The Role of Journalists in Protecting Animals: Interview with Will Potter
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on November 4, 2014
ALDF sat down with award-winning investigative journalist and author Will Potter recently at the 2014 Animal Law Conference. Watch the interview:
Will is a co-plaintiff in ALDF’s lawsuit challenging Idaho’s “ag gag” statute, which attempts to criminalize constitutionally-protected free speech. Why? To “gag” and silence whistle-blowers who tell the truth about illegal activity on factory farms, including unimaginable animal cruelty.
For more about these issues, see ALDF’s interview with Will Potter, where we discuss his book Green is the New Red: an Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, the ways animal advocates are persecuted by FBI, and the cultural war between the corporate agricultural industry and the public. And learn more about ALDF’s casework against ag gag laws here.
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on October 30, 2014
As the fall days grow shorter and the leaves shimmer in their glory amidst the dusky hue of October, now is the time to curl up with a good book featuring stories about animals. Among Animals: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction will satisfy literary longings as well as interests in nonhuman animal lives. The brand new collection comes to us from Ashland Creek Press, edited by John Yunker—author of the animal and eco-themed novel The Tourist Trail—and features stories by sixteen entertaining writers on diverse topics in the animal world, from the human point of view.
The collection takes us into the exotic worlds of creatures most of us wouldn’t encounter without a long journey and a pricy excursion. In “The Ecstatic Cry,” author Midge Raymond sets her story in Antarctica where even for a lonely and isolated scientist studying a rare penguin colony, the environment is brimming with quiet life… and cold water.
“Emperors don’t build nests; they live entirely on fast ice and in the water, never setting foot on solid land… the female lays her egg, then scoots it over to the male and takes off, traveling a hundred miles across the frozen ocean to open water and swimming away to forage for food….
When the female emperor returns, she uses a signature call to find her partner. Reunited, the two move in close and bob their heads toward each other, shoulder to shoulder in an armless hug, raising their beaks in what we call the ecstatic cry. Penguins are romantics. Most mate for life.”
Amidst these musings, a stranger appears… and disappears one night while our narrator is alone in the middle of nowhere. The story is an elegy to the love of this remote-living, romantic animal colony, and the death of love in humans.
The collection features other animals like emus, pelicans, dolphins, farmed birds, stray dogs, baby turtles, and spotlights their impact on the humans around them. “Bad Berry Season,” by Melodie Edwards is about a park ranger who must deal with the colliding worlds of wild bears and humans in a small town on the edge of wilderness.
“The faces of bears, once you’re used to looking at them, are expressive, each one singular and his own… Sweet talk can work on bruins the way it works on pets. Sometimes a bear will roll over and grin like a dog when you call. But this bear was in a pickle, cornered with people everywhere, no escape.”
In C.S. Malerich’s story “Meat,” a story sure to raise some brows, a young girl adopts an animal and names her Meat because her mother says “that’s what she’s going to be.” Over her mother’s resistance, the young narrator bonds with Meat, bathes with her, feeds her near the dining table, sleeps with her, all the way up to Meat’s slaughter, through the moment of death, later consuming Meat’s flesh, and ends with the unexpected impact this has on each individual family member.
“I whispered ‘good-bye’ in her ear. When I pulled away, she was confused. And then the butcher came up behind her with his stun gun, and his big hand was on her shoulder. She was still looking at me, and there was no more curiosity and no more confusion. Meat was scared.”
It’s a disturbing story worth reading because of the way it displays the problematic desire to consume animals without guilt, and the natural inclination animal lovers have for all animals who become like pets. Meat’s species is never fully identified, and for all we know she could be a pig, a goat… or a dog.
And that’s why Among Animals relates to the work the Animal Legal Defense Fund does in so many ways in stories of animal sentience, individual interests, personalities, and needs. These stories link in with our major caseloads, whether in recognizing animals as more than property, or the rights of wild animals to be free from human interference, or the egregious acts of cruelty on factory farms, or the need for administrative laws like the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Animal Welfare Act, and state anti-cruelty laws. It raises questions of why some animals are viewed as pests, some are protected as pets, and some are slaughtered with few, if any, laws to protect them at all. As nonhuman animals, we live among other animals, and ALDF works to protect the rights of all animals within the legal system.
Top 5 Houses of Animal Horror
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on October 30, 2014
As Halloween approaches and we look forward to trick-or-treating and haunted houses, we are reminded that for many animals held captive in illegal conditions, the terror never ends. Filthy, bloody, dangerous, and painful cages may be fitting for zombies, ghouls, and goblins, but they are a living nightmare for the animals trapped in houses of horror that ALDF has taken on this year:
- Briarwood Safari – Morristown, Tenn.—a roadside zoo near Knoxville where numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act have gone unpunished, including an open socket end of a wire cord hanging inside a wallaby enclosure, empty water troughs, goats covered in flies, animals crammed in incredibly small enclosures, and feed bowls for alpacas covered in feces.
- Stillmeadow Inc. – Sugar Land, Texas—an animal testing facility that failed to provide adequate veterinary care and used unapproved wire flooring that caused so much injury dogs were unable to move. It also failed to provide ventilation in one kennel room with the stench of ammonia so strong it burned the inspector’s eyes.
- Crossland Zoo – Crosset, Ark.—a municipal zoo that failed to properly drain animal enclosures, letting large mammals stand for hours in water filled with feces. The zoo also allowed wires to poke through the wolf enclosure, endangering wolves and creating opportunities to escape. A tiger was suffering an injury for eight years and other animals lacked locked enclosures.
- Cricket Hollow Zoo – Manchester, Iowa—extensive photographic evidence, visitor observation, and expert analysis indicate animals are suffering both mentally and physically. Enclosures were strewn with fly-laded meat and an emaciated lioness was witnessed vomiting. Highly social primates were kept in isolation so small it would be like locking a human in a phone booth.
- Thomas D. Morris, Inc. – Reisterstown, Maryland – a commercial breeder of cows, goats, and pigs who failed to provide adequate veterinary care to animals again and again, including sheep in nearly 100 degree weather, as well as a goat with an egg-sized swelling and a lamb with a serious limp, neither of whom had access to any kind of shelter.
Want to do something about these houses of horror? Speak up for animals by signing ALDF’s Animal Bill of Rights and tell Congress that you believe animals deserve legal protection.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Carriage Horse Industry
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on October 28, 2014
Riding in a horse-drawn carriage may be the stuff of fairy tales. But what is it like for the horses who work day in and day out? Do horses belong on tightly-packed, polluted city streets? The horse-drawn carriage industry in New York City causes great suffering for horses and routinely puts people’s safety in danger. Here are five truths the industry doesn’t want you to know.
1. Under the law, drivers can work their horses nine hours a day, seven days a week. Some drivers have been observed unlawfully forcing the horses to work a “double-shift.”
2. Horses are forced to work in sleet or shine—even when the weather is unbearably hot or freezing cold, breathing in exhaust, and pounding the hard pavement day in and day out. A study from Cornell suggests that asphalt can be up to 50 degrees hotter than outdoor temperatures.
3. Carriage horses live in stalls half the size recommended for animals their size, when they aren’t pounding the pavement. They never have the chance to experience natural horse life, like running and playing in grass—instead they live in tiny stalls in midtown Manhattan.
4. Since 2006, at least nine carriage horses have died in New York City, some from horrific accidents. Each was younger than 15 years—although horses who are properly cared for ordinarily live between 25 and 30 years.
5. Horses are terrified of traffic and sudden noises. Many carriage accidents result from horses spooking, like Smoothie who bolted with the carriage still shackled behind her when a man walked past beating a drum; the carriage got caught between two poles and, struggling to move forward, a terrified Smoothie collapsed and died of shock.
So who is looking out for horses? The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the New York Police Department to obtain public records of carriage-related accidents and injuries. This was bolstered in April 2014 by the the New York Supreme Court agreement with ALDF that the public has a right to these records. With no clear records or regulation, this industry’s bottom line is not the well-being of horses. A ban on horse-drawn carriages is the only meaningful way to protect the horses.
Does Your Estate Include the Animal Legal Defense Fund?
Posted by Erika Mathews, Officer of Philanthropic Gifts on October 24, 2014
Did you know it is National Estate Planning Awareness Week? According to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, over 120 million Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan!
Through your estate plans, you can leave a legacy for animals to ensure their protection and well-being through the great work of ALDF.
Leaving a gift to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) through your will can be a simple yet significant contribution to a future where animals have a more protected place in our society, where they are not just voiceless victims of abuse and neglect.
ALDF envisions a world in which the lives and interests of animals are recognized, respected and protected within the legal system. This vision guides all of ALDF’s work. Animals deserve the very best legal protection available. And you can help ensure they get it. You can keep improving animals’ lives in perpetuity through your estate plans.
Your gift will help make this happen.
For a detailed account of our work, our accomplishments, our plans for the future, and the staff that are the stewards of our mission and your money, please see our ALDF website aldf.org.
There is no minimum requirement, and you can take care of your loved ones while also ensuring that your care and concern for animals is part of your legacy.
ALDF as Beneficiary
You can designate ALDF as the beneficiary of a portion of your estate, of your residual estate (the remainder after payment of other bequests), or of specific assets.
How do I make ALDF a beneficiary? Simply provide the following information in your estate plans or to your financial institution:
- ALDF’s full legal name: Animal Legal Defense Fund
- ALDF’s permanent mailing address: 170 E. Cotati Ave, Cotati, CA 94931
- ALDF’s federal tax ID number: 942681680
Other ways to include ALDF in your estate plans include Charitable Gift Annuities and Charitable Remainder Trusts which can provide income for you and/or a beneficiary. You can also give through your life insurance policy or retirement plan. Outright gifts include cash, stock and real estate.
We strongly suggest that you consult with your attorney or other independent professional adviser to make sure that your bequest complies with all state and federal laws.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit charitable organization recognized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, tax savings resulting from a bequest can be substantial.
The animals represented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund can’t speak for themselves. By supporting ALDF with a legacy gift, you are raising your voice to put a stop to animal abuse—for good. ALDF works tirelessly to protect animals from cruelty, abandonment, torture and neglect.
For more information on estate planning, please contact Erika Mathews at email@example.com or call 707-795-2533.
Legally Brief: Animal Law Conference
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on October 21, 2014
Last weekend, ALDF, the Center for Animal Law Studies, and Lewis & Clark Law School’s student ALDF chapter hosted the 22nd annual Animal Law Conference in Portland, Oregon. As always, this outstanding event brought together the key organizations and individuals working within the legal system to advance animal laws.
The theme was “Animal Law in a Changing Environment” and there was a strong emphasis on effective collaborations between animal rights and environmental advocates, something ALDF has been working hard to create. Just last week, for example, ALDF filed a first-of-its-kind legal petition asking California’s Air Resources Board to regulate greenhouse emissions from animal agriculture as it does for the transportation and energy sectors.
Numerous studies show animal agriculture is one of the most significant global contributors to the greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide and methane—that are worsening climate change. Animal agriculture, particularly factory farming, also causes great suffering to billions of animals. So, legal challenges to these operations that focus on environmental harm or animal cruelty will benefit both. And climate change is not just a threat to human beings: it’s a threat to all life on earth. Climate change is an animal rights issue, just as reducing consumption of animal products is an environmental issue.
What the animal agriculture industry fears most is exposure of these facts. This is why it has gone to great lengths to hide its operations from the public, including using its substantial influence to pass “ag gag” laws, which seek to criminalize investigation and exposure of its operations. Award-winning journalist and author Will Potter spoke to attendees in a keynote address Friday evening and explained the threat these laws pose to free speech and freedom of the press. ALDF has filed suit against the states of Utah and Idaho to overturn ag gag laws and Will is a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits. ALDF also continues to work with other animal protection groups to fight ag gag legislation in other states.
Victory for Oregon’s First-Ever Dedicated Animal Cruelty Prosecutor: Jake Kamins
Posted by Lora Dunn, ALDF Staff Attorney on October 16, 2014
When nearly 170 cattle were seized from the property of William Holdner and Jane Baum in summer 2012, many were so thin that their ribs were protruding, and some were so malnourished they could barely stand. Half of the herd suffered from untreated eye diseases, including cancer, and sadly some had to be euthanized due to their conditions. Even after two weeks of slow recovery, the cows were still severely emaciated, their Body Condition Scores mostly ranging between 1 and 3—a BCS for a healthy cow falls between 5 and 7.
In October 2014, thanks to the tremendous work of Deputy District Attorney Jake Kamins in one of the most complicated animal cruelty cases in Oregon’s history and a grueling three-week trial, Holdner and Baum were convicted in Columbia County, Oregon of more than 120 counts of animal cruelty—including 16 counts of first-degree neglect and 79 counts of second-degree neglect for Holdner. The defendants—owners of a commercial beef cattle operation—had argued that because the cows were “breeding stock,” it was appropriate to keep them as lean as they were to increase their reproductive capacity.
The jury didn’t buy it. After only a few hours of deliberation—despite being tasked with evaluating more than 100 separate cruelty counts—the jury convicted both defendants of animal neglect on every single count charged by the prosecution. Because Oregon law recognizes each cruelly treated animal as a separate crime victim, Holdner and Baum face multiple jail terms and fines for the cows they so severely neglected. Sentencing is currently set for December 2014.
Last year, ALDF awarded a grant to the Oregon District Attorneys Association to fund Oregon’s first-ever dedicated, full-time animal cruelty prosecutor. Jake is the first prosecutor in the nation who focuses solely on animal cruelty cases—crucial for the growing number of counties facing budget cutbacks. Jake is based out of Benton County, Oregon, but is available to all of the state’s district attorneys: In just over one year on the job, he has worked with the majority of Oregon’s 36 counties.
“This jury’s verdict sends a powerful message,” Jake said. “Neglectful treatment of any animal—including commercial livestock—is unacceptable in the State of Oregon.”
We commend Jake Kamins for his tireless work on this complex case, and we are hopeful that this cutting-edge program will be replicated in other states throughout the country—ensuring that perpetrators of animal cruelty are held accountable regardless of a county’s resources.
A Bad Boutique Law Shows Its Skin
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on October 15, 2014
This article was originally published in the Daily Journal.
On September 29, 2014, California made an unfortunate move away from meaningfully protecting endangered and threatened species when Governor Brown signed AB 2075 into law. AB 2075’s origins date back to 2006, when then-Governor Schwarzenegger rescinded California’s ban on selling alligator and crocodile parts until January 1, 2015. Schwarzenegger himself was known to wear alligator skin boots at the Capitol.
This year, just as the ban was about to be reinstituted, Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) introduced AB 2075, a bill to further delay implementation of the ban until 2025. The purpose behind this legislation is purely commercial—an obvious pandering to Rodeo Drive retailers who want to continue profiting off of selling handbags, shoes, and other luxury items made from skins taken off the backs of exotic and endangered animals. The national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) joined the Humane Society of the United States and Turtle Island Restoration Network in opposing AB 2075 outright. But despite the best efforts of these organizations, the measure still passed, albeit with a final sunset period of five years instead of the ten initially proposed. So again, California’s ban on selling alligator and crocodile parts remains rescinded until January 1, 2020.
Pressure for AB 2075 came from the California Restaurant Association, Brooks Brothers, and numerous luxury goods retailers, among others who argued for “comprehensive luxury retail offerings,” “economic incentive,” and ability to “sell millions of dollars of handbags, wallets, watchbands and footwear to tourists and locals alike” “particularly in Beverly Hills.” Indeed, AB 2075 has been touted by retail trade groups as an important way to preserve their ability to continue selling whatever goods they please, regardless of the imperiled status of the animals whose skins went into making the opulent items. Such a targeted handout to commercial interests gives the impression that the State of California’s interest in protecting endangered and threatened species is inversely proportional to the profit it can turn from their exploitation.
AB 2075 is a significant step backwards in California’s progress as a leader among states like New York and New Jersey that are implementing progressive policies to protect endangered and threatened species, including marine reptiles. In contrast, the State of Louisiana—the primary source of wild alligator skins bought and sold in California—is the only shrimping state in the U.S. that does not enforce federally mandated protections for endangered sea turtles in its shrimp fleet.
The Louisiana legislature even enacted a law prohibiting the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries from enforcing federal regulations that mandate the use of Turtle Excluder Devices, which protect endangered sea turtles from being captured by shrimpers. Furthermore, just this year Louisiana legislators passed another exemption regarding exotic animals that directly overruled several settled court decisions, and again forced the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to loosen their exotic animal regulations––ensuring that a lonely tiger remains caged as a gimmick in a truck stop parking lot. These actions demonstrate that Governor Jindal and the Louisiana legislature cannot be trusted to meaningfully protect endangered and threatened wildlife where there is a profit to be made in the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”
Indeed, alligator slaughtering practices are under-regulated and inhumane. As with all other fur and skin farms, the industry has virtually been left to police itself. On one Louisiana farm, a rancher confessed that he thought refrigerated air killed the alligators so he would stack them in a freezer for a period of time and then skin the animals. Only later did he realize that the air wasn’t killing the alligators–it was merely slowing down their metabolism, and he had been skinning them alive. He then amended his slaughter practice to bashing the alligators in the head with a baseball bat or hammer until death could be confirmed. Not exactly a vast improvement when it comes to the suffering and welfare of these animals. It still is not uncommon for alligators in Louisiana to be skinned while alive and fully conscious.
States like New York and New Jersey have enacted bans on the sales of ivory in the past few months to protect threatened African elephants and curtail their states’ contributions to further the trade in exotic animals and their parts. In direct conflict with those progressive moves, AB 2075 exposes California’s interest in maintaining a supply of exotic animal parts for luxury goods consumers at a time when other states are taking meaningful steps in the opposite direction.
The argument from proponents of AB 2075 is that the alligator parts come from animals who are being farmed in controlled conditions in Louisiana, and that the Beverly Hills boutiques are only selling products made from these farmed animals. However, while AB 2075 ostensibly prohibits the import of skins from critically endangered animals, without tags attached to alligator handbags or shoes to show the origin of the exotic skins used, there is no way to ascertain with certainty whether the items have been crafted from lawfully sourced and traded skins, instead of critically endangered populations. Even if there were a way to distinguish the final goods, there still remains the serious concern over the treatment, slaughter, and welfare of these animals.
ALDF is also concerned that by increasing public access to exotic skins from threatened or endangered species, California will be complicit in perpetuating a false impression that these animals are not truly in peril. That misperception could diminish interest in bona fide conservation initiatives, increase public demand for exotic skins, and thus further incentivize the illegal trade in alligator and crocodile parts. AB 2075 is clearly inconsistent with growing public awareness about the commercial exploitation of exotic animals. AB 2075 was the wrong thing for California and the wrong thing for animal welfare—but the bill was signed into law by Governor Brown in September. Now, ALDF encourages compassionate consumers to vote with their pocketbooks and refuse to purchase any products made from the skins of such animals.
High Court Leaves California Foie Gras Ban Undisturbed, as ALDF’s Campaign Continues
Posted by Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow on October 15, 2014
In a victory for ducks and for Californians who have battled for years to protect them from force feeding to produce foie gras, the Supreme Court declined to disturb California’s landmark foie gras ban, rejecting a petition from restaurants and producers, including Hudson Valley Foie Gras.
The challengers had contended that California’s law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and asked the high court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ August 2013 decision upholding the ban. In that decision, the Ninth Circuit found that California was well within its rights in prohibiting the in-state production and sale of force-fed foie gras.
As the Ninth Circuit found, nothing in the Constitution prevents California from adopting laws to ensure the humane treatment of ducks within its borders and to keep this cruelly-produced “delicacy” out of its restaurants. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the challengers’ petition leaves this conclusion unchanged. Although the case now heads back to the district court, the high court’s action ensures that, for the time being, California law will continue to protect ducks from the barbaric practice of force-feeding.
This development is the latest in ALDF’s long-running campaign against the foie gras industry. The lucrative “gourmet” product is made by force-feeding young ducks massive amounts of grain, causing their livers to balloon to eight times their natural size. Last year ALDF, along with Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Marin Humane Society, filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit, supporting the state ban and opposing industry efforts to have it temporarily lifted.
Next, ALDF is headed to the California Court of Appeals to defend its July 2013 victory over Napa, California-based La Toque restaurant. A Napa County Superior Court previously rejected La Toque’s claim that its illegal conduct—continuing to sell force-fed foie gras—constitutes “speech” protected under the First Amendment. ALDF will again counter this meritless claim, and continue to hold the restaurant accountable for flouting the law.
As Hudson Valley Foie Gras, La Toque, and other peddlers of this inhumane product have shown no signs of abandoning their attack against California’s landmark law, ALDF will continue to oppose the production and sale of force-fed foie gras at every turn.
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on October 9, 2014
At the end of September, the Animal Legal Defense Fund hosted a reception in Los Angeles to celebrate our 35th anniversary and to mark the beginning of our new regional network in the Southern California hotspot. Joining us were animal-loving celebs, like our emcee for the night actress Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap, Anger Management), actress Kristen Renton (Sons of Anarchy), and Jackson Galaxy (“the cat whisperer” and host of Animal Planet’s hit show My Cat from Hell). Also joining us at the event was the founder of ALDF—aka the Mother of Animal Law—Joyce Tischler.
For 35 years, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. Over the years, Los Angeles has played an important role in our work. And LA has led the country in legislation to protect animals like the ban on cruel bullhooks and puppy mills. A few weeks ago, ALDF filed a lawsuit against Barkworks, the Southern California pet store chain that has been lying to customers and selling puppies from puppy mills for years.
We’ve also successfully lobbied in Riverside County to deny the Great Bull Run the permits needed to hold their abusive event in Southern California. And we are suing UCLA to require disclosure of basic public records about animal testing at that public university. Similarly, ALDF filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the City of West Hollywood, when it was hit with a lawsuit by a boutique called Mayfair House that wanted to continue to sell cruelly-produced animal fur, despite the City’s 2011 ban on the sale of animal fur products.
That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund is expanding its presence in Los Angeles area, by bringing together local members of our national attorney network and our amazing LA area student chapters. This network will advance ALDF’s mission, host local events, offer CLE (“continuing legal education” for attorneys) activities and speaking engagements, and develop collaborations with local animal protection organizations. In the coming months ALDF will hire a regional representative for the Los Angeles region and we are excited to embark on this new development.
An Open Letter to the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Posted by Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow on October 7, 2014
When ALDF and online petitioners trained a spotlight on the maternal deprivation research being conducted on newborn rhesus monkeys at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), the University defended the studies and alleged that these critiques contained “falsehoods and exaggerations.”
The University contends that Dr. Ned Kalin’s current study “bears no meaningful resemblance” to Harry Harlow’s infamous research subjecting baby monkeys to psychological torture. Today, UW says, “young monkeys are raised by human caretakers and alongside monkeys of a similar age.” Dean Robert Golden of the School of Medicine and Public Health says that “maternal deprivation” is an “intentionally shocking catch-phrase of the animal rights movement.”
ALDF believes the facts speak for themselves. According to Dr. Kalin’s research protocol, 20 infant macaques will be permanently removed from their mothers on their first day of life and kept in an incubator box for roughly six weeks with only a stuffed “surrogate” for comfort. Twenty additional mother-raised primates will act as the control group. The maternally-deprived monkeys are not “raised by human caretakers,” but removed from their incubators only for feeding and to clean the incubator. The University’s Standard Operating Procedures specify that “infant monkeys should not be handled unnecessarily to minimize the possibility of inappropriate attachments to humans.” Indeed, the protocol is designed to induce acute stress through maternal deprivation—not, as the University disingenuously suggests, to pair human-reared monkeys with playmates.
After this isolation, the motherless monkeys are paired with another young monkey, so that the confused babies can “raise” each other. This “rearing” model has been widely reported to cause tremendous anxiety, often triggering “self-injurious behavior” (i.e., self-biting and -mutilation) as the monkeys get older. At a recent public meeting, UW-Madison Associate Professor of Bioethics and Philosophy Robert Streiffer quoted a prominent primate researcher who said, “Harry [Harlow] discovered that if you rear two infants together, it’s almost as bad as total isolation. Nobody in their right mind who knew Harry Harlow’s work would raise rhesus babies in pairs.”
Dr. Kalin notes in the protocol, “rhesus monkeys have been selected because their similarities to humans in social behavior, emotion, hormonal responses and brain structure make them the best model for examining human emotion regulation as well as the risk to develop anxiety and depression.” In other words, baby monkeys are suitable because their emotional vulnerability and capacity for anguish mirrors our own.
During the experiments the baby monkeys will be repeatedly subjected to tests intended to trigger terror and anxiety, including live snakes and unfamiliar “human intruders.” These fear-inducing tests will begin at the earliest stage of the animals’ lives, when they are just weeks old. During the experiments the infants’ blood and cerebrospinal fluid will be harvested repeatedly. They will be subjected to skin-punch biopsies and numerous brain scans, requiring physical restraint and chemical sedation. Before the monkeys are 18 months old, the researchers will kill all 40 monkeys and dissect their brains.
The University asserts that this research is aimed at a better understanding of anxiety and depression disorders in humans. As Dr. Kalin contends in the protocol, “understanding the involvement of brain chemicals that have never before been implicated in anxiety, will allow the field to begin to search for medications that affect these newly identified systems”—i.e., for drugs to give vulnerable children. According to pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Sujartha Ramakrishna, this “amounts to ordering a pre-emptive chemical strike on the developing brains of at-risk children.” As Dr. Ramakrishna explains, “pediatric psychiatry is an art as much as it is a science…Kalin’s attempts to attribute the development of mood and anxiety disorders to a few specific physiological changes in the brain are based on a gross oversimplification of the complexities of a developing human mind.”
The University also asserts that the research was undertaken after “thorough consideration and approval granted by campus animal research committees.” What the University does not say is that under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) committees may approve any research, however painful or invasive.
Dr. Kalin’s research has cost many millions of taxpayer dollars over the last 25 years. ALDF will continue to criticize research that torments sensitive infant primates and kills them before their second birthday, all on the taxpayer’s dime.
More than 300,000 people have signed Dr. Ruth Decker’s (a UW alumna, who holds both a medical degree and a law degree) Change.org petition to cancel these cruel tests, and we urge you to do the same.
Big Win for Hens as Judge Dismisses Challenge to California’s Prop 2
Posted by Jessica Blome, Staff Attorney on October 3, 2014
Missouri’s campaign to roll back farmed animal protections approved by California voters ended yesterday when a federal judge in Northern California dismissed the Attorney General’s lawsuit challenging California’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, or Proposition 2, which passed in 2008. California voters helped pass Prop 2 so that farmers would have to make sure egg-laying hens, calves used for veal, and pregnant pigs can lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turnabout freely within their enclosures. Shortly after the passage of Prop 2, in a surprising victory, the California General Assembly voted to require eggs sold in California to meet the same requirements as those produced in California.
Rather than advise egg producers to improve the living conditions for millions of animals raised for food within their borders, six states decided to litigate. Last February, the Attorney General of Missouri and five other states filed a federal lawsuit to overturn Prop 2. In April 2014, ALDF submitted an amicus brief, along with Farm Sanctuary and Compassion Over Killing, in support of the state of California’s motion for dismissal of Missouri’s lawsuit
In dismissing that lawsuit yesterday, the judge ruled that Missouri could not sue California because the lawsuit could only benefit an unidentified number of egg producers’ private economic interests, rather than the state as a whole. In other words, the Attorney General’s transparent attempt to harness the political prowess of big agriculture did not work in California federal court.
Due to a phase-in provision, Prop 2 is not scheduled to go into effect until 2015; therefore, any egg sold in California after January 2015 must be raised in the more humane conditions afforded by Prop 2. The judge’s ruling yesterday will allow Proposition 2 to go into effect next year instead and thereby improve the lives of millions of farmed animals throughout California and the U.S.
Honey Badger Does Care – New Video Blasts Tests on Baby Monkeys
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on September 30, 2014
A brand new video, made by internet sensation “Randall” of the viral “Honey Badger Don’t Care” YouTube video and meme, blasts the controversial torture of baby monkeys known as “maternal deprivation” conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s badger against badger in this funny new video by the Honey Badger, and he hopes the UW Badgers are listening.
In the same sassy style as the Honey Badger video, viewed more than 69 million times, Randall explains these “horrible, evil, disgusting mother deprivation tests” are being conducted on little baby monkeys. And why? “To learn that babies are miserable without their mothers?”
Randall told the Animal Legal Defense Fund:
I created this video because I want everyone to know we live in a world which has a very hard time learning from its past. I created this video because I do NOT want my tax dollars funding “baby monkey terror tests.” Experimenting on animals, especially in this day of technology and science, is archaic, disgusting and beyond inhumane.
The infant monkeys are removed from their mothers and isolated in incubator boxes, before being exposed to anxiety-inducing stressors like a live snake. They are also forced to undergo painful skin-punch biopsies, cerebrospinal fluid draws, and brain scans. Then, before they turn two, they’re killed. Unlike the fearless honey badger, who fights cobras and lives life on the edge, baby monkeys get scared and suffer without their moms.
In August 2014, the Animal Legal Defense Fund called on the USDA to investigate the protocol for these “terror tests” and potential violations of the federal law—the Animal Welfare Act—that protects animals in laboratories. As Randall says, “our tax money is going to fund this barbaric…” nonsense. More than 300,000 people have signed a Change.org petition, from a medical doctor and UW alumna, calling for an end to unethical torture of baby monkeys.
SIGN THE PETITION to demand an end to the torture of baby monkeys by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Legally Brief: FBI Takes Animal Cruelty Seriously
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on September 25, 2014
At the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we are often asked for statistics about animal cruelty crimes—which for too long have been unavailable: until now. Animal cruelty will now be tracked and recorded by the FBI in the National Incident Based Reporting System as a separate offense. This important development will allow the FBI to better allocate resources to solve animal cruelty cases and provide valuable insight into the scope of animal abuse nationally. With this new inclusion in the Uniform Crime Report—the most comprehensive source of crime statistics—law enforcement is given the tools to allocate resources to fight animal cruelty and an incentive to prosecute animal cruelty to the full extent of the law.
Recently, ALDF sent a letter of support for this change, which the National Sheriffs’ Association presented to the FBI. The Animal Legal Defense Fund applauds the tireless efforts of the National Sheriff’s Association, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (of whom ALDF is a member), who worked hard to help make this change happen.
But it’s also more evidence that our society as a whole wants its law enforcement to take animal cruelty seriously. Armed with this data, law enforcement can better respond to cruelty cases that previously may have gone ignored. The report provides the FBI with statistics on when and where animal crimes happen so they can dedicate more time, training, and funding to solve these cases. The changes will be implemented in 2015 and collected data will be accepted in 2016.
With this change, crimes against animals become crimes against society, legally speaking. Four categories of animal cruelty will be monitored: simple/gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse, and animal sexual abuse. As ALDF supporters know, the work we do involves aiding in the investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty cases as well as helping to fund forensic evidence collections and even offering rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators. We work with police officers, investigators, district attorneys, and other officers of the law to ensure crimes against animals are met with justice. But we are also creating a national Do Not Adopt database that shelters and rescue organizations can use nationwide to prevent convicted animal abusers—who have a very high likelihood of repeating their crimes—from adopting animals.
Of course, there’s more work to be done, but this is an important step forward to securing criminal justice for animals through the legal system and recognizing that animals deserve legal protection, too.
Federal Protection Returned to Endangered Gray Wolves in Wyoming
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on September 24, 2014
It isn’t often we get good news for wolves, but a court decision on September 23, 2014 made that day’s news cycle very good indeed. Gray wolves in Wyoming will once again be protected, as they deserve, under the Endangered Species Act: their safety no longer vulnerable to shoot-on-sight anti-wolf policies.
Two years ago, as a new staff member, I wrote my first blog post for ALDF called Wolf Hunting: The Final Frontier. In that segment, I explained that in 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the federal protections afforded gray wolves in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act. By doing so, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service handed over control of the fragile wolf population to politicians in a state whose hostile anti-wolf policies will go down in history as extreme and unreasonable.
The D.C. district court invalidated that September 2012 decision yesterday. In their successful lawsuit, Earthjustice represented Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity in court. The court granted summary judgment on the basis that Wyoming was not able to manage the gray wolf population. The judgment states:
the Court concludes that it was arbitrary and capricious for the Service to rely on the state’s nonbinding promises to maintain a particular number of wolves when the availability of that specific numerical buffer was such a critical aspect of the delisting decision.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated gray wolves of the Northern Rockies as a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Act was passed “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species may be conserved” and “to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species.” In 2009, the Fish and Wildlife Service refused to give management responsibility to Wyoming, even after giving it to Idaho and Montana, repeatedly finding Wyoming’s management plan to be inadequate—critics have called its variations haphazard and cruel. In 2010, the District Court of Wyoming tried to give management back to the state, Wyoming made some minor adjustments, and in September 2012 the Fish and Wildlife Service allowed federal protections to be removed from wolves. In November, after the mandatory waiting period, our conservation colleagues filed suit.
In its judgment, the court found that “The Service cannot rely solely on an unenforceable promise as a basis to delist a species” and cited a variety of precedents where our federal, taxpayer-funded agency relied on “unenforceable statements of intent on an issue that was critical to the delisting decision.” In the plainest terms, the court ruled that Wyoming’s haphazard management of gray wolves—their shoot-on-sight and essentially unlimited wolf-killing policy—will come to an end. Wolves will be protected under federal law in Wyoming once again.
In just a few weeks, ALDF will cohost the 22nd Annual Animal Law Conference, along with the Center for Animal Law Studies, at Lewis & Clark Law School. The theme of this conference is Animal Law in a Changing Environment: Finding Common Ground. The importance of sharing that common ground, coexisting with nonhuman animals in our wild spaces, and working together—animal protection groups with conservation groups and others—to find justice for our earth, is made tangible today.