Legally Brief: Legal Victories for Animals in 2014Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on December 19, 2014
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has helped to achieve victories in some tough legal battles for animals this year, which wouldn’t have been possible without our members and supporters. For example, South Dakota became the 50th state to make the most egregious acts of animal cruelty a felony—as ALDF’s just-released 2014 State Rankings Report demonstrates. ALDF also submitted “friend of the court” briefs in support of West Hollywood’s first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of products made from animal fur and the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law for meat and poultry products. We received thousands of hours of pro bono legal assistance from top law firms and we added our 201st student ALDF chapter at the University of Mississippi School of Law, and co-hosted another sold-out Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark Law School, in Portland, Oregon. In other great news for animals:
Animals Used as Food
- ALDF’s pending lawsuits challenging existing ag gag laws have taken positive turns as they move through the courts in Utah and Idaho. These groundbreaking lawsuits challenge the formidable animal agriculture industry’s attempts to criminalize whistle-blowers who document animal cruelty on factory farms. Making landmark progress, ALDF and a broad coalition are challenging these statutes for violating the U.S. Constitution, and things are looking good in both cases.
- The Supreme Court allowed the California foie gras ban to stand, leaving intact the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that states have the right to enact stricter animal welfare protections and product bans, even if those prohibitions impact interstate commerce.
- ALDF won a victory for hens and consumers by settling with Bay Area egg producer Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs. As a result of the settlement, the producer had to change its advertising and pay $44,000 (split equally between the Sonoma Humane Society, Public Justice Foundation, and Consumer Action). More information about the settlement can be found here.
- After ALDF documented worker safety violations, showing trainers in the water with a captive orca named Lolita, OSHA fined the Miami Seaquarium $7,000 as a result of an ALDF complaint.
Wildlife & Killing Contests
- California’s Fish & Game Commission approved a ban on prizes for killing contests. These contests allow the reckless slaughter of wildlife, in particular coyotes, for cash prizes. Banning the prizes essentially nullifies the contests themselves. In Oregon this year, ALDF successfully shut down a Harney County coyote killing contest.
- A lawsuit from ALDF and conservation groups led Caltrans to agree to remove bird-killing nets at a local highway project, and vowed to use safer construction methods.
Animals in Shelters
- North Carolina agreed to stop gassing dogs and cats in shelters in the wake of an ALDF rulemaking petition. This controversial method of destroying animals is already outlawed in numerous states, because animals are often crammed in small enclosures in which they sense the coming gas, panic together, and take an unnecessarily long time to die.
Animals & Transportation
- NYC proposed a ban on the city’s horse-drawn carriage industry. With the court’s backing, ALDF also successfully gained access to records from the New York Police Department pertaining to the treatment of the city’s carriage horses. Salt Lake City banned horse-drawn carriages in November. ALDF is asking St. Louis to regulate its carriage industry.
Throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season, we reflect on our shared commitment to not only the animals we’ve saved, but also to those we have yet to save. As long as there are animals suffering, they need ALDF as their legal advocate, and that’s where you come in. As a proud supporter and member of ALDF, you make our work for animals possible. Right now you can double your impact for animals with a tax-deductible year-end contribution to our fight to win the case against animal cruelty. Please help us make ALDF even stronger in 2015!
Thank you all, and happy holidays!