Win a few, lose a few: Animal fighting, commercial breeding get another pass

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Dog fighter in training (ASPCA photo) – click for story

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Seventy percent of U.S. adults have a favorable opinion of the animal protection movement–so says recent research–which leads me to think that the other 30% serve in the Montana legislature. Animals lost what should have been a couple of slam-dunks during the 2015 biennial session, but that’s not unusual in a state where the unofficial motto might be “if it’s brown, it’s down; if it flies, it dies; if it hooks, it cooks.” Wildlife are under constant siege from arrows, bullets, hooks, and traps, while laws protecting companion animals don’t have a prayer if they can be twisted–no matter how remotely in the exploiters’ minds–to hold rodeo and animal agriculture to some minuscule standard of decency.   Continue reading

Pony rides: Service…or servitude?

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Photo: LA Progressive – click image

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

ex-ploi-ta-tion (noun): the action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

Animal exploitation comes in many shapes and sizes and often involves soul-crushing cruelty–think factory farming, circus slavery, vivisection.

But is exploitation always cruel? What constitutes cruelty, anyhow? And who defines it? If you’re the animal, these questions are meaningless: When you’re suffering–whether physically, emotionally, or both–you simply want it to stop. If you’re the animal rights activist, your definition of what’s exploitive and cruel is holistic and vastly broader than that of the person who “owns” animals–ponies, for example–and benefits financially from their work in the pony ride ring. Though they might be well cared-for, is their forced labor unfair? Is it cruel? Is it OK because they’re valued and loved? Just like the tethered ponies, this argument goes ’round and ’round.

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They are our family, but…” – Companion animals, veterinary medicine, and our own ethical dilemmas

Kat Fiedler

Traditionally, doctors take the Hippocratic Oath as an affirmation of the ethical responsibility that they have towards their patients. According to the American Medical Association, one principle of medical ethics is that “[a] physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.” What then are the duties of veterinarians, especially given the fact that animals are viewed as property under the law and often by society? To whom do the primary responsibilities of veterinarians lie?

Several years ago, my two pet rats became new patients at a veterinary office. As a part of their new patient paperwork, I was asked to select one of a handful of boxes describing how I viewed my pets and their possible treatment at the veterinary Fiedleroffice. These options included: I consider my pet to be part of my family and I would do anything for them; I consider my pet to be part of my family, but I have financial constraints; I am only willing to pay so much to treat my pet; and so on (all of these options are paraphrased from the actual text on the form). I asked a staff member what purpose my selection would serve. She responded that the veterinarian would consider my response in recommending treatment options for my pet. In other words, this exemplified the fact that I, the pet owner, am the client of the veterinarian, not the pet as the patient.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, one principle of veterinary medical ethics is that “[v]eterinarians Continue reading

Someone else’s trash: Rez dogs saved; rez dogs lost

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

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Dumpster pups reunite; M. Greener photo, Bozeman Daily Chronicle

From tragic to jubilant in eight short words: “Puppies left to die in garbage bin reunited.” The headline pulls you into the story–you already know it ends well–but still, you have to confront the fact that someone callously trashed a box of 10 newborns during a frigid Montana winter. Instead of freezing to death, the babies–some had not yet opened their eyes–were rescued by RezQ Dogs (websiteFacebook), a volunteer rescue operation “committed to helping the unwanted and abandoned dogs from the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy Indian reservations” in north-central Montana. Tiny Tails K-9 Rescue (websiteFacebook) stepped in to help, and the rest is happy history.  Continue reading

Order of Protection for Your Pet

Kendall Shea

 In New York State, both the Criminal Procedure Law and Family law include provisions for including “companion animals” in an order of protection (See NY CPL Law 530.13 and NY FCT Law 842).  The laws allow a judge to include language in the order that the defendant (or respondent) must “refrain from intentionally injuring or killing, without justification, any companion animal the respondent knows to be owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by the petitioner or a minor child residing in the household.”  I don’t know if this provision is regularly utilized or only included when it is likely that the protected party’s pet will become a target of the person against whom the order is issued (there is no such restriction in the statutes).  However, about two years ago, I saw a judge include such a provision in a criminal order of protection.

 The situation involved a veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse issues relating to an injury sustained while Continue reading

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

“Thinking About Animals Conference” at Brock University

David Cassuto

More goodies from the email:

CALL FOR PAPERS: THINKING ABOUT ANIMALS 2011- BROCK
UNIVERSITY
The Department of Sociology at Brock University is issuing a Call for Papers for a conference on “Thinking About Animals” to be held March 31 and April 1, 2011 at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
This two-day conference will explore a variety of issues concerning the current and historical situation of nonhuman animals and interactions with humans.  The Department is organizing this conference with the assistance of the Office of the Dean of Social Sciences, the Departments of English, Political Science, History and Visual Arts, the MA Programme in Critical Sociology, and the MA Programme in Social Justice and Equity Studies.

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Proposed Ban on Pet Sales in San Francisco

David Cassuto

I used to live in San Francisco and, in addition to the burritos, one of the things I miss most (did I mention the burritos?) is the degree of civic involvement and the public’s willingness to take on cutting edge issues.  To whit: the city is considering banning the sale of all companion animals except for fish.  That’s right, hamsters, rabbits, lizards, guinea pigs — everything.  Those wanting  pets would have to either adopt or go out of the city to buy.

The scope of the proposed ban addresses the fact that the problem is far broader than the by now familiar gruesome reality of puppy and kitten mills.  Small companion animals like guinea pigs and hamsters crowd the city’s shelters after their purchasers tire of caring for them.  Once at the shelter, the road to euthanization is straight and swift.    Continue reading

Money Talks When Animals and (Some) People Cannot

Bridget Crawford

 The New York Times reported earlier this week  (here) on state legislation under consideration in three jurisdictions.  The proposed laws would allow courts to prohibit animal abusers from having pets in the future.  According to the NYT, 27 states now have similar laws. 

 Animal lawyers and law scholars long have acknowledged the connection between animal abuse and violence against women.  For recent scholarship, see, e.g., Caroline Anne Forell, Using a Jury of Her Peers to Teach About the Connection between Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse, 15 Animal L. Rev. 53 (2008).  The NYT article leads with a statement claiming that proposed legislation is “[r]esponding to growing evidence that people who abuse animals often go on to attack humans.”  But the article makes more of the cost to state and local governments of caring for abused animals that are rescued.  The article cites $1.2 million in expenses by Franklin County, Ohio officials caring for 170 rescued dogs.  A Michigan county paid $37,000 in clean-up costs when dead animals were found in a hoarders home.

 This leaves one with the impression that the least vulnerable among us get legal protection only when its absence becomes too expensive for the state. A society or government that listens only when money talks does not adequately respond to those with the greatest needs.

Still Thinking About Dogs (and Cats Too)

Bruce Wagman

There’s so many issues that come up with dogs that I am still thinking about them.  And much of this applies to cats as well.  Let me be clear to start that I live with three dogs, five cats and one wife, and it’s the rare event that I get to sleep on my pillow (because Nzuri beats me there every night) or stretch out my legs (Rafiki) or get near the middle of the bed (Paka, Sybil).  And the ones that are not there are sleeping not just on the couches, but actually on special beds that sit atop the couches, because those big-pillowed couches are just too hard for the cats and dogs to sleep on without some other cushion.  So I am certainly a canine and feline worshipper.  The smell and feel of dog or cat fur are nectar and succor; and if one of them decides to perch on me, their presence freezes time.

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Thinking About Dogs

Bruce Wagman

I have had dogs on my mind lately.  They are the main players in many of my (and many animal lawyers’) cases, and they are the species I get the most calls about.  This week I had a call about a sheep owner shooting a roaming dog, with the caller wondering about the implication of the California statute that allows a livestock owner to shoot any dog on his land, even if the dog is nowhere near livestock, Cal. Food and Agric. Code section 31103, and the case that upheld the broad scope of that statute, Katsaris v. Cook, 180 Cal. App. 3d 256 (Cal. App. 1986).  I talked earlier in the year with a lawyer who convinced a court that her client’s dog breeding operation was a livestock facility, United States v. Park, 536 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2008), on remand, 2009 WL 2949333 (D. Idaho).  The irony of that case seemed to escape everyone involved.  The issue in the case was whether this breeding operation could operate on land with a federal easement.  “Livestock operations” were allowed to do so.  So the interesting point of the ruling for me is the conclusion that breeders are in fact just like factory (livestock) farmers and others who operate commercial operations, use animals for profit, and in the short and long run contribute directly to the death of thousands of animals in shelters around the country.  When someone buys a dog from a breeder, they automatically kill a dog in a shelter who could have been saved – “buy one, get one killed,” as one of my t-shirts says.  The math is simple and can’t be denied; if a new dog if brought into the world for profit, and given to someone who has room for a dog, then that breed dog replaces the life of a dog in a shelter, who will then be gassed, injected or otherwise summarily wiped off the planet, dying sad and alone and wondering why.    Continue reading

Hypatia — Call for Papers

David Cassuto

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy has issued an intriguing call for papers, which follows below:

4. Animal Others Special Issue
Volume 27 Number 3, Summer 2012
Guest Editors: Lori Gruen and Kari Weil

We are soliciting papers for a special issue of Hypatia on Animal Others. Scholarship in “Animal Studies” has grown considerably over the last few years, yet the feminist insights that much of this work borrows from and builds on remains relatively unrecognized. This special issue of Hypatia will remedy this by showcasing the best new feminist work on nonhuman animals that will help to rethink and redefine (or undefine) categories such as animal-woman-nature-body. The issue will provide the opportunity to re-examine concerns that are central to both feminist theory and animal studies and promote avenues of thought that can move us beyond pernicious forms of othering that undergird much human and non-human suffering.  Continue reading

Why do anti-cruelty laws protect companion animals more than non-companion animals?

Most jurisdictions punish animal cruelty more severely if the creature harmed is a “companion animal”. Is it justified to afford more legal protection to companion animals than to non-companion animals? Some would argue that it is not. If what makes non human animals worthy of legal protection is that they are capable of feeling pain, distinguishing between companion and non companion animals for legal purposes appears to be unwarranted. The line should be drawn, the argument would go, between sentient and non-sentient animals rather than between companion and companion animals. Therefore, unjustifiably inflicting pain on a sentient animal should be punished in the same manner regardless of whether the creature harmed is a companion or non companion animal.

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Announcing the Humane Research Council’s Free Online Resource Database of Research Studies relating to Animal Issues

I encourage animal advocates to access the Humane Research Council’s (HRC) database of research studies relating to animal issues. I recently received the following e-mail from Katrina Munsell – the HRC’s Project Director – exaplining the benefits that animal advocates may reap from accessing the database:

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Greetings Prof. Chiesa,

I came across your writings on your new Animal Blawg, and I thought you might be interested (both for your blog and your academic work) in a free online resource database that my organization, the Humane Research Council, provides to academics and animal advocates for their important work.  

HumaneSpot.org is a FREE online database of nearly 1,000 important research studies relating to animal issues and public opinion, including topics like Advocacy Strategies, Animal Experimentation, Companion Animals, Farmed Animals, Vegetarianism, and Exotic Animals. Each database citation provides an abstract and summary of the research study and, in many cases, access to the complete document and/or a link to the original report.

Here’s what some of HumaneSpot.org’s users are saying:

  • [HumaneSpot.org] “is unique in providing useful data for the development of data-driven programs to help animal advocates.”
  • “…current and accurate information and the detailed research information is remarkable for anyone working or studying in an animal field.”
  • “Without solid information about public perceptions, we are struggling in the dark to effect change. HRC provides that information and helps animals by leveling the playing field for advocates.”

These comments demonstrate the unique value that HumaneSpot.org provides for anyone interested in animal advocacy. The resource was developed and is maintained by the Humane Research Council (HRC), a nonprofit organization with the mission of empowering advocates and academics to be as effective as possible for animals. feel free to post this message on your blog or forward it to your colleagues, professors, and students who are interested in animal protection issues.learning about http://www.HumaneSpot.org!

I personally invite you to apply for access to HumaneSpot.org to achieve greater results for animals. Please also

Thanks for

Thank you,
Katrina Munsell
Project Director
Humane Research Council
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Posted by: Luis Chiesa