Animal Advocacy — Live from Hawaii

David Cassuto

I’ve spent the last 5 days in Hawaii at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the quadrennial gathering of environmental leaders from all over the world. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) recently applied for membership in IUCN and was denied.  I have been lobbying for support for ALDF’s appeal from that denial.  It’s a bizarre world where organizations like Safari Club International — which advocates trophy hunting as a form of conservation — is granted membership where ALDF, an organization that actively works to protect animals both in and out of the wild, is denied.

So far the support has been very gratifying; many IUCN member organizations have stepped forward to support the appeal.  However, we remain a few signatures short of Continue reading

NY SALDF Symposium

Andrea Rodricks

2015NYSymposiumJoin us for the 2015 SALDF New York Animal Law Symposium! The symposium is presented by the SALDF chapters of Pace Law School, CUNY School of Law, Columbia Law School, Yale Law School, Brooklyn Law School, and NYU School of Law, and is sponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). Register at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1364349.

When: Saturday, April 18th, 2015 from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Where: Pace Law School
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603

Please join us for the first regional symposium of the New York area SALDF chapters. The symposium’s main topic is ag gag laws and factory farming, with a bonus “Hot Topics in New York” panel, which will include issues relating to carriage horses and captive exotics.

Featuring many ALDF speakers, including Director of Legislative Affairs Chris Green, Litigation Fellow Jeff Pierce, Of Counsel Justin Marceau, and Manager of Investigations T.J. Tumasse, Professor David Cassuto, and many more esteemed speakers from animal law related fields. For a complete list of speakers and the most up to date panel information, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/343435589190374/.

District Court Upholds the Right to Sell Foie Gras

gaggle-of-geeseSeth Victor

The blawg previously commented on the ongoing issues surrounding California’s ban on the sale of foie gras, particularly the idea of giving away foie gras as a “complimentary side” when selling some other food. Last week Animal Legal Defense Fund filed another suit in the battle, arguing that La Toque restaurant was illegally selling foie gras in violation of California’s Health and Safety Code § 25982.

The suit, however, is somewhat of a moot point. On January 7th the California District Court overturned the Health and Safety Code banning the sale of foie gras, granting partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs, among whom is Hot’s Restaurant Group, the aforementioned makers of the complimentary foie gras side. The District Court summarize the issue as “whether a sales ban on products containing a constituent that was produced in a particular manner is an “ingredient requirement” under Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA).” The plaintiffs argued that the PPIA preempts the Health and Safety Code. Judge Stephen V. Wilson agreed, and has enjoined the California Attorney General from enforcing the law. In summary, PPIA is a federal law that regulates the sale and distribution of birds and expressly prohibits states from imposing certain conditions on food and ingredients. Judge Wilson held that the Health and Safety Code, which is a state law, was in conflict with the federal law, and that the federal law must be held above state regulations. The “production” of including fatty liver in the sales of food is, apparently, an ingredient, and therefore must be regulated, with regards to foie gras, at the federal level.

Health and Safety Code § 25981, which bans the practice of force feeding a bird for the purpose of fattening the liver, was not before the District Court, and remains in effect. Also, there are several other facets of the plaintiff’s argument that were not granted summary judgment, including a Commerce Clause attack. The Commerce Clause argument and the remaining section banning “production” still presents an important argument, although the restaurants’ main challenge has now been overcome; Californian restaurants largely import all of their foie gras, thus the production bar will have a much smaller impact.

5th Circuit Upholds Ban on Crush Videos

Seth Victor

Four years ago the US Supreme Court overruled Congress’s attempt to regulate “crush videos,” stating that the law was an impermissible, over-broad regulation of free speech. For more analysis of the decision, see here. Though the decision was distressing, it did not herald an end of attempts to regulate that particular form of animal cruelty; Congress quickly passed an amended version of the law, one that has yet to be tested before the Supreme Court.

Last week the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated criminal charges in the case of US v. Richards for video of animals being tortured to death by a suggestively dressed woman, holding that images of animals killed for sexual gratification are not protected forms of speech, and are in fact “obscene.” Obscenity is the key to the law; obscene speech does not have the same protections as common speech, and can be regulated. Additionally, the 5th Circuit rejected an argument that the law is unconstitutional because it unfairly targets a narrow type of obscenity (here, animal cruelty), holding that particular categories of obscenity may be targeted based on their socially harmful secondary effects.

This is the first legal test of the amended law, and animal advocates have to be happy with the direction the case took at the appellate level. The court held that the law does serve a “significant interest” of preventing violence against animals, and is “reasonably tailored” to meet that interest. The 2010 version does not apply to the slaughter of animals for food, hunting, or agricultural husbandry practices, which helped it survive the “over-broad” challenge. If the Supreme Court ends up granting certiorari (it’s unclear at this point if the defendants will push it that far), it will be very interesting to see how the 5th Circuit decision holds up against US v. Stevens.

 

 

 

 

Employment & Scholarship Opportunities at ALDF

David Cassuto

From the email — opportunities for students and recent grads at ALDF:

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has some great opportunities available right now that I thought you might like to share with your students.

First, we are hiring a Litigation Fellow (JD required within last three years) to begin immediately. This position will last roughly one year. The application deadline is Oct. 15, 2012.

We are also hiring Litigation Fellows to begin in fall 2013, which means current third-year students can apply. These positions will last roughly two years, and the deadline to apply is Oct. 20, 2012.

Finally, we are awarding ALDF Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships to outstanding members of our Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters this fall. The application deadline is Oct. 15, 2012. Active SALDF members who are committed to animal protection and the field of animal law are encouraged to apply.

Animals Can Be Victims, Too

Seth Victor

Rather than regurgitate Scott Heiser’s words, I encourage you to read ALDF’s post about State v. Nix, in which the Oregon appellate court held that individual horses count as separate victims, reversing a trial court holding that multiple abused horses merged into a single count of animal abuse. As the post mentions, this is a very exciting case, and will be very useful persuasive law for cases across the country.

Existence Value Introduced as an Argument for Standing in ESA Lawsuit

David Cassuto

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has construed the Endangered Species Act to exclude captive populations of  the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population.  This means that these endangered orcas  are deprived of the protections of the statute and can be exploited for profit by commercial operations.  A number of individuals and animal advocacy organizations including the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), on whose board I sit, brought suit in the Western District of Washington to challenge this interpretation.

To wit:

SHELBY PROIE; KAREN MUNRO;                              Case #3:11-05955-BHS
PATRICIA SYKES; ANIMAL LEGAL
DEFENSE FUND, a non-profit
corporation; and PEOPLE FOR THE
ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS,
INC., a non-profit corporation,
Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES
SERVICE, ERIC C. SCHWAAB, in his
official capacity as Assistant Administrator
for Fisheries of the National Marine
Fisheries Service; and REBECCA M.
BLANK, in her official capacity as the
Acting Secretary of the United States
Department of Commerce,
Defendants.
____ _______________

Last week, ALDF amended its complaint to include a standing claim based on “existence value.”  It declared:

16. ALDF also brings this case on behalf of its members who, on information and belief, place significant and particularized value on the continued existence of Southern Resident killer whales, and whose interests in ensuring that the species continues to exist are injured by
NMFS’s decision to exclude the captive members of the population from the list of endangered species because protecting captive members of a listed species is necessary to ensure that it will not become extinct in the future and can eventually be recovered.

and   Continue reading

Pet Store in California Caught Buying from Puppy Mills

Heather Schlemm

             Many people decide to purchase animals from pet stores, regardless of the millions of animals killed in shelters annually. When a person purchases a pet from a store, they are not always guaranteed the animal was bred properly. Dogs bred in puppy mills are commonly sold in pet stores, & many customers are not aware of what this means for the health of their pet, never mind the cruel treatment of these facilities.  Would you purchase a dog you knew was malnourished & improperly cared for since its birth?                              

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class action suit in California against Barkworks, a pet store chain with 6 stores, for buying from puppy mills ALDF is claiming repeated fraud & false advertising to hide from customers that the puppies they sold were from puppy mills. Puppy mills are large, commercial facilities that breed dogs that are normally unsanitary & mass-produce pets. Puppy mills fail to provide adequate food, water, medical care & socialization. Dogs from these facilities are prone to diseases & disorders.  Continue reading

ALDF Scholarships for Law Students

David Cassuto

Heads up, Law Students!

From the ALDF website:

ALDF Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) Advancement of Animal Law Scholarships are available to second- and third-year law student members of our student chapters and will be awarded based upon demonstrated commitment to ALDF’s mission, “to advance the interests and protect the lives of animals through the legal system.” Applicants should be committed to the advancement of animal law through active involvement with their Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter while in law school and anticipated participation in the field after graduation. Meet last year’s recipients!

A secondary goal of the scholarship is to ensure the recipient’s chapter will maintain active and engaged leadership. Therefore, scholarship recipients are encouraged to act as a SALDF advisor to their chapter for up to two years after graduation; this mentorship will help ensure continuity of the chapter and contribute to its ongoing vitality.      Continue reading

Should Michael Vick Own a Dog?

Seth Victor

My quick answer is no, but Scott Heiser from ALDF offers a more detailed explanation about what realistic enforceable judicial options exist to keep abusers like Vick (who recently stated that owning a dog will help with his rehabilitation) from owning animals. You can read Heiser’s Q&A here.

 

UPDATE: While we are on the subject of punishment and rehabilitation, apparently President Obama went out of his way to praise the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Vick a second chance. Very interesting. You can read the article here.

Which Animals Matter (yet again)?

Seth Victor

To paraphrase the oft quoted excerpt from Animal Farm, all cute and fuzzy animals are equal, but domesticated cute and fuzzy animals are more equal than others. This sentiment was yet again demonstrated over the last week. In one corner, we have human pets, who are mercilessly being tortured for the pleasure of a rather repugnant fetish in crush videos. After U.S. v. Stevens struck down a law aimed a regulating depictions of cruelty, Congress quickly passed a narrower bill that was signed into law by President Obama on Friday. As reported by ALDF, “the more narrowly written law that emerged makes it a crime to sell or distribute videos showing animals being intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury. It exempts depictions of veterinary and husbandry practices, the slaughter of animals for food, as well as depictions of hunting, trapping or fishing.” Hopefully the narrower scope will survive the inevitable legal challenges.

Continue reading

Sex, Animal Abuse, and the Internet

Seth Victor

In Long Island, New York last Tuesday,  the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a bill, sponsored by legislator Jon Cooper, creating the nation’s first registry for people convicted of animal abuse. The online registry operates in a similar fashion to the online registration required for sex offenders under Megan’s Laws. Anyone convicted of animal cruelty will be required to submit and keep updated their name, address, and photograph to the publicly searchable database for five years following their conviction. Convicted abusers will have to pay $50 annually for the cost of the registry, and those who do not face a $1,000 fine and one year imprisonment.

Mr. Cooper is quoted stating, “We know the correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence…Almost every serial killer starts out by torturing animals, so in a strange sense we could end up protecting the lives of people.” In acknowledging the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, a relationship of which many people are not aware, Mr. Cooper illustrates how animal protection laws can serve both human and animal interests.

Continue reading

New Study on Animal Protection Laws in Canada

David Cassuto

A while back, I blogged about HSUS´s useful state-by-state breakdown of animal protection laws in the U.S.   Now, I´m pleased to relay that ALDF has done a province-by-province study of the laws in Canada.  Apparently, Ontario tops the list while the Northwest Territory trails the pack.  Get the full skinny here.

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

Thinking About Wild Horses

Bruce Wagman

Lately I have been thinking about wild horses.  I discovered the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1331-1340 (Wild Horses Act), when I was collecting materials for the first animal law class at Hastings College of the Law in 1996.  Like several laws written for animals, on its face it looked like it would actually protect the covered animals, and that the legislators were very concerned about the horses’ well-being.  Congress actually said that wild horses were “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that [they] are fast disappearing from the American scene.”  It sounded like a set-up for protection to me.  What a letdown when I eventually discovered that while the law arguably provides some protection, it has also been used to herd these independent beauties with helicopters and worse, then to pen them in corrals where they are unable to run or engage in any semblance of their normal lifestyles, and then to either warehouse them for years (the federal government currently keeps over 30,000 in long-term holding) or, if they are old or infirm, sell them for slaughter.  During the “gathers,” horse are obviously frightened, they may die, and once captured, spontaneous abortions of foals is common.  And if they live, they often slowly die from starvation, lack of activity, and other causes.   Continue reading

California Bill Proposes Animal Abuser Registry

David Cassuto

From the Hopeful Developments Desk: California State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez has drafted a bill (with help from the ALDF) which will require people convicted of felony animal abuse to register with the state and provide a current photo, home address, place of employment and other information.  The law, if passed, will be funded by a small tax on pet food.

Florez, who also chairs the Food and Agriculture Committee, is counting on his credibility in the Ag world as well as bipartisan opposition to animal abuse to overcome the anti-tax backlash that inevitably accompanies any non-revenue neutral proposal.

We shall see.  More here and here.

The 2010 Animal Law Moot

David Cassuto

I’m in Boston — well, Cambridge actually — at a cute little law school tucked away in a modest, unassuming university they have up here.  This year marks my seventh consecutive year judging the annual Animal Law Moot Court Competition, an event staged by Lewis & Clark’s Center for Animal Law Studies in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Continue reading

Some Legal News

David Cassuto

I don’t often get around to doing roundups of animal law in the news.  Fortunately, there are folks with more gumption than I.  ALDF, for example.  Check it out.

ABA-TIPS Event in Chicago

From the email:

ABA-TIPS Humane Education Project – Chicago

Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), and Northwestern Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter are pleased to invite you to a free training workshop for the Humane Education Project of the American Bar Association’s TIPS Animal Law Committee. The primary objective of the Humane Education Project is to cultivate compassion and empathy in our youth toward animals and foster respect for the environment. For additional information on the program, please see below.

Continue reading

Joyce Tischler is ABA TIPS Animal Law Section Honoree

Joyce Tischler will be honored by the Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice (TIPS) Animal Law Section at the annual meeting of the American Bar Association which convenes this week in Chicago.   Tischler, co-founder of the ALDF and animal advocate for three decades, will be presented with the Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award. More on Joyce and the award here and here.

A wonderful honor, richly deserved.  Noises Off!

–David Cassuto

Free Speech at the Margins — ALDF and Animal Law Profs File Amicus Brief in U.S. v. Stevens

In U.S. v. Stevens, the Supreme Court will decide whether a federal law forbidding depictions of animal cruelty violates the First Amendment.  Suzanne first blogged about the case here.  ALDF and animal law professors from all over the country (of whom I am one) recently filed an amicus brief in this case.  One of the issues before the Court involves whether the Court’s 1993 holding in Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, striking down a municipal ordinance banning animal sacrifice (primarily because it targeted the Santeria religion), stands for the principle that animal cruelty cannot rise to a compelling state interest.  We argue that it does not.  I have written about the Lukumi case at some length and you can find it here.

I will have more to say about the Stevens case in the near future.  In the meanwhile, here’s a good post from ALDF.

–David Cassuto

Some Good News from the Courts

Hot off the email:

Dear friends and colleagues,

I’m happy to share with you that the story of Animal Legal Defense Fund  v. Woodley has been reported on with great care as a big feature story in the June issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. It’s a fantastic tribute to the huge team effort that helped secure our victory in the largest civil animal cruelty case in American history, and it tells in-depth the stories of several of the rescued dogs with their new adoptive families.

The June issue of O is now available on newsstands.

Please share these links with your friends and contacts. We’re also posting an announcement on Facebook, so be sure you are an ALDF fan on Facebook and share the story with your Facebook friends as well. Please help us get the word out about the tragedy of animal hoarding.

Summer Grants for Law Students Interested In Animal Law

From the email:

clip_image002

ALDF Summer Research Grants:

Through the funding of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Legal & Historical Center will be able to offer four $1,000 summer research grants. Under our grant program students are assigned topics and they draft a paper for posting on the website along with relevant primary legal materials. The commitment is to a minimum of 100 hours to be completed before August 15, 2008.  We have full explanatory information on how to do the work from a computer located anywhere in the United States, or even foreign countries if you have Internet access. It is suggested that you should be comfortable with a computer, but you do not have to know how to build web pages.

This project has been under way for over five years. We now have considerable material available on the Website at: www.animallaw.info. We have created a basic set of materials for a number of animal issues, posting hundreds of cases and statutes in the process. There are now about 4,000 people who visit the site on a daily basis. Two of our student papers have been requested for printing in books. Please take a moment to view the site if you have not done so before. However, much remains to be done. Summertime and law students combine to create a opportunity to add even more materials to the site.

We have publication needs in enforcement by humane societies, local ordinances, zoning, landlord tenant, comparative law with other countries, state cruelty laws, and animal liability laws. We also need to have more topics that are species focused — tigers, ferrets, and dairy cows being just a few. We are open to additional topics if you have interests and expertise within a particular area.

Please consider applying for a summer research grant.

We will take applications from any student enrolled in an ABA US law school. Given the limited number of grants and the expected number of applications, those who have completed their second year of law school will be given a priority.

Questions? Contact Professor David Favre: favre@law.msu.edu,

517-432-6890

Application for Summer Research Grant

For the summer of 2009, four research grants of $1,000 will be made available for law students willing to commit to a minimum of 100 hours research over the summer. These will be awarded by May 10 from those that apply by May 1, 2009.

_______________________________________                  ______________________________

Applicant                                                                                  e-mail

_______________________________________                  ______________________________

Law School                                                                              phone

_______________________________________                  ____________________

Will be completing which semester of Law School                     Cumulative Law School GPA

Please provide a professor’s name for a reference:

______________________________________

Please provide some background information about your interests and experience with animals and animal legal issues.

Your level of computer experience:

Return to Prof. David Favre – favre@law.msu.edu, Fax: 517-432-6801

Michigan State University College of Law

Shaw Lane

East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

Blogging from the Animal Moot

I blog from Cambridge, MA, where tomorrow the National Animal Law Moot Court Competition begins.  I have the honor of participating as a judge – something I have done for each of the last 5 years.  This year’s competition is sponsored by Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).  It is hosted (as it has been since its inception) by Harvard Law School’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF).  Law schools from all over the country will participate – a testament to the growing recognition of animal law as a legal discipline as well as to student interest in the field.  For the final round, Judges D. Brooks Smith of the 3rd Circuit, Susan P. Graber of the 9th Circuit and Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas will preside.

I’m delighted to report that Pace Law School will field teams in both the moot court and the closing argument competition for the second consecutive year.  Go teams!  My rooting interest aside (and, of course, I will not judge any rounds in which Pace is involved), this competition routinely features some of the best student advocacy it has ever been my privilege to witness.  This year will no doubt produce more of the same.

The moot problem involves the applicability of the federal 28 Hour Law (requiring that no animal be transported for more than 28 hours without food, water or rest) to chickens.  This is a live issue; a number of federal laws, including the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the Animal Welfare Act exclude birds from their coverage and the legislative history of the 28 Hour Law offers little clarity on the matter.  Another issue centers on whether the 28 Hour Law preempts state anti-cruelty statutes for animals involved in interstate transport.  It’s an interesting set of issues that require advocates to grapple both with the stark, unlovely reality of the animal transport industry and with the law’s apparent indifference to same.

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