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.

(Another) Bad Week for Polar Bears and Tuna

David Cassuto

It’s been quite a week over at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)Up for discussion was a ban on hunting polar bears and bluefin tuna.  The discussions yielded some predictably (and yet still astonishingly) shortsighted conclusions.

The delegates rejected a ban on polar bear hunting because “hunting is not the most serious threat the polar bear faces” (recall that the bear was listed as endangered last year because of the pressures created by climate change and the consequent loss of icepack).  Here’s a simple logical sequence: Hunting kills bears.  If people stopped hunting them that would be one less thing killing bears.  Unfortunately, this reasoning did not carry the day.  Rather, opponents successfully argued that there is no point to killing fewer bears until we know for certain that we won’t kill them some other way. Follow this reasoning with me if you will.  It is like refusing to treat your compound fracture until you’re certain that there exists a cure for your brain tumor.    Continue reading

Survey Says: 100% Mercury Contaminated Fish

David Cassuto

In case you were thinking of celebrating the efficacy of the Clean Air Act and/or the Clean Water Act, consider this: a recent study by the U.S. Geological Service revealed mercury contamination in 100% of the fish tested from 291 freshwater streams in the United States. 

That is not a typo. 

Every single one of the fish sampled was contaminated by mercury, a potent neurotoxin.  Over a quarter contained levels exceeding what the EPA considers to be safe.  Some of the highest concentrations of mercury appeared in fish taken from coastal “blackwater” streams of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana — undeveloped, wooded areas  — areas where people looking for clean air and water might look to go.  Apparently, such characteristics facilitate the conversion of mercury from its inorganic form in the atmosphere to a more toxic organic form, methylmercury, which accounts for at least 95 percent of the mercury found in fish.

All this might make you wonder where all that mercury comes from.  Answer: coal-fired power plants (and mining).     Continue reading

Big Macs are Cheap and McNuggets are…

diet food?  Maybe it’s all the Portuguese I’m hearing but it feels like English has stopped making sense. 

David Cassuto

Upcoming Critical Animal Studies Conference

 The 9th Annual Conference on Critical Animal Studies will take place on April 10th, 2010 at SUNY Cortland in Cortland, NY.  Get the lowdown here.

In Case You Were Wondering…

via

h/t Prabhat Gautam

Endangered Sei Whale Sushi — You Just Have to Know Who to Ask

The Hump, a chic Japanese restaurant in Santa Monica, served sushi made from the flesh of the endangered sei whale to customers willing to fork over the appropriate dough.  Two patrons went to the restaurant with an undercover film crew and, after racking up a $600 tab, requested whale meat.  The chef served it up —  it was even identified as such on their tab.  The patrons (and their film crew, who were acting at the behest of Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-winning director of The Cove) smuggled some flesh out of the restaurant, where they had it genetically tested.    Continue reading