Ringling Bros. Retires Circus Elephants

Seth Victor

As many of you may have already heard, Ringling Bros. is retiring elephants from its act and focusing on caring for elephants in a conservation center. Wayne Pacelles of HSUS described this move as a “Berlin Wall moment for animal protection,” and attributed the change to the evolving public opinion surrounding animal welfare, including the outcry that came on the heels of Blackfish and the treatment of orcas at Sea World. The termination of elephant performances has been long-sought by PETA.Photography-Elephant-Wallpapers

The media reaction, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a bit divided regarding Ringling Bros’s decision. An op-ed in the New York Post believes that the circus’s “craven capitulation to PETA will only embolden zealots to agitate for elimination of all circus animals — if not eventually to bestow upon all living creatures the same “inalienable rights” as humans,” and goes on to state that without exposure to animals via a circus, most people will not form a connection with the animals, and will thus not care to save them in the wild. The L.A. Times also notes that many people feel the elephants are an iconic part of the joy of the circus. Meanwhile op-eds in the New York Times range from echoing the Post to refuting the sentiments of the circus sympathizers. Continue reading

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.

A Neologism For The Animal Advocacy World

Brad Landau

neologismThe coining of a new phrase, or a neologism, is a way of commanding the transformation of new and modern language. By commanding the transformation of language, and coining new words and phrases, one can bring society up to date in a rapidly changing world. In the animal advocacy world, neologisms are frequently formed for this very reason. For example, Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, coined the term “vegan” to describe individuals who abstain from the consumption and use of animal products. Another example, Richard D. Ryder, a British psychologist, animal advocate, and author, coined the term “speciesism” in 1970 and “painism” 1985. Speciesism opposes the assignment of moral values and protections on the basis of species alone, and painism argues that all beings that are capable of feeling pain deserve rights. A last example of neologisms in the animal advocacy world comes from Gary L. Francione, an American Legal Scholar, and Distinguished Professor of Law & Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law–Newark. Francione coined the term “New Welfarist” in his 1996 Continue reading

Animal Welfare Trust Summer Grants

David Cassuto

From the email:

Animal Welfare Trust is currently seeking applicants for our 2015 Student Grant Program. The grant provides up to $5000 per recipient for graduate students to work on an independent research project under faculty supervision or for an unpaid position within an established organization. Internships can be for a summer, semester, or year-long duration. Applications are due on March 1, 2015. Animal Welfare Trust believes that we can make a meaningful contribution to animal welfare by encouraging students to work on projects that facilitate positive reform for animals. Details about the grant program, the application process, and information on past recipients can be found on our website.

Our particular areas of interest are farm animal welfare, humane education and pro-vegetarian/vegan campaigns (though by no means are we limited to these areas). Please pass this announcement on to any students you think may be interested and feel free to cross post as well.

If you have any questions, please contact me.
Thank you!

Ali Berman
Animal Welfare Trust
141 Halstead Avenue, Suite 301
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
914-589-6778
ali@animalwelfaretrust.org
www.animalwelfaretrust.org

Summer Internship with Compassion Over Killing

David Cassuto

From the email…

Compassion Over Killing (COK) is seeking legal interns for Summer 2015 (unpaid). Compassion Over Killing is a national nonprofit (501(c)(3)) animal advocacy organization. Working to end animal abuse since 1995, COK focuses on ending and preventing cruelty to animals in agriculture.

COK’s Legal Advocacy Program is offering Litigation Internships out of its West Coast office in Torrance, California, as well as Policy Internships out of COK’s Washington, D.C. office.

Litigation Interns will work on litigation projects aimed at protecting farmed animals; most of these projects are plaintiffs’ litigation. These projects will likely employ a variety of legal theories, relating to areas such as state criminal cruelty laws, false advertising and unfair competition laws, tort liability, environmental protection laws, administrative law, tax, and corporate law.

Policy Interns will work on diverse projects aimed at improving legislative, regulatory, industry, and corporate policies that impact farmed animals. All Summer Interns will have opportunities to research new projects as well as assist heavily with ongoing projects. They will work closely with Compassion Over Killing’s attorneys.

Excellent research and writing skills are required. In addition, Litigation & Policy Interns should be interested in exploring novel approaches to protecting animals through litigation. Candidates with a background and interest in animal protection are preferred, although it is not required. Interested law students should apply with cover letter, resume, writing sample, list of three references, and law school transcript to Compassion Over Killing’s Legal Advocacy Program at legal@cok.net. Please indicate whether you are applying for a Litigation Internship or Policy Internship in the email subject line. Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

Harvard Announces New Animal Advocacy Program

David Cassuto

From the email... Brad Goldberg is a mensch of the first order.

Generous Gift from Bradley L. Goldberg Will Support Animal Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School

Bradley L Goldberg

Harvard Law School has announced that Bradley L. Goldberg, founder and president of the Animal Welfare Trust, has made a generous gift to endow the Animal Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. By funding curriculum development, experiential learning, scholarly gatherings and exchanges, forums for discussion and debate, and the establishment of an Academic Fellows program, this gift will launch a new level of activity in animal law at the Law School and will enable faculty members, students, and practitioners to build innovative bridges between theory and practice.

“Once at the margins, legal questions about the status, interests, and treatment of animals increasingly take their rightful place across society,” said Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor at Harvard Law School. “Now is the time for the resources of tort, property, family law, environmental law, constitutional law, and legal change strategies to make a crucial difference in the lives of animals. We are thrilled that Brad Goldberg has chosen Harvard Law School to advance his visionary work and enable faculty, students, and practitioners to propel new thinking and action on animals and the law.”

Said Goldberg: “Animals have rights to experience a life of respect, free from unnecessary suffering, and the animal advocacy movement needs and deserves a new generation of leaders so that progress can continue. With its long history of pioneering legal theories to support social movements, Harvard Law School is able and willing to work with policy makers, regulators and society to increase protections for animals. This is a very exciting opportunity for the animal protection movement.”

Over the past three decades, Harvard Law School has broadened its curriculum to include courses, clinical programs and research centers that address the changing shape of law and society. The Law School launched the study of animal rights more than fourteen years ago, at a time when it was still an emerging field of law. In June 2000, Pearson Television made a gift, in honor of game show host and animal rights activist Bob Barker, to establish the Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights at HLS. The Goldberg gift will enable the Law School to create and implement an expanded animal law curriculum and facilitate new partnerships among academics, activists and students. For example, students will have a greater opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience by assisting an animal protection group with an investigation or other project, or undertaking their own individual research and writing projects.

“Animals are important members of society, and the law has a significant impact on how they are treated, ” said HLS Professor Kristen A. Stilt, whose interest in animal law stems from her work on Islamic law and law in contemporary Muslim societies. “This gift will allow us to focus the attention of academics, policy makers, practitioners, and students on the most pressing problems facing animals today. With new collaborations generating new ideas, what we can accomplish is tremendous,” she added. Stilt joined the Law School faculty in 2014 and will direct the Animal Advocacy Program.

Goldberg, a New York resident, founded the Animal Welfare Trust in 2001 as a private operating foundation. The Trust provides grants to students and organizations, particularly to help grassroots efforts that have a compelling vision as to how they can make a unique contribution to the animal welfare cause. Goldberg said when he retired from the investment management business in 2001, he chose to pursue “his real passion: animal rights.”

In addition to the organization he founded, Goldberg serves as chair of Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART), an organization with a mission of teaching compassion and respect toward all living beings and the environment; as an officer of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food; as a trustee of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and as a trustee of the Cultural Institutions Retirement System.

In 2010, Goldberg helped establish the Animal Studies Initiative at NYU. The Initiative offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate Minor in Animal Studies (one of the first in the country), supports graduate and post-doctoral research and teaching, and presents a program of public lectures, conferences, and workshops.

During his distinguished 35-year career in investment management, Goldberg served as an executive vice president, portfolio manager, and chair of the asset allocation committee at Jennison Associates, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial.

NY BILL PROPOSING BAN ON TATTOOING AND PIERCING OF PETS

Angela Scarduzio

          In New York, torturing, unjustifiably injuring, mutilating, or willfully furthering any act of cruelty to any animal is a violation of the state’s animal cruelty statute. N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 353 (McKinney). Accordingly, it would seem to be inferred from this statute that tattooing or piercing a pet for the amusement of the pet’s owner would fall within the statute as animal cruelty. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that in New York an owner cannot tattoo or pierce one’s pet for the owner’s amusement, since the pain being inflicted on the animal is unjustified. However, despite the existence of New York’s animal cruelty statute and the inferences that follow, in 2011, a new bill was introduced specifically addressing this issue.

The proposed bill, S.6769, created by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, which would make it illegal for New York residents to tattoo or pierce their animals unless

mistah-metro-dog-tattoo-new-york
for medical or identification purposes, imposes fines up to $1,000 and possibly, 1 year in jail. The proposed bill was inspired when Rosenthal was appalled by an online advertisement for the sale of gothic kittens, kittens with tattoos and piercings. It seems ridiculous people actually need a law to tell them that tattooing or piercing their pets is animal abuse. Surely, animals cannot consent to these painful procedures, and even if they could do so, likely would not. So why do people think it is Continue reading

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