National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — A Climate Change Hero…?

Painting by Sue Coe

David Cassuto

Guess what?  Apparently, human contributions to climate change is still iffy science and even if it weren’t, the beef industry sequesters rather than releases carbon and should be rewarded for its zealous fight against climate change.  So says the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).  According to the NCBA, agriculture was responsible for less than 6% of total U.S. GHG emissions while land use, land use change, and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon soil sequestration of approximately 17.4% of total U.S. CO2 emissions, or 14.9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, “Agriculture actually provides a significant net benefit to the climate change equation,” said Tamara Theis, chief environmental counsel for the NCBA. “Rather than being subject to overly-burdensome regulations, agriculture should be rewarded for the carbon reductions we provide.”

Note the deft rhetorical move: land use, land use change and forestry do not necessarily have anything to do with agriculture.  Nevertheless, Big Ag is taking credit for it while also underselling its role in emissions.  Such claims would be laughable if they weren’t so pernicious.  Well, actually, they’re still laughable.  But they’re also dangerous.  The NCBA has just filed suit in the DC Circuit challenging EPA’s right to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.  Now, you may be saying — isn’t this what Massachusetts vs. EPA was all about?  How can the NCBA challenge a Supreme Court ruling?   Continue reading

Elephant “Training” Photos

David Cassuto

Paucity of posts this week, for which I apologize.  More soon.  In the meantime, if anybody was thinking that the allegations of the plaintiffs in the Ringling Brothers case were exaggerated, take a gander at these elephant “training” pics.  They are not from Ringling Brothers but they do reflect standard training practices.

AALS Animal Law Section Third Annual Panel

David Cassuto

A few years ago, after many years in the wilderness, the animal law community successfully created a section within the American Association of Law Schools (AALS).  This year will be our third and we once again have a great panel lined up for the AALS annual meeting.  The skinny follows:    Continue reading

Sentient Brussel Sprouts and Other Convenient Tropes

David Cassuto

Natalie Angier writes in today’s NYT about how plants are sophisticated organisms and therefore any kind of dietary regime causes pain.  Jasmin Singer rips Angier a new one here.

UPDATE: Check out this rebuttal  as well.

Animal Law and Lab Animals — Fearing a Paper Tiger

David Cassuto

P. Michael Conn, Director of Research Advocacy at Oregon Health and Sciences University and the the Oregon National Primate Research Center is concerned that the proliferation of animal law courses taught at U.S. law schools (111 schools at last count) poses a threat to animal research.  This claim is interesting on a number of levels.

First and lamentably, the law currently poses almost no threat at all to animal research.  To the extent that laboratory animals have any protection at all (and most don’t — mice and rats, the most popular lab animals, are exempt from the paltry protections of the Animal Welfare Act), virtually no one has standing to enforce those protections.  So Mr. Conn’s concern seems unfounded.   Continue reading

100K

We’ve surpassed 100,000 hits.

No small thing, that.

Thank you for taking the time to read and write and care.

–David

Some Externalized Havoc from Industrial Agriculture

David Cassuto

Following up on Jessica’s prairie dog post of a little while back, here’s an excellent piece on the havoc industrial agriculture wreaks on wild animals (in addition to farmed animals) and the non-animal environment.

Desert Rock Power Plant to Be Reassessed in Light of Threat to Fish

David Cassuto


From the Things that Never Would Have Happened Under W Desk:

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has withdrawn its Biological Assessment and the  EPA has also withdrawn the air quality permit they respectively issued last summer for the Desert Rock coal-fired power plant sited for the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region of New Mexico.  The reason(s): concerns about the impact of heavy metals on two species of endangered fish in the San Juan River.

Sometimes I have to read news like this a few times and remember that the long, savage assault on the natural environment that was 2000-08 has indeed come to a close.  Continue reading

Fast Friends – Adopting a Racing Greyhound

In my first guest post on Animal Blawg, I talked a little bit about my addiction to retired racing greyhounds and I mentioned that we have adopted six since 2003.  A few of the comments in response talked about what wonderful companions retired racers make.  Of course, this topic is near and dear to my heart, but it’s also a timely one in light of some recent changes to the dog racing landscape.

2009 has been unprecedented in the number of racetracks that have closed or ended live racing, and the same is expected for 2010.  This year, five tracks have already ended live racing, and three more will join the list at the end of this month:  Dairyland Greyhound Park in Wisconsin, Phoenix Greyhound Park in Arizona and Raynham Park in Massachusetts.  While the numbers of greyhounds being bred to race is down significantly, there will be a resulting influx of dogs being retired each time a track closes.   Continue reading

The Animated Fried Fish: The Latest Development in Animal Cruelty

Irina Knopp

Tired of those boring fish in the lake and that bland fried fillet you had at the local fast food restaurant? Well come on down to China and combine the two! Get the fun of torturing a live fish with the satisfaction of getting to eat it at the same time!

Sarcastic venting aside, a video has been circulating Youtube depicting a fish that was fried alive. The fish remains living for a few minutes after it is put on the plate. In the background you can hear the people at the table giggling as they poke the fish that is desperately gasping for air (or asking for someone to put it out of its misery?).   Continue reading

Electrocuting Lobsters

David Cassuto

So here we have a device (which sells for £2,500 — or roughly $4,400) that kills lobsters almost instantly by electrocution rather than forcing them to endure the 3-4 agonizing minutes they typically spend being boiled or roasted alive.  Is this a step forward?  Will it lead to more lobster consumption — a prospect fraught with ethical and environmental complications — or will it simply ease the agony of those already destined for dinner plates?   Continue reading

Meat, Copenhagen and Climate Change

David Cassuto

Concerned citizens the world over have gathered in Copenhagen to hammer out a plan to arrest climate change and prevent a planetary apocalypse.  Many have written much about the talks (check out, for example, Andy Revkin’s blog) but at least as interesting is what’s being neither talked about in Copenhagen nor much covered elsewhere.  I refer, of course, to animal agriculture and the fact that no comprehensive emissions reduction plan can fail to address the reality that the world’s ever-growing demand for meat is barbecuing the planet.   Continue reading

Why I’d Rather Feed My Child Dirt Than a School Lunch

David Cassuto

I’ve been trying to figure out what it says about this country that McDonalds  sets higher standards for its flesh products than the USDA does for school lunch programs. At a minimum, it says that we care almost as little about our children as we do about the animals we torture and slaughter to feed them.

Perhaps this should prompt a reexamination.

Or maybe we should just ignore it and pretend everything is fine.  Yeah, yeah; that’s the ticket.

Animal Law on a Channel Near You

David Cassuto

My colleague, Ralph Stein (a founding member of Pace Law School and frequent commenter on this blog), devoted his most recent community access tv show to animal law.  Watch it here.

Greyhound Racing – The Industrialization of Man’s Best Friend

My name is Jennifer Krebs, and I am an addict.

My addiction is to racing greyhounds and advocating for them.

The first time I saw a retired racing greyhound up close and personal was in 1993 in South Florida.  I fell completely in love, but it was a full ten years before I realized my dream of adopting one.  In 2003, I adopted my first greyhound, and my husband and I have adopted five more since.

I spent the first five years of greyhound ‘parenthood’ primarily supporting adoption efforts.  About a year and a half ago, that focus changed to working to end greyhound racing.  For me, it was an evolution from supporting the Band-aid to supporting the cure.

Dog racing is a cruel and inhumane sport.  Over 20,000 greyhounds are bred to run for their lives every year.  At dog tracks across the country, thousands of greyhounds languish in small, stacked cages inside dimly lit buildings, seeing the light of day only for brief periods of time when they are ‘turned out’ to relieve themselves.  They are fed raw 4-D meat (‘D’ for dead, dying diseased or disabled), which contains denatured charcoal to discourage human consumption.  Once or twice a week, they are taken to the track to race, where they face the chance of injury and death.  They suffer broken legs, lacerations, paralysis, severed tails, cardiac arrest and heat stroke.  Every day, the ‘careers’ of racing greyhounds end when they are no longer competitive, and their lives hang in the balance.  Some of them are rescued by adoption organizations.  Others meet an untimely end in any number of ways, of which euthanasia by a veterinarian is the most humane.       Continue reading

Factory Farms, Mark Bittman and TSCA — An Unlikely Trio

David Cassuto

Intriguing blog post by Mark Bittman, of all people, wondering whether industrial meat could be illegal under TSCA , the Toxic Substances Control Act (not to be confused with Tosca, the Puccini opera).  The argument would be that TSCA gives the EPA authority to regulate substances that pose “an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment,” which greenhouse gases do, and industrial agriculture is a prime source of greenhouse gases (which they are).  So… there’s a potential case to be made for the strict regulation of industrial agriculture under TSCA.

It’s a creative argument and I, of course, salute the intent.  But I’m skeptical.  As an initial matter, TSCA “does not include chemical substances subject to other US statutes such as foods and food additives, pesticides, drugs, cosmetics, tobacco, nuclear material, or munitions.” Greenhouse gases are indeed subject to other U.S. statutes (i.e. the Clean Air Act); this was the gravamen of the Massachusetts v. EPA case and the reason for the EPA’s recent “endangerment finding” that Bittman references in the post.   Continue reading

The Voiceless Toolkit Can Now Be Yours

From the email:

Last night the Honourable Justice Ruth McColl AO, Judge of Appeal of the Supreme Court of NSW, launched the Voiceless Animal Law Toolkit. The launch was part of the Voiceless 2009 Awards Event, where this year’s Voiceless Grant recipients and inaugural Voiceless Media Prize winner were announced.

Speaking at the launch, Brian Sherman AM, Voiceless’s Managing Director, said “People often ask why animals need lawyers. With the level of animal cruelty sanctioned by the law in Australia, the real question should be ‘why don’t animals have lawyers already?’ I am pleased that Voiceless has produced this wonderful Toolkit to help build the animal law movement, which will in turn give voices to the million of animals subjected to legalised cruelty on factory farms and in other areas of Australian society.”

The Toolkit is a snapshot of the status of the animal law movement in Australia, and was produced in recognit ion of the momentum and growth of this area of law. It is a practical and educational resource for law students, legal practitioners, academics and animal advocates wanting to get involved in the animal law movement. The Animal Law Toolkit:

  • Examines key animal law issues
  • Provides animal law course offerings
  • Lists professional animal law associations
  • Contains animal law case notes, resources and other valuable information for budding animal lawyers.

In launching the Toolkit, Her Honour Justice McColl said, “By preparing such a valuable practical tool the authors of the Toolkit clearly recognise the path ahead, barely ploughed as it is, must be based on solid foundations. By creating the Toolkit they are arming the legal and general community with information necessary to ensure the animal law movement can be well and properly understood.”

Katrina Sharman, Voicel ess’s Corporate Counsel and lead author of the Toolkit, said today, “It is encouraging to see lawyers from diverse backgrounds taking an interest in animal law and wanting to use their skills to take a stand against the institutionalised suffering of animals. Animal law in Australia is no longer a fringe social justice movement. With Australia’s key academic and political institutions taking an interest in the area, it has officially become mainstream.”

Please follow this link to download your copy.

NYC City Council Speaker to Unveil Citywide “Food Policy”

David Cassuto

Creating an urban food policy for the nation’s largest city is an opportunity to accomplish something of genuine import.  The key word here is “opportunity.”  The proof will be in the pudding, as they say…

The Objective Correlative

David Cassuto

The objective correlative conveys a sense of  “the whatness of the thing.”   According to T.S. Eliot, that means “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.”  To paraphrase the late Lee Hays, it’s a way of unscrewing the inscrutable.

Why tell you all this?  Well, first because I’ve been thinking a lot about this blawg and what it does and should do.  In recent months it has taken on a new look (how do you like it, btw?) and the influx of student views has also changed the tenor.  There is greater diversity of viewpoint and therefore more debate and, in my view, that is good for the animals.   Continue reading

More on the Vegan Dialogues

Matthew Blaisdell

This is a summation/expansion of my comments (see post & comments here) relating to the NY Times Op-Ed in which the writer likened the killing of animals for meat consumption to the Holocaust.

I know only about as much as the general public regarding animal rights/law.  I do think that the issues involved are fascinating, difficult and complex.  What strikes me is what I will call the ‘moralizing’ tenor of much of the dialogue.  I call these dialogues ‘moralizing’ because, to me, they rely on assumptions about ethics applied to a code of behavior, and are imbued with strong judgments about those behaviors.  What has been happening is that those who focus on the ‘immorality’ of factory farming have been attacked for not subscribing to the ‘immorality’ of eating animal products.  For example, see a selection from the postings made by a friend of mine:

“Actually, I think many meat eaters are a self-righteous bunch … I long ago gave up trying to convince meat eaters to change after I realized that theirs is much less a rational choice, than a thoughtless submission to a base urge.”

To me, such statements (as well as those likening the consumption of animal products to murder or the Holocaust) are either intended to introduce the listener to this moral code by way of a provocative statement, or to communicate to a listener who subscribes to the same moral code.  I am concerned with is the first of these motives.   Continue reading

Top Chef — A Cultural Barometer

Matthew Blaisdell

A cultural studies major may find grounds for a thesis in following the treatment of vegetarianism in ‘Top Chef,’ which I’ve gotten roped into the last 2 seasons.  This season started on a typical meat-obsessive note, with the first contestant mockingly dismissed for attempting a seitan-stuffed pepper.  Even the thought seemed to make the judges ill.  Since then, a later-rounds competition was based on preparing a vegetarian meal (highlighting Natalie Portman’s celebrity advocacy) with the winner being the chef who most understood what vegetarians want–a meal as satisfying as a meat-dish, not just creatively prepared vegetables.      Continue reading

How Many is Too Many? When Does Having Too Many Pets Become Hoarding Syndrome?

Tiffany Gallo

Hoarding is a syndrome that has become more publicized in the recent years.  Normally, a hoarder collects inanimate objects and is addicted to the clutter. Compulsive Hoarding is the acquisition of and failure to use or discard such large numbers of seemingly useless possessions that it causes significant clutter and impairment to basic living activities.  Animal Hoarding is a similar, but involves the keeping of higher than usual numbers of pets without having the ability to properly house or care for them properly.  Compulsive hoarding is not a crime, but is rather considered a mental disorder.  Animal hoarding, on the other hand, leads to the abuse and neglect of animals. This raises the question: when does having too many pets become a syndrome?  Continue reading

Newborn Calves Abused at Organic Farm

Elizabeth Bennett

Unfortunately, allegations of animal abuse at slaughterhouses have long been prevalent.  It is not, however, too often that you hear of a farm or company being punished for such cruel behavior.  Recently, an organically certified Vermont slaughterhouse called Bushway Packing Inc. was ordered to close because of their inhumane treatment of calves.  An undercover agent for the Humane Society of the United States captured various forms of animal abuse at this slaughterhouse on video.  According to the humane society, slaughterhouse employees were kicking calves, electrically prodding them, wetting them with water so that electric prodding would be more painful, improperly rendering them senseless before slaughter, and even skinning them alive.  These are typical abuse allegations against slaughterhouses commonly made by animal welfarist and rights advocates that are all too often ignored.

The calves processed at Bushway Packing were born on dairy farms and immediately torn from their mothers so that the mother’s milk would not be wasted on them.  This rendered many of them weak and unable to walk.  They were then physically abused into standing and walking so that employees can avoid prohibitions on slaughtering “downed cows.”   These calves were being produced as “bob veal,” where they were killed when less than a week old to be used in food items such as hot dogs and lunch meats, unlike regular veal production which “harvests” calves at around 4 months of age.  Keep in mind that supporting the dairy industry is, in a way, supporting the veal and bob veal industries because of the need to take calves away from their dairy cow mothers so that all their mother’s milk can be processed for human use.  Male calves are a byproduct of the dairy industry and are thus put to use in the veal industry.  For this very reason, dairy farmers were greatly worried about their financial stability in the wake of this story.   Continue reading

Animal Drop Boxes and the Economic Recession

Katy Steere

Dog left in drop box in Sacramento, CA

As more and more Americans face poverty and homelessness during this economic recession, their pets are being left at after hours shelter drop boxes in droves. Foreclosure pets make up a great number of the pets surrendered every day. After hours drop boxes are outdoor kennels attached to shelters where people can anonymously abandon their animals when shelters are closed. Animal drop boxes are controversial because states with animal cruelty laws in place have provisions making animal abandonment illegal.

Elkhart, Indiana is one of the hardest hit recession areas in the United States. Kari Huus of MSNBC.com writes, “Each day at five, staff members of the Humane Society of Elkhart County close the animal shelter and hold a meeting. And each day, like clockwork, they begin hearing a “thump, thump, thump” from outside.” Many of the animals being dropped off are malnourished, diseased and beyond the point of rehabilitation. The shelter is seeing an influx of 600 to 700 animals each month while the shelter only has space for 266 animals. Huus writes, “Since October 2008, the shelter has handled 5,783 animals, 42 percent of which were abandoned anonymously.” When the drop box becomes full overnight, the staff finds animals tied up outside the shelter as well as animals roaming the parking lot. Because of this overwhelming influx of animals, the shelter is euthanizing two to three times the number of animals it would in an average month. The Elkhart Humane Society is desperate for donations to help them deal with this incredible influx.  Continue reading

Throwing the Wolves Out With the Bathwater

David Cassuto

Odd editorial in today’s NYT.  On the one hand, it lays bare the hypocrisy and bloodlust behind the wolf hunt in the Northern Rockies.  For example, after several wolves were killed just outside of Yellowstone (outside the park boundary, you can kill them), Montana’s wolf program director said, ““We didn’t think wolves would be that vulnerable to firearms harvest.”  Yeah, right.   Then, in Idaho, when hunters just couldn’t kill enough wolves in time, Idaho extended the season to March 31st.

On the other hand, the editorial claims that environmental groups have lost the argument that endangered grey wolves had not yet reached a sustainable population in the region.  It says that the groups are regrouping around the idea of a hunting moratorium until stronger state management plans can be formulated.  This characterization seems both premature and overstated.   Continue reading

Critical Animal Studies Is Here For Good

David Cassuto

I have been remiss in not remarking on the surge in recognition and spreading impact of the academic field of Critical Animal Studies.  Not only are there a number of cool blogs about it (e.g., this and this and this) but one of the preeminent thinkers in the field is my good friend and former professor, Cary Wolfe.  Cary is the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor at Rice University.  He also edits the Posthumanities series published by the University of Minnesota Press.    Continue reading

Are Seahorses Becoming Extinct?

Elisa D’Ortenzio

Today, there are so many threats to the various ecosystems and the animals that live in them that it has become hard to keep track of them all.  One animal that seems to receive little attention is the seahorse, even as many believe the seahorse to be a flagship of endangered marine habitats of the world and indicators of the heath of coral reefs where they live.  The effect of their loss would cause an imbalance in the ecosystem creating lasting detrimental consequences as they are predators of bottom-dwelling organisms.

Seahorses are fish that have fascinated people due to their horse-shaped heads, kangaroo-like pouches, and monkey-like tails.  Still fascinating is that the male seahorses give birth to the offspring.  Every year about 20 million seahorses are harvested live from the world’s oceans.  The future of many species of seahorse are now in question as threats such as pollution, habitat loss and accidental fishing increasingly reduce their populations.  The biggest threat these fish face though, come from the unsustainable harvesting of seahorses for the aquarium trade, curio trade (dried and sold as souvenirs) and for use in traditional medicines.  Millions of seahorses, corals and other marine animals are collected alive and dried as souvenirs and utilized as curios with a high availability in beach resorts and shell shops around the world while the greatest number of harvested seahorses are imported to Asia.  Continue reading

Vegan With a Vengeance

Tara Dugo

On November 22, 2009, the New York Times ran an op ed that discussed, of all things, veganism.  (Previously discussed on this blawg on November 24, 2009 and November 27, 2009.)  The op ed, which was written by Gary Steiner, a Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University, really delved into the issues that vegans are faced with in today’s “meat-crazed society.”  While both entertaining and impassioned, Mr. Steiner asked the readers of the New York Times to basically think before they ate this Thanksgiving.  He also discussed that, just because the turkey that you are buying is labeled “free-cage” or “free-range” does not mean that the animal that you are about to ingest lived a long, comfortable life.  Instead, its life was “short and miserable” just like the turkeys that lived their short lives in factory farms.  One theme that ran throughout his article was the idea that nonhuman animals are exploited for man’s satisfaction and that this is the result of man’s feelings of superiority, since man is intelligent and compassionate.  As Mr. Steiner so perfectly stated, just because animals may not think on the same plane as humans, does not justify us using them as “organic toys.”

Mr. Steiner’s article is clearly a comment on the property paradigm with regards to animals.  It is the fact that animals are property in the law that they are exploited for human usage.  Enter veganism.  Strict vegans, as Mr. Steiner pointed out, have an abolitionist ideology when it comes to animal exploitation.  While this ideology is largely on the fringe of societal thought, a small shift is beginning.  More and more individuals are adapting a new attitude towards animals, realizing that they are, and certainly should in a legal sense be more than property.  The mere fact that the New York Times published the article by Mr. Steiner shows that animal welfare and veganism are making their way into minds of the mainstream.   Continue reading

Oreo’s Law

Christopher Cuomo

In June 2009, I was deeply saddened to learn that a fellow New Yorker threw his pit bull (Oreo) off the roof of a building. Despite the horrendous act I was happy to hear that the owner was being prosecuted and Oreo was recovering. In November 2009, after Oreo had made a full physical recovery the A.S.P.C.A decided to euthanize him. The A.S.P.C.A claimed that Oreo displayed aggressiveness. As was explained in Ms. Gallo’s November 16th post, the A.S.P.C.A made the decision to kill Oreo despite the fact there had been many offers from animal rescue groups and No Kill shelters to take Oreo and save him from being killed.  Once the announcement was made public the A.S.P.C.A received emails, phone calls, and an online petition was even launched in an attempt to save Oreo.   

All was done in vain.  What was once an act of animal cruelty by one became an act of complicity. The A.S.P.C.A had the resources available to give Oreo a good life, yet they chose the easy way out and ended his life.

Oreo may be memorialized and his death may have had a purpose after all. Not only did he defy all the odds by surviving the fall, but his death may be the catalyst needed to save thousands of animals each year. Two New York State legislators introduced a bill named “Oreo’s Law”.  This law would make it illegal for a shelter in New York State to kill an animal if a rescue group or No Kill shelter is willing to save the animal’s life.  “Oreo’s Law” is modeled after a similar California law.   Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,267 other followers