In Wolf Country: The Power & Politics of Reintroduction
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on January 15, 2015
Perfectly timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone, a brand new book, In Wolf Country, from writer Jim Yuskavitch, hit the presses last week. This thoroughly-researched volume chronicles that transition, from the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the mid-90s reintroduction, to their dispersal throughout the Northern Rockies. In Wolf Country also offers a distinctive look at the struggle of wolves in the anti-wolf climate of Idaho. ALDF spoke with the author recently about this new contribution to wolf and wildlife studies.
“Wolves are unique from other species protected under the ESA,” says Jim Yuskavitch. That’s one reason the ESA is so important: it is a law guided by science, rather than politics. “Wolves were deliberately killed off by people and have only returned because the ESA prevented people from killing them off again.”
Protection under the ESA is absolutely critical for wolves, because some people would exterminate them completely if the law allowed it. For example, “Idaho is trying to reduce its de-listed wolf population to the federal minimum of 150.” Recently, a predator “killing contest” near Salmon, Idaho, allowed hunters to kill wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other native wildlife despite massive public uproar. The federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) canceled the permits for the event under pressure from a conservation lawsuit (and tens of thousands of advocates including ALDF supporters), but the event went ahead on non-BLM land.
California recently relisted wolves under the ESA, and this was likely out of concern for a wolf named “OR-7” (named “Journey” by schoolchildren in hopes he would become ‘too famous to kill’). OR-7 made a long journey through Northern California before finding a mate and having pups in Southern Oregon. That wolf and his family may return to California, and if they do, they will be protected by law.
But wolves will not always have ESA protections. From a legal standpoint, anti-wolf interests look to Fish and Wildlife commissions and state legislatures to reduce protections for wolves,” Jim says. “Wolf advocates need to be ready to protect wolves at the state level once the federal government is out of the picture.” For example, management of wolves was returned to states like Montana and Idaho. Wyoming’s haphazard shoot-on-sight wolf management “plan” was at first rejected by the feds. But in 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) handed over control. Thankfully, that decision was invalidated in 2014 after a lawsuit from a conservation coalition showed Wyoming was unable to properly manage wolves in that state.
Currently, the USFWS is considering removing wolves from ESA protection even though reintroduction is still in its early days. And irrational hostility to wolves, fueled by media sensationalism, helps create a culture where laws are not governed by science, but by fear. Wolf kills are sensationalized in the media, and prey upon fears rooted in the collective unconscious, even though far more “livestock” animals are killed by childbirth, disease, and other predators than by wolves. “If more reporters put into perspective how small the impact of wolves really is, reporting on wolves would be much different.”
That clash between wildlife interests and human interests poses the real obstacle to coexistence. “While politically connected groups like ranchers and hunters mostly oppose wolves, there are also many people who are in favor of them,” Jim points out. But laws regulating other wild animals also pose problems, as wolves are “accidentally” shot by hunters “mistaking” a wolf for a coyote (as claimed about a wolf killed in Utah, believed to be “Echo,” the first wolf in the Grand Canyon in 70 years). This is a convenient excuse given by poachers as well, as there is, shockingly, no bag limit or seasonal limit on coyote kills.
Drawing upon the research of experts who spent decades studying wolves in the field, In Wolf Country cuts against simple polarization. It combines the dramatic stories of individual wolves like B-45 and OR-7 with larger studies of wolf populations. Seeing wolves as both individuals and part of larger groups is crucial. If wolves are going to disperse successfully, our culture must adapt. As Jim writes, “wolves are here to stay, despite the continuing opposition of some people and their willingness to kill them, legally or otherwise….”
Where Does California’s Foie Gras Law Stand?
Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Senior Attorney on January 9, 2015
Foie gras is the product of extreme cruelty. Ducks are force-fed by having tubes shoved down their throats, which causes injury, swelling of the liver, and painful liver disease. In 2004, California banned the production and sale of force-fed foie gras. This landmark ban went into effect in 2012. Despite having had eight years to come into compliance, foie gras producers and sellers immediately challenged the law in federal court, seeking to halt enforcement of the sales ban through a preliminary injunction.
As part of a broad coalition of animal protection organizations, the Animal Legal Defense Fund played an integral role in helping defend the law as the litigation proceeded, submitting amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs at several stages. The law was upheld in the trial court and again by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused to stop the law’s enforcement or reconsider its decision. The challengers’ petition for the Supreme Court to hear the case was also denied. Having failed—at every judicial level—to halt enforcement through a preliminary injunction, the foie gras proponents returned to the trial court to argue the merits of their case.
On January 7, 2015, the federal judge hearing the case struck down the foie gras sales ban on the basis that the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act preempts it. In a misguided decision, the court reasoned that the force feeding of ducks is somehow an “ingredient” of the final meat product, and thus, that states could not regulate it. The Animal Legal Defense Fund finds utterly meritless the idea that a ban targeting egregious cruelty on farms could be preempted by a law that applies exclusively to slaughterhouse operations and meat safety and labeling. California’s prohibition on force feeding to produce foie gras is unaffected by the decision.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and its fellow coalition members are urging Attorney General Kamala Harris to appeal this faulty ruling. We are confident that the Ninth Circuit will ultimately uphold the law, as it has in previous rounds of litigation, thereby preserving the will of Californians and ending the sale of this cruel product in California once and for all.
Save the Date for National Justice for Animals Week!
Posted by Kelly Levenda, Staff Attorney on January 7, 2015
Mark your calendars! February 22-28, 2015 is the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s seventh annual National Justice for Animals Week (NJAW). NJAW is a yearly event dedicated to raising public awareness nationwide about criminal animal abuse, including how to report it, and how to work within your community to create stronger laws and ensure tough enforcement.
How can Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters get involved? SALDF chapters are encouraged to host events to raise awareness about criminal justice issues in animal law.
Suggested Events & Projects
- Table during lunch or class breaks (ALDF can provide free materials).
- Hold a film screening.
- Email or call your representative about pending local, state, or federal legislation. Check city and state government websites for current legislation, or contact us to see if there is pending legislation in your area.
- Organize an ALDF Benefit Day by contacting a local vegan/vegetarian restaurant or animal-friendly business to see if they would donate a percentage of their total daily sales to ALDF to help us win the case against cruelty.
- Host a guest speaker.
- Find more project ideas here.
Suggested Speaker Topics
- Ag gag legislation, which criminalizes whistleblowing of egregious animal cruelty on factory farms.
- Criminal anti-cruelty laws: an overview of the laws in your state or exciting legislative developments, or how certain animals like farmed animals are exempt from them.
- The connection between domestic violence and animal cruelty.
- The prosecution of animal cruelty cases.
Your SALDF chapter can apply for a project grant to support your event. You can also receive a grant for a SALDF banner to use during NJAW and other chapter events. If your chapter is interested in getting involved and receiving promotional materials, please contact Student Programs Coordinator Nicole Pallotta at email@example.com.
New Year’s Resolution: Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free Fitness
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on January 5, 2015
Many people begin the New Year wanting to get their lives into shape, physically, professionally, and otherwise. And for some, this means wanting to get fit quick. It’s all the rage to cut carbs these days, but too often, people fall victim to leaning on a diet high on animal protein. But did you know there are healthier and cruelty-free ways of getting fit? A plant-based lifestyle is not only healthier short-term and long-term, it’s better for animals too. That’s the focus of a brand new book—Plant-Based Performance: Know Your Own Strength—50% of the proceeds go directly to benefit the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the work we do to protect animals. So this year, pledge to get fit, have fun, and help animals with Plant-Based Performance.
Co-author Scott Shetler, owner of Atlanta-based Extreme Performance Training Systems/the ECF Gym is a big supporter of animal rights in unity with health and wellness. His path to fitness? “In a nutshell, dump animal-based foods, eat a plant-based diet, making sure to consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables,” Scott says. Doing so is the most primary step in maximizing health, along with improving mental and physical strength. Scott is author of many other expert books in fitness (including Abundant Health: Fitness for the Mind, Body, and Spirit).
Why is a plant-based diet so important for people who truly love animals and want a more just society? Billions of animals are slaughtered, maimed, and abused each year in the U.S. alone, as standard practice in industrial agriculture. The Animal Legal Defense Fund is dedicated to establishing better laws for animals and stronger sentences for abusers, but right now very few laws protect the billions of animals suffering on factory farms across the U.S., and the cruel ways they are confined and treated—even the legal ways—horrify even the heartiest among us. Cruelty-free diets help support ALDF’s mission to protect animals, and one of the best ways to support this mission, and to stop the abuse of animals, is not to consume them or support industries that abuse animals.
And that’s why this book, Plant-Based Performance: Known Your Own Strength is such a great way for you to start your New Year’s resolutions, and stick with them. You’re not just helping yourself: you’re also helping animals and the planet we share! The book is a collection of essays from 22 vegan athletes, activists, and health and fitness professionals that outlines the path to wellness and becoming healthy, strong, and fit while following a plant-based lifestyle. Transitioning to a plant-based diet often takes a little thought, and that’s why Plant-Based Performance includes more than 20 plant-based recipes, training logs and tips. Another useful tool is ALDF’s Cruelty-Free Resource Guide.
100% of book sales revenue will go to benefit the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Forgotten Animals Rescue (50% each), and it is available in both print and E-book formats. For more information on individual authors and details about the book, visit the Plant-Based Performance Facebook page.
Legally Brief: Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on December 30, 2014
Last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed SB 177 into law, which authorizes judges to include companion animals in orders of protection from domestic violence. This law allows the person protected by the order to remove her companion animals from the home and states that a judge can stop an abuser who attempts to:
“remove, damage, hide, harm or dispose of any companion animal owned or possessed by the person to be protected by the order.”
Why is it important to put animals in protective orders? Nearly half of the victims who stay in violent households do so because they are afraid of what will happen to their animals. Abusers can torment their victims by threatening to harm a companion animal. Many victims never leave the home for this very reason. This new law protects both human and animal victims of violence in these situations. Furthermore, as the Erie County Prosecutor’s Office has noted, this statute indicates to officers serving protective orders that they should not only look for the victim’s cellphone and keys—but also for the victim’s companion animals.
Putting companion animals in protective orders clears up some legal gray areas—and when victims are scared for their safety and worried about their children and animals, the last thing they need are unanswered questions regarding their orders of protection. In addition, allowing companion animals to be listed in protective orders emphasizes the importance of the safety of companion animals—and suggests that they are much more like family members than mere property. This legal clarification provides a great deal of relief for those who are hurting and afraid.
As ALDF recently noted in our 2014 U.S. Animal Protection Laws & State Rankings Report, several states amended protective order statutes this year to include animals—bringing the total number with these provisions to 26 states and the District of Columbia. According to the National Link Coalition, many states exclude farmed animals in these orders, which limits an individual’s ability to flee a dangerous situation when those animals–say, horses or egg-laying hens–are related to her financial security. So clearly there is significant room for improvement in animal protection laws. Other ways we can better protect animals include funding community shelters that allow animals to stay temporarily, giving victims of violence a place to go where they can bring their companion animals with them.
There is a well-documented link between violence against nonhuman animals and violence against people—abusers of animals are five times as likely to harm humans as well. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have established that violence—whether physical, sexual, or emotional—is fueled by silence. When a victim is afraid to speak up, because his or her safety, children, or animals are threatened, the cycle continues. Putting animals in protective orders is a crucial protection for human and nonhuman victims, and it speaks volumes about the way we value animals.
Read ALDF’s resource on Animal Cruelty & Domestic Violence for more information.
Top 10 Wacky Animal Laws of 2014
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on December 28, 2014
The Animal Legal Defense Fund recently released its annual State Rankings report—the longest-running, most comprehensive report of its kind. The report tracks animal protection laws across the United States. Check out this ever-popular report to learn where your state ranks, and what states are the best and worst to be an animal abuser.
Some laws, however, leave our animal law experts scratching their heads. Some old and some new, but without delay, here is this year’s edition of Top Ten Wacky Animal Laws:
- In Tennessee, you cannot arm wrestle a fish! According to Code Ann. § 70-4-104you can fish with a rod, reel, hook or trotline only. No spearing, wrestling, or mind control allowed!
- “Roadkill” can be taken home for dinner in West Virginia, just in case you were getting peckish—and that’s a win-win for the Department of Transportation clean-up crew, and for 4th meal!
- Neighboring Virginia has a different take—you can eat roadkill, but you can’t hunt wildlife on Sundays, except for raccoons.
- Good news for California whales—it’s a misdemeanor to shoot any animal from a moving vehicle, unless the target is a whale, then things get real. Marine mammals receive federal protection in the U.S. and great whales have protection under the Endangered Species Act.
- In Kentucky, as if baby animals didn’t have it rough enough, it is illegal to sell fewer than six baby chickens, ducks, or rabbits at a time, if those babies have been dyed like Easter eggs.
- Frequent flier miles for moose have come to an end. We don’t know how they got the moose in the plane, but it is illegal to push a moose out of a plane during a flight in Alaska.
- As Forrest Gump probably knows, you aren’t allowed to force bears to wrestle (by riling them up, for example). Dogfighting is horrific enough, but Alabamans have taken this to another level.
- No matter how much you want to, you can’t keep a skunk as a pet in North Dakota, and your family is probably pretty happy about that.
- This one’s pretty self-explanatory—you can’t bring fish in fishbowls on a public bus in Oklahoma.
- And of course, everyone’s favorite, animals are not allowed—and they’ve been told this time and again—to publicly mate within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or church in California. The tricky part is enforcement though.
But that’s not all. ALDF has had to fight some equally absurd laws by taking corporations to court:
- This year, Louisiana passed a law that made it legal for a truck stop owner to keep a 14-year-old Siberian Bengal tiger named Tony in the parking lot of a gas station, despite a ban on owning dangerous exotic cats like Tony, a ban specifically written with Tony’s plight in mind.
- The University of Wisconsin-Madison is intentionally terrorizing baby monkeys (before killing them) and depriving them of their mothers from day one to see if it scares them.
- Several states attempted to pass “ag gag” laws that make it illegal to record animal abuse, to prove that abuse was happening, which thereby punishes whistleblowers, not animal abusers.
The Generosity of Animal Advocates
Posted by Dale Thompson, Development Associate on December 25, 2014
Once a week, as part of my work to keep Animal Legal Defense Fund donors up-to-date on our work for animals, I get to meet with ALDF’s founder, Joyce Tischler, the “the mother of animal law.” During one of our recent meetings, I asked her how it feels knowing that so many people support an organization she bravely started from scratch. She looked at me thoughtfully and then responded: “humbling.” For each gift we receive, no matter the size, everyone at the Animal Legal Defense Fund feels a deep sense of gratitude because our supporters make it possible for us to create a better world for animals. It’s also inspiring to know that there is such a large, generous community of people dedicated to animal protection.
We’ve received touching gifts in all shapes and sizes, and if you were to ask any one of us how it feels to have this kind of support, we would all agree with Joyce: it is humbling. Just a handful of humbling moments at our office include the following:
- A little girl cracked open her piggy bank and gave us all her savings—she even sent a picture of the piggy bank!
- Every year, a mother encourages her children who are eight and five to save their money and pick a charity to give it to in December. This year they chose ALDF.
- The entire eight grade class at a nearby junior high school held a fundraiser for ALDF.
- Our supporter, Eileen Francisco, did a double marathon and raised $10K for ALDF.
- We just processed an annual check for $25 from a donor who has been giving for more than two decades.
- People have donated their cars to us.
- Many of our supporters honor a deceased pet by making a contribution to ALDF in their memory.
- More than 75 people have left us in their will.
Thank you to all of you who make our work possible! You can contribute to our work by joining here.
Pro Bono: Giving Back to the Animal Community
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on December 24, 2014
Working for the Animal Legal Defense Fund is an excellent opportunity to provide legal justice for animals. But the amount of work ALDF does wouldn’t be possible without pro bono assistance. Winners of the 2014 Advancement in Animal Law Pro Bono Achievement Awards helped contribute nearly 5,300 hours of donated legal service last year alone—and that’s millions of dollars of outstanding legal expertise that helps improve the legal status and protect the lives of animals.
Pro bono assistance helped ALDF take action against a pet store chain that sells puppy-mill dogs; work to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City; support West Hollywood’s ban on fur; submit amicus briefs in cases that challenge the legal status of animals as property; and petition federal agencies to enforce animal cruelty laws and better regulate those that break them.
Attorney Award Recipients
Chapin Fitzgerald LLP
Dorsey & Whitney
Paralegal Award Recipient
Hsiao-Ting H. Cheng
Morrison & Foerster LLP
Firm Award Recipients
Bingham McCutchen LLP
Brinks Gilson & Lione
Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP
Fazio | Micheletti LLP
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
King & Spalding
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Proskauer Rose LLP
Winston & Strawn LLP
Legally Brief: Legal Victories for Animals in 2014
Posted 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!
Love & Ordinary Creatures: a Novel by Gwyn Hyman Rubio
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on December 18, 2014
Gwyn Hyman Rubio is a bestselling author known for her novel Icy Sparks, an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2001 and one of the New York Times’ Notable Books in 1998. Her new book Love & Ordinary Creatures from Ashland Creek Press is about a cockatoo named Caruso who is in love with his human companion, Clarissa, whom he tries to protect from the world. Like a young human in love, Caruso is both charming and destructive because he realizes the impermanence of love and fears his feelings will never be returned in full measure.
Parrots are extremely bright, and research indicates they have some understanding of human language. “Due to their intelligence and curiosity, cockatoos are always getting into comic situations,” Gwyn says. She says they are known as “the clowns of the parrot world.” They form deep bonds with their human companions, and “if they feel neglected they will pluck out their feathers. All birds, in fact are thinking and feeling creatures.”
That’s why an intense imaginative bond isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary for cockatoos, who tend to bond with one person. Gwyn got the idea for Love & Ordinary Creatures on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia with her husband. The couple noticed a young woman on a bike with a sulfur-crested cockatoo. When the woman puckered her lip, the bird reached out for a kiss—a tender gesture recognized easily by those who live with companion animals. “I turned to my husband and said, ‘That’s one bird in love,'” Gwyn recalls. And thus, Caruso was born, a romantic hero in the form of a parrot. Clarissa’s boyfriend becomes for Caruso a romantic rival. And so with this worry in his breast, Caruso begins the hero’s journey, driving the plot forward, to make sure Clarissa is safe from harm.
In many ways, Gwyn notes, cockatoos are like humans—“in the wild, they are social creatures, flying in flocks and speaking their own special language. Highly intelligent and long-lived, they mate for life. They raise their young together and will sacrifice their own lives in order to save their chicks from predators.” And that’s very much like Caruso, the hero.
The novel also gives insight into the life of a caged bird. Captive animals behave, and suffer, in such different ways than wild animals. “When caged, they can become neurotic,” Gwyn explains. And that’s what Gwyn is capturing here in Love & Ordinary Creatures. “They will bond with one person in a family and will feel and express jealousy if they view another as a rival. Should the relationship with their human companion be threatened, they will resort to highly dysfunctional behaviors, such as feather plucking or gouging their flesh with their beaks, in order to relieve emotional distress, not unlike self-abuse among humans. In their desperation to adapt, caged cockatoos can become confused and lose their identity or their birdness.”
“Most of us have experienced, at one point in our lives, the anguish of unrequited love, and so I reasoned that readers would be able to identify with Caruso’s struggle, even though he is a fictional character and a bird, playing the role of a romantic hero.” Gwyn also believed doing so might challenge readers who think of animals as mere “property.” She firmly believes that “the only way we will save the animals who share this planet with us is if we learn to understand and value their lives.”
As many of ALDF’s cases try to show, Gwyn states, “animals are not pieces of machinery, but are living, intelligent creatures that deserve our consideration.” This is why, she says, “as compassionate citizens it is important that we reflect upon new ideas concerning the animal companions in our lives, the quality of life for [farmed] animals, and the threatened habitats of wild creatures. A measure of a culture is the empathy shown not only for the members of its own species but for other species as well.”
Gwyn’s work has been nominated for a Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award and has appeared in literary magazines around the country. She is a winner of the Cecil Hackney Literary Award as well as a recipient of grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Gwyn lives in Versailles, Kentucky, with her husband, Angel, and their rescue dog, Fritz. Purchase Love & Ordinary Creatures here.
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund 2014 Chapter of the Year: Florida State University
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on December 12, 2014
Each year, ALDF celebrates our student chapters—Student Animal Legal Defense Fund or “SALDF” chapters—with a SALDF Chapter of the Year Award. For 2014, that chapter is Florida State University College of Law’s SALDF. This chapter has shown amazing efforts in advancing the field of animal law and advocating for animals through original projects and initiatives both on and off campus. SALDF chapters engage in important activities to support the development of animal law, including submitting comments on federal regulations, holding networking and fundraising events, and writing academic articles. They also partake in tabling, leafleting, organizing conferences and guest speakers, building coalitions with other law school student organizations, and screening films.
FSU’s SALDF chapter was chosen as the Chapter of the Year for their wide range of events, variety of issues focused on, and because their work had a legal base. In 2014, FSU SALDF co-hosted the Southeastern Animal Law Symposium, the first animal law conference held in Florida. Speakers included living property expert David Favre, dog fighting law expert Eric Abrahamsen, dangerous dog law expert Fred Kray, and Florida Bar Animal Law Committee Chair and CEO of Pets Ad Litem Ralph DeMeo.
What else stands out about Florida State University’s SALDF chapter? These law students spoke at Florida Senate committee meetings to support greyhound welfare legislation; attended City of Tallahassee commission meetings to request increased animal shelter funding; and hosted two representatives and a Grey2K lobbyist supporting greyhound welfare bills to speak at a lunchtime lecture at the law school. They also wrote an article in the Pets Ad Litem newsletter about greyhound welfare legislation, hosted a lunchtime lecture with courthouse therapy dogs and their handlers, sent their president to the Global Animal Law Conference in Spain, and hosted an Animal Law Writing Competition, accepting essays from law schools across Florida. Wow!
Our 2014 Chapter of the Year Award was presented at this year’s Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Christine Clolinger, chapter president, explained her favorite things about this outstanding chapter.
- FSU SALDF creates an opportunity for students and the Tallahassee community to learn about a developing and meaningful area of law.
- FSU SALDF connects lawyers, lobbyists, state representatives and senators, and law students from a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, promoting an engaging exchange of ideas.
- FSU SALDF members are highly involved in their communities, volunteering and hosting fun events to raise money for local animal shelters.
- FSU SALDF ensures its members are exposed to the newest ideas in animal law by sending them to both national and international conferences.
- FSU SALDF promotes legal change at the state and local level by advocating both in city hall and in Florida’s Senate chambers.
But most of all, Christine notes, FSU SALDF celebrates our furry, scale-y, and hooved companions! SALDF chapters play an important role in shaping the animal law attorneys of tomorrow and raising awareness of animal law. From all of us at ALDF, and our members and supporters, congratulations FSU SALDF!
Killing Rhinos In Order to Save Them
Posted by Jeff Pierce, ALDF Litigation Fellow on December 10, 2014
The winning bidder, Corey Knowlton of North Texas, promised $350,000 to the Namibian government. That money would buy him the right to kill the animal, but under international and federal law Knowlton needs U.S. permission before he can haul the dead rhino’s carcass home with him.
In November, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) invited public comment on Knowlton’s import permit application. In its comments (PDF), ALDF argued that the law and policy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) require FWS to deny the permit.
In his application, Knowlton alleged that Namibia is depending on his contribution to conserve rhinos. At the same time, Knowlton announced his intention to keep his money if FWS denies him permission to bring the dead animal home. By holding the auction proceeds hostage, Knowlton fails to submit his application “in good faith,” the first of three requirements under the ESA.
It also shows that Knowlton is not committed to conservation. To the contrary, Knowlton told local television in January, “I’m a hunter . . . I want to experience a black rhino. I want to be intimately involved with a black rhino.” The Club’s executive director Ben Carter said, “Most people that have an animal mounted, it’s their memory of their experience . . . When they look at it, they remember everything. That’s what [Knowlton] bid the money on, that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, poachers killed 1,020 rhinos in South Africa this year alone. Rhino poaching has tripled since 2011. Traffickers feed the inexhaustible appetite for trinkets and ineffectual “traditional” remedies in China and Vietnam, where rhino horn costs more than gold or cocaine. Despite this surge in poaching, nearly all the materials Knowlton submitted were from 2009 or prior. He therefore failed to demonstrate that his importing a dead rhino would help—instead of harm—black rhinos in the wild, the second requirement under the ESA.
Finally, not just illegally poached rhinos, but dead and mounted rhinos in the United States fuel the illegal trade that threatens the survival of the species. FWS has already acknowledged that the many pro-hunting groups and taxidermy auction houses in Texas make Knowlton’s home state ground zero for the illicit trade in rhino horn. FWS has even created a special task force—Operation Crash—consisting of 150 law enforcement officers who work undercover to catch would-be smugglers of rhino horn in Texas and elsewhere. Under the third and final requirement of the ESA, FWS cannot grant the permit if doing so would violate the purposes and policy of the ESA. It would indeed violate the ESA’s purposes and policy for FWS to invest in Operation Crash while simultaneously granting permission for more rhinos to die and new rhino parts to enter Texas.
ALDF urges Texas, which is known for its so-called “compassionate conservatives,” to adopt “compassionate conservation.”
Legally Brief: NYC Considers Ban on Carriage Horse Industry
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on December 8, 2014
In his first year in office, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is making good on his campaign promise to ban NYC’s horse-drawn carriages––as animal advocates, including ALDF, and thousands of New Yorkers urged him to do. On Monday, NY City Councilmember Daniel Dromm introduced a bill to phase out the carriage horse industry to loud cheers in Council Chambers. Earlier in the day, supporters of the measure braved 25 degree weather to rally on the steps of City Hall, where ALDF’s Erika Mathews addressed the crowd and media.
Here are some highlights of the bill, known as Int 0573-2014:
- Banning horse-drawn carriage rides as of June 1, 2016. Current licenses to operate horse-drawn carriages expire on May 31st, 2016, and would not be renewed under the bill.
- Humane disposition of carriage horses. The mayor’s bill would prohibit carriage horses from being sent to slaughter and require documentation to ensure that does not happen. It also would require licensed horse owners to notify the Dept. of Health 10 days prior to any transfer, and provide names and phone numbers for any potential buyers or transferee of licensed horses.
- Increased penalties for violations. The maximum fine for violating any law regulating the horse drawn carriage industry would be raised from $500 to $25,000 (50 times the current level).
- Displaced worker training for carriage drivers, owners and stable workers. Individuals who held these positions as of June 1, 2014 would be offered training similar to other displaced workers to transition into a different industry or industries.
- “Green cab” licenses at no cost to eligible carriage drivers and owners. The City of New York would pay the initial fee to obtain “HAIL” green-cab licenses for any carriage drivers and owners otherwise eligible for such a license.
Due to regulatory clearances that have to be assessed, the City Council is not expected to vote on the proposed ban until late spring or early summer of 2015. And the ban is not without controversy, thanks to a massive misinformation campaign spread by carriage industry advocates in the media. So on behalf of the animals and their advocates, here are some facts about the horse carriage industry:
The Carriage Industry is Inhumane
Is the industry bad for horses? Let’s look at some facts:
- Carriage horses are overworked (even to the point of death).
- Carriage horses are forced to work in severe weather.
- Carriage horses experience danger and terror daily.
- Carriage horses live in inhumane stables.
- Carriage horses live abnormally short lives.
The Industry Puts Horses and People in Danger
As the result of a court order won by ALDF, the NYPD recently released two batches of horse-drawn carriage accident reports. Those NYPD records allege that New York carriage drivers have committed more than a dozen “hit-and-runs” during the past five years, by fleeing the scene of traffic accidents. The NYPD records also recount another 25 previously unreported horse accidents––including a child that was rushed to the hospital after falling out of a horse carriage and being run over by its wheel.
In addition to harms suffered by the horses themselves, the NYPD records document that children, cyclists, pedestrians, carriage drivers, carriage passengers, and even NYPD officers all have been physically injured by accidents involving New York’s horse carriages.
Horse Labor Deserves Protection Too
It is hypocritical that the Teamsters Union would defend an industry that profits off of the forced labor of other living beings. Exploitation of labor is exploitation, even if it is extracted from another species. It would be considered a severe human rights violation if workers were forced against their will to pull tourists around in pedicabs for no compensation, in extreme weather conditions, through a noisy, dangerous, and congested urban environment. Making horses do the same with Central Park carriages is no different. Regulation has repeatedly failed to address the myriad problems of the carriage industry, and nothing short of a ban will protect horses from forced labor in unnatural and inhumane conditions.
Inhumane Industries Impede American Progress
As we create more humane industries, we look back on industries that exploited animals with shame. Inhumane practices reflect badly upon us all. We have banned dogfighting and cockfighting nationwide, and most states now outlaw commercial dog-racing. We don’t need to exploit animals, and there are other ways to enjoy the beauty of New York’s Central Park. Humane industries will take us into a new century of compassionate choices. That’s why we must phase out this archaic industry now.
Sign the pledge to boycott this industry in any urban environment.
Spread the Word
— ALDF (@ALDF) December 9, 2014
Founder’s Blog: A Chicken in Every Pot…
Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on December 5, 2014
During the 1928 presidential campaign, the Republican Party published an ad stating that if Herbert Hoover was elected, Americans would experience such prosperity that there would be “a chicken in every pot…” Well; we certainly have achieved and exceeded that goal. Industrial agriculture raises and kills nine billion chickens each year. As of 2000, Americans were eating an average of 53 pounds of chicken annually (PDF), according to the USDA. It would surprise most Americans to learn that there is a significant downside to this abundance: a torrent of animal suffering. Meat production is also a serious contributor to climate change, the pollution of our waterways and air, and negatively impacts human health from such practices as the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed.
I thought of the “chicken in every pot” quote as I read Nicholas Kristof’s excellent op-ed in the New York Times, “Abusing Chickens We Eat,” By the 1950s in the U.S., the agriculture industry had a new way of raising the chickens who are eaten (industry calls them “broilers”). On today’s factory farm, 20,000 chicks are placed into each massive barn, where they live until they are large enough to go to slaughter. The industry has selectively bred them to grow to market weight in just seven weeks. That is 300 times faster than chickens grew just 50 years ago, and it takes a toll: the chickens’ skeletons have difficulty supporting their weight; they have deformities, and trouble walking. Oftentimes, their hearts and lungs can’t work effectively to circulate oxygen through their bodies. Add to that the fact that, as they grow larger, the barn becomes very crowded. The litter they sit in and live in is loaded with feces and urine, burning their skin and making it hard for them to breathe.
It’s one thing to read about these conditions; it’s another to actually see them. Thanks to Leah Garces, USA director of Compassion in World Farming, and a brave poultry farmer named Craig Watts, we now have that visual.
Most Americans have no idea how farmed animals are raised; they honestly don’t know. You can change that. If you eat chicken, cook chicken, feed it to your children and to your friends, I think you’ll want to see this video. If you’re like me, you’ll see that this is just not right.
What You Can Do
The strongest influence on the agricultural industry is the consumer, so please take the next steps:
- Learn more about the reality of how factory farmed chickens are raised and killed in the U.S. here. Check the ALDF website for updates on our lawsuits to protect chickens and other farmed animals.
- The best thing you can do for chickens is to stop eating them. Boycott the abuse.
- Spread the word; teach others by showing them this video, and others like it.
- Contact Perdue, Tyson, Foster Farms, and other companies that advertise about how much they care about the chickens, while keeping them in terrible, abusive conditions. Tell these companies that their treatment of these sentient creatures is not acceptable.
California Fish & Game Prohibits Prizes for Killing Contests
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on December 3, 2014
Great news for California’s coyotes and other wildlife! We are thrilled to announce that early this morning the California Fish and Game Commission approved a motion to prohibit the financial rewards that encourage “killing contests.” The message was clear: no cash prizes for slaughtering animals. Today’s motion passed 4-1, making California the first state to deal a lethal blow to these horrific contests—and we hope other states will soon follow.
In killing contests, coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other wildlife are indiscriminately killed over weekend-long “derbies” for substantial cash prizes that go to the team who kills the most animals, or the largest. Hundreds of animals may be killed; others are wounded and left to suffer for days until they die. At today’s meeting in Van Nuys, more than 30 people gave public testimony on the measure, the vast majority of whom spoke in favor of the ban. The testimony was passionate and speakers nearly universally condemned wildlife killing contests as out of step with California’s progressive identity and commitment to science-based, ecosystem-aware wildlife management. Tens of thousands of people had signed a Project Coyote petition in support of cracking down on these contests.
Fish and Game Commission Vice President Jack Baylis said he hopes today’s decision will be the first step in the Commission’s exploration of new comprehensive predator management policies. He spoke about introducing bag limits for coyotes and other non-game mammals so that we can “stop the senseless slaughter of predators.” The regulations will now read:
465. Methods General Provisions for Taking Furbearers … (2) Pursuant to Fish and Game Code Section 2003, it is unlawful to offer any prize or other inducement as a reward for the taking of furbearers in an individual contest, tournament, or derby.
In July, ALDF and Project Coyote shut down a predator killing contest in Harney County, Oregon. Just last week, the federal Bureau of Land Management finally listened to public outcry and rescinded permits for a predator killing contest on 3 million acres of public lands in Idaho. In fact, in today’s decision Commissioner Michael Sutton, president of the California Fish & Game Commission, cited the recent Bureau of Land Management decision to cancel the Idaho contest and called predator killing contests an “anachronism” necessitating state-wide action.
Unfortunately, coyotes can still be killed in unlimited numbers all year long. And other states are holding killing contests—like the Coyote Calling Contest Triple Crown (in Kansas, Wyoming, and Arizona). Just last month, a Bakersfield, California killing contest led to public outrage and in today’s meeting, ALDF attorney Kelsey Eberly pointed to the Bakersfield contests as illustration of the urgent need for stricter regulations.
California has stepped up today as a leader in humane laws and its citizens can be proud of this ban. There is more work to be done, but the tide is turning, and California is done with killing contests. These bloodbaths don’t reflect the values of our civil society or effective wildlife management. Sign ALDF’s pledge to boycott all killing contests.
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— ALDF (@ALDF) December 3, 2014