Trap Neuter and Release Programs (TNR) Lead to Hoarding

Sarah Kelland

Organizations such as PETA and The Humane Society of the United States believe that the trap neuter and release programs for feral cats are not beneficial when their caregivers do not feed them or tend to their medical needs. A recent NY Times article “The Pathological Altruist Gives Till Someone Hurts”, supports this view.

The “someone” refers to a feral animal escaping the possibility of being euthanized in a pound. Hoarders think they are rescuing these animals, but they are unable to see that they are causing more harm than good. Their desire to save feral animals from death ironically leads to having more animals than they are able to care for which results in their death. Walk into a hoarder’s home and “you can’t breathe” and “there are dead and dying animals present.” This becomes a safety issue to the animals, those that live in the home, and the humane officers who come to rescue them.  This is selflessness gone awry. Continue reading

Money Talks When Animals and (Some) People Cannot

Bridget Crawford

 The New York Times reported earlier this week  (here) on state legislation under consideration in three jurisdictions.  The proposed laws would allow courts to prohibit animal abusers from having pets in the future.  According to the NYT, 27 states now have similar laws. 

 Animal lawyers and law scholars long have acknowledged the connection between animal abuse and violence against women.  For recent scholarship, see, e.g., Caroline Anne Forell, Using a Jury of Her Peers to Teach About the Connection between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse, 15 Animal L. Rev. 53 (2008).  The NYT article leads with a statement claiming that proposed legislation is “[r]esponding to growing evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans.”  But the article makes more of the cost to state and local governments of caring for abused animals that are rescued.  The article cites $1.2 million in expenses by Franklin County, Ohio officials caring for 170 rescued dogs.  A Michigan county paid $37,000 in clean-up costs when dead animals were found in a hoarders home.

 This leaves one with the impression that the least vulnerable among us get legal protection only when its absence becomes too expensive for the state. A society or government that listens only when money talks does not adequately respond to those with the greatest needs.

Thinking About Animal Law

Bruce Wagman

Lately, I have been thinking about animal law almost constantly.  That has been the case for some time actually.  I’ve had the honor of being involved in the field for about eighteen years at some level, and pretty much had a full time animal law practice for the last five years.  I’ve been talking about animal law, reading about it, going to conferences and meeting the leaders in the field, and I have been privileged to participate in the national moot court competitions and work on a wide variety of cases.  Since I work it, live it and breathe it, I am also always talking about it.  I spend significant time explaining what animal law is – to other lawyers, to clients and to friends.  Being forced to describe and define it in ways that others understand, and so that they can get an idea of the scope of the field, requires some distillation.  Because at this point the field is expansive and has a variety of sub-specialties.  There are many lawyers who incorporate animal law into their practice and focus almost exclusively on one specific area within the field — companion animals, farmed animals, wills and trusts.       Continue reading

Still Thinking About Dogs (and Cats Too)

Bruce Wagman

There’s so many issues that come up with dogs that I am still thinking about them.  And much of this applies to cats as well.  Let me be clear to start that I live with three dogs, five cats and one wife, and it’s the rare event that I get to sleep on my pillow (because Nzuri beats me there every night) or stretch out my legs (Rafiki) or get near the middle of the bed (Paka, Sybil).  And the ones that are not there are sleeping not just on the couches, but actually on special beds that sit atop the couches, because those big-pillowed couches are just too hard for the cats and dogs to sleep on without some other cushion.  So I am certainly a canine and feline worshipper.  The smell and feel of dog or cat fur are nectar and succor; and if one of them decides to perch on me, their presence freezes time.

Continue reading

Thinking About Dogs

Bruce Wagman

I have had dogs on my mind lately.  They are the main players in many of my (and many animal lawyers’) cases, and they are the species I get the most calls about.  This week I had a call about a sheep owner shooting a roaming dog, with the caller wondering about the implication of the California statute that allows a livestock owner to shoot any dog on his land, even if the dog is nowhere near livestock, Cal. Food and Agric. Code section 31103, and the case that upheld the broad scope of that statute, Katsaris v. Cook, 180 Cal. App. 3d 256 (Cal. App. 1986).  I talked earlier in the year with a lawyer who convinced a court that her client’s dog breeding operation was a livestock facility, United States v. Park, 536 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2008), on remand, 2009 WL 2949333 (D. Idaho).  The irony of that case seemed to escape everyone involved.  The issue in the case was whether this breeding operation could operate on land with a federal easement.  “Livestock operations” were allowed to do so.  So the interesting point of the ruling for me is the conclusion that breeders are in fact just like factory (livestock) farmers and others who operate commercial operations, use animals for profit, and in the short and long run contribute directly to the death of thousands of animals in shelters around the country.  When someone buys a dog from a breeder, they automatically kill a dog in a shelter who could have been saved – “buy one, get one killed,” as one of my t-shirts says.  The math is simple and can’t be denied; if a new dog if brought into the world for profit, and given to someone who has room for a dog, then that breed dog replaces the life of a dog in a shelter, who will then be gassed, injected or otherwise summarily wiped off the planet, dying sad and alone and wondering why.    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

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