Save the Date for Speak Out for Farmed Animals Week!

Posted by Kelly Levenda, Staff Attorney on February 17, 2015

Mark your calendars! March 29 – April 4, 2015, is the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s first annual Speak Out for Farmed Animals Week, a yearly event dedicated to raising public awareness nationwide about the lack of meaningful laws that protect farmed animals from cruel treatment.


How can SALDF Chapters Get Involved?

Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters are encouraged to host events to raise awareness about farmed animal protection issues.

Suggested Events & Projects

  • Table during lunch or class breaks (ALDF can provide free materials!).
  • Hold a film screening. We suggest Death on a Factory Farm about a case involving criminal anti-cruelty charges brought against a pig farmer. Or team up with the Environmental Law Society and show Cowspiracy, about the environmental impacts of factory farming.
  • Visit or volunteer at a farmed animal sanctuary. Find one near you.
  • Email or call your representative about pending local, state, or federal legislation impacting farmed animals, including ag gag bills. Check city and state government websites for current legislation.
  • 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 in our groundbreaking legal work for animals.
  • Host a guest speaker. Suggested topics include ag gag legislation, which criminalizes whistleblowing of egregious animal cruelty, and the exemption of standard abusive practices or farmed animals themselves from criminal anti-cruelty laws.
  • Implement Meatless Mondays in your cafeteria, or table on Mondays to encourage students to eat a plant-based diet that day. Contact us for a petition template for collecting signatures.
  • Find more project ideas here.

You can apply for a project grant to support your event. The project grant guidelines and application can be found here. If your chapter is interested in getting involved and receiving promotional materials, please contact Student Programs Coordinator Nicole Pallotta at

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Legally Brief: L.A. Animal Law Symposium

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on February 5, 2015

Legally Brief

Recently, we told you about the shocking results of an investigation of horrendous cruelty to animals used in taxpayer-funded, government-supported experiments. Farmed animals have so few legal protections, and industrial-scale agriculture or “factory farms” have such catastrophic impacts on animals, on us, and on our planet, that this topic is absolutely fundamental to contemporary discussions in the animal protection movement.

Law students and attorneys take note! Next month, ALDF is hosting the first symposium of our Los Angeles regional attorney network, on Saturday, March 28, 2015. This cutting-edge day-long conference on factory farms—and their impacts on animals, humans, and the environment—features top speakers in animal law, including yours truly, and:

  • Ethan Brown, CEO and co-founder of “Beyond Meat”
  • Will Potter, investigative journalist, TED fellow, and author of Green is the New Red
  • David Simon, attorney and author of Meatonomics
  • Leslie Brueckner, senior attorney at Public Justice
  • Carter Dillard, ALDF Director of Litigation
  • Kathy Hessler, animal law clinic director at Lewis & Clark Law School
  • Paige Tomaselli, senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety
  • Robert K. Rasmussen, Dean and Professor of Law and Political Science at USC Gould School of Law
  • T.J. Tumasse, ALDF Manager of Investigations

These top experts, and many other incredibly talented leaders in legal advocacy for animals, will discuss the legal and grassroots strategies being used to challenge and change the harmful impacts of factory farms.


Why factory farms? Industrial agriculture accounts for the confinement and slaughter of 10 billion animals every year. These animals are subject to filthy, dark, incredibly inhumane conditions, and unimaginable suffering—and few laws protect them. As “livestock,” they are even exempted by the federal Animal Welfare Act (chickens and other birds, for example, are not protected by the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, even though they account for 90% of animals slaughtered in the U.S.).

We’ve all seen the egregious and horrific documentation of farmed animal abuse that comes from undercover investigations—animals who are not only confined in tight spaces and pumped full of hormones and their children taken away, but are also punched, kicked, thrown on the grown, and many other unspeakable abuses.

  • Did you know that the animal agriculture industry defines what treatments toward animals are “exempt” from the law?
  • Did you know animals can have their testicles, tails, horns, beaks, or toes removed without anesthesia?
  • Did you know male chicks are ground up alive, and piglets are killed by slamming their heads on the ground?

Animals need a new generation of animal lawyers to protect them—and to fight for better laws. For great dialogue on this important topic, join us at the USC Gould School of Law, a beautiful campus conveniently located in downtown Los Angeles. We hear the weather will be welcoming for those coming from colder climates!

Attorneys can receive CLE credits for attending. We also welcome law students and other legal professionals. Please join us!

Register Now!

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This symposium is presented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the USC Gould School of Law Student Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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Reckless California Killing Contests Continue Despite Ban on Prizes

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 3, 2015


This weekend, February 6-8, the town of Adin, in the rural northeast corner of California, will hold its annual coyote killing spree, the “Big Valley Coyote Drive,” despite the 2014 ban on prizes for killing furbearing animals in contests. Last week, concerned about the high potential for law-breaking at this event, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a formal letter to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Law Enforcement Division, asking them to send an observer to the Pit River Rod and Gun Club and Adin Supply-sponsored killing contest. Last December, the California Fish and Game Commission banned the distribution of prizes in killing contests.

Historically, every February for the last eight years, contest participants in Adin’s Coyote Drive have competed for large cash prizes and other awards (like expensive artillery) to see who can kill the most native coyotes. These prizes were outlawed in 2014 in California’s Fish and Game Code § 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.”

California taxpayers overwhelmingly support the Commission’s ban on killing contest prizes. A wide majority of hunters also support the ban. In these bloodbaths, animals like foxes, coyotes, and bobcats are cruelly killed for no other reason than to procure prizes for killing. Tens of thousands of signatures have been garnered on a Project Coyote petition to ban wildlife killing contests in California.

Killing contests are reckless wildlife management: those who defend the killing sprees by pointing to an increase in coyote populations refuse to acknowledge science which has conclusively shown that killing animals haphazardly like this increases their populations and worsens any “problem” they may create for “livestock.” These contests are creating the problem they pretend to be controlling, and are ineffective at best, savage at worst: glorifying killing for the sake of killing. As ALDF has repeatedly shown, nonlethal predator control works, is more effective, and is more humane.

As a leader in humane laws, California should ban all killing contests—not just the prizes that have traditionally been awarded to hunters. Until that safeguard is in place, California’s Department of Fish & Wildlife must ensure that these reckless killing sprees—like Adin’s this week—are acting in accordance with the ban on prizes that reward this mindless destruction of wildlife.

Please sign ALDF’s pledge to boycott all killing contests.

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Love in Infant Monkeys

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on January 29, 2015

harlow-monkey-240pxMy fascination with apes and monkeys began with dreams of studying chimpanzees in Africa, like the legendary Dr. Jane Goodall, who created a decades-long, first-of-its-kind ethological study of wild chimpanzees in the mountains of Gombe National Park (Tanganyika). In Africa, apes and monkeys suffer unspeakable horrors at the hands of poachers. But the nightmarish suffering of our close cousins, these incredibly intelligent monkeys and the apes, isn’t just on the other side of the world. These sensitive animals are used in gruesome experiments in the U.S., as depicted in Lydia Millet’s story “Love in Infant Monkeys,” a fictional account of real-life tests inflicted on monkeys by the infamous Harry Harlow.

In the 1950s, Harlow had the idea to separate newborn monkeys from their mothers and expose them to trauma and terror. The goal was to measure the value of “love” between mother and child. These experiments came amidst other cruel tests, like boiling live rats, pinning the legs of cats together until they withered, cooking the skin of living dogs until it crisped from radiation, and removing the spinal cords of monkeys who were still alive, but immobilized. So Harlow’s tests at the University of Wisconsin, and the psychological torture they inflicted on baby monkeys, were de rigueur within the secretive world of animal experimentation.

love-in-infant-monkeysAn infant monkey was taken from her mother, put it in a box, and her panic noted. First anxiety, shaking, then screams, followed by symptoms of psychological suffering. Then the newborn infant was isolated for 30 days. Had the infant died of starvation, panic, and ceased all movement? Some had; those who had not went back in the box for more deprivation. Other “tests” included adding painful mother “surrogates”—objects with spikes, objects that blast cold wind. The monkeys, terrified by their isolation and abandonment, would cling to even these “bad” and painful mothers over no mother at all.

How could these cruel tests on primates continue? The Animal Welfare Act, regulated by the USDA, is the primary law designed to protect animals used for experimentation in laboratories. The law is poorly regulated, rarely enforced, and full of loopholes that allow the cruelest, most unthinkable experiments to continue. That’s why nearly 400,000 people have signed a petition against the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which has started up tests similar to Harry Harlow’s decades-old studies. ALDF has also filed a lawsuit against the university over these cruel tests.

Now, 20 newborn rhesus macaques are taken from their mothers on their first day of life and kept in a barren box, with only a stuffed “surrogate” and bottle for comfort. The infants undergo anxiety-inducing experiences, including unfamiliar “human intruders” and live snakes. Their blood and cerebrospinal fluid will be repeatedly harvested, and they will be subjected to invasive brain scans. The aim is to cause such severe trauma that their brain chemistry will have changed before the age of one. By 18 months, they will be killed.

In “Love in Infant Monkeys,” the reader sees Harlow, after his tests, stumbling drunkenly through a faculty party, only to end in the lab, where he sees the monkeys he’s broken psychologically. Later, the man who had remorselessly dismissed the suffering of monkeys is visited by nightmares, much like Ebenezer Scrooge, but here featuring the utter grief of the mother monkeys.

“He saw each infant in the heart of its mother, precious, unique, held so close because the mother was willing to die for [him]… All she wanted was the safety of her infant. She would chew off her feet for it. She would do anything… When he took the baby from her arms, her panic rose so high it could rise no higher; if she knew how to beg she would beg till the end of the world, scream until her throat split. Give me my baby back.

And in this way, Lydia Millet’s story offers us an imaginative look into the souls of the mother monkeys, to show just how destructive and unnecessary these tests are. Maternal deprivation is torture.

“Love in Infant Monkeys” is the title story from a collection by Lydia Millet—a Pulitzer prize finalist, Salon Best Fiction of the Year for 2009, and a Los Angeles Times Favorite Fiction of 2009—featuring encounters between animals and celebrities, from David Hasselhoff to Madonna to Thomas Edison. Lydia has also written nine novels, including the brand new Mermaids in Paradise. She is the staff writer for the Center of Biological Diversity.  Visit her website for more books about the lives of animals.

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Kosher Slaughter Laws and an End to “Shackle-and-Hoist” Restraint

Posted by Carmine Lippolis, ALDF Research Fellow on January 23, 2015

In December 2014, the Polish Constitutional Tribunal invalidated a 2013 law in that country that required that animals be stunned prior to slaughter—which renders cows and other animals insensitive to pain before their killing blows are dealt. In enacting the now-invalid stunning mandate, Poland had joined Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and New Zealand in indirectly prohibiting kosher slaughter: the kosher ritual, or shechita, requires that animals be healthy and uninjured prior to slaughter, and thus, stunning renders the animals—according to interpretation—unfit for kosher consumers. Unfortunately, this apparent conflict has led countries, including the United States, to broadly exempt kosher slaughterhouses from all humane requirements and to permit cruel practices like “shackle-and-hoist.”


Shackle-and-hoist is a common method of restraining animals for shechita. In this horrific practice, a slaughterhouse employee places an iron shackle around one of the still-conscious animal’s rear limbs, then hoists the steer into the air where he hangs upside-down by a chain, desperately thrashing and bellowing until slaughter. This cruel method of restraint inflicts broken bones, snapped tendons, and intense pain and stress. In most slaughterhouses, shackle-and-hoist is illegal unless the animals are first rendered insensible to pain. Shamefully, when it comes to ritual slaughter, U.S. law not only permits shackle-and-hoist but also considers it “humane.” This absurd exemption exists despite the fact that the kosher ritual does not require shackle-and-hoist. Many Jewish groups and authorities have even condemned the practice as a violation of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the prohibition against causing unnecessary suffering to living creatures.

While the most humane choice is always plant-based alternatives to slaughtered animals, most experts agree that kosher slaughter, when performed correctly, is at least as humane as pre-slaughter stunning. What does this look like? In short, shechita is performed correctly when a shochet (a specially trained Jewish male) severs the animal’s carotid arteries with a knife that is surgically sharp and without imperfection, causing the animal to lose consciousness instantly. Dr. Temple Grandin, one of the foremost authorities on humane slaughter practices, insists that animals slaughtered under optimal conditions show little or no stress reaction to the ritual cut before losing consciousness.

Conditions in kosher slaughterhouses, however, are very rarely optimal. Indeed, despite the availability of more humane restraint alternatives, such as upright restraint pens, shackle-and-hoist remains the primary restraint method in South American kosher slaughterhouses, which produce most of the world’s kosher beef. In 2010, a PETA investigation uncovered horrific cruelty, including the use of shackle-and-hoist restraint, in a kosher slaughterhouse in Uruguay.

Religious groups reasonably view laws like Poland’s effective ban on kosher slaughter as oppressive. On the other hand, laws that grant kosher slaughterhouses the broad authority to shackle-and-hoist conscious animals wrongly assume that the kosher ritual is unachievable without cruel handling. The truth is, it is possible to promote humane handling and respect religion by holding kosher slaughterhouses accountable to basic standards of humane handling to the greatest extent practicable without requiring pre-slaughter stunning. Much of ALDF’s legal work is to address the glaring absence of legal protection for farmed animals. This means, at the least, prohibiting the most cruel slaughterhouse practices, like shackle-and-hoist restraint.

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Farmed Animals Suffer in Cruel Experiments for Meat Industry

Posted by Kelly Levenda, Staff Attorney on January 22, 2015

The New York Times just released the shocking results of an investigation of outrageous cruelty to animals used in taxpayer-funded experiments. The experiments attempt to create farmed animals who yield more meat, cost less to produce, and have more offspring. This unregulated research benefits the meat industry’s quest to sell more meat, but the animals pay for it dearly.


The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center building.

The U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), funded by your tax dollars through the USDA, seeks to genetically manipulate animals to increase the animal agriculture industry’s bottom line. The animals used in these disturbing experiments are largely unprotected; federal laws generally do not protect farmed animals from mistreatment or being used in inhumane research.

Animal Production in Exchange for Animal Well-Being

For ten years, MARC has been trying to create sheep that require less effort on the part of the farmer (i.e., can survive without costly barns) by making sheep give birth alone in open fields, where baby lambs are often abandoned by their mothers and killed by starvation, weather, or torn apart by coyotes. One quarter to one third of the lambs die.


And for nearly thirty years, the facility has been genetically manipulating cows, who do not naturally have litters, to produce twins. 95% of female twins were deformed, and the death rate of twin calves was four times higher than single calves. These animals don’t even receive basic care. Thousands have starved and died from exposure to bad weather, and hundreds have died from mastitis, a painful and easily treatable udder infection.

Researchers without veterinary or medical degrees operate on and euthanize these animals. A MARC scientist was quoted as saying, “A vet has no business coming in and telling you how to [operate on animals].” MARC currently has only one veterinarian on staff, and that person and others have complained repeatedly to managers about a failure to fully consider the pain that animals suffer during experiments.

No Oversight for Animal Experiments

No federal laws govern the treatment of farmed animals used for experimentation. The Animal Welfare Act, which provides minimal protections for animals used in experiments and held in captivity, exempts the farmed animals used in experiments at MARC. Additionally, the USDA reportedly fails to enforce its own rules, which require careful scrutiny of experiments by a review committee. It also does not require MARC to keep records for treatment of all the animals. And, until now, the public had no idea that the government spends tens of millions of dollars to help the meat industry complete these horrific experiments that have caused pain and suffering to thousands of animals.

What Can You Do?

  • Do not economically support the industry that drives these experiments; instead opt for a plant-based diet.
  • Inform family and friends about the issue.
  • Sign the petition to stop these experiments.

Support ALDF in our work to fight abuses at factory farms, work with legislators to strengthen laws protecting farmed animals, and assist prosecutors handling cruelty cases.

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Legally Brief: Animal Protection and Human Population Growth

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on January 15, 2015

Legally Brief

In the past 50 years, my own lifetime, the human population has more than doubled from about 3.2 billion to more than 7 billion. There will likely be more than 10 billion by mid-century. This raises some pressing questions. How many people can our small planet sustain? How many can it sustain while leaving room for the other species that call Earth home? These questions are at the heart of a new speaking tour, which began this week, by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity, entitled “Breaking the Taboo: Leading Animal and Environmental Groups to Discuss Population, Human, and Animal Rights.”

ALDF’s director of litigation, Carter Dillard, and the Center for Biological Diversity’s Stephanie Feldstein will speak at the top law schools in the nation to address these difficult issues. And the questions of sustainability and leaving room in the world for other species hinges on one question perhaps more than any other: How do we feed 10 billion people? Because what we choose to eat has a greater impact on the environment and the lives of other animals than any other choice we make.


More than 55 billion land animals are slaughtered each year around the world. More than a quarter of the land on our planet is taken up by animal agriculture. One third of the Earth’s land is used to grow feed for these animals. Eating plants, rather than the animals that consume plants, would dramatically reduce the amount of land needed to grow crops, use only a fraction of the amount of water, and result in far fewer air and water pollutants—particularly greenhouse gases. That means our planet can feed more people on less land. This would, of course, also prevent the lives of misery that most animals raised for food endure until they are slaughtered.

Discussing human reproduction and dietary habits makes people understandably uncomfortable. But we cannot afford to ignore uncomfortable realities. We are the most adaptable species and we have the capacity to see the consequences of our choices. These are issues that cut through politics, age, class, gender, or race—and present some of the most serious challenges in the 21st century. If we don’t confront them all animals, human and nonhuman, and the planet we share, will suffer.

And that’s why this speaking tour aims to help audiences move beyond the stigma that keeps overpopulation and diet out of conversations. In the panel, Carter and Stephanie discuss legal reform and practical ways each of us can protect the future for all species.


01/13/15 – Stanford
02/18/15 – University of Minnesota
02/23/15 – Harvard
02/24/15 – Yale
02/25/15 – Columbia
02/26/15 – NYU
02/27/15 – Georgetown
04/02/15 – Lewis & Clark

Panels are hosted by Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters and are free and open to the public. For more information check ALDF’s events page.

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Rest in Peace, Archie

Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Senior Attorney on January 15, 2015

Last Friday afternoon, I was working on a brief in a lawsuit we filed to rescue a lonely chimpanzee named Archie from a solitary cage at a pathetic roadside zoo, when I learned that, just a few hours earlier, Archie had died in a fire.


It’s the kind of news that stops you cold and forces you to confirm it, over and over again. And once the reality sinks in, you start to ask yourself those nagging questions: Could I have done anything to prevent this? What if I had acted more quickly? What if I had tried harder to save him? Of course, ultimately the responsibility for Archie’s death lies with those who held him captive, but still the questions linger.

Here’s how we described Archie’s life at North Carolina’s King Kong Zoo in our lawsuit:

Among the suffering animals at King Kong Zoo is Archie, a chimpanzee confined in isolation in a chain link cage with a concrete floor. Archie spends his days sitting or lying alone in his cage. Archie is a member of an intensely social species, members of which often decline into extreme psychological and physical suffering when isolated. The only “enrichment” available to Archie is a tire swing and a blanket. Archie consistently displays tell-tale signs of extreme psychological suffering, which now also manifest in forms of self-abuse and physical suffering including compulsive hair-plucking, which has left bare patches on his arms. Archie displays symptoms of extreme psychological and physical distress and suffering that would be expected in isolated captive chimpanzees.


Both before and after filing the lawsuit, ALDF offered to assist King Kong Zoo in moving Archie to a reputable sanctuary that could give him the kind of care and environment that he so desperately needed and deserved: interacting with other chimpanzees with grass under his feet and the sky above, under the supervision of expert veterinarians and caregivers. Instead of taking us up on our offer, King Kong Zoo’s owner, John Curtis, decided to ship Archie off to Hollywild, a horrible roadside zoo in South Carolina under investigation by the USDA for chronic and repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Just a few months after arriving at Hollywild, Archie died of smoke inhalation from an electrical fire in Hollywild’s “primate barn.” Twenty-seven other animals died along with him. Shockingly, Hollywild’s veterinarian said, “It appears it was a quick and painless death for the animals that died.” One shudders to think this is the person in charge of animal care.

After all he had been through, Archie deserved to breathe his last breath in the fresh air of a loving sanctuary, not choke to death on smoke from an electrical fire behind bars at a dilapidated roadside menagerie. We tried to rescue Archie, but we didn’t get there soon enough. That hurts. A lot. But we haven’t given up on our case against King Kong Zoo. We’re determined to keep King Kong Zoo and John Curtis, who consigned Archie to a life of misery and a horrific death, from ever owning animals again. In fact, our opening appellate brief is being filed today. Archie’s life was tragic; we won’t let his death be in vain.

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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.

in-wolf-countryBut 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….”


Jim Yuskavitch

For more on this topic, visit Jim’s website. Check out Jim’s amazing wildlife photography, and keep up with his blog. Finally, take action here to protect Gray Wolves!

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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.

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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

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

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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.

Gorillas eat a plant-based diet, and are among the most muscular animals.

Gorillas eat a plant-based diet, and are among the most muscular animals.

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.

buy-the-bookAnd 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.

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Legally Brief: Protecting Pets from Domestic Violence

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on December 30, 2014

Legally Brief

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.

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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:

  1. 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!
  2. “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!
  3. Neighboring Virginia has a different take—you can eat roadkill, but you can’t hunt wildlife on Sundays, except for raccoons.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. This one’s pretty self-explanatory—you can’t bring fish in fishbowls on a public bus in Oklahoma.
  10. 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.
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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.

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