through the use of hidden microphones and cameras, it appears that the movie industry has succeeded in giving the public a firsthand account of what actually goes on behind closed doors. The 2009 movie “The Cove” captured on film the true story behind the annual slaughter ritual of dolphin hunting in Taiji.

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Mary Travers Has Moved On

mary traversPerhaps it’s not legal per se, but Puff was a magic dragon so it is animal-related.  Mary Travers has left us.  The light burns just a little dimmer today.

–David Cassuto

Post Prop 2 — The Struggle Continues

826eggIn case you were wondering whether the passage of Proposition 2 would make factory farmers go quietly into that good night… Welcome to the brave new world of “colony cages.”

–David Cassuto

Animal Advocates in Action: California Assemblyman Pedro Navas

I just got back from Buenos Aires where I had almost no internet access, so I hope start posting on a weekly basis from now on.

Today I want to praise California Assemblyman Pedro Navas (D-Santa Barbara) for introducing three animal cruelty related bills that were passed by both houses of the California legislature and now await the Governor’s signature.

Bill A.B.  241 caps the number of unsterilized dogs and cats that an individual or business can have for the purposes of breeding pets. Veterinarians and animal shelters are exempted from the law.

Bill A.B. 242 doubles the punishment imposed on spectators of dogfights.

Finally, Bill A.B. 243 prohibits certain individuals convicted of cruelty related crimes from owning or taking care of dogs.

Once again, California rises to the occasion. Much more needs to be done, but the Golden State is heading in the right direction. You can learn more about the bills here.

Luis Chiesa

Nonhuman Animals, Human-Created Environments

Cienega_de_santa_claraKarl Coplan

Sunday’s New York Times article about the threat to the La Cienega marsh on the Mexico-US border raises interesting questions about human responsibilities to maintain human-created environments that have been occupied by natural species.  The La Cienega marsh was created by the diversion of Arizona agricultural runoff too high in salt content to be returned to the Colorado River for downstream use.  While the federal government built a desalination plant nearly two decades ago for the purpose of purifying the runoff sufficiently to return it to the Colorado, this plant has never been operable due to technical and budgetary issues, and instead, the salty runoff was diverted through a series of pipes and channels to the Sonoran desert in Mexico.  Fed by this artificial diversion, a saltwater marshland sprang up, and populated itself with Thule grass, pelicans, and endangered Yuma Clapper Rail and Desert Pupfish.

Now, the federal government is planning to activate the desalination plant to recover the saline runoff.  The desal plant will discharge into the Colorado River, satisfying US treaty obligations to maintain Colorado River flow to Mexico, and freeing up more Colorado River water for upstream domestic and agricultural use by thirsty human activities in the Southwest.  The problem is that once the saline runoff is intercepted by the desal plant, the water source for La Cienega will dry up, the thriving wetlands will stop being wet, and the endangered species habitat will disappear.  Remarkably, the environmental impact studies for the desal plant did not consider these impacts on La Cienega. Continue reading

National Lawyers Guild Activist Handbook

The National Lawyers Guild has published a new booklet for animal and environmental activists entitled: Operation Backfire: a Survival Guide for Environmental and Animal Rights Activists.  You can download it here. It offers some background on the AETA and AEPA (predecessor to AETA) and how to comport yourself when detained or questioned by law enforcement officials.

H/t: GreenIsTheNewRed.com

–David Cassuto

Pets Sitting On High?

Sarah Murphy

Many people seem to be spending more and more on their cats and dogs.  High quality animal food (i.e. actually edible) can now be found in ordinary super markets, “gourmet” treats abound with some classified as USDA-certified organic, cat grass can be purchased alongside heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer’s Market and pet beds come swathed in faux-leopard print material complete with removable heaters.  Some people can even be seen venturing outside with their pets in strollers.  Using pet strollers seems to make a lot of sense for old or infirm animals who would otherwise have difficulty getting out and about, but beyond this, is such a practice ridiculous and ultimately detrimental to achieving greater respect and rights for animals?

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Sunstein Confirmed!

57-40.   Sweet!

Animal Law Symposium This Weekend

At Lewis & Clark: The Science, Ethics & Law of
Animal Testing in the 21st Century:  Are We on the Verge of a Paradigm Shift?

Full skinny available at: http://www.lclark.edu/law/centers/animal_law_studies/nas_symposium/index.php

–David Cassuto

Sunstein Filibuster Broken

The Senate voted 65-35 today for cloture on the Sunstein appointment.  That means an up or down vote on his appointment will likely happen later this week.  A little more here.  The wingnut jamboree continues, however, as Glenn Beck has thrown his formidable lack of sense or decorum into the fray.  More on this as it develops.

–David Cassuto

A Sub-Optimal Ruling on the Rocky Mountain Wolf Hunt

WolfJudge Molloy has refused to stop the wolf hunt that has already begun in Idaho and will soon begin (September 15th) in Montana.  Yet his decision to deny the preliminary injunction sought by Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, the Humane Society & others does  acknowledge that the plaintiffs will likely prevail (eventually) on the merits.

Courts will only issue preliminary injunctions (which halt the challenged activity while the court considers its permissibility) when plaintiffs show that they are 1) “likely to succeed on the merits,” (2) that they are “likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief,” (3) that the “balance of equities tips” in their favor, and (4) that such an injunction is in the“public interest.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 365, 374 (2008).

In this case, the court determined that it would likely find that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist a portion of a “Distinct Population Segment” of a protected species ran afoul of the Endangered Species Act.  It also concluded that the agency’s decision seemed to contradict its own previous interpretations of its authority under the statute.  Inconsistent agency rulings are not entitled to judicial deference.  Consequently, the court need not defer to the agency’s new interpretation and the plaintiffs would probably prevail. Continue reading

California’s “Pet Responsibility Act”

The California Legislature is once again attempting to control pet overpopulation through proposed bill SB 250 “Pet Responsibility Act” which outlines how owners must sterilize their cats/dogs.  The bill also imposes a penalty for violating these sterilization guidelines except in specified circumstances.  Under SB 250, if certain conditions occur, pet owners can apply for a license to have pets that are not sterilized or “unaltered.”

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Some Blawg News

As regular readers know, I teach animal law both at Pace Law School (which is my academic home) and at Fordham Law School.  The number of students interested in animal law has grown exponentially in the 6 years I have been teaching the course.  Interacting with students — a number of whom have gone on to work in the field — is an ongoing privilege for me.

This semester, I have added a blogging component to the course.  Students will write several posts over the course of the semester.  Contributing to the blawg will introduce them to you and you to them and give us all the benefit of some new voices in the animal law community.  So stand by for some new bloggers.

–David Cassuto

What “Cage-Free” Means — An Appeal from the RSPCA in England

Quash the Squash campaign imageThe RSPCA is asking for your help.   The EU recently passed legislation designed to improve chicken welfare.  Unfortunately, the legislation is drafted in such a way as to allow more chickens to be packed into “rearing sheds.”   Already, the chickens lack the space to move or flap their wings; it’s the equivalent of a battery cage without the cage.  The British government has seized upon this loophole and is now considering whether to permit this practice.   Jim Fitzpatrick, Minister for Animal Welfare, really needs to hear from you on this matter.  Contact info here and a cool video available here: http://bit.ly/ichick.

–David Cassuto

Radio as Animal Enterprise — Some Further Thoughts on AETA

The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for downing two towers in Snohomish County, Washington.  The ELF statement declared that: “AM radio waves cause adverse health effects including a higher rate of cancer, harm to wildlife, and that the signals have been interfering with home phone and intercom lines.”  No one was injured but the property damage was apparently significant.  Read about it here.

The government has labeled ELF a domestic terrorist threat and acts like these domestic terrorism.  My question is whether those responsible need fear prosecution under AETA (Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act).  I have blogged elsewhere about the danger of AETA’s vagueness and its overbreadth and here we have an example of what I mean.

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Sunstein Update — No Recess for the Nutjobs

The congressional recess hasn’t stopped the wingnutathon against Cass Sunstein’s nomination to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  This opinion piece looks to rally all right-thinking Americans against radical ideas like: “[T]he law should impose further regulation on hunting, scientific experiments, entertainment, and (above all)  farming to ensure against unnecessary animal suffering.”  Apparently, the fact that Sunstein indited such sacrilege renders him unfit to clean the toilets of the OIRA, much less head up the office.  “In Sunstein’s dangerously detached worldview, money-hungry trial  lawyers could sue on behalf of every Polled Hereford in the land. And , everyone knows, they would. Clarabelle Cow could sue Ronald McDonald.”

Part of me remains hopeful that inanities such as these will galvanize public opinion behind Sunstein and give him a mandate to actually do something about the horrid state of regulatory affairs.  Of course, part of me also still believes in the Easter Bunny.

–David Cassuto

Stores, Food, Dogs and Oregon

Apparently, folks in Portland like to bring companion animals into food stores, a predilection that the Oregon Agriculture Department (Food Safety Division) wishes to discourage.  The law states that only “service” animals may enter food stores.  However, enforcement of the rule is complicated by a Catch-22 created by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The ADA bars business owners from questioning people about the nature of their disability.  Though an animal may fall outside the category of service animal, the business owner cannot inquire if this is the case because that would involve asking why the animal’s presence is necessary.  Thus, though non-service animals are banned, enforcing the ban is illegal.

This situation raises a host of legal and ethical issues.  First, as a legal matter, the rule clearly is unenforceable.  Unenforceable laws (or laws that are routinely disregarded) serve no social purpose and undermine the legal system.  We must therefore ask: should this law be abolished?

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Thinking of Going into Animal Law?

Read this.  Some how-to advice from one of the field’s rising stars.

–David Cassuto

Wolf Hunt Update

wolf-with-pupThe wolf hunt in Idaho and Montana has begun (I first blogged about it here).  A number of environmental groups sued, asking for an injunction but, since Idaho released the details of its plan of the hunt only 2 weeks ago, the court was left with very little time to consider the case.  Consequently, while the court ponders whether an injunction is appropriate, the hunt goes on. Unless and until the court intervenes, Idaho hunters can kill up to 220 wolves,  Montanans 75 wolves, and Nez Perce tribe members 35.

With all respect to the court (and the judge hearing the case has been sympathetic to this issue in the past), I do not understand why an injunction cannot issue immediately.  There is ample evidence to support the fact that a viable  Rocky Mountain wolf population should number at least 2000 (there are currently approximately 1640).  I remain appalled as well with the Obama Administration’s ham-handed, ignorant and insensitive management of this issue.  If you agree with me (and the NYT), I urge you to let President Obama and your congressional delegation know of your dismay.

–David Cassuto

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