The Rule of Reason Prevails—Emergency Aid Exception Applies to Save the Life of Animals
Posted by Scott Heiser, ALDF"s Director of Criminal Justice Program on September 26, 2013
The Oregon Court of Appeals just issued an excellent opinion supporting law enforcement’s work protecting animals. In State v. Fessenden/Dicke, the court held that the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement applies not just to humans but also includes animals. In so holding, the court fell back on the basic rule of “reasonableness” that is at the core of the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, section 9 of the Oregon Constitution.
The facts of this case are both tragic and painfully common. An officer responded to a neighbor’s complaint of a skinny horse on the suspects’ land and found a profoundly emaciated animal. In this case, fortunately, the investigating officer was a seasoned veteran and knew from his training and experience that the horse was suffering and in need of immediate help (e.g., body score of 1 [very low], protruding bones and ribs, weak on her feet, painful and difficult urinating). Further, the officer knew that without immediate help, this horse would die a painful death. Based on the officer’s training and experience, he reasonably believed that emergency action was required to save this horse, so he seized her and took her to a veterinarian. The horse survived.
At trial and on appeal, the defendants argued that the officer needed a search warrant, claiming that, “a danger to an animal’s life is not the kind of emergency that is necessary to diminish constitutional provisions.” The court would have none of that. Citing the Nix case, the court rejected the defendants’ argument and held that the broad scope of legislative protection afforded to animals under Oregon’s criminal law support the conclusion that it is constitutionally reasonable to render emergency aid to a suffering animal. Specifically, the court held “that a warrantless search or seizure is justified when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals that have suffered, or which are imminently threatened with suffering, serious physical injury or cruel death, unless that injury or death is being inflicted lawfully [e.g., hunting, medical research or humane slaughter].”
Oregon is not the first state to confront this issue and rule that the life of an animal justifies application of the emergency aid (or exigent circumstances) exception to the warrant requirement. Other states that have so ruled include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin. In the federal system, the Seventh and Tenth Circuits have also similarly ruled.
The same issue is pending before the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts—ALDF (joined by Animal Rescue League of Boston, National District Attorneys Association, and Association of Prosecuting Attorneys) filed an amicus brief in that case. We look forward to Massachusetts joining Oregon in ruling that a warrantless search or seizure is justified when law enforcement officers have an objectively reasonable belief, based on articulable facts, that the search or seizure is necessary to render immediate aid or assistance to animals.
Legally Brief: The Government’s Secret War on Wildlife
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on September 26, 2013
A secretive government agency out of control, killing for the sake of killing… not a far-fetched fiction, but rather the reality within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. The stunning documentary Wild Things from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) chronicles our national taxpayer-funded war on native carnivores like coyotes. The film includes interviews with experienced ranchers who choose nonlethal methods of predator control as well as a former Wildlife Services agent who has spoken out against the agency. ALDF, NRDC, Project Coyote, and others joined together for a screening this week in Sonoma County. Guests enjoyed a free screening and complimentary vegan fare.
For decades, wildlife advocates have known that Wildlife Services gets away with its lethal agenda, including reckless and illegal actions, because it is shrouded in secrecy and lacks proper oversight. Worse, its war on wildlife is also wildly ineffective, making the carnage meaningless even if one supports the program. For example, the U.S. spends approximately 100 million dollars of taxpayer money every year to kill 100,000 predators—mostly coyotes—yet the coyote population has tripled in recent years.
We possess the tools and technology to resolve conflicts in a more effective and non-lethal manner. It is time for Wildlife Services to modernize or be dropped from wildlife management programs across the country. Our ecosystems are at stake and we must ask ourselves whether we share the earth, or merely want to exploit it until it is damaged beyond repair.
Here in Sonoma County, California alone, Wildlife Services kills hundreds of large predators like mountain lions, bobcats, bears, foxes, and coyotes every year. Indiscriminate methods used by Wildlife Services have killed over 50,000 non-targeted animals—like dogs—in the U.S. in just over a decade (and those are reported numbers, the real toll may be much higher). The agency regularly deploys cage, steel-jaw, and “Conibear” traps and wire snares, which maim and trap animals who may take several days to die. These cruel devices have injured hikers and killed pets, not only in wild or rural areas, but in populated suburban landscapes too. Although California has banned many of these methods, including cyanide and leg-hold traps and the use of dogs to hunt predators, Wildlife Services is often exempted.
Unlike Sonoma, neighboring Marin County does not employ Wildlife Services for predatory animal control. Instead, Marin uses a non-lethal program that has allowed some ranchers to see predation-losses decrease by over 60% in the past 13 years, at about one-third of the cost. Last month, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) sent a letter to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and Sonoma County Agriculture Commissioner, urging them to terminate their predator control contract with Wildlife Services. We also asked that appropriate environmental review and resource allocation be undertaken, in accordance with California state law, prior to further killing by Wildlife Services. But more importantly, we want to expand on Marin’s model for non-lethal alternatives and show that they can be used effectively across the country.
Saving Moon Bears: Interview with Jill Robinson
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on September 25, 2013
ALDF recently spoke with Jill Robinson about Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears a beautifully illustrated children’s book. Jill, founder of Animals Asia, has been recognized globally for her work with Animals Asia, which has established animal sanctuaries in China and Vietnam and rescued hundreds of moon bears from the “bear bile” industry. Jasper’s Story, co-authored with Mark Bekoff, is a book parents can share with children to discuss animal issues in a way appropriate for young people. And that is why the Animal Book Club is giving away free copies to three randomly chosen winners who leave a comment below!
What compelled you to write Jasper’s Story as a children’s story?
Jasper quickly won a special place in the Animals Asia team and in my heart after we learned that he had been confined in a “crush cage” for 15 years of his life. This beautiful bear, with his distinctive yellow eyebrows, had lain almost immobile, day in day out, year in year out, with his body flattened against bars. With trauma and injuries so severe, here was a bear who gently took fruit from our fingers and waited patiently until it was his turn to finally be cut out of the cage.
From this point there was no going back and Jasper sailed through the surgical removal of the crude metal catheter embedded in to his abdomen, and repairs of broken teeth from frantic “bar biting”. Finally released into a den, this beautiful, forgiving bear became the “peacemaker” of his group, as he welcomed new arrivals, and broke up the odd disagreement too. I always say that Jasper and his friends rescue us every bit as much as we rescue them…
How can parents talk to their children about the brutal things adults do to animals?
I find children are eager to join projects which promote kindness and respect. In fact, it is fundamentally important for parents to teach their children to be compassionate human beings—studies show that children who are cruel to animals can grow in to adults who are violent or even murderous to people.
I believe parents can engage their children by emphasizing that, like us, animals have but one life. They are as individual as we are and there is good science that shows they have emotions every bit as profound as our own. Children are quick to make the connection from an early age that animals feel pain and sadness, and it is our responsibility to help them understand that their actions can help—and save—individual animals and whole species. Animals are good teachers—just ask our “Dr Dog” and “Professor Paws” canine therapists and educators!
What does Jasper teach us about forgiveness that we can model to fight animal cruelty?
If a bear like Jasper can gently lick honey from the fingers of the same species that caused him so many years of physical and psychological pain, then surely we can stop to think about the impacts our lives have on other species and change if they bring harm. It’s as simple as not killing a spider in your house—because it is her life, her only life.
How is Jasper doing today?
Jasper is, to this day, a remarkable bear. He is happy, healthy and very mischievous indeed. He even knows his own name and you can see his big ears prick up whenever he is called. He loves to walk back in to the den for a treat of honey or peanut butter and still makes everyone laugh when he plays tag or rough and tumbles with his friends. He especially likes to spend hours in the pool, and entertains visitors by blowing bubbles in the water, or doing gymnastics with a piece of log. As Autumn approaches, Jasper, like the other bears, is slowing down and preparing for a winter of more sleep. As he stretches in his cosy hanging basket bed, and we stretch in our beds at home, I can’t help thinking of the poor bears left behind on the farms who can’t stretch, can’t move, until they’re free.
Jill’s final note:
Thank you for helping Jasper and friends and the bears still waiting—we are endlessly grateful for your help and kindness, and promise never to give up until the very last bear farm has closed!
Share Jasper’s Story
Barking up the Wrong Tree: Vet & Pet Industry Groups Betray Animals
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on September 24, 2013
This story first appeared on the Huffington Post on September 23, 2013.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund has just filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of one of the largest-ever jury verdicts in a case of a dog shot by a police officer. In 2010, a Maryland family successfully sued Frederick County sheriff deputies for an unconstitutional search of the family’s home and for shooting their chocolate Lab, Brandi — who never got closer than three feet to the officers, as shown on a camera mounted on the deputies’ dashboard. Brandi will need life-long medical care as a result of the shooting. In April 2012, a jury awarded the family $620,000 in damages, including compensation for their emotional distress. The case is on appeal — and pet owners may be shocked to learn who rushed to the defense of the officer who shot Brandi, in an attempt to overturn this family’s legal victory.
In fact, these purportedly pro-animal groups regularly support defendants who harm animals. For example, the AKC and AVMA filed briefs against the interests of animals in veterinary malpractice cases like Goodby v. Vetpharm, a 2008 Vermont case in which a pharmaceutical company dispensed a drug twenty times more potent than its labeled dosage, causing the slow and torturous death of the plaintiffs’ two cats. The AVMA and AKC also filed a brief in a precedent-setting 2013 lawsuit against a shelter worker who euthanized a healthy family pet. In that case, Strickland v. Medlen, a Texas appellate court held that state law allowed for the recovery of the sentimental value of an animal. Unfortunately, this decision was overturned by the Texas Supreme Court — at the urging of the AKC and AVMA.
The AKC, AVMA, and other pet industry groups continually challenge “non-economic” damages in wrongful death cases. In their brief in the Maryland case, the groups argue that “there is no basis for creating emotion-based liability in pet litigation, regardless of the nature of the claim.”
Unfortunately, the legal system often still treats animals like “property,” but as the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s brief demonstrates, many courts have recognized the importance of non-economic damages in cases like Brandi’s. Incidents of law enforcement using lethal force against non-threatening animals are far too frequent (see Arin Greenwood’s recent Huffington Post piece on a Baltimore shooting of a pit bull, for example — for more information on this issue, please see ALDF’s resource on Companion Animals & Law Enforcement).
When those who harm animals are held accountable for the full extent of the injuries they cause, it sends a clear message that our society and our legal system is starting to take the lives of animals seriously. When pet industry groups like AKC and AVMA oppose non-economic damages, they are standing in the way of progress for animals.
Just Say No to Kennel License for Convicted Animal Abuser
Posted by Jessica Blome, ALDF Staff Attorney on September 23, 2013
UPDATE: The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture denied John and Daniel Esh’s kennel license application late last week. Thank you to everyone who contacted Pennsylvania to protect the lives and advance the interest of animals through the legal system.
Today, ALDF sent a letter to Mr. Michael Pechart, Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Dog Law Enforcement Office. According to recent reports, Director Pechart is considering issuing a commercial kennel license to John Esh, a former commercial kennel owner with a long history of animal welfare and animal cruelty violations. In fact, just five years ago, Mr. Esh pled guilty to five summary offenses for animal cruelty and subsequently closed his kennel. Mr. Esh’s son, Daniel, has historically assisted Mr. Esh with the operation of his kennel. Daniel’s own license was revoked in 2010 after the Dog Law Enforcement Office documented repeated violations of regulations for proper ventilation, odor minimization, unsanitary conditions, and record keeping.
Issuing commercial kennel licenses to chronic violators of state animal welfare laws sends the wrong message to the regulated community. If violators only face small fines as a result of their behavior, then the incentive to cut corners at the expense of the health and safety of animals becomes too great. Any deterrent effect achieved by enforcement of the Dog Law in Pennsylvania to date will be undone with the single act of granting a commercial kennel license to John and Daniel Esh. That price is too high. The Dog Law Office must deny John and Daniel Esh’s application.
Read the Letter
Legally Brief: Truth in Advertising
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on September 19, 2013
As the preeminent legal advocate for animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund opposes the exploitation and abuse of animals. Every year, billions of animals are slaughtered on factory farms and exploited in labs, while others are trapped in virtual slavery of circuses and theme parks. For many people, their primary interaction with animals is as products and services. This is precisely why ALDF’s groundbreaking lawsuits against the biggest corporations in animal agriculture are so important. False advertising—that deceptively claims a company treats animals humanely while doing anything but—is not only illegal but jeopardizes the progress of truly humane companies.
Consumers are increasingly committed to more compassionate purchases, buying products that are not tested on animals or free-range eggs. When companies take advantage of lax or nonexistent labeling laws and make deceptive animal welfare claims, compassionate consumers lose and so do animals.
Taking on Tuna
We are taking on the lies of the tuna industry in our petition to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Of course, even truly “dolphin-safe” tuna is not tuna-safe and overfishing poses a serious threat to a host of marine ecosystems.
Force-Fed Foie Gras
Earlier this year, the Animal Legal Defense Fund successfully resolved our landmark false advertising lawsuit against Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest producer of foie gras in the nation. Foie gras is made by force-feeding young ducks so full of grain, two to three times a day, that his liver expands to eight or more times its natural size. Hudson Valley Foie Gras called itself “The Humane Choice” when truly humane alternatives like The Regal Vegan’s plant-based Faux Gras are readily available. After Hudson Valley removed this deceptive language ALDF withdrew its lawsuit—but we remain a watchdog of this inhumane industry. This is why we have taken on—and continue to achieve victory against—restaurants like La Toque that serve foie gras in violation of California’s ban on this cruel luxury product.
Tackling Tyson’s Greenwashing
As I explained in my Huffington Post blog, ALDF has also taken on Tyson Foods, Inc. with a consumer protection complaint to the FTC for “greenwashing” its practices and manipulating well-meaning consumers. Tyson is the largest producer of chicken and the second largest producer of pork and beef in our nation. Their production methods rely on the cruelest possible industry practices like “gestation crates” in which pregnant sows are unable to ever turn around. Due to its size, Tyson’s false claims to be a “humane” producer have an effect on the entire industry—misleading consumers and hurting billions of animals each year on factory farms. In light of our petition to the FTC, Tyson walked back some of its claim to be an industry leader in animal welfare. We’d be happier if it actually treated animals humanely. And that is why ALDF urges you to speak out and take action against Tyson Foods.
Cracking the Case on Eggs
Across the nation, 95% of egg-laying hens are confined in waste-encrusted wire cages so small they are never able to stretch or spread their wings. Yet many make claims that mislead consumers into thinking chickens live happy lives outdoors. ALDF has challenged such misleading claims, taking on both local and national egg producers. And the Animal Legal Defense Fund continues to do everything it can in the courts to shine a light on cruelty in the egg industry.
Corporate animal agriculture is a multi-billion dollar industry that must be held accountable for taking advantage of consumers’ genuine attempts to make humane choices. The Animal Legal Defense Fund aims to ensure that they are held accountable to the law and the rights and lives of animals are safeguarded from corporate greed.
Retweet to your Followers!
“Humane,” “free-range,” “dolphin-safe.” Retweet if you’re sick of false advertising! http://t.co/q9CCQob9uL
— ALDF (@ALDF) September 19, 2013
Bugging Out on Factory Farms
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on September 18, 2013
Our national reliance on factory-farmed food has brought us to the brink of a public health crisis—in which even a simple staph infection could become lethal. This potential nightmare scenario was just verified by an alarming report on the dangerous epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria (known as “superbugs”) spreading through farms and hospitals. The report, issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “encourages and supports efforts to minimize inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans and animals” and verifies that “resistant bacteria can be transmitted by food-producing animals to humans through the food supply.”
What does this mean for animals? This report sheds more light on the real culprit behind a plethora or health threats like E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, pink slime, ractopamine-laced feed additives, and even deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome (aka mad-cow disease): the intense confinement of farmed animals. Billions of animals in the U.S. suffer unimaginably before and during their slaughter for food in systems of intensive confinement—including gestation crates for pregnant pigs and “battery cages” for egg-laying hens—that often leave them unable even to turn around. Cramming animals into filthy, wretched, and disease-prone conditions like this is not only cruel—it’s a serious threat to human health.
In response, the Animal Legal Defense Fund recently submitted a first-of-its-kind legal petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to protect animals and consumers by mandating proper labels on meat and poultry products derived from animals given antibiotics. In July, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and a coalition of public interest groups like the Sierra Club, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, and Friends of Family Farmers, sent a formal letter asking the USDA to accept ALDF’s petition. Rep. Slaughter also reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 (PAMTA) along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Meanwhile, Senators Dianne Feinstein, Susan Collins, and Kirsten Gillibrand have introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act (2013), a related bipartisan-backed bill, which directs the FDA to phase out the rampant misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. As an addendum to our rulemaking petition, ALDF will ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider this CDC report and a recent Johns Hopkins report linking antibiotics used on farmed animals with the increasing trend of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in humans.
As I explained in my recent Huffington Post article, nearly 80% of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on factory-farmed animals who are confined in unsanitary, painfully-cramped quarters. The horrific way this industry treats animals has created a health crisis of potentially catastrophic proportions. It is time for us all to reconsider the consequences of industrial agriculture and the way we eat.
Dolphin-Safe: Don’t Buy the Hype
Posted by Stefan Heller, ALDF Litigation Fellow on September 18, 2013
Like the ocean’s tides, consumer consciousness regarding the animal welfare impacts of their purchases ebb and flow. In the late 1980s, consumers were made aware of the devastating impact on dolphins of tuna fishing in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). Tuna in the ETP is caught by pursuing and encircling dolphins with fishing nets in an effort to capture the large tuna that swim in close association with dolphin pods. Dolphins captured in these nets often drown. It is estimated that this practice, called a “dolphin set,” has killed seven million dolphins in the ETP since its inception. Consumers responded by joining a boycott of canned tuna. The boycott was effective and consumer’s concerns eventually prompted legislative action by Congress. In 1994, the Dolphin Consumer Information Protection Act, DPCIA, was passed. This law codified the use of the now ubiquitous “Dolphin-safe” tuna label. It required that cans bearing the label not contain fish caught through intentional dolphin sets or in any instance where dolphins are observed being injured or killed. Consumers soon returned to purchasing canned tuna, now labeled with a leaping dolphin that proclaimed it to be dolphin-safe. However, this reassuring label may not provide the protection of dolphins consumers believe it does.
A recent World Trade Organization Appellate Panel examining a dispute over dolphin-safe labeling between the U.S. and Mexico reveals information regarding dolphin-safe labeling that is deeply troubling. The Panel found that the U.S. discriminated against Mexican tuna by enforcing its dolphin-safe labeling regulations with respect to dolphins that are killed and injured in the EPT but not taking similar action to ensure the protection of dolphins in other fisheries, such as the Western and Central Pacific Ocean where dolphin mortality is also common. The Panel found that there are “clear indications that the use of certain tuna fishing techniques other than [dolphin sets] may also cause harm to dolphins.” However, the Secretary of Commerce has not made the determinations necessary to subject any fishery outside the ETP to tuna certification requirements. This means that “all tuna products containing tuna caught in a non-ETP fisher[ies] using a method other than setting [nets] on dolphins are eligible to be labelled [sic] dolphin safe without certifying that no dolphin was killed or seriously injured in the set.” In fact, most tuna products sold in the U.S., up to 98.5 percent in some years, can be labeled dolphin safe without any additional dolphin protections.
Dolphin-safe regulations are meant to protect dolphins by giving consumers accurate information. However, the regulations created by DPCIA do not accomplish either goal in the majority of fisheries where tuna are caught and dolphins are harmed. As such, dolphin-safe labels fail to reliably identify tuna products that do not injure and kill dolphins. Without reliable labeling, the best way to avoid harming dolphins is to simply avoid purchasing canned tuna. Therefore, it is time that the demand for truly dolphin-safe tuna resurfaces in consumer’s consciousness and calls for a boycott of canned tuna are renewed.
My Pet Chicken
Posted by Ariana Huemer, ALDF Guest Blogger on September 16, 2013
As a child, I had a pet chicken who lived to be 17. Today’s “layer” chickens, or the birds referred to in the poultry industry as “broilers,” live a short and brutal life—a far cry from the 17 years of being loved and cared for that my pet chicken had.
Of course, those of us who are aware of how factory farms work know that a 17 year old hen in the egg or meat industries is unheard of. Most chickens live less than 1/10 of their natural lifespan—around 18 months if you’re a layer and a mere 6 weeks if you’re a broiler. Even industry birds who manage to escape slaughter face a lifetime of health issues.
Such was the case with Baby Nicole, a petite white hen who came to live at Hen Harbor animal sanctuary after being rescued from a factory egg farm in June 2013. The lucky break bought her and her sisters what I had hoped would be many more years of peace and fulfillment.
But hens bred for mass production have the deck stacked against them. Churning out unnaturally large eggs at a rapid rate leaves them with brittle bones and a compromised reproductive system. Uterine cancer is a leading cause of death. Complications from egg-laying gone awry are another.
When I found Nicole sitting in a corner of the barn by herself one morning, I knew something was wrong. My heart sank when I picked her up and found a painfully distended abdomen. A veterinary exam confirmed a tangle of solid masses inside her. Whether they were tumors or impacted egg material, they would have to be surgically removed.
Nicole went into surgery the next day around 11 a.m. By 1 p.m., the doctor called with the news: Nicole hadn’t survived the operation. When the doctor had opened her up, she found not one, but nine fully formed eggs clogging Nicole’s oviduct. Nicole had become “egg bound” when a large egg blocked her oviduct and other eggs coming down the line stacked up behind it. Egg-binding is a leading cause of death among commercial laying hens who are bred to lay the jumbo-sized eggs sought by shoppers.
Farm Sanctuary, who takes in hundreds of “spent” laying hens a year, told me that a good quarter of its hens arrive with egg binding or a similar condition. Some recover for a time, but most eventually succumb to reproductive problems like cancer or, as with Nicole, egg-binding.
Nicole was a dainty hen. She was small and scrappy, with a little red comb that flopped over one eye like an unruly lock of hair. She survived two years inside a factory farm only to be done in by something programmed into her genetics by an industry greedy for profit, and a public blind to the suffering behind their 99-cent carton of eggs.
I cringe every time I hear a well-intentioned person extoll the virtues of free-range farming or cage-free eggs. All hens used in commercial production, regardless of whether or not they are caged, endure the same wretched health issues, and all are callously discarded once their egg production drops off after a few short years.
As long as people continue to view animals as units of production rather than individuals, animals like my sweet, short-lived Nicole will continue to pay a hefty price.
Ariana Huemer is the director of Hen Harbor, a small hen sanctuary near Santa Cruz, California.
Welcome Jessica Blome!
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on September 13, 2013
As the Animal Legal Defense Fund works hard to expand its fight against animal cruelty through litigation, legislation, education, and criminal justice, we are delighted to welcome a new staff attorney to our growing ranks of animal heroes. Join us in welcoming Iowa-native Jessica Blome to our California office as our newest legal champion of animals.
Jessica was recently named one of 40 Up and Coming Lawyers for 2013. Jessica has been routinely recognized for her service to animal welfare, and recently received the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation Special Recognition Award, which she calls “the proudest achievement” of her life.
As staff attorney for ALDF, Jessica tackles all aspects of civil animal welfare litigation from development, to investigation, filing lawsuits, to trial, as well as policy review and coordination of law clerks. Jessica will be working on ALDF’s landmark cases fighting foie gras and improving protections for farmed animals and wildlife.
Jessica brings to this position years of experience prosecuting laws regulating civil animal care facilities (including breeders, rescuers, shelters, and brokers) at the state and federal level. Prior to working for ALDF, Jessica founded the Canine Cruelty Prevention Unit for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, where she prosecuted more than 50 substandard puppy mills and kennels, shutting down more than 40 of these inferior facilities and rescuing more than 6,000 animals. Several state animal welfare leaders consulted and relied on Jessica’s expertise in animal welfare when drafting legislation now known as the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act. In addition, Jessica has given numerous presentations to animal protection groups. Jessica holds a J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law, where she was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice and captain of the Jessup International Moot Court Team, which competed in Jessup International Rounds in Washington, D.C.
Jessica is a passionate animal activist, vegetarian, and environmentalist. She believes animal protection and care for our planet are inherently linked, and that “as stewards of the world ecosystem we have a responsibility to both.” With her husband, Jessica cares for two dogs, Harvey and Arthur, and two cats, Jackson and Lola. They enjoy gardening, cycling, canoeing, and hiking.
Please join us in welcoming, Jessica to ALDF!
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapter of the Year Award
Posted by Kelly Levenda, ALDF Animal Law Program Fellow on September 11, 2013
Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters play an instrumental part in shaping tomorrow’s animal law attorneys and raising the awareness of animal law. They do this through activities such as holding fundraisers for animal sanctuaries, screening films, organizing conferences and speakers, and participating in in leafleting and tabling.
To show our great appreciation for all the work SALDF chapters do, ALDF will be giving out a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund Chapter of the Year Award at the Annual Animal Law Conference for the first time this year. The award will celebrate a SALDF chapter that has shown excellence in its efforts to advance the field of animal law and animal advocacy through innovative projects and initiatives both on and off campus. This award provides an exciting and first of its kind opportunity for a chapter to be recognized for its deep commitment to animals.
If you are a SALDF member and would like to be considered for this award, your SALDF chapter must describe how, during the 2012-2013 academic year, it met one or more of the following criteria:
Demonstrate how the Chapter raised animal law awareness to other law students, the law school, and/or the broader campus community;
- Describe one or more pioneering projects or initiatives the Chapter spearheaded that advanced the field of animal law or otherwise directly benefited animals;
- Describe any other activity the Chapter believes demonstrated exceptional dedication to the field that either advanced animal law or otherwise directly benefited animals.
A committee comprised of representatives from Animal Law Conference co-hosts Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Animal Law Studies, and the Lewis & Clark Law School SALDF will review submissions and select a winner. The Lewis & Clark Law School SALDF is prohibited from being considered for this award. Submissions must be 250 words or less, and be received no later than 5 pm (PST) on Sunday, September 15th. Please email your submission today to Lindsay Kadish at email@example.com. I encourage all SALDF chapters to apply!
USDA Closes Internet Sale Loophole for Pet Breeders After Pressure from Animal Groups
Posted by Chris Berry, ALDF Litigation Fellow on September 10, 2013
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service took a significant step forward today for cats and dogs by closing the internet sale loophole to the Animal Welfare Act. This action is the result of an administrative process started by the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Doris Day Animal League. When those efforts led the USDA to propose changing its regulations in 2012, the Animal Legal Defense Fund joined the chorus along with Dentons, a well-respected law firm, by submitting a comment in favor of the proposed rule. ALDF also asked its supporters to send comments to the agency.
What is the internet sale loophole? The Animal Welfare Act generally requires that cat, dog, and other pet breeders obtain a license, comply with minimum standards of animal care, and submit to occasional inspections to verify compliance with the law. However, the Animal Welfare Act exempts retail pet stores under the logic that purchasers can see the animals’ living conditions first-hand so inspections are unnecessary.
Breeders take advantage of this exemption by selling pets online and claiming the website qualifies as a retail pet store. This leads to situations where there may be hundreds of dogs or other animals confined to tiny, unsanitary cages in subpar breeding facilities with no oversight to ensure minimum standards of care. Today’s USDA action closes that loophole by requiring the purchasers’ physical presence at the property before a breeder qualifies for the retail pet store exemption.
In its comment, ALDF also pushed USDA to go even further to protect animals by implementing policies to ensure robust enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act in light of a recent internal audit by the Office of Inspector General finding that the law is seriously under-enforced. We will review our options to press these issues in the future, but for now it is exciting that USDA heeded the voices of our community and took a significant step in the right direction.
Sign the Animal Bill of Rights!
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on September 9, 2013
The Animal Legal Defense Fund needs your help! All across the nation, people are joining together to sign the Animal Bill of Rights—to show a groundswell of support for laws that protect animals. We are aiming for ONE MILLION SIGNATURES! If you haven’t yet joined the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed the Animal Bill of Rights—please take action now! Let Congress and all of our elected officials know that the law should protect the basic needs of all animals—and should provide justice for those who are abused and exploited.
Sign the Animal Bill of Rights!
Watch our video and click the link to sign the Animal Bill of Rights.
Why Are Animal Rights Important?
In the United States, our “rights” are a point of pride. Why don’t animals have rights, too? The Animal Legal Defense Fund advocates for animals to receive the full protection of the law as a right. Without legal protection, animals are defenseless against exploitation and abuse by humans. From the shameful treatment of exotic animals–like Ben the Bear and Tony the Tiger–who have been imprisoned in roadside cages, to wildlife who are penned, hounded, trapped, shot, and terrorized, to the dogs savagely torn apart for profit in dogfighting rings, to puppies treated like disposable machines in puppy mills, to ducks force-fed to the point of disease so people can eat gourmet treats, to the animals confined by hoarders in the most horrifying of conditions.
More on The Animal Bill of Rights
That is why ALDF urges you to sign the Animal Bill of Rights and encourage your representatives to pass legislation that gives animals the rights they deserve:
- The Right of animals to be free from exploitation, cruelty, neglect, and abuse.
- The Right of laboratory animals not to be used in cruel or unnecessary experiments.
- The Right of farm animals to an environment that satisfies their basic physical and psychological needs.
- The Right of companion animals to a healthy diet, protective shelter, and adequate medical care.
- The Right of wildlife to a natural habitat, ecologically sufficient to a normal existence and self-sustaining species population.
- The Right of animals to have their interests represented in court and safeguarded by the law of the land.
When you sign the Animal Bill of Rights, you can also alert your Congressional representatives with just a click that you support stronger laws to protect animals. More than a quarter of a million Americans have signed ALDF’s petition.
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— ALDF (@ALDF) September 9, 2013
California Court Upholds Foie Gras Ban!
Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on August 30, 2013
Why Ban Foie Gras? Because We Won’t Trade Torture for Taste
BREAKING NEWS: Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban on the production and sale of foie gras, the cruel delicacy produced from the livers of force-fed ducks. The court held that the ban was constitutional, finding the foie gras lobby’s challenge failed to even “raise serious questions” about the law’s constitutionality, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, and the Marin Humane Society argued as amicus curiae on behalf of the State of California, with whom the court sided.
Foie gras production is banned in many countries, including Israel (formerly one of the largest producers in the world) where the Supreme Court condemned the practice after closely studying it, Argentina, Turkey, the U.K., and Italy. In fact, only five European countries have not banned the practice. The challenge to the California law came largely from New York producers, who have convinced prosecutors and regulators in their own state to ignore the law.
Despite some foie gras producers’ carefully orchestrated tours of farms that reveal nothing about what the animals are actually experiencing, opponents of foie gras have sworn testimony from multiple avian veterinarians and over 1000 pages of veterinary studies and other evidence, much of it taken from foie gras farms themselves. The real evidence shows that force-feeding ducks so that their livers expand eight or more times their normal size, which causes the animals’ livers and related systems to fail – essentially sending the animals into liver failure before they are even slaughtered – is painful, causes immense suffering, and could never be humane. Noted doctor of animal science Temple Grandin has also recently come out against the practice. New York has not shut down the largest producer of foie gras in the county, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, because the local prosecutor and state regulators are cowed by the influential agriculture lobby and refuse to enforce state law.
Why are animal advocates and the State of California focused on foie gras?
While causing animals in food production to suffer is never justified, animal cruelty occurs along a spectrum, and inducing a painful and debilitating disease in an animal just to make his organs taste better is especially cruel. The best analogy is to the practice of beating dogs before they are killed to increase adrenaline, which proponents claim makes the meat taste better. Just as in that case, the duck’s natural liver is not good enough for foie gras eaters, but must be enlarged and mutilated to improve the taste. That aspect, permitting torture to improve taste, makes foie gras particularly cruel, and it makes foie gras a particularly good example to help people think about their food choices: with foie gras people have to ask, am I the type of person that makes animals suffer to satisfy my tastes? When most people really think about it the answer is “no,” and that is why foie gras is so widely banned. The U.S., as in many areas of progressive reform, is still catching up. It’s time for New York to do the same, shut down the last large producer in the country, and stop dumping its cruel products in more humane states like California.
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— ALDF (@ALDF) August 30, 2013
Legally Brief: Bears are People Too
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF's Executive Director on August 28, 2013
On a recent trip to Alaska, once my home for nine years, I had the chance to spend five days watching bears fish for salmon at a creek in the southeastern part of the state. The creek hosts a rare congregation of usually solitary black and grizzly bears who come for a six week run of pink salmon. They gorge on the fish to lay on fat for their winter hibernation. Every day for five straight days my friends and I would hike the two miles from our US Forest Service cabin to the creek. What made the experience special was that during that time the bears became easily recognizable, despite the fact that they were mostly just big black bears. Size, scars, a chest patch of white, and cinnamon highlights sometimes made them identifiable. But mostly it was personality.
Tank was my favorite of the black bears. It’s silly to play favorites when you’re talking about bears in the Alaska wilderness, but he was just so lovable. He caught salmon the same way every time; facing upstream towards the falls he would wait until a fish appeared or bumped him underwater and then he’d thrust his face underwater and grab it. What made Tank unique, other than his fishing routine—same spot every day—was that he was so laid back, he’d share if a juvenile bear asked or an older one. Tank was big, no pushover, he just wasn’t greedy. Plenty of salmon for every bear.
V and her cub were easy to identify too. Few beings are more adorable than a bear cub, but V, named after a V-shaped patch of white on her chest, was also a sweetly doting Mom. She was particularly cautious while at the creek as male bears will sometimes kill a cub. But not on her watch! She would park her rambunctious, curious cub nearby and fish, but if another bear approached she’d stiffen move in their direction and stare them down. Not even the big males wanted a piece of a super protective Momma bear.
Harry Potter, a young male, would fish in a pool just above Tank at the falls. Like Tank he’d face upstream and wait for a salmon to appear. But, unlike Hank, Harry was shy. After catching a fish, he’d squeeze his body into a narrow crack between boulders and eat in private. Most of the bears weren’t so fussy. Half eaten salmon carcasses were everywhere, food for juveniles not yet good at fishing and for eagles, ravens and gulls.
Boboli was a very small and nervous bear. She would skulk down to the creek and grab a salmon and then hurry back in the woods. If she got spooked by one of the big males or it got crowded at the falls, she climbed a tree. Sometimes she’d even fall asleep waiting for things to calm down. A weaned cub of hers, now full grown, showed the same super cautious behavior. Like mother like son. It had worked well for her as she’s known to be at least 30 years old!
What struck me while watching the bears was how similar they are in movement, body language and behavior to dogs. It made them familiar and easier to understand. It’s always struck me as odd how we humans find it so hard to think of personality in other animals. Dogs and cats, sure, we live with them so individuality is hard to overlook. But all animals have individual personalities. Anxious, playful, smart, not-so-smart, angry, social, anti-social, goofy, etc. When you get to spend time with animals it’s inescapable.
But for animal untamed by humans, and for the billions who live unseen on factory farms or in laboratories or puppy mills, it’s different. We tend to only consider them in terms of populations or species—or the hideous but sadly accurate factory farm term, “units of production.” Perhaps thinking of animals as individuals with identifiable personalities, like we do with people or our cats and dogs, would make it much harder to treat them the way we do. It would be hard to brag about shooting a black bear, if that bear was known as Tank, who liked to share his meal with inexperienced and elderly bears.