Environment, Ethics, & the Factory Farm

David Cassuto

PigletBitingCagelgOnce again, the Shameless Self-Promotion Desk whirs into action.  This new piece, forthcoming in the South Texas Law Review, is a transcription of a lecture I gave there last spring.  Here is the abstract:

What are the ethics behind factory farming? What are the ethical implications? This essay (transcribed from a lecture given at the South Texas College of Law) focuses on the environmental implications while defining those environmental implications through the lens of animal law and ethics.

Farms have become factories, and the animals raised in those factories are simply commodities. That is why we cannot have a discussion about Continue reading

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Organized Crime and Dogfighting

Rafael WolffFirst Post Animal Law Image

How can anyone hurt this little, cute puppy?

That was my only thought when I realized that this little guy was found in the scorching sun, with a chain around his neck, during a police raid last month, due to an investigation about dog fighting, according to CNN. But when organized crime and money are involved, there is little room for compassion, so, I shouldn’t be surprised. What should have surprised me is the fact that dogfighting can bring as much as $200,000 to criminals. I also should have been surprised by the fact that there are a lot of costumers for that “product”, similarly to drugs and other illegal goods.  Continue reading

On Love and Polar Bears

Seth Victor

I’m going to keep this short and let others’ words speak for me.  Gus, the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo in NYC, was euthanized on August 27th. While reading about him, I found this article from 2011 when his companion Ida was euthanized because of liver disease. Diane Ackerman tries to glimpse into the emotions of Gus at that time, and raises many issues we’ve covered on the Blawg. Whether you accept that animals have emotions similar to ours, or believe that such thinking is the product of anthropomorphism, it’s an engaging meditation on the love we feel for animals, and the discouragement of trying to know what they feel. “We witness Gus’s grief and taste our own memories of love, loss and loneliness. Our wild heart goes out to him. Something deep inside us remembers being accompanied by other animals.”

New Jersey Animals Get More Protection, But Are Still Property

Seth Victor

Last month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed laws creating two new felonies for animal abuse. The first, “Patrick’s Law,” increases neglect of a dog from a disorderly persons offense, a misdemeanor, to a fourth degree felony, or in some cases, a third degree felony. The fines associated with these crimes were also increased. Additionally, overworking an animal is now a misdemeanor offense. The law was inspired by Patrick, a malnourished pit bull who was thrown down a garbage patrickchute in a trash bag by his owner. Patrick survived and was rescued, but owner Kisha Curtis is not expected to face harsh penalties for her actions. Under the new law, even failing to provide a dog like Patrick with adequate food and water could land a similar offender in custody. The bill was passed by the NJ Assembly last spring.

Christie also signed “Dano’s Law,” aka “Dano’s and Vader’s Law.” Under this addition, it is now a fourth degree felony to threaten the life of a law enforcement animal. This measure primarily includes K-9 units, but also horses for mounted police. NJ Sen. Christopher Bateman commented, “Cowardly criminals who threaten the life of a law enforcement animal will now receive the punishment they deserve.”

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Buddhist Inmate Denied Vegetarian Diet

Seth Victor

The Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution in Uncasville, CT is required by directive to provide “all nutritional requirements as determined by a Department of Correction licensed dietitian, without the presence of food items Veggie Fishforbidden by religious dogma” to all its inmates. Howard Cosby is a practicing non-violent Buddhist, and while not all branches of Buddhisim require a vegetarian lifestyle, Mr. Crosby identifies as a person who wishes to not cause harm to other living animals. Mr. Crosby, however, has regularly been served fish while incarcerated, because the department of corrections does not consider fish to be meat. Now to be fair, this position isn’t wholly out of line with the arbitrary classifications animals receive by the government. It is not, however, an encouraging example of semantics. If the Connecticut Department of Corrections has the authority to declare what is and is not meat, what is stopping it from saying cow or chicken is not meat? If the only criteria is its own opinion, the answer is, not much. One may think that common sense would intervene, but common sense hasn’t prevented the staff at Corrigan-Radgowski from confusing convenient Catholic loopholes with an entirely different doctrine. Now I know that once you are in prison you cease to be a person that the country cares about, your rights don’t apply, and as long as you stay out of sight it doesn’t matter how long your sentence is. But let’s at least learn what a vegetable is.

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.

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In wildfire’s path: Animal homes, human homes

Lolo Creek Complex fire headed our way; InciWeb – click image

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

When wildfire comes calling, all priorities shift. Animal rights work slides into oblivion while concern for individual animals–in this case, our own companion animals–sets sirens to shrieking in my head. Can I sneak the two cat carriers out of the attic undetected? Will I be able to catch Larkspur, our frightened, half-feral girl, when I absolutely must? (The element of surprise is critical!) Is her thyroid medication packed? Will the kennel have room for our dog Winter?…and when will I make the 25 mile round trip? Arrrgh!!! Continue reading