Robert Byrd, 1917-2010

Robert Byrd was a United States Senator for 51 years.  No one can be in the Senate for that long and leave an uncomplicated legacy.  However, at least 2 things are very clear.  One, Byrd was one of the most gifted orators this country has ever known.  Two, he cared deeply about animals and loathed animal cruelty. 

His 2001 speech on the Senate floor, which I reproduce here with a hat tip to the Animal Welfare Institute, says much, leaves much unsaid, and speaks to all who are capable of listening.  Those of us who work in animal advocacy may have very different methods and views but we all abhor cruelty.  Senator Byrd’s eloquent voice offers a lesson to us all and his common decency will be sorely missed.

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD-SENATE
July 9, 2001

CRUELTY TO ANIMALS

Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, a few months ago, a lady by the name of Sara McBurnett accidentally tapped a sports utility vehicle from behind on a busy highway in California. The angry owner of the bumped vehicle, Mr. Andrew Burnett, stormed back to Ms. McBurnett’s car and began yelling at her; and then reached through her open car window with both hands, grabbed her little white dog and hurled it onto the busy roadway. The lady sat helplessly watching in horror as her frightened little pet ran for its life, dodging speeding traffic to no avail. The traffic was too heavy and the traffic was too swift.        Continue reading

The Carp Marches Ever Northward

David Cassuto

The Asian Carp continues its long march to the Great Lakes.  An invasive species that can reach 4 feet long and 100 lbs and consume up to 40% of its bodyweight daily, the carp will wreak havoc on the lakes’ ecosystem if and when it reaches there.  Currently, it’s in both the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and travelling northward.

This situation is generating both panic and inertia.  On the one hand are those who advocate severing all access points between the Mississippi basin and the lakes — arguing that the disastrous consequences of the carp’s reaching the lakes merit the drastic measures.  On the other are those who say that doing so would destroy jobs without guaranteeing that the carp will be prevented from reaching the lake.  It bears noting that the most recent carp find was only 6 miles from Lake Michigan.  This means that the fish may well have already reached the lake and that the parties could be arguing about whether to lock the door behind the intruder.   Continue reading

The Whale Killing Compromise Founders

David Cassuto

The perseverating continues about whether to `compromise´and allow some whaling in exchange for countries like Iceland, Norway and Japan agreeing to slaughter fewer whales in fewer places.  Even some major environmental organizations, including Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund, have signed on.  As Stephanie Ernst  points out, there is a dangerous ethical compromise in acquiescing to the killing of some in exchange for the survival of others.     Continue reading

King of the…Burgers?

Seth Victor

It appears that not only do we have unicorn meat on the menu, but lion meat as well. Yahoo! Sports reported on this “adventurous” new treat offered by an Arizona restaurant as a way to celebrate the World Cup. Though I’m not surprised, I didn’t know that lions were farmed for meat. I thought they were raised as ill-advised exotic pets. Apparently they are free-range from Illinois.

Call me crazy, but I can think of better ways to celebrate the culture of host nation South Africa than by eating a critically threatened animal. Then again, maybe eating through the British Coat of Arms is a proper post-colonial salute to the former mother country.

The Unicorn Meat Dust-up

David Cassuto

Is it an animal law matter that the National Pork Board sent a `cease and desist letter´ to the folks at  ThinkGeek, ordering them to stop referring to unicorn meat as `the other white meat?´  Well, I guess technically yes

Help Wanted: Herpetofauna Attorney

David Cassuto

Are you a herpetofauna attorney?  Do you want to be?  Do you know anyone who is?  Or, like me, do you just like saying “herpetofauna attorney?”  In any case, you may be interested in the job listing below with the Center for Biological Diversity

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How About You?

 Seth Victor

I am in San Diego, CA, a legendary city named after majestic sea creatures. I’ve enjoyed some of the great sights, but I would have been remiss not to visit the “World Famous” San Diego Zoo. I did so with some hesitation (and with a certain singer in my head). I was previously under the impression that the San Diego Zoo was more like a wildlife safari, where the people are in the cage moving in the environment. I was disappointed to find out that it is not. The Wild Animal Park of which I was thinking is a totally different place. The zoo is a rather nice zoo. It emphasises its conservation of endangered and threatened species. Zoos, however, are a contentious issue for many in the animal rights world. The question is whether animal exploitation is acceptable when the purpose is to bring the animals closer to humans. That’s a simplistic way of phrasing it, since circuses also bring animals closer to people, but are not something to celebrate. Yet many view the boredom and enclosed lives of animals in zoos just as poorly, arguing that media sources such as documentaries bring animals to life in a way that does not cause them suffering. 

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Teaching Animal Law in Brazil

David Cassuto

Our hero´s dance card is looking pretty full.  I will be teaching a short course on animal law here at FGV Direito Rio next week.  Tell all your friends. 

 Before I do that, however, I will go to Salvador tomorrow to spend a few days talking about animal and environmental law with the good people at the Federal University of Bahia — the same folks who are hosting an international conference on bioethics and animal rights this summer.

The Resume of a Candidate: Dog Poisoning and Spouse Abuse

David Cassuto

I believe in second chances.  I believe that people can be rehabilitated.  I do not, however, believe that people who feed deer meat laced with antifreeze to dogs  should be elected to their local school boards, especially when they show very little remorse.  I feel the same way about wife-beaters.  Especially when they´re the same person.

Mike Grissom won a spot in the runoff for the Republican nomination for the Jefferson County, Alabama Board of Education.  He poisoned the dogs in 2000 because he was tired of stepping in poop and `just snapped.´  Two of the three dogs died horrible deaths while the third was critically injured.  Grissom claims he´s not an animal hater and cites as evidence the fact that he has a cat.  Continue reading

Animal Law Continues to Grow

David Cassuto

It´s always nice to see an article about the rise and spread of animal law.  Here´s one worth reading.

h/t Florida Animal Law

The Cruelty Pathology

David Cassuto

This article on the relationship between human-to-animal cruelty and human-to-human cruelty is worth reading particularly for what it does not do.  The author does not dwell just on how inter-species cruelty can be both trigger and symptom of intra-species cruelty, but also on the fact that violence against other beings — be they human or non — is often pathological.  The oft-overlooked takeaway there is that it´s the same pathology, regardless of the victim.  Continue reading

Christopher Stone on Nonhuman Legal Standing

David Cassuto

Christopher Stone, author of the seminal 1972 law review article, Should Trees Have Standing,  takes on the issue of standing for nonhuman animals.  Stone writes with characteristic eloquence about something that — while it may sound legally arcane – could well be the single most important issue in animal law today.

Pombo Relegated to the Ashheap of History

David Cassuto

Richard Pombo lost the  Republican primary for Congress in California´s Central Valley.  This is good news for animals everywhere.  During his 14 years in Congress (representing another district, which he lost in 2006), Pombo was an unmitigated disaster (not just for animals but for all things environmental).  During his chairmanship of the House Natural Resources Committee, Pombo blocked all kinds of wildlife protection, supported subsidies for the fur industry and advocated for the resumption of the ivory trade (more on the Pombo Hall of Shame here).   His campaign platform centered on the fact that if he were elected and the Republicans regained control of the House, his seniority would make him Chairman once more.    Continue reading

New Study on Animal Protection Laws in Canada

David Cassuto

A while back, I blogged about HSUS´s useful state-by-state breakdown of animal protection laws in the U.S.   Now, I´m pleased to relay that ALDF has done a province-by-province study of the laws in Canada.  Apparently, Ontario tops the list while the Northwest Territory trails the pack.  Get the full skinny here.

Animal Law in Spain

David Cassuto

Freshly returned from Buenos Aires, I am.  It´s a great city even if I did have some problems accessing this site from there (hence the lull).  In any case, for those following my language struggles, you´ll be pleased to know that 4 days speaking Spanish has rendered me all but incoherent in Portuguese. 

And while we´re on the Spanish-speaking front, animal law is alive and emergent in Spain.  This website, put together by Marita Candela, a law professor in Barcelona, is an excellent introduction and resource.

The Brown Pelican — Another Gulf Casualty

David Cassuto

Pesticides nearly wiped out the brown pelican during the 1960s.  With great care and lots of luck, the species recovered from the brink of extinction.  Now, thanks to BP and our national petroleum addiction, it’s back.

Grizzly Bears, Moose, and Other Terrorist Enablers

David Cassuto

Apparently, those darn grizzly bears are putting our nation at risk.  Noting darkly that “the threat from the north is real,” a group of Republican lawmakers are concerned that grizzlies and other transboundary species are interfering with the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to protect the motherland.

I’m glad these folks had the courage to raise this sensitive issue.  Emboldened by their audacity, I too am ready to come forward.     Continue reading

Come 2011, Some More Regulation for CAFOs

David Cassuto

From the Correcting Inane Regulations Desk:

One could say that EPA has regulated CAFOs under the Clean Water Act for years.  Big Ag operations are required to obtain NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits for their discharges and consequently, the Agency has monitored such discharges and protected the public from the environmental hazards these operations create.  Of course, if one said all that, one would be wrong

That´s how the story might read if we lived in a rational world.  Instead, Industrial Ag operations can claim — without having to provide verification — that its facilities do not discharge into the waters of the U.S.  Consequently, many CAFOs do not obtain permits, which means their discharges are not regulated.    Continue reading

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