USDA facilitates animal suffering at Cricket Hollow Zoo

Delcianna J. Winders, Academic Fellow, Animal Law & Policy Program, Harvard Law School

This piece originally appeared in the Des Moines Register

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has again renewed the license that chronic animal welfare violator Cricket Hollow Zoo, in Manchester, needs to operate. The agency renewed this license despite recently documenting numerous violations and, indeed, documenting nearly 100 violations over the past three years. The agency renewed this license just months after a judge held that Cricket Hollow was likely to cause serious death or injury to animals. The agency renewed this license despite a pending enforcement action. The agency is complicit in Cricket Hollow’s abuse and neglect of dozens of animals.

CHZ primate
©Tracey Kuehl

To understand the conditions at Cricket Hollow that the Department of Agriculture allows to continue by its re-licensing, consider the following violations, documented by the agency on one day:

  • Various species were held with no ventilation and “a strong, foul odor of fecal waste and ammonia”;
  • No plan existed to address the distress of a baboon who paced incessantly and “repeatedly tossed his head back,” both “abnormal behaviors” indicative of distress;
  • Multiple animal enclosures “were severely muddy with large areas of standing water,” forcing numerous to stand in water and/or thick mud, some of whom had “mud/wet fur extending up the entire length of their legs”;
  • Numerous animals were confined with excessive flies and built-up waste.

Automatic license renewals also endanger humans. Without licenses, facilities couldn’t exhibit animals, and many of the violations put the public at risk. Cricket Hollow has repeatedly been cited for violations related to public endangerment, including holding dangerous animals like lions, bears and baboons in structurally unsound cages that could allow escape. One of Cricket Hollow’s owners was flown to a hospital after being attacked by a tiger and suffering lacerations to his head and torso.

Years ago, the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General flagged automatic license renewal as a serious problem causing increased animal suffering and undermining the Animal Welfare Act’s purposes. In response to the Inspector General’s plea that it reform its licensing practices, the agency claimed that it was legally required to automatically renew licenses.

Developments in the law leave no question that the Department of Agriculture is not required to automatically renew licenses, and that it can condition renewal on compliance. Numerous federal courts have held that the Animal Welfare Act can be read to require compliance with the law before renewal.

Still, the agency clings to an outmoded model of licensing. While many agencies have adopted efficient, informal procedures for licensing, the Department of Agriculture continues to give full, trial-type hearings for every licensing and other Animal Welfare Act decision. This slow, antiquated approach wastes resources and results in serious delays that prolong animal suffering.

In August the Animal Welfare Act will turn 50, and it’s past time for the agency to heed calls to stop facilitating violations of the law and animal suffering through automatic license renewal.

Animal Law Clinic at Michigan State

David Cassuto

From the email:

Animal Welfare Clinic

(for release 7 July, 2016)

 Michigan State University College of Law invites applications for the Director position in its newly created Animal Welfare Clinic.

 MSU’s Animal Welfare Clinic will provide opportunities for students to learn the practice of law in a well-supervised and academically rigorous program.  The direct representation of clients is the core of the students’ experience in the clinic, and the clinic seeks to maintain a diverse and challenging docket.  With a core focus on animal law content, the clinic will select cases with attention to pedagogical concerns, community need, and the need to provide students with opportunities to engage as attorneys in a variety of contexts. This clinic will service individual clients with a variety of individual animal legal issues as well as clients who raise public policy questions about the use of animals in our society. The Clinic will seek out cases which will use the courts to enhance the welfare of animals beyond present practices. The Director will be expected to be an active member of a major University with a diverse set of players with animal related interests. Additionally, it is expected that the individual will coordinate with national organizations and seek to provide leadership on a national level.

For all aspects of the Clinic, the Clinical Professor will work in coordination with Animal Law Program of the College, directed by Professor David Favre and the Associate Dean for Experiential Education, David Thronson, who will help create the program of the clinic.  The Clinic Director will receive an annual salary commensurate with their experience, together with generous benefits. This will be a clinical track appointment starting with the title of Assistant Clinical Professor.  Continue reading

Will new tiger protections go far enough?

Delcianna J. Winders, Academic Fellow, Animal Law & Policy Program, Harvard Law School

[This piece originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.]

0250_babytiger_5F00_72

With more tigers in American backyards, basements and bathrooms than the wild, it’s worth pausing on Endangered Species Day to consider whether new federal protections for tigers are enough.

On May 6, just days after a tiger that had apparently been used for photo-ops in Florida was found roaming the streets of Conroe following last month’s floods, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed a loophole in its Endangered Species Act regulations. After nearly two decades of looking the other way while hundreds of captive tigers are trafficked in the United States every year, the agency began treating tigers the same as other endangered wildlife.

But the agency’s permitting policies may critically limit the impact of this change.

To protect imperiled species like tigers, the Endangered Species Act prohibits a host of activities, including importing, exporting, selling, killing, harming, harassing and wounding protected wildlife, whether captive or wild. Continue reading

International Animal Law News

David Cassuto

From the email:

[T]his email is being sent to you to update you with some of the key news and events of the last few months that have been posted on the website of International Animal Law.

ANIMALS, WELFARE AND THE LAW

Animals, welfare and the law is an essential book for all those that have direct and indirect dealings/interests with animals. It’s now the course book for a couple of online courses including Vet Scholar and the Global Animal Welfare Authority.

Remember, the format of the book is intentionally designed to be thought provoking and interactive. For example, there are questions at the front of the book, and at the end of each chapter, that assist readers in examining their own knowledge (and attitudes) concerning animal welfare and the rules that currently govern it. Additionally, all proceeds from the sale of the book go to the registered charity Animal Welfare Law Matters.

NEWS PICKS

I am always grateful to those who continue to contribute to the array of topics, articles and news of interest on the website of International Animal Law (“IAL”). A few picks shown on IAL over the last few months include:

  1. A new International Research Consortium for Animal Health (IRC) has been created to coordinate global research and ultimately lead to new methods of controlling animal diseases. Given the competing attitudes, agendas and interests between different stakeholders on many of the issues involving animals and the welfare of animals and people, it is encouraging to see continued efforts towards harmonisation in the international market place.
  2. On the subject of initiatives which seek to implement consistency on issues of animal welfare internationally, a proposed model of animal welfare has been published. Its authors propose that can be used as a guide and information source for countries seeking to introduce or improve their animal welfare legislation.
  3. Do you know how enforcement actually works? For example, what are the criteria for determining whether or not a prosecution proceeds. These considerations were raised following notification of a complaint against the SPCA.
  4. And do you recall seeing the public response and outcry at the shooting of a lion organised by trophy hunting safari operations in South Africa last year? Change is fostered when public opinion is supported by commercial decisions that have an economic impact, so the cancellation of a hunting expo by the Holiday Inn is interesting to note. It also raises questions about how many of the other voices that criticised the slaying of the lion and wider trophy hunting safari operations, have implemented similar initiatives for change?
  5. Opinions regarding the use of animals for human use obviously vary. The Greyhound racing industry is one of the animal use activities that has come under the spotlight in recent times, and the imprisonment of Greyhound trainers in Australia is a reminder of how far the law has progressed in that people can and to go to prison for animal welfare offences.

Continue reading

NY State Bar Association Student Writing Competition

David Cassuto

Attention Law Students!

From the email:

2016 NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION

COMMITTEE ON ANIMALS AND THE LAW

STUDENT WRITING COMPETITION

The Committee on Animals and the Law of the New York State Bar Association is very pleased to announce the Eighth Annual Student Writing Competition. The deadline for submission is July 1, 2016.

The Committee on Animals and the Law was established to provide information resources for the New York State Bar Association’s members and the public about non-human, animal‑related humane issues, which arise from and have an effect upon our legal system. This competition seeks to foster legal scholarship among law students in the area of animals and the law. This competition provides law students with an incentive and opportunity to learn more about this area of law. Continue reading

Don’t Be Cruel (Anymore): A Look at the Animal Cruelty Regimes of the United States and Brazil with a Call for a New Animal Welfare Agency

David Cassuto

The shameless self-promotion desk is back and shilling a new article.  The title is as above and you can find the full text here.  Worth noting is that it appears in the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review and that both articles in the current issue of one of the country’s leading environmental law journals are on animal law.  Big plaudits to the journal.  Get it, read it, tell your friends.

Abstract:

In the United States and around the world, animals exploited for human use suffer cruel and needless harm. The group bearing the brunt of this exploitation—agricultural animals—is routinely exempted from the largely ineffective and rarely enforced animal welfare and anti-cruelty regulations that exist today. This Article offers a comparative analysis of the agricultural animal welfare regimes of two countries with globally significant presence in the agriculture industry: the United States and Brazil. Even though the two countries Continue reading

The AWA at 50 — Call for Papers

David Cassuto

From the email: 

The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty Conference

 
Harvard Law School
1585 Massachusetts Ave – Cambridge

Date/Time
Date(s) – Thursday, September 22, 2016 – Sunday, September 25, 2016
All Day

Location
Harvard Law School

Overview

The Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School is pleased to announce The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty, a conference that will bring experts together to assess the first fifty years of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and consider recommendations for the future. The event will include conference presentations as well as a separate academic workshop component.

We welcome submissions on both broad and specific law and policy issues. In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue, we encourage submissions from legal scholars and lawyers; government officials and staff; academics in disciplines outside of law, such as sociology, anthropology, political science, and economics; international scholars and regulators; veterinarians and animal behaviorists; and others with perspectives on the AWA. We also encourage submissions from experts in other areas of legislation and regulation who can bring a comparative approach to the study of the AWA. We encourage submissions from advocacy organizations, industry representatives, think tanks, and others outside academia, but emphasize that this is a scholarly conference and abstracts will be judged by academic standards.

Individuals can submit proposals for both conference presentations and the workshop if desired.

Conference Presentations

Those interested in presenting at the conference are invited to submit an abstract of up to 400 words describing their proposed presentation along with a CV. All abstracts and CVs should be submitted together to ALPP@law.harvard.edu with “AWA Conference Presentation Proposal” in the subject line no later than April 5, 2016. Conference presentations will be approximately 20 minutes in length.

Workshop Papers

Those interested in participating in the academic workshop are invited to submit an abstract of up to 400 words describing their proposed paper along with a CV. All abstracts and CVs should be submitted together to ALPP@law.harvard.edu with “AWA Workshop Proposal” in the subject line no later than April 5, 2016.

Those selected as workshop participants must submit their final papers by August 15, 2016, so that they can be circulated and read by the other workshop participants in advance of the workshop. The final workshop papers should be approximately 10,000 words (including footnotes). Each paper should be an unpublished work in progress. We will consider papers that have been accepted for publication, as long as they have not yet been published and the author will still have an opportunity to incorporate feedback from the workshop.

Potential Topics

We welcome submissions on both broad and specific law and policy issues. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

Agency compliance strategies

Efficacy of different types of standards, such as engineering vs. performance, general vs. species-specific, etc.

Which categories of animals are/should be afforded legal protections

Agency licensing practices

Agency restructuring proposals

Agency culture

Differential treatment of research facilities and other regulated entities

Education vs. enforcement

Regulatory vs non-regulatory approaches

AWA intersections with other laws

Agency inspections

Agency administrative hearing practices and due process

Agency collaboration with the Department of Justice

Settlements and discounting administrative penalties

Agency use of warnings

Assessing the adequacy of veterinary care

Judicial review of agency action

Citizen suit provision proposals

Impact of public opinion on the law and its implementation, media narratives, and social movement advocacy

Animal confiscation under the AWA

Transparency in implementation

Alternatives to use of animals in research

The role and efficacy of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees

The role of undercover investigations at regulated facilities

Comparative analyses of the AWA and other animal protection regimes

Contact

For additional information, please contact alpp@law.harvard.edu.

 

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