Live Tweeting Global Animal Law Conference

David Cassuto

Check it out.  #galcbcn

Sign The Petition Against Exotic Animal Abuse In New York Circuses

The cruelty-free show must go on. Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), an animal advocacy non-profit, has initiated a petition through Change.org in support of the Traveling Wild and Exotic Animal Protection Act. (See memorandum in support by the the New York City Bar Association).

In summary, the act — A.5407 in the New York State Assembly and S.5971 in the Senate — would add Section 352 to the New York Agriculture and Markets Law to prohibit any:

…traveling circuses or show from including the participation of an exotic or wild animal, including a non-human primate, in an animal act if during the thirty day period preceding such participation, such animal was Continue reading

New Book on Evolving Legal Status of Pets

Final Cover (sans quote)Hi All,

Please excuse the self-promotion, but today marks the publication of my first book, Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs. The book is about how pets have become more like family, not only in our homes, but also in the eyes of the law. It covers a number of topics that would be of interest to the Animal Blawg community, including:

–The evolving legal status of cats and dogs in courtrooms and legislatures

–The rise of the animal law and animal protection movements

–The backlash against animal rights from the veterinary, scientific, and agriculture communities

Reviews have begun coming in, and they’ve been great so far:

“Well researched and also very personable, this book will make readers think as they look into the eyes of those furry beings that share their lives.” Booklist

“This engrossing, enjoyable, and well-researched title contributes positively to the literature on companion animals and belongs in all libraries.” Library Journal (starred review)

“Grimm’s most valuable contribution… is his reasoned and well-researched discussion of the pet “personhood” movement, particularly its legal implications for veterinarians, scientific research, and agriculture.” – Publishers Weekly

“Eye opening” – National Geographic

“A book of note” — The Toronto Star

I’ve also just had two very nice Q&As published, one in National Geographic and one in Wired.

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, IndieBound, and bookstores everywhere. Please help me spread the word!

Animallaw.com: Research Tool for Animal Lawyers, Students and Advocates

By: A. Rivard, J.D. candidate, Pace Law School

Animallaw.com

 What is Animallaw.com?

Animallaw.com is a comprehensive, free website that serves as a resource and clearinghouse for information on animals and the law. The website is available for the benefit of attorneys, law students, engaged constituents and all other animal advocates. Animallaw.com is entirely funded by the National Anti-Vivisection Society and sponsored by The International Institute for Animal Law (IIAL), a not-for-profit organization comprised of internationally renowned attorneys and judges. IIAL provides animal law programs, workshops, online resources such as Animallaw.com and offers grants as well. A disclaimer can be found on IIAL’s site, which states that it is neither licensed to practice animal law nor give legal advice. Rather, the mission of IIAL is to encourage, at the international level, the development of legal scholarship and advocacy skills on behalf of animals and as a result enhance the development of animal protection laws.

Is there Bias?

The International Institute for Animal Law, along with many animal advocates including animal law attorneys Continue reading

How Puppies Can Help the Incarcerated

Seth Victor

When we talk about animals and the law, we often focus on how those laws affect and (fail to) protect animals, how penalties for harming animals are developing, and also how animals are used to enforce the law. What about animals who are used to help rehabilitate people on the other side of the law? Dogs, our faithful best friends from PuppiesBehindBarsAtWarwickApril2010the animal world, are the poster animals for rehab. Some of the most recognized examples are seeing-eye dogs, and with hundreds of soldiers returning with a plethora of physical and mental damage, service dogs for veterans continue to be in demand. But while America gladly clads itself in the garb of war heroes and the auspices of social care (insert partisan comment here), it is also houses 25% of the world’s incarcerated humans. What about those forgotten 2,266,800?

Continue reading

Pete Seeger, R.I.P.

David Cassuto

There’s not much that can be said that hasn’t been said by many more eloquent than I.  But a few years ago, I wrote this: http://animalblawg.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/pete-seeger-hope-animals/.  And I’m glad I did.

Obscure and Acute Laws

Seth Victor

We cover a lot of important and weighty issues on the Blawg, so today I want to share with you this list I found on NorthJersey.com listing some interesting (outdated?) laws involving animals. Admittedly, I have not researched the history of these gems, but I am certainly intrigued as to why they needed to be set down:

1. In Alaska it is against the law to push a live moose out of an airplane mid-flight.

2. In Arizona, you aren’t allowed to let your donkey sleep in the bathtub.

3. In California, animals can’t mate within 500 yards of a church or school.

4. In Colorado it is illegal to drink and ride a horse.

5. In Connecticut dogs with tattoos must be reported to the authorities.

6. In Georgia, people cannot give away goldfish at bingo contests (because it is a crime to stomp a goldfish).

7. In Idaho, there is to be no fishing while riding a camel.

8. In Iowa there is to be no eating of the fire hydrants.

9. Maryland movie theaters do not allow people to bring lions.

10. It is against the law to hunt whales in Nebraska.

Law, Animals, and Professors

TAGORE - WIN_20131209_213438

Tagore Trajano

In early September, I arrived in the U.S again with a new goal, “… pass through the bridge between being a student and being an international Professor”.

At a good teaching university, a professor is expected to be formal, and faraway from his students. However, I had learned that being a good University Professor is to be ready to share the opportunities, and show for his students that all of them have a great path in their lives.

This is one of the lessons that you can pick from David Cassuto’s Law Classes Continue reading

Fashion Scandals: False Labeling of Fur-Trimmed Products

Angelique Vita Rivard

With the winter shopping season upon us it is important to remember the animals who sacrifice their lives for the production of many of the items commonly purchased, including leather, fur, and wool. Within the fur industry alone, millions of animals including rabbits, raccoon dogs, minks, bobcats, foxes and even domestic dogs and cats, are killed annually to make unnecessary fur products. These animals are often skinned alive. But given the advancements in technology, governmental oversight and surged ethical inquiry it must be easy to find humane fur alternatives in stores. Or is it?

Recently, the spotlight has come down on Kohl’s retailer stores after an investigation conducted by The Humane Society of the United States revealed that handbags listed as being made with faux fur were actually trimmed with real rabbit fur. Check out the detailed story on how HSUS uncovered the scandal and take a look at the investigation’s subsequent results.

Unfortunately, this is not novel news. Just last March, another HSUS investigation discovered that coats designed by Marc Jacobs designer labeled as faux-fur were actually real fur coming from Chinese raccoon dogs. Raccoon dogs are members of the dog or canine (Canidae) family who are often skinned alive for their soft fur. The Marc Jacobs scandal prompted, Manhattan Assemblywoman, Linda Rosenthal, to focus on state legislation mandating that all fur products (real or faux) be labeled appropriately.

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Caged raccoon dog.

So, where’s the law here? What legal protections do both animals and consumers have against scandals such as these. Because outrages like the ones from Kohl’s and Marc Jacobs are actually much more than scandals, they are crimes. As it turns out, there are virtually no animal protection laws and only a few consumer protection laws pertaining to fur labeling. Selling animal fur as “faux fur” is a violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act, under its prohibition against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce, but the penalty is limited to $16,000 per violation. Continue reading

Live Video Chat: Should Animals Have Legal Rights?

Last week, an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York counties in an attempt to get judges to declare that chimpanzees are “legal persons” and free them from captivity. The suits are the opening salvo in a coordinated effort to grant legal personhood to a variety of animals across the United States.

On Friday, I moderated a live video chat for Science with two experts on opposite sides of this very contentious issue. One, Steven Wise, is the president of the NonHuman Rights Project and a vocal proponent of animal rights. The other, Richard Cupp, is a law professor at Pepperdine University in California and an influential voice in the anti-personhood movement. Both care about animals, but they have very different ideas of the best way to improve their welfare. Our chat was wide ranging–covering everything from what rights for animals would look like to whether Neanderthals, computers, and space aliens should be granted human rights. It was a fascinating and passionate discussion. I hope you’ll check it out!

–David Grimm, author of the forthcoming book, CITIZEN CANINE: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs.

 

Rescue beagle dogs reopens the debate on Animal Experimentation Law in Brazil

Tagore Trajano

About a month ago, the rescue of approximately 178 dogs beagle of the Institute Royal research relumed the Brazilian Animal experimentation Law debate. In this week, some Brazilians representatives have discussed to install in the next few days a Parliamentary of Inquiry (CPI) to investigate all types of maltreatment of animals in Brazil.Brazilian Advocates

A Parliamentary Front in Defense of Animals have tried to approve projects prol-animals since 2003, but public policy about animal rights has always been treated as a joke in the House of Representatives. The debate involving the mistreatment of animals resurfaced after the invasion of the Royal Institute in São Paulo , by protesters opposed to animal testing .

In Brasília, activists have proposed to create a federal fund for animals, Welfare Animal Code, and a anticruelty tag in the products. Companies should inform the packaging of their products if they were or were not tested on animals.

Animals in research labs have since been protected under the Laboratory Animals Act –LAA (2008), legislation which set the rules about animal testing and research and revoked the Vivisection Act (1979). The LAA created the National Animal Experimentation Counsel (CONCEA), responsible for creating new rules about animal experimentation in Brazil. However, most of Brazilian Professors advocated that there are some incongruences with the Constitution that prohibits animal abuses.

Looks like it’s time to draw the path that Brazil wants to take in defense of animals, rethinking laws that allow to use of animals as food, entertainment, and experimentation.

Related articles

Cat and Dog Veterinary Care Survey

 

Please participate in the below 3 question survey written by 2L student Nancy Rogowski.

 

 

My First Animal Cruelty Case

ALDF Angelique Vita Rivard

A few weeks ago I had the unique opportunity, as an intern for the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, to work on an animal cruelty case. Unfortunately, not unlike other counties, the assistant district attorneys (ADAs) and police officers who work in Westchester see their fair share of animal cruelty cases. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Westchester County (SPCA) is usually at the forefront of these cases. Still, it is unusual for an animal cruelty case to be taken out of local court and handled by the Westchester County ADAs or for it to actually go to trial. So, as a young law student with a passion for animal welfare, I was fortunate to be able to assist the Westchester County ADA on an animal cruelty case that was headed for trial.

The Facts. Briefly, here are some of the facts of the case. The Defendant was seen forcefully throwing a tiny Yorkshire Terrier puppy into the street. Multiple eyewitnesses saw the Defendant and its aftermath. Additionally, the Defendant’s heinous crime was captured in full view by a surveillance camera from a building across the street. Fortunately, thanks to the attention of the witnesses, the responding police officers, the SPCA and the Westchester Animal Hospital, the little puppy survived. Continue reading

Why the King Amendment is Hypocritical

Seth Victor

Recently Angelique Rivard explained some of the dangers inherent in Rep. Steve King’s amendment to H.R. 6083, the Farm Bill. What makes this amendment maddening is that Mr. King has cited law to support this measure that he would decry as the product of an overreaching government in almost any other circumstance. There is no doubt that Mr. King’s proposal is intended to end state protection for farmed animals; his website proudly declares that he hopes to terminate the efforts of animal rights groups, ensuring “that radical organizations like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA are prohibited from establishing a patchwork of restrictive state laws aimed at slowly suffocating production agriculture out of existence.”

King has hardly been the darling of animal rights before this foray, as Stephen Colbert nicely summarizes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund both gave him a 0% rating in 2012. This came after a 2010 statement at a National 4-H Conference that “the HSUS is run by vegetarians with an agenda whose goal is to take meat off everyone’s table in America.” King has also previously voted against broadening the definitions of the Endangered Species Act in 2005 which would have enabled better listing criteria.

Continue reading

Our State Liberties are at Stake: Remove the King amendment from the Federal Farm Bill

Angelique Rivard

WHAT: What exactly is the King amendment?

The King amendment was introduced by Republican Rep. Steve King from Iowa and aims to preempt state and local laws by mandating the least strict regulation over the production or manufacture of agriculture products. The amendment directs:

“The government of a State or locality therein shall not impose a standard or condition on the production or manufacture of any agricultural product sold or offered for sale in interstate commerce if (1) such production or manufacture occurs in another State; and (2) the standard or condition is in addition to the standards and conditions applicable to such production or manufacture pursuant to (A) Federal law; and (B) the laws of the State and locality in which such production or manufacture occurs.”

This overly broad and ambiguous amendment could effectively revoke state authority to set their own reasonable standards on agricultural products.

WHY: Why do we care about it?

Since our agricultural laws are extremely broad, the King amendment would nullify a whole host of state laws, including those preventing farm animal cruelty, regulating puppy breeders, banning shark finning and prohibiting horse slaughter. In addition to animal welfare laws, this amendment would invalidate state laws concerning food safety, GMO labeling, labor standards and environmental protection laws. For a list of the state animal welfare laws being targeted by this amendment as well as other state laws that would be severely affected click here.

HOW: How can you help stop this radically overreaching amendment from becoming law?

You can help by reaching out to your Federal Legislators. Click here to locate contact information on your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Then, let them know by email, phone or in person that you oppose the King amendment and that you strongly urge them to convince the Conference Committee to remove it from the final version of the Federal Farm Bill.

Ruminating on Personhood in Today’s NY Times

David Cassuto

Check it out…

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/a-closer-look-at-nonhuman-personhood-and-animal-welfare/?smid=tw-share&_r=0

A Response to Jeff and Joe Regarding Our Primary Right

by Carter Dillard

Sincere thanks to Jeff and Joe for their biting critique of the idea of a primary human right that guarantees humans access to wilderness and complete biodiversity. This response, which is geared for the audience of the blog generally, will divide their critique into eight points and respond to each (taking their points a bit out of order), before drawing back to the theme of this blog in order to explain why the right not only survives their appraisal, but can simultaneously satisfy environmental, human, and animal interests.

1. Primary in what sense, and based on what evidence?

Jeff raises a challenge to the idea of a primary right by arguing that the term implies universal acceptance. Because, Jeff argues, many people will reject the value of being alone in the wilderness the right cannot be universal and therefore fails. First, it’s not clear to me that the Tembé would not recognize something like a right to wilderness or the nonhuman, given their historic struggle to preserve the rainforest around them. Second, as Joe notes, whether the Tembé actually recognize the right and underlying value or not does not defeat the right, any more than Hutu leaders’ failure to recognize the universal right of all peoples to be free from genocide, and the GOP’s recent refusal to recognize universal rights for the disabled that trump parental authority, prove that those rights are wrong. As discussed below, this is in part because claiming a right is like saying “you ought to do this,” which cannot be proven wrong with the response “we don’t/won’t do that” (this is simply the difference between an “ought” and an “is”). The responding party might not do the thing or want to do the thing, but perhaps they still ought to. The universality of particular rights derives not from universal acceptance, but from logical arguments that deduce the particular rights from things all humans – because of certain social and biological shared characteristics – will value, whether they admit it or not, see e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Continue reading

Scientists See Cruelty in Killing Method Used in Japan’s Dolphin Roundup

ANDREW C. REVKIN

A still image from video shot of the dolphin roundup and slaughter near Taiji, Japan, by the dolphin-protection group Atlanticblue.de.
(x-post from Dot Earth)

In a new peer-reviewed study, scientists assess the killing method employed by the dolphin hunters of Taiji, Japan, by watching video recorded surreptitiously in 2011 by a German dolphin-protection group, AtlanticBlue. The still image at right is from the video, which can be seen here (but be forewarned; this is not suitable for children — or many adults, for that matter).

Here’s the researchers’ not-so-surprising prime conclusion:

This killing method does not conform to the recognized requirement for “immediate insensibility” [some background is here] and would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.

Of course given that these are wild, big-brained animals rounded up with methods made infamous in the crusading and Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove,” even if a slaughterhouse standard were met, the controversy would hardly fade. (Watch my 2010 interview with the film’s director, Louis Psihoyos.)

Here’s the abstract of the paper, followed by a brief interview with one author, Diana Reiss, a cognitive psychologist at Hunter College who was an adviser on the documentary and has made no secret of her campaign to end cruelty to this species:

A Veterinary and Behavioral Analysis of Dolphin Killing Methods Currently Used in the ‘Drive Hunt’ in Taiji, Japan

Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Volume 16Issue 2, 2013 (DOI: 10.1080/10888705.2013.768925)

Andrew ButterworthPhilippa BrakesCourtney S. Vail & Diana Reiss

Annually in Japanese waters, small cetaceans are killed in “drive hunts” with quotas set by the government of Japan. The Taiji Fishing Cooperative in Japan has published the details of a new killing method that involves cutting (transecting) the spinal cord and purports to reduce time to death. The method involves the repeated insertion of a metal rod followed by the plugging of the wound to prevent blood loss into the water. To date, a paucity of data exists regarding these methods utilized in the drive hunts. Our veterinary and behavioral analysis of video documentation of this method indicates that it does not immediately lead to death and that the time to death data provided in the description of the method, based on termination of breathing and movement, is not supported by the available video data. The method employed causes damage to the vertebral blood vessels and the vascular rete from insertion of the rod that will lead to significant hemorrhage, but this alone would not produce a rapid death in a large mammal of this type. The method induces paraplegia (paralysis of the body) and death through trauma and gradual blood loss. This killing method does not conform to the recognized requirement for “immediate insensibility” and would not be tolerated or permitted in any regulated slaughterhouse process in the developed world.

Here are my questions and Reiss’s responses:

Q.

Can you tell me in a few words what this analysis means to you in the larger context of human/animal relations?

A.

. Dolphins are a cognitively and socially complex species that exist in their own societies in the seas. To see any animal treated in this way is shocking. Given what we know scientifically about the awareness, sensitively, cognitive and social prowess of dolphins, this treatment is unjustifiable and unacceptable and needs to be stopped immediately. In the larger context of human and non-human animal relations, the methods used to herd dolphins and then kill them is off-the chart in terms of any concern for animal welfare. At a time when most countries are concerned for the conservation and welfare of dolphins and whales it is strange and disturbing to see a modern country like Japan continue to ignore scientific knowledge and concern for these species.

In most modern countries these mammals are protected but sadly we see these exceptions. Our scientific knowledge needs to transcend cultural and geographic boundaries and these species need global protection.

Q.

One of the standard replies from Japan on this issue (whether with whales or dolphins) is that we, for example, cherish bison but eat bison burgers. Is there a distinction?

A.

You cannot compare bison to dolphins in the cognitive domain. However, bison are not killed in this inhumane manner. Nor are lab rats. In cases in which animals are domesticated for food, most modern countries are striving for better animal welfare practices that minimize pain and suffering during the killing process with the goal to render an animal unconscious quickly before it is killed. This is not the case in the dolphin drive hunts. These are not domesticated animals; they are wild dolphins that are captured within their social groups, mother and young, and slaughtered using a technique that actually prolongs death, pain and suffering. The herding procedures themselves are inhumane and may include forced submersion as the dolphins are dragged by their tails to shore to be killed.

This is not to say that dolphins should be killed. They should not.

For more on Reiss’s views, I encourage you to read Claudia Dreifus’s 2010 interview with her for Science Times and watch Reiss’s recent TEDx talk on dolphin intelligence.

In an interview last month with the journalist David Kirby, Mark Palmer, the associate director of Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project, estimated that the dolphin hunters of Taiji killed nearly 900 dolphins and pilot whales this season and kept nearly 250 to sell for alive to the aquarium trade (which is booming in the Middle East and Asia).

| Related | In dolphin research, as in climate change science, a move from research to a mix of science and activism can create complex dynamics. To explore, read Erik Vance’s 2011 Discover Magazine feature, “It’s Complicated: The Lives of Dolphins & Scientists,” which chronicled how Reiss’s shift played out.

THE PRIMARY RIGHT

Carter Dillard

Thinking about our first or “primary” human right is actually a new way of thinking about how to protect the environment, and how to visualize what our planet ought to look like.

When we think about the idea of being free, we usually think about the freedom to act, or the right to do what we want without others interfering. But freedom also means the right not to be acted upon and to be free from other people, in other words, to be let alone. Unless we have some special obligation, like being the parent of a child, we are generally free to get away from other people and the influence they would otherwise have over us.  When it comes to particular countries and governments, which are really just collections of individual people, unless we have committed a crime or done something unusual, we also have a right to leave and be free of them. For example, we are free to leave the United States, and forcing people in the former Soviet Union to live behind the Iron Curtain violated their human rights.  We should not be forced submit to any other person’s influence, or collection of persons’ influence, against our will.

Because we have the right to leave any person and any country, it follows that we have the right to leave every person and every country. One implies the other.  If you were to leave every country on earth until you got to the last country, you should be able to leave that one as well.

How do we do that? First, we have to see the earth as actually made up of two worlds – the human and the “nonhuman,” or those species other than humans.  Countries are political entities – they are based on the organization of human power and influence. Leaving every country on earth does not mean having to fly to the moon; it means leaving, as best one can, human power and influence and entering the nonhuman world – what we generally call wilderness. The nonhuman world is, by definition , comprised of those places in the world occupied by species other than humans living in their natural habitats.

Keep in mind that nonhumans don’t live in countries or organize into systems of rights the way we do. So the earth divided into human and nonhuman worlds would look something like the earth did for most of human civilization – limited human societies surrounded by a sea of relatively complete biodiversity and wilderness.  It would be other species, living and flourishing in their habitats, all around us in an interconnected system. This view of earth is no fantasy – if biodiversity can be protected, our birthrates continue to decline, and we continue to urbanize, this planet will look very much like that: city-states awash in a sea of nature.

But this is the point: For us to be free, for it to remain possible to be free of every person and country on earth, the nonhuman world must be protected and allowed to flourish. Without it we would remain locked in that last country on earth, permanently subjected to others’ influence, or as one senator said in passing the Wilderness Act of 1964, “without wilderness this country will become a cage.” Because we have a right to leave all others and their influence, or the “cages” we create for each other, the nonhuman world must remain and flourish. It is a necessary condition for freedom to actually mean something.

Why call this right to be free from others the “primary right?” Rights are about other people, and your relationships with them. Given that, the primary right, or the first thing that is decided in any systems of rights, is whether you relate to or are influenced by other people at all. The first thing about any system of rights that is decided is whether you are even part of it. People in the Soviet Union would not have had to worry about the lack of human rights in that system if they could have simply gotten away.

How does thinking about the environment in terms of the primary right change things? First, it gives us a theoretical baseline, a way of seeing what our planet ought to look like. This is something most environmentalists have not been able to agree on. Second, it changes the basic thinking in environmentalism: the focus should be on freedom, not well-being. Third, protecting the nonhuman world because it ensures the very possibility of human freedom is different than protecting nature for its own sake. Those most responsible for harming the nonhuman world have gone unpunished because humans are less apt to act until we know we have something to lose. Thinking about our primary right shows us that we are losing something right now, that those most responsible for destroying the nonhuman world are violating our right to be free.

If we value freedom we value nature, or the nonhuman world, because it makes the act of consenting to others’ influence possible. Protecting the environment is not about making a world dominated by humans safe, healthy, and sustainable – a pleasant place for humans to live. It is about restoring the nonhuman world around us as best we can so that freedom actually means something.

GEESE MEAT FOR THE POOR!! Scarsdale’s Contract with USDA to Slaughter Geese and Donate Meat to Local Food Bank


Angelique Rivard and Ally Bernstein

Image

Recent breaking news of the Village of Scarsdale’s plan to slaughter the group of geese who consider Audrey Hochberg Pond their home, along with their babies in March, and then donate the meat to a local food bank has caused quite a stir among interested members of the public. After receiving complaints from local attendees of the pond explaining they “were tired of stepping around the droppings” and claimed the geese were “attacking them” after people got “too close to their eggs,” the Village of Scarsdale decided the best solution would be to enter into a contract with the USDA, slaughter the geese, and feed them to the needy.

Unfortunately, slaughtering geese is not news to the residents of Westchester County, as the county routinely kills geese in an effort to control population. But has the county gone too far and made killing geese before considering any alternatives too easy and too commonplace? Has the village gone too far in claiming they are doing a public service by killing the geese and feeding it to the poor?

Before we make the case for the Scarsdale Geese, let us make a disclaimer: we can all agree that wildlife control issues are a sensitive subject due to the varying viewpoints across the board from wildlife protectionists, animal welfarists, environmental conservationists, hunters, and the general public. In many cases, such as those dealing with population control, the issues are: what is the best solution and what factors do we need to consider in implementing the solution. Such factors include: whether or not the targeted animal is a danger or threat to other animals and humans; what the costs of implementing the solution are; and what the environmental and ecological impacts of dealing with the target animal will have in the future. Dealing with any one of the multitude of factors often leaves the interest groups on opposite sides of the fence or right on the fence, making for long debates over what the final solution will be. Finding a solution usually requires extensive research about all of the factors and a thorough investigation into the impacts of the final decision.

But the issue here is much more than an animal rights issue. It is an economic issue. Instead of being applied to educational or safety initiatives, taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the slaughter. And furthermore, this type of “solution” is inefficient since the geese will just return, inducing a habitual slaughter of geese every year. It is also a human rights issue. While feeding the poor and hungry is of great concern, shouldn’t the food being fed to them be monitored as if it were sold in grocery stores? The geese in Scarsdale have fed on chemically fertilized grass for their entire lives, making their meat unsuitable for human consumption. And furthermore, the plans to have the geese meat inspected by the FDA prior to distribution to the food bank are inconclusive. It is an environmental issue. Wildlife, humans and nature all must coexist in order to have a symbiotic ecosystem. While it is true that geese are not endangered, setting these types of precedents can have scourging consequences for other species in the near future. It would seem illogical to extinguish a particular species in a certain area any time they grew too inconvenient for another species

And of course, to come full circle, it IS an animal rights issue. Protection for the geese and humans alike, who share the aesthetics of the Audrey Hochberg pond must be achieved. They must live in harmony in order to survive. Often, the reason conflicts occur is due to children approaching the nests of eggs and disturbing them. Many times, children step on these eggs for sport. Just like any mother of any species, they have protective instincts to chase away predators. If the geese were not provoked, there would be little to no reason for attacks. As humans, we cannot cause part of the problem and then take no responsibility in its negative repercussions.

As responsible humans capable of understanding what is wrong and right, we need to make it a priority to explore alternatives to slaughtering a group of animals rather than opting to wipe out groups of animals without extremely compelling reasons. Alternatives that have been used to combat this issue in other parts of Westchester County have included relocating the geese, installing a fence that is high enough to keep the geese out, the use of border collies to round up the geese, deterrence mechanisms, and the use of decoys to mimic the natural predators. While some of these options might not be feasible for use at this particular pond, we are sure that at least one of them is a more practical, cost effective, and humane alternative.

So, what can you do? If you are a constituent in the Village of Scarsdale your voice will have great influence. Speak out to your representatives and tell them that you oppose this inhumane solution. Attend a Scarsdale Village Board Meeting. The upcoming meetings are scheduled for Feb. 13th and Feb. 26th. You can find more information about these meetings here. Even if you are not a Scarsdale resident, like us, you can still speak out. Find out who your Westchester County Legislator is by going to this website. If you do plan to attend a meeting, bring a petition with you stating that you “Oppose the Scarsdale Geese Slaughter” and get as many signatures as possible. It is our duty to give voice to the voiceless and take action to prevent unnecessary extermination of undeserving groups of animals.

Deer in Rock Creek Park

Image

For years debates have been raging across the country on how to best manage populations of white-tailed deer.   Many argue that most management tools are costly and that a cull is the easiest, and the cheapest, management solution.   However, many animal welfare advocates believe that immunocontraception is the proper management tool- one that has been used in test locations throughout the country with success. 

Immunocontraception is a birth control method, which when used can prevent pregnancy in white-tailed deer and therefore serve as a solution to overpopulation issues.   It has been used, with success, to reduce deer populations in locations throughout the country including Fire Island National Seashore, N.Y. and Fripp Island, S.C. The problem is that immunocontraception remains controversial. Those who oppose the use of contraceptives in wildlife populations argue that it is more expensive, and less effective, than the use of a traditional cull. Both of these arguments have been refuted with evidence from past immunocontraception test sites, but the battle still wages- and the National Park Service is very heavily involved.

On October 25, 2012 a lawsuit was filed, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to prevent the National Park Service from proceeding with a lethal cull of white-tailed deer in Rock Creek Park.   The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that the Park Service has an obligation to preserve the park (thus including its wildlife) in a natural condition, and that engaging in a lethal cull fails to meet this obligation.  Within weeks of the filing of the suit, an agreement was reached between the parties which halted the cull of deer within Rock Creek park for the 2012-2013 season.  However, a final court decision has not yet been made and advocates are waiting with baited breath in the hopes that these deer (and hopefully others like them throughout the country) will be spared a death-sentence.

What are your thoughts? Do you think immunocontraception is the way to go?

Check out a podcast on the issue.

Abolitionism and Welfare Reform: A Debate

GFBF

Spencer Lo

Professor Gary Francione and Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary recently had a short, substantive exchange on abolitionism and welfare reform, consisting of two opening statements and a response to each. Below is my summary of the exchange. Obviously, nothing can be settled in a short debate, but I hope to highlight and sharpen the areas of disagreements between the two.  read more

Further Thoughts on Happy Meat


Spencer Lo

My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from philosopher Jeff McMahan’s paper. Here, I want to raise the question of whether, from an animal advocates perspective, there is anything positive to be said about shifting the public consciousness away from consumption of factory-farmed meat to “happy meat”—encouraged by Kristof—notwithstanding the fact that both are problematic. In other words, although influential people like Kristof are ultimately advocating an unethical practice, is that nevertheless a welcome change in some respects? Should the change be encouraged to some extent? Read more

Kansas State Fair’s Restrictions on PETA are Upheld

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Adonia David

It is state and county fair season.  Speaking as a born and bred Midwesterner, I can say that for many of us, there is a bit of magic associated with them. Fairs are hot summer days and evenings, cotton candy, roasted corn, and the sound of cicadas floating high above the tumult.  Fairs are ferris wheels and other scary looking rides set up by carnies overnight that look as though they may tumble to the ground any moment.  And fairs are animals.  Animals – the glory of a state fair: cows and calves and bunnies; goats and pigs; chickens of all shapes and sizes and plumage.   The animals are beautiful.  Many are gentle, hand-raised by children in 4H, and many of them are destined for slaughter.   Just what this death involves seems to be generally ignored by fair-goers.  It disturbs the magic. Continue reading

Meat Animals, Humane Standards Other Legal Fictions

… is the title of my forthcoming essay in Law, Culture & the Humanities (a special issue on Law & Food).  Get it here.

Here’s the abstract:

Law and food are distinct concepts, though the discipline (Law and Food) implies a relationship worthy of study.  The conjunction (“and”) creates meaning.  However, its absence also conveys meaning.  For example, “meat animal” suggests that animals can be both meat and animal.  This conflation has powerful legal Continue reading

Capitalism and captive marine mammals go hand in flipper

Click image for theme song

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Dillard’s department store has raised my ire. Again.  And again, swimsuits figure in.

The first time–several years ago now–a swimwear sale ad blew me out of the water with its sexualized portrayal of a six-year-old girl. The swimsuit itself was OK…well, except for the two big flowers printed strategically on the chest of the swimsuit top. That, combined with the exotic dancer pose the child was photographed in, and I was e-mailing Corporate Office in a hurry and a fury to suggest that their advertising department sorely needed some awareness-raising and sensitivity training.

This time, a quarter-page ad trumpets “Swim Day,” a swimsuit promotion running in conjunction with Discovery Cove in Orlando. Come in and try on a swimsuit! Register to win the Grand Prize and you could find yourself swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with rays, and hand feeding exotic birds. In the background behind the swimsuit model, four captive dolphins leap from the water in a synchronized stunt. Continue reading

The Most Dangerous Game . . . mascot

Seth Victor

Ever since England and Wales banned fox hunting in 2005, certain hunters in those countries have been ballyhooing for their

lost pastime. Fear not red coats! While the foxes may rest safely in their dens, you can stalk and snipe “human foxes” through the woods to your hearts’ content. Though it is unclear whether these hunts will also feature mounted horn blowers and packs of hounds to ravish the fool in fool’s clothing brave volunteer, the enterprise does open the door to a slew of possibilities. Coming soon, men in Wilfred-like suits bashing each other with padded sticks, and fencers donned in tar and feather. My question is, does this satiate anyone, or does it only straddle an odd middle ground on the hunting controversy?

You can take the hunter out of the fox hunt, but . . .

Steven Wise to Deliver Pace Law School Dyson Lecture

David Cassuto

Oyez ya’ll!  This Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 4 pm in the Moot Court Room at Pace Law School in White Plains, Steve Wise will speak on : “The Nonhuman Rights Project’s Struggle for Nonhuman Personhood.”

Reception to follow.

If you haven’t heard Steve speak, you should.  If you have heard him, you know you should again.

A fascinating and mind-opening time will be had by all.

Full skinny here.

Hope to see you there.

Is the End Near for Chimpanzee Research?

Gillian Lyons

With the holiday approaching, at least one species has (a little) something to be cheerful about.  Earlier this week, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a government commissioned report on the status of chimpanzee research in the United States.  The report concluded that “recent advances in alternate research tools have rendered chimpanzees largely unnecessary as research subjects.”   Dr. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, announced on December 15 that NIH would be accepting the recommendations contained within the report, and until further notice will not be accepting any applications involving chimpanzee research.

It should be noted, however, that NIH is NOT considering an outright ban on all chimpanzee research- it is simply considering a significant decrease in funding for such research, via the implementation of strict standards that will limit chimpanzee experiments to those that are absolutely necessary.  While the report and NIH agree that most chimpanzee research is currently unnecessary, there is no saying whether the use of chimpanzees will become more “necessary” in the future.  The IOM report itself states that while chimpanzee research is largely unnecessary as things currently stand, that “it is impossible to predict whether research on emerging or new diseases may necessitate chimpanzees in the future.” Continue reading

Ban on Domestic Horse Slaughter Lifted

 Gillian Lyons

Since 2006, horse slaughter has been essentially banned in the United States, due to Congressional refusal to fund USDA inspections of horses at United States Slaughter Houses.  It is sad to say that on November 18th, this ban was silently lifted when Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption- effectively lifting the ban on domestic horse slaughter.

The lifting of the ban was the direct result of a Congressional Subcommittee Report “Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter” which connected the 2006 slaughter ban to an increase in neglect and abandonment of horses, as well as a drop in the price for horses. According to the report, the 2006 ban also resulted in a dramatic increase of horses being shipped to both Canada and Mexico for slaughter, with 138,000 horses having been shipped for slaughter in 2010 alone.  Animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States argue that allowing domestic horse slaughter is not the proper tool for these managing issues, and instead posit that the move is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Their arguments ring true when reports show that 70% of polled Americans are opposed to horse slaughter.

Continue reading

Britain Set to Consider Required Video Surveillance in Slaughterhouses

Gillian Lyons

As fellow blog writer Adonia Davis mentioned in her blog posted earlier today, in 2007 undercover videos shot by the HSUS at California slaughterhouses showed horrific footage of abuses being committed against downed cows.  Partially as a result of these videos, the State of California passed a law requiring that downed animals be humanely euthanized.  Unfortunately it looks like the Supreme Court may overturn said law due to conflicts with federal law.  For more information see Adonia’s post.

It is also unfortunate that the incidence of cruelty against those downed cows in the California slaughterhouse was not an insolated incident.  Numerous organizations throughout the United States, and the world have conducted undercover investigations and discovered similar abuses.  For instance, Animal Aid, an organization based in Britain conducted similar undercover investigations and released videos of various abuses being committed.

It seems, however, that these investigations may have paid off- at least in Britain.  According to news sources, the outcry as a result of Animal Aid’s video releases prompted several of Britain’s largest slaughterhouses to install video surveillance in an attempt to monitor the conduct of their employees.  Furthermore, the videos have lit a fire under the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, which is now considering the implementation of required video surveillance at all slaughterhouses in England, Scotland and Wales. Continue reading

Remembering Charlie…

Gillian Lyons

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We here at the Animal Blawg have written many a post on New York City’s horse drawn carriages- evidence here, here, and here.  However, the issue has never been more prevalent than it is currently, due to the unfortunate death of Charlie- one of the city’s carriage horses on October 14th.  According to preliminary necropsy results, at the time of his death Charlie was “suffering from a pronounced, chronic ulceration of the stomach and a fractured tooth.”  A representative of the ASPCA, the organization that performed the necropsy, stated that such maladies likely meant that Charlie was in severe pain prior to his death.

As a result of Charlie’s death, numerous organizations and individuals have called for an end to the carriage horse industry.  However, in response to this outcry Mayor Bloomberg declared his support for the industry, which he claims contributes huge amounts of money to the city. Bloomberg also stated that the horses should be considered lucky, because most wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for this “job.”

I respectfully disagree with Mayor Bloomberg’s statement, namely because there are other options for transportation of tourists around NYC’s Central Park- including a faux-vintage electric car (which would supposedly preserve carriage industry jobs, and increase the industry’s revenue).  Currently the electric car is supported by Introduction 86, a bill before the NYC Council, which calls for the phase-out of horse-drawn carriages and the introduction of the electric cars. However, it is unlikely that Introduction 86 will be passed without more support.  This is particularly true due to the fact that last April the Council passed another bill concerning carriage horses which mandates that horses are given a stall large enough to turn around in, as well as 5 weeks of vacation a year (note that for the other 47 weeks a year, the horses can be made to work 63 hours a week).

For those interested in showing their support for Introduction 86, information on Council Members to call may be found here.

***Please note that the horse in this picture is not a carriage horse and is instead a very happy horse.

No Tranq-Guns in Ohio

 Rosana Escobar Brown

The recent slaying of about 50 exotic animals in Ohio has animal lovers (like myself) in an uproar.  While it is obvious that law enforcement officials needed to protect the safety of local residents and also had to follow orders, images of the grizzly scene beg the question…

How could this have been avoided?

For starters, the Ohio police could have had more than a few tranquilizer guns lying around; especially out there in farm country where loose animals pose a real problem.  Ohio even has laws about mandatory reporting obligations when exotic animals escape.  Does this mean that whenever receiving a report that an animal is loose, the authorities just show up guns blazing?  Something is very off here. Continue reading

Republic of Marshall Islands Opens World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

Gillian Lyons

We all know that sharks hold a certain fascination in the American mind.  I myself cannot drag myself away from the television during the Discovery Channel’s shark week.  What you may not know is that according to the IUCN, up to 30 percent of pelagic shark species (those that live in the “open ocean”) are considered threatened, due at least in part to a large commercial “sharking” industry, an industry which conservation organizations estimate kills 73 million sharks per year.

In an effort to battle the large, lucrative, “sharking” industry, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has recently announced that it was to be home to the largest shark sanctuary in the world.  In the 768,547 square mile sanctuary, commercial hunting for sharks is banned, as is the sale of shark products.  A violation of these bans can result in fines ranging from 25,000-200,000 dollars. Continue reading

8.7 million and counting….

Gillian Lyons

A recent New York Times article, published in late August, discussed a new study, which estimated the number of species living on the Earth to be approximately 8.7 million, give or take 1.3 million.  To me, this number seemed astronomical (though I sometimes feel that there are 8.7 million different species of bugs that manage to get into my house every week).

After reading a few articles on the study, something got me thinking.  In one particular article, it is noted that one of the study’s authors feels that population estimate studies are particularly important due currently accelerated rates of extinction, brought about by a host of human activities.  This piqued my curiosity.  With 8.7 million estimated species on the earth, just how do the extinction rates measure up?  I decided to check this out. Continue reading

New York Ag-Gag Legislation

Douglas Doneson

Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, and most recently New York have introduced bills designed to suppress undercover photojournalism which exposes food safety issues, criminal activity, and the abuses that occur behind the closed doors of the animal agribusiness. Although these bills have slightly different language, each one, if passed would criminalize the act of taking a photograph or videotaping farmed animal facilities without the written consent of the owner.

The justification for New York’s “ag-gag” bill:  Continue reading

Our feet, our selves: Sentient animals and our feet

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Feet…feet are on my mind. In a moment we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty, but for now, let’s just think about what our feet mean to us Homo sapiens.

We love ‘em. They carry us through life, take us to amazing places, enable us to dance. We adorn them, tattoo them, encase them in the ridiculous, the sublime, the magical. Even when we have nothing else, we find a way to protect them. When all you have are plastic bottles, everything looks like a sandal. Continue reading

Coyote and fox penning: Tell Indiana NO (and do it soon!)

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

As far as a sense of humor goes, I have a pretty good one, or so I’m told. I keep thinking I’ll find a way to inject some hard-to-come-by laughs into my animal rights writing–perhaps a take-off on “Chicken Soup for the Vegan Soul” or something silly like that. Wouldn’t it be nice to yuk it up for a change? But I never quite get around to it; the frivolity is always supplanted by the horror du jour. On today’s menu: the penning of foxes and coyotes.

What kind of human garbage throws a frightened, disoriented coyote into a fenced enclosure and then turns the dogs loose to chase and shred the hapless creature? Continue reading

Wild bison calf born on Monday, dead by Thursday: The short, tragic life of an American icon

Buffalo Field Campaign photo

WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA: A wild American buffalo calf born Monday was found dead Thursday – a result of being repeatedly forced from winter range in Hebgen basin by agents with the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Yellowstone National Park rangers and Gallatin County Sheriff’s office were part of the repeated “hazing” operations that entail forcing buffalo from winter range under the highly controversial Interagency Bison Management Plan.

Read the full account here.

“Rat” vs. “her”: We’d RATHER have an honest discussion

Imagine that, marketing presenting us with a false dichotomy. And as any former English teacher (ahem) will tell you, it’s “whom.”

“That billboard has appeared in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and Baltimore, and will soon debut in Madison, Wis. — all cities with major medical or primate research centers. They were put up by the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Biomedical Research, a non-profit educational organization funded by universities, hospitals, advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies, and biotech firms with a stake in animal research. The foundation, like its sister lobbying organization, the National Association of Biomedical Research, supports “humane and responsible use of animals in research.” Continue reading

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