Higher Learning? : Animal Dissections in Classrooms Across America

Keisha Sapphire Holgate

In many ways, dissection of animals in schools has evolved tremendously, yet in other ways it has remained exactly the same as it was 100 years ago. Each year, an estimated 10-12 million animals are used for dissection in classrooms across America. Currently, in 18 states and counting, students in Kindergarten through the 12th grade have laws and policies that legally give them a choice about whether or not to participate in classroom activities harming animals. In New York state, New York Consolidated Law Article 17 § 809(4) allows a student to object on moral or religious grounds to participate, or even witness, an animal dissection without penalization of a failing grade in school. The law requires this objection to be in writing by the student’s parent or legal guardian. The NY state law ensures that an alternative is provided for the abstaining student to allow the Continue reading

A Win For Free Speech Is Not A Win For Animals

Calli Norman

On January 9th, 2019 the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa held the State’s ag-gag law unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. Iowa’s “Agricultural Production Facility Fraud”prohibits obtaining access to agricultural facilities under “false pretenses”. This includes making false statements or misrepresentations in employment agreements with agricultural facilities. The law was fueled by the agricultural industry’s concern for its security and reputation. According to The Associated Press, “no undercover investigations had taken place in Iowa since the law was approved”.

Animal activists, such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund, view this ruling as a “win for free speech and animal protection”. The State has since filed an appeal, seeking to protect the existing privacy and property rights. I think both parties miss the mark. How does this ruling actually further animal interests? To what extent is a judgment that protects lying a victory?

There are four Federal statutes that protect animal interests: the Animal Welfare Act, the Continue reading

Efficiency is the Cure for All Homelessness

Samantha A. Mumola

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, over 550,000 homeless humans are living in the United States on any given night.  Of these people,  as many as one in four are pet owners. Many homeless pet owners cannot enter homeless shelters due to restrictions against pets.  In other words, these compassionate individuals are denied basic services because they refuse to abandon their dog on the streets.

Human homelessness is at its highest point in modern history. Without a place to live, it is exponentially harder to find a job and maintain a healthy life, let alone take care of a pet.  However, these pets are a source of comfort, security, warmth, and normalcy to the homeless.

Before condemning all homeless humans from owning pets, consider the following: there are high rates of drug use and physical and mental health issues amongst those living without a home.  In fact, scientific research is becoming increasingly supportive of the link between pets and human health.  As a result, when patients seek treatment for drug use and mental Continue reading

Florida Man: Did A Rogue Zoo Veterinarian Commit Malpractice?

Robert Gordon

Since the 15th century, rogue has been used to reference shady or dishonest people. Today, however, folks like Dr. Ray Ball,  lead veterinarian at ZooTampa in Tampa, Florida, use the term endearingly. That is why, in his self-published book released seven months prior to an ongoing federal investigation into veterinarian malpractice at the zoo, he repeatedly describes himself as a “rogue veterinarian.” The book describes a number of stories from Dr. Ball’s twenty-six-year career, including some that at the very least raise questions about his judgment. For instance, there was one time where he and a co-worker stopped at a Hardees drive-thru with a sedated alligator strapped to the back of his truck.

But the real story is not Dr. Ball’s ill-advised retelling of tales from years prior. Today, Dr. Ball makes headlines because at least seven people have filed 45 complaints with federal authorities for alleged veterinarian malpractice resulting in the deaths of manatees and a giraffe. The allegations became public in late October when the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife sent a letter to ZooTampa inquiring about Dr. Ball’s treatment methods. Notably, the attention prompted an almost immediate response from Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) who then penned a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Interior requesting a full investigation. There were four specific aspects to Dr. Ball’s treatment that raised red flags Continue reading

THE PACT ACT IS NECESSARY, YET FAILS TO PROTECT THE COUNTRY’S MOST TORTURED ANIMALS

 

Amy O’Brien

Millions of animals are subjected to needless torture, abuse, and suffering every year. Yet, there is currently no federal animal cruelty statute. All 50 states have criminal laws that protect against animal cruelty; however, these state laws do not protect animals that are being abused across state lines. Lawmakers have recently recognized the inadequacy of the current federal regime in protecting animals from harm. As such, in late January 2019, two Florida legislators (Rep. Vern Buchanan (R–Longboat Key) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton)) re-introduced the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (“PACT”) Act to Congress.

The PACT Act, which was originally introduced in 2017, amends the Animal Crush Video Prohibition (“ACVP”) Act, passed in 2010. The ACVP made the creation, sale, and distribution of animal crushing videos illegal. The PACT Act defines “animal crushing” as “actual conduct in which one or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury . . .” Yet, the physical act of crushing the animals remains legal under federal law. The PACT Act, however, goes further by amending the Continue reading

How the 2018 Midterm Election Resulted in Animal Law Victories

Caitlin Ens

The U.S. 2018 midterm election did more than just change the majority party in the House of Representatives. Some local voters brought about significant changes in their state’s animal welfare laws. In California and Florida, two animal rights amendments were passed that, respectively, prohibit dog racing and establish minimum space requirements for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens. These laws create standards for other states to follow in future elections.

Florida passed Amendment 13 and became the 41st state to ban commercial dog racing. Amendment 13 states that by the end of 2020, commercial dog racing will be completely outlawed. In states that still allow dog racing, thousands of greyhounds are bred annually to
Continue reading

Grants for Empirical Animal Work

David Cassuto

From the email:

Dear All,

This is to let you know that the UCLA Animal Law and Policy Small Grants Program is accepting applications from now until December 1. If you would like more information and to see the projects funded during the first cycle, please go to https://law.ucla.edu/centers/social-policy/animal-law-grants-program/about/. You will see a tab at the top for “Funded Projects.” There are other tabs with information for those interested in applying for a small grant.

Proposals about any type of empirical research projects that advance animal law and policy are welcome, but missing so far have been topics about animal research, pest control, and other arguably under-prioritized animals. Of greatest importance in the proposal review, however, is the strength of the proposed empirical research methodology for generating reliable answers to the research questions posed in the proposal. Accordingly, applicants’ description of their proposed methodology is particularly valuable to those of us reviewing the proposals.

I hope that you will consider applying for funds to conduct empirical research and that you will pass on the information about the UCLA Animal Law and Policy Small Grants Program to anyone who might be interested. Please note that we do not fund any type of research that involves living animals, and the research must be based at an American institution of higher education.

Sincerely,
Taimie Bryant