Burying Factory Farms with Faint Praise?

David Cassuto

Not too long ago, I blogged about Beppe Bigazzi, the Italian tv host who advocated for stewing cats.  My working theory was that Bigazzi could not possibly have been stupid enough not to know his remarks would create a backlash.  If so, then he was being wonderfully subversive  in a manner only available to those who are full participants in the culture they critique.

I had the same thought recently when reading this  NYT piece by Adam Shriver last week (admittedly, this thought did not occur to me when reading Jennifer Church’s earlier post on Shriver’s writings).  Mr. Shriver opined that since factory farms are inevitable (because they produce the meat we eat), we should turn our attention to genetically removing the pain centers in the animals we torture.  The responses to Shriver’s piece took him to task for the bald stupidity of his argument (starting with his failure to interrogate the assumption that factory farms are necessary).  Continue reading

Blogging from Brazil

David Cassuto

I’m live-blogging from the plane on my way to Rio.  Actually, that’s not true.  There’s no in-flight internet connection so by the time you read this, the time of writing will have long passed.  Indeed, this situation reifies the ongoing and insuperable challenge faced by all writers.  Time, a crucial component of all experience marches ever onward; the writer can only try to invoke through words that which can never come again.  Or, as Jean-François Lyotard puts it, “in description, writing tries to meet the challenge of being equal to its momentary absence.”  Upshot: even though I’m not live-blogging, I just like saying “live-blogging” so that’s what I did.

In any case, I’ll be in Brazil for the next several months, teaching at the Getulio Vargas Foundation School of Law in Rio (FGV Direito-Rio).  FGV is the only law school in Brazil that utilizes the Socratic method and is well on its way to developing a world class environmental law program under the direction of my former student now colleague, Romulo Sampaio.  My stay in Rio has been made possible through the good offices of the late great Senator Fulbright.  Continue reading

California Bill Proposes Animal Abuser Registry

David Cassuto

From the Hopeful Developments Desk: California State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez has drafted a bill (with help from the ALDF) which will require people convicted of felony animal abuse to register with the state and provide a current photo, home address, place of employment and other information.  The law, if passed, will be funded by a small tax on pet food.

Florez, who also chairs the Food and Agriculture Committee, is counting on his credibility in the Ag world as well as bipartisan opposition to animal abuse to overcome the anti-tax backlash that inevitably accompanies any non-revenue neutral proposal.

We shall see.  More here and here.

Friedman and Norman on Maryland DV Protective Orders

Bridget Crawford

Joshua L. Friedman (Attorney Advisor, U.S. Social Security Administration) and Gary C. Norman (Staff Attorney, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) have published their article, “Protecting the Family Pet: The New Face of Maryland Domestic Violence Protective Orders,” 40 U. Balt. L.F. 81 (2009).  Here is the abstract:

Domestic violence is on the rise, and pets are increasingly becoming the victims of marital disputes. There is a demonstrated link between acts and offenses of domestic violence and animal abuse. Domestic abusers often do not think twice about beating or otherwise harming pets that have bonded with the other spouse in order to control, coerce, intimidate, or cause emotional harm to that spouse. Continue reading

Volunteer Opportunity:Protecting Bison from Those Who Want Them Dead

David Cassuto

The bison herd in Yellowstone Park is protected from hunters.  Until the animals leave the park — which they are sometimes wont to do (bison have no pockets in which to carry a map).  As soon as the animals step over the park boundary they become prey for hunters abetted by the livestock industry who disguise their bloodlust behind disingenuous talk of brucellosis.

I just learned of an organization called the Buffalo Field Campaign, which works to protect the bison from those who think it the height of sport to shoot large, slow-moving herbivores.  And, if you have some time you wouldn’t mind spending in one of the world’s most spectacular places, the animals could use your help as well.  A little info on one of the coolest volunteer opportunities in the history of ever: Continue reading

To Stew a Cat

David Cassuto

According to an Italian cooking show host, cat stew is a delicacy.  Beppe Bigazzi recently declared that: “Cat, soaked for three days in the running water of a stream” in Tuscany “comes out with its meat white, and I assure you — I have eaten it many times — that it is a delicacy.”  He also noted that consuming cat is no more or less bizarre than eating pigeon, rabbit or chicken.  Continue reading

State by State Breakdown of Animal Protection Laws

David Cassuto

To read about it, go here; for the breakdown, here, here, and here.

Another E. coli Flesh Recall

David Cassuto

There’s really nothing one can say about this that’s new.  Oh, the ongoing infamy.

GA Bar Adds Animal Law Section

Bridget Crawford

The State Bar of Georgia has added an Animal Law sectionLaw.com (pay site – sorry; 30 day passes available) has the story hereLaw.com reports that there are several animal-law related bills pending in the state legislature including HB 429 (protective orders for pets)and SB 131 (pet trusts).

“Organic” Rules Revised

David Cassuto

Breaking news from the AP:

The Agriculture Department is sharpening the standards for organic milk and meat.

New rules announced Friday say organic milk and meat must come from livestock that graze in pastures at least four months of the year. The old rules required only that animals have access to pasture.

The new organic rules also say 30 percent of animals’ feed must come from grazing and that ranchers must have a plan to protect soil and water quality.

The Agriculture Department has taken years to set new standards. Ranchers, food companies and consumer groups have been anxious for more specific rules surrounding what can be sold as organic.

I’ll have more to say on this after I review the new rule itself.

The Return of the Aurochs — Along With Some Baggage

David Cassuto

Ever seen an aurochs?  Ever heard of one?  Answers to the latter query may vary but the response to the former is assuredly “no.”  The aurochs is an ancestor of domestic cattle and went extinct in 1627.  Though domesticated 8,000 years ago, it also lived in the wild in much of Europe until the end of the Middle Ages.

Today, there is an effort to bring back the aurochs using a technique called “back-breeding.”  Here’s how they hope it will go:

Scientists will first scour old aurochs bone and teeth fragments from museums in order to glean enough genetic material to be able to recreate its DNA. Researchers will then compare the DNA to that of modern European cattle to determine which breeds still carry the creature’s genes and create a selective-breeding program to reverse thousands of years of evolution. If everything goes as planned, each passing generation will more closely resemble the ancient aurochs.

Habeas for Chimps

David Cassuto

I will soon be blogging from Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, to be precise).  More about that soon.  While in Rio, here‘s a case I’ll be following:

Jimmy is a 26 year old chimpanzee who has spent several years alone in a cage, where he’s on exhibit at a zoo in Niterói, Brazil, just outside of Rio de Janeiro.  Just last week, animal protection groups filed a motion to have Jimmy released on grounds of Habeas Corpus, arguing that he is being denied his rights to freedom of movement and to a decent life, in Rio’s Criminal Court.  Continue reading

NYC Carriage Horse Panel on 2/23

David Cassuto

More from the NYLHV email:
2/23 Panel Discussion: Protecting Animals and Humans: The Past, Present and Future of Horse Carriages in NYC

Since the 1970’s, New York City residents and animal protection organizations have advocated to protect horses used in the carriage industry and ensure public safety; however, the dangers created by animal-pulled vehicles in the streets of a major city threaten the safety of both people and animals. Horses, which weigh more than 1,000 pounds, continue to get spooked and collide with cars and pedestrians. They collapse on the streets. They die prematurely in stables. They suffer from punishing pavement, extreme weather conditions, and a lack of water.  Continue reading

NYLHV Board Member Nominated to AVMA Executive Board

David Cassuto

From the email (from the New York League of Humane Voters):

NYLHV Veterinarian Needs Your Help!

Dr. John Hynes, a veterinarian and Board Member of NYLHV has been nominated to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)  Executive Board. If Dr. Hynes is elected, he can work to strengthen animal welfare policies and help promote more humane legislation from within the organization.   Although the AVMA ought to oppose cruel and inhumane treatment to animals, they actually support many practices that cause unnecessary pain and suffering to animals used for food, entertainment, research, and companionship.  All veterinarians will receive a ballot in the mail this week. Please call your veterinarians TODAY and ask them to vote for Dr. Hynes when they receive their ballot. He is our best hope for improving conditions for animals, and getting more humane legislation passed through this national veterinary organization. To reach Dr. Hynes, or for more information, visit www.nycvet.org.


On Autism, Activism, Compassion, Love and Slaughter

Bridget Crawford

Bitch Magazine has a critical post (here) inspired by the Temple Grandin HBO biopic starring Claire Danes.  Here is an excerpt of the review by Brittany Shoot:

I wondered why Grandin, understanding how out of control factory farming has gotten in the last forty years (thanks in part to her own work?), has continued her work in the same field without reevaluating present conditions. Coming from such an intelligent person, her striking lack of analysis troubled me.  Continue reading

Exotic Animal Atrocities

Jonathan Vandina

Earlier this year an undercover investigator worked for a Texas wildlife importer. During the months of his employment he witnessed and documented some of the most horrifying and indiscriminate acts of wildlife animal cruelty in captivity that have ever been recorded.  The conditions these animals were kept in were unaccommodating, unsanitary and downright repulsive. This is not a new problem within the exotic animal trade.

Many of the animals were deprived of food, water and the veterinary care needed to merely survive. Additionally, the investigator is on tape requesting food (the feeder fish) as well as veterinary care from the owners of the establishment. The owners reply with “oh that’s right I forgot” or explain that they just can’t afford to do it or sometimes just laugh it off.  This behavior seems to continue for over a month. Continue reading

The 2010 Animal Law Moot

David Cassuto

I’m in Boston — well, Cambridge actually — at a cute little law school tucked away in a modest, unassuming university they have up here.  This year marks my seventh consecutive year judging the annual Animal Law Moot Court Competition, an event staged by Lewis & Clark’s Center for Animal Law Studies in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Continue reading

Owning What You Eat

David Cassuto

From the shameless self-promotion desk: I have a new chapter/article available on SSRN.  It’s called Owning What you Eat: The Discourse of Food.  You can get it here.  It will appear in DEMOCRACY, ECOLOGICAL INTEGRITY AND INTERNATIONAL LAW, a book forthcoming this fall.

Here’s the abstract: Continue reading

The Truth About Track Closings

Jennifer Krebs (Board of Directors, GREY2K USA)

There was a lot of press coverage recently regarding the latest dog track closings in Arizona, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.  The closing of Phoenix Greyhound Park and Dairyland Greyhound Park was good news, in that they are more evidence of the gradual implosion of the dog racing industry – more proof that the tracks without the financial support of slot machines (known as racinos) simply aren’t viable.  The closing of Raynham Park was even better news, as it is the result of the first-ever dog racing ban achieved through the citizen’s initiative process, Massachusetts Ballot Question 3.

Unfortunately, much of the press coverage and public discussion of the tracks’ closings didn’t paint it as positive progress for the greyhounds.  You may have read some of the headlines, or the threads on greyhound discussion forums, referring to the ‘glut’ of dogs displaced by track closings… and dire predictions of a so-called ‘greyhound tsunami’.  A fraudulent e-mail was widely circulated, stating 900 greyhounds at Dairyland were going to be euthanized when the track closed, if they weren’t found homes immediately!  It is rare that the racing community and the greyhound advocates working to end racing agree on something, but that e-mail was met by a chorus of groans from members of both camps.  The last thing that people on either side of the issue wanted to see was panic-driven misinformation.  Continue reading

Ohio Issue 2 Aftermath

David Cassuto

Reports of the death of animal advocacy in Ohio in the wake of last fall’s passage of Issue 2 have been greatly exaggerated.  Ohioans for Humane Farms has begun the process of getting an initiative on the ballot that would:

1. Require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to establish minimum humane standards for certain farm animals within six years after adoption of the amendment. The minimum standards would:

  • Prohibit a farm owner or operator from tethering or confining any calf raised for veal, pig during pregnancy, or egglaying hen, on a farm, for all or the majority of a day, in a manner that prevents such animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending his or her limbs, or turning around freely. This prohibition would not apply during certain times set forth in the amendment, including, but not limited to, during veterinary treatment, certain livestock exhibitions, and scientific or agricultural research. Continue reading

A Small Victory for Live Skinned Raccoon Dogs

Michelle Land

On January 29th, the Humane Society of the United States announced a settlement had been reached with clothing retailer Saks Fifth Avenue on the matter of false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments.  As a result, Saks has agreed to impose new garment labeling practices and change advertising policies.  Lord & Taylor and Andrew Marc retailers have similarly settled, with Macy’s and Neiman Marcus refusing to budge in the HSUS lawsuit.

At issue is a regulatory loophole that currently allows many fur-trimmed items to be sold without informing consumers whether and what kind of fur those products contain.  As reported on the HSUS website, dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments were identified across the industry with Raccoon Dogs as the most commonly misrepresented type of fur.  A previous post here explained that Raccoon Dog fur is often labeled as a different animal, as “faux” fur, or possibly not even labeled at all. Continue reading

Hypatia — Call for Papers

David Cassuto

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy has issued an intriguing call for papers, which follows below:

4. Animal Others Special Issue
Volume 27 Number 3, Summer 2012
Guest Editors: Lori Gruen and Kari Weil

We are soliciting papers for a special issue of Hypatia on Animal Others. Scholarship in “Animal Studies” has grown considerably over the last few years, yet the feminist insights that much of this work borrows from and builds on remains relatively unrecognized. This special issue of Hypatia will remedy this by showcasing the best new feminist work on nonhuman animals that will help to rethink and redefine (or undefine) categories such as animal-woman-nature-body. The issue will provide the opportunity to re-examine concerns that are central to both feminist theory and animal studies and promote avenues of thought that can move us beyond pernicious forms of othering that undergird much human and non-human suffering.  Continue reading

League of Humane Voters Hit With a Stiff Fine (with a note on “animal rights”)

David Cassuto

The League of Humane Voters of NYC  just got hit with a 6 figure fine for failing to register as a lobbying organization or file spending reports while pushing for a ban on carriage horses in NYC.  I know nothing of the backstory here and am a firm believer that lobbyists should be registered and monitored.  So, if LOHV ran afoul of this regulation, then it received a deserved comeuppance.  However, word on the street is that the smack-down is also some payback from City Council Speaker Quinn, with whom the organization has locked horns in the past. Perhaps more details will soon emerge.   Continue reading

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