Legally Brief: Animal Bill of Rights

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on July 3, 2014

Legally Brief

Each Fourth of July in the United States, we celebrate our freedom and our independence—our legal “rights” are a point of pride. The Animal Legal Defense Fund advocates for nonhuman animals to also 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.

(CC Soggydan Benenovitch)

(CC Soggydan Benenovitch)

This Fourth of July, 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.

Across the nation, people are signing the Animal Bill of Rights to show a groundswell of support for laws that protect animals. ALDF is 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 our elected officials know we need stronger laws to protect the basic needs of animals—and provide justice for those who are abused and exploited.

Watch ALDF’s Animal Bill of Rights Video, which has aired more than 3,000 times across the country in just over two months.

Sign the Animal Bill of Rights.

Take Action Button

1 Comment  |  Leave A Comment

Joshua Horwitz – War of the Whales

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on July 1, 2014


When science author Joshua Horwitz first came across a lawsuit filed by an environmental lawyer against the U.S. Navy, he knew he had a found an untold story. That story has become a brand new book (from Simon & Schuster) called The War of the Whales. As he explains, the “war of the whales” refers to the conflict between the safety of marine life and the Navy’s use of lethal sonar training exercises that impact the ocean’s animals for hundreds of miles.

The clash of national security with animal and environmental advocacy makes this book a compelling narrative, and it is a story that continues in the courtroom today with ALDF’s lawsuit (along with the Natural Resources Defense Council) against the U.S. Navy. Horwitz explains, “Number one, all of the lawsuits—including the current one that ALDF is party to—all they want to do is limit peace-time training and exercises. In a war situation… obviously the Navy needs to protect its people and protect the country. However, whales and dolphins shouldn’t have to die for practice. You don’t need to train in known marine habitats. That’s the position of NRDC and ALDF in this, and it’s a self-evident position.”


War of the Whales follows two very different advocates for whales: NRDC senior attorney Joel Reynolds and Navy veteran and whale researcher Ken Balcomb. Because of the secrecy inherent to military procedures,naval sonar expert Ken Balcomb provides valuable insights into Navy operations. Together, Balcomb and Reynolds brought forth a lawsuit in the 1990s to compel the Navy to tell the truth about acoustic warfare activities and the impact these tests have on marine life. A lower court ruled against the Navy, but the Bush administration overturned that decision by executive order, claiming national security issues were at stake. NRDC did not give up, and that case reached the Supreme Court in 2008. The higher court ruled that protection of the public interest came from “securing the strongest military defense rather than in enforcing marine mammal protection.” However, the case invoked further comprehensive environmental research on the topic. Thanks to NRDC’s lawsuit, such studies are required and often funded by the Office of Naval Research.

Along with the NRDC, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is currently involved with a similar lawsuit against the U.S. Navy for amplifying its sonar testing program. ALDF and NRDC allege that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) illegally granted the Navy permission to harm marine mammals nearly ten million times off the coast of southern California and Hawaii during the 2013-2018 “training” period. In the Navy’s own environmental review, the Navy estimates that its activities will cause 9.6 million “takes” (or harms), including thousands of instances of permanent hearing loss as well as temporary hearing loss for millions of dolphins and whales, including beaked whales and endangered blue whales. This is more than a 1000% increase from the previous five year period—which was already under question by environmental and animal advocates in the lawsuit featured in War of the Whales.


The public is growing increasingly aware of issues that affect whales and orcas–from the environmental issues presented in War of the Whales to the issues of captivity raised in the documentary film Blackfish. Horwitz says “My biggest hope for the book is that general readers will become aware of how their tax dollars are being spent in ways that threaten endangered species like whales and other marine mammals—and to activate through organizations like ALDF.”

Joshua Horwitz has worked for decades with humane, environmental, and animal groups—including ALDF—and he is cofounder and publisher of Living Planet Books. For more information, visit War of the Whales comes out today, July 1.

Read the longer interview with author Joshua Horwitz and case study of War of the Whales here.

2 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Dogs in Hot Cars Need You

Posted by Ian Elwood, ALDF Online Editor on July 1, 2014

We have all seen the sad story in the news about a neglectful dog owner who goes into a store “just for a minute” and returns to find his dog dead inside the car, where, on hot days, interior temperatures can reach over 160 degrees in just ten minutes. In happier endings, the police arrive to smash the car window to rescue the dog in time.


Protect dogs wherever you park.

Each year as summer approaches, ALDF does our best to help prevent these avoidable cases of negligence—and this year, our supporters played a bigger-than-ever part in spreading the word! Our May Facebook post about dogs in hot cars reached over 43 million newsfeeds, and it was shared over a million times. It was heartening to see so many people take up the cause with such enthusiasm—and now you can join us in continuing this campaign!

By taking action today, you can keep your own car cool while delivering the message directly to your local parking lots. We designed our new Dogs in Hot Cars Sunshade so you can make a bold statement wherever you park. The design reminds people passing by that cars can be lethal to dogs, even on seemingly mild days. The lettering is large enough to be seen from across the lot, and urges people to call 911 to report trapped dogs, sending a message to the authorities that overheating is indeed an emergency for our canine friends.


Closeup of the design. Click to enhance.

Order yours today! Your purchase helps support ALDF and the lifesaving work that we do.


You can also take action in one of the following ways:


Click to enhance or download (PNG).

42 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Animals Need Lawyers—and Animals Need You!

Posted by Ian Elwood, ALDF Online Editor on June 27, 2014


ALDF works though the legal system to improve the lives of animals. We file lawsuits, we advise lawmakers, we help catch animal abusers, and we educate the next generation of animal lawyers—all with the goal of protecting animals.

When people are faced with the animal suffering ALDF works so hard to eliminate, we always get the same question. What can I do? The answer? A lot.

You certainly don’t need a law degree to help animals. Do you rescue dogs? Have you adopted a companion animal? Thank you for all that you do! We know how hard animal lovers work to help animals.

Now join us in taking another step to protect animals from harm! We have created a comprehensive Cruelty-Free Resource Guide to help show you what you can do to protect animals through the daily choices you make. The good news is that it’s easier now than it ever has been before to make animal-friendly choices about what you eat, what you wear, and how you live. Check out our Cruelty-Free Resource Guide for great tips, recipes, personal care products, and other resources to reduce your impact on animals.


It’s easy, and we’re here to help!

Spread the Word

2 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

I’m Running 52.4 Miles for Animals! They Are “Worth the Hurt”

Posted by Eileen Francisco, ALDF Guest Blogger on June 27, 2014

At midnight on Sunday, July 27, I will run the San Francisco “Worth the Hurt” double marathon. I will run through the city’s dark and extremely hilly streets for 26.2 miles. As soon as I cross the finish line, I’ll run the same marathon course again. That’s 52.4 miles of running—a challenge indeed—but I feel strongly that giving animals a voice in our legal system is worth this extreme effort. My run is nothing in comparison to the plight of suffering animals.


I’m running to benefit the Animal Legal Defense Fund: the only national organization dedicated to protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system.

Every day, the Animal Legal Defense Fund works to protect animals by:

  • Filing groundbreaking lawsuits to stop animal abuse and expand the boundaries of animal law.
  • Providing free legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases.
  • Working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes.
  • Encouraging the federal government to enforce existing animal protection laws.
  • Nurturing the future of animal law through Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapters and our Animal Law Program.
  • Providing public education through seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts.

Abusing an animal is wrong. Lasting change can only come when our laws reflect this. By working together, we can demand that society hold abusers accountable for their crimes.

Please help me raise $10,000. A tax deductible donation of any size—$10, $50 or $100—will help me get closer to my $10,000 goal and will make a big difference in the lives of animals.

I urge you to please make as generous a donation as you can. Your support is vital to saving millions of lives from needless suffering because of animal testing, factory farms and roadside entertainment.

Donate Now

From the bottoms of my heart and feet, I thank you for your generous support!

3 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Captive Orcas Finally Have the Attention of Congress—but is the USDA Listening?

Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on June 19, 2014

Legally Brief

On June 11, 38 members of Congress penned a letter to Tom Vilsack—U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—demanding updated regulations for captive marine mammals. Current regulations do not take into account some dramatic improvements over the past several decades in our scientific understanding of the physical and psychological impact of confinement upon these highly intelligent and social animals.

For years, ALDF has been leading the fight to ensure better laws and enforcement for captive marine mammals. For example, an orca named Lolita has been housed in the smallest orca tank in North America at the Miami Seaquarium for more than four decades. Her tank fails to meet even the minimum requirements of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)—requirements already recognized as outdated and inadequate. In addition to being held in a tank that is far too small, Lolita has no shelter from the sun, and she hasn’t seen another orca for decades (in the wild, orcas like Lolita spend their entire lives with their mothers and swim up to 100 miles a day). Yet the USDA keeps renewing this theme park’s exhibitor’s license, and ALDF along with PETA filed a lawsuit to stop this renewal. Recently, ALDF also urged the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce safety regulations for Lolita and her trainer’s sake. There’s profit to be had in this billion dollar industry, but Lolita suffers for it.

For nearly two decades, the USDA has done little to nothing to update the AWA regulations for captive marine mammals: in 1995, the USDA convened a committee that failed to reach consensus on the most important regulations; in 2002, the USDA began the process of updating the remaining regulations, but has so far failed to do so; in 2010, SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by an orca named Tilikum in front of a horrified audience at a SeaWorld show, as highlighted in the documentary Blackfish.

Last week’s letter from members of Congress strongly urges the USDA to prioritize the revision of these regulations. For example, the letter asks that tank size, temperatures, and noise regulations (along with the impact of having trainers in the water and swim-with-the-dolphins programs) be modernized, “so that the updated science can be incorporated” and the agency can “provide the most updated and scientifically supported humane standards for captive marine mammals.”

Congress took another bold step last week, as Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) added an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act that will provide one million dollars to study the effects of captivity on orcas, if the amendment survives the Senate and the bill becomes law.

ALDF will continue to fight for Lolita’s freedom and we applaud members of Congress who are calling upon the federal agency in charge of protecting captive animals—the USDA—to take action as well. After 20 years of delay, it is well past time for animals like Lolita and Tilikum to receive the legal protections they deserve. The Miami Seaquarium violates even the weakest, most outdated laws. Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition to boycott SeaWorld and we encourage people to boycott marine mammal parks like SeaWorld and Miami Seaquarium that treat these magnificent wild animals like amusement park sideshow attractions.

16 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Kicking a Sick Pig When She’s Down

Posted by Liz Hallinan, ALDF Litigation Fellow on June 18, 2014


On June 3, ALDF and a coalition of animal advocacy groups submitted a petition to the USDA requesting that so-called “downer” pigs—who are too sick, weak, or injured to walk to their slaughter—be removed from the human food supply.

Slaughtering downer animals for food has disastrous animal welfare consequences. Under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, which aims to prevent needless suffering of animals, the USDA is obligated by Congressional mandate to ensure that animals raised for food are slaughtered humanely. Allowing products from downer animals to be sold after slaughter discourages compliance with this law. When animals are too weak to stand but can still be sold for food, slaughterhouse workers have an incentive to force those animals to stand, and to use abusive tactics to do so.

Undercover investigations at slaughter facilities have documented workers prodding, kicking, and even ramming weak animals with forklifts to force them to their feet. Additionally, workers can aggressively handle and injure even healthy animals, since wounded animals can be sold for profit. As a result, animal welfare expert Temple Grandin has recognized that “maintaining an adequate level of animal welfare at the plant level is impossible if the pigs are too weak to walk through the yards.”

From a food safety perspective, the inclusion of these animals in the food supply poses a risk to public health. Unhealthy animals sold for food are more likely to make consumers sick. For example, the USDA banned downer cows in 2009, presumably in part due to evidence that downer cows are more likely to be infected with “mad cow disease” that can be transmitted to humans who eat infected beef.

If producers are not financially rewarded for weak and injured animals, healthy animals are more likely to be treated humanely—sick animals will be humanely euthanized, not turned into food. The USDA has already recognized this very fact when they recently granted a petition to prohibit the slaughter of downer veal calves, stating that such a ban would “better ensure humane handling” at slaughterhouses.

The USDA has an abysmal record of enforcing the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, not least because there are too few inspectors for the enormous task of overseeing the slaughter of more than nine billion animals every year. Granting this petition would allow USDA to focus on the humane treatment of healthy animals, as well as ensure a better food supply for consumers.

Click here to take action by asking the USDA to act on the coalition’s petition, 14-02.

For more information, please see ALDF’s Farmed Animals and the Law brochure.

14 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Readers Write: Summer Reading for Animal Advocates

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on June 18, 2014


Earlier this month, ALDF asked Animal Book Club readers to write in with their suggestions for a great summer reading list for animal advocates! Here’s what you said!

Michelle Mitchell writes:

All the Way to the Ocean, by Joel Harper, is wonderful! An uplifting story about two best friends, Isaac and James, and their discovery of the cause and effect relationship between our cities’ storm drains and the world’s oceans, lakes and rivers… It is sure to inspire both young and adult readers alike and teach a timeless life lesson—If we all do our part a cleaner, safer environment is indeed within our reach…”

Sara Jacksmith

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. I thought it was just going to be a novel, but it had a great message about the horrors of animal testing.”

Marianna Burt

“At this time of year I take a break from grim animal cases and cutting-edge literary works and reread the books that first moved me to care about animals. I go back to the iconic classics Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe and find that they have the power to stir my sympathy as they did when I was a child. Next I go to my all-time favorites: Richard Adams’ Watership Down and The Plague Dogs. Finally I look at one author’s lighthearted use of anthropomorphism—May Sarton’s The Fur Person.

Dee De Santis

“I love all of Rob Laidlaw’s animal protection books. I have added them to my public library’s collection.”

Other Suggestions

  • Striking at the Roots — Mark Hawthorne
  • Redemption: the Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America – Nathan Winograd
  • Don’t Lick the Dog – Wendy Wahman
  • Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls—One Flying Disc at a Tim — Jim Gorant
  • Wild Animals in Captivity — Rob Laidlaw
  • Buddy Unchained — Daisy Bix
  • Suspect -- Robert Crais
  • A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life — Steven Kotler
  • A Home for Dakota – Jan Zita Grover
  • The Elephant Letters: The Story of Billy and Kani – G.A. Bradshaw

Coming Up in the Animal Book Club

One of our readers reminds us of a good quotation by Jenny Brown, author of The Lucky Ones, who said “Animals are here with us, not for us.”

Happy reading!

7 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Fifth Circuit Rules that Animal Crush Video Law Prohibits Obscenity and Congress Has Significant Interest in Preventing Animal Cruelty

Posted by Lora Dunn, Staff Attorney, Criminal Justice Program on June 17, 2014


On June 13, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the “Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010” (“the Act”) is Constitutional on its face because it prohibits “obscenity” not protected by the First Amendment, and that Congress has a “significant interest” in preventing the violence and criminal activity that these heinous videos necessitate.

The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded a 2013 ruling by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas, which had held that animal crush videos are not obscene and that the Act violated defendants’ First Amendment rights. In 2012, defendants Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice were arrested in Houston and charged with violating the Act for producing and selling obscene videos of Richards torturing dogs, cats, and other animals for the sexual gratification of viewers.

The Fifth Circuit agreed with the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) that the district court should have applied the Supreme Court’s three-part test for obscenity established in the case of Miller v. California, rather than relying on the “variable and debatable” legislative history of the Act. ALDF filed its amicus brief, along with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, in August 2013.

In the 2010 case of U.S. v. Stevens, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that an earlier version of the Act from 1999 was unconstitutional; Congress swiftly and nearly unanimously passed an amended version of the Act in 2010. Today, the Fifth Circuit ruled that this second and current version of the Act is Constitutional on its face because it serves the “significant interest” of preventing the violence to animals promoted and required by such videos, and was “reasonably tailored” to meet that interest, in part because the Act now exempts lawful activities like hunting, normal veterinary practices, and customary agricultural practices.

Significantly for victim animals, the Fifth Circuit looked to the “long history and substantial consensus” of animal cruelty laws in this country, emphasizing that animal cruelty “is so antisocial that it has been made criminal” in every state. As a practical matter, the Court also acknowledged that because of the “clandestine manner in which animal crush videos are made,” it is difficult for state law enforcement to target the underlying cruelty that these videos depict—furthering the need for the Act.

ALDF applauds the Fifth Circuit for this landmark ruling that acknowledges Congress’s compelling interest in combatting the egregious animal cruelty inherent in animal crush videos.

26 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Welcome New ALDF Board Members and Advisory Council

Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on June 17, 2014

aldf-logo-burgundyALDF is pleased to introduce three new members of the ALDF Board of Directors, Wendy Morgan, Lisa Brewer, and Victoria Stack. Victoria is a co-founder and director of International Communication Initiatives, a nonprofit whose mission is to design, coordinate, and promote cross-disciplinary projects that advance a humane and environmentally conscious society. Wendy Morgan is a family law attorney experienced in business, entertainment, and animal rights law. Lisa Brewer has worked as an attorney at Hewlett-Packard Corporation and Apple, Inc., and currently has her own law practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, focusing on workplace investigations.

We are also delighted to present ALDF’s brand new Advisory Council. This council of diverse advisors includes law professors David Favre (Michigan State University) and Bernard Rollin (Colorado State University). David is also the vice chair of the American Bar Association/TIPS Committee on Animal Law, while Bernard serves on the Institute for Laboratory Animal Resources (ILAR) Council of the National Academy of Sciences. Also joining the council are former ALDF Board members Susann MacLachlan (professor of law at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago) and Joshua Marquis (former district attorney in Astoria, Oregon). Other advisors include Robert “Skip” Trimble, a board member of the Texas Humane Legislation Network, Dave Simon—author of Meatonomics and board member of the Animal Protection & Rescue League—software architect Stephanie Walter, and Brooks McCormick.

No Comments  |  Leave A Comment

All Talk, No Quack: Vet Association Won’t Stand Against Foie Gras

Posted by By Kelly Murray, ALDF Law Clerk on June 13, 2014


Force-feeding young ducks and geese to produce fatty livers known as “foie gras,” is inhumane, and that is why ALDF has launched multiple attacks against this cruel industry. It is a tough argument to say that force-feeding ducks to produce foie gras does not cause animal suffering. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is suggesting by not taking a stance against foie gras production.

In 2010, the AVMA amended its Veterinarian’s Oath to emphasize the association’s commitment to animal welfare. The revised oath reads:

“I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering…”

According to former AVMA Executive Board Chair, Dr. John R. Brooks, AVMA’s board was sending a message by adopting the new oath – “The message is we as the AVMA and veterinarians in general do recognize that protecting animal well-being is what we’re all about.”

Based on the oath, you would expect the AVMA to take a strong position against the production and sale of foie gras—but you would be wrong. In fact, the AVMA has refused to adopt a policy on this cruel and unnecessary practice. On May 7, 2014, the AVMA released a report entitled, “Literature Review on the Welfare Implications of Foie Production,” in which the association even admits, “Capture and restraint are stressful to the ducks and rapid insertion of the feeding tube provide opportunities for injury and therefore pain.” It further goes on to list the known risks of foie gras production, including the “creation of a vulnerable animal more likely to sufferfrom otherwise tolerable conditions….”

Despite the AVMA’s own admission that ducks used in foie gras production are stressed, have increased opportunities for pain, and are more likely to suffer than other ducks, and despite animal organizations like ALDF leading the fight against the foie gras industry, the AVMA refuses to take a stance or implement a policy on foie gras.

Rather than strive to prevent the suffering and relief of ducks used in foie gras production, as their oath requires, the AVMA has turned a blind eye to the plight of these animals. Until the AVMA recognizes its self-prescribed duty, it will have a tough time convincing anyone that protecting animal well-being really is its top priority.

To read more about ALDF’s landmark victory against the foie gras industry and our lawsuits against producers and restaurants who violate California’s ban on foie gras, visit

16 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

ALDF Speaks Out Against Factory Farm Pollution at Washington Board of Health Hearing

Posted by Liz Hallinan, ALDF Litigation Fellow on June 11, 2014


Dairy cows being milked.

Today, Washington’s Board of Health is holding a hearing regarding the impacts of animal agriculture on public health and the environment. ALDF, along with several environmental groups, is speaking at the hearing to urge the Board to hold factory farms accountable for their role in polluting the state water supply.

Thousands of animals are confined in crowded and filthy conditions on factory farms in Washington where they are forced to stand in their own waste for their entire lives. These conditions not only lead to unimaginable animal suffering, but also contribute to the spread of disease, endangering both animal and human health. These thousands of animals also create an enormous amount of waste—which then goes untreated and leaks into ground and surface water.

For example, Washington has around 500 dairies, containing 200,000 cows who produce 20 million pounds of manure each day. This untreated manure is kept in unlined lagoons or is spread across fields. This waste then runs into surface and groundwater, polluting streams and aquifers with nitrates and E.Coli. In fact, the EPA has determined that the nitrate pollution of drinking water in the Lower Yakima Valley is the result of these industrial animal farms. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals fed to the animals on these farms also contaminate the drinking supply. Water pollution from factory farms is a well-established risk to public health.


Manure being spread on a field.

The Washington State Board of Health has the legal authority to promulgate rules to protect residents from the health hazards posed by manure from factory farms. ALDF is asking that the Board revise the regulations regarding the keeping of animals on concentrated animal operations to include specific and enforceable requirements for managing the spread of animal manure.

The Board of Health must act on this urgent matter, as neither the Washington Department of Ecology nor the Department of Agriculture is sufficiently regulating water pollution from factory farms. In fact, the Department of Ecology is charged by the federal Environmental Protection Agency with protecting the state waters under the Clean Water Act. However, the Department has so far ignored this duty and has required the federally mandated water pollution permit from only 1% of factory farms in the state.

It is imperative that Washington’s state agencies regulate the pollution coming from factory farms. Until then these facilities will continue to put both animal and human health at risk.

Click here to take action by asking the USDA to act on the coalition’s petition, 14-02.

27 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Will Lolita—Miami Seaquarium’s Lonely Orca—Star in Blackfish “Sequel”?

Posted by Jenni James, ALDF Litigation Fellow on June 10, 2014

The Miami Seaquarium is in the business of breaking laws. For decades, the Miami Seaquarium has confined Lolita, a wild born orca, in conditions that violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Lolita is kept in an undersized concrete aquarium prison and denied shade and the companionship of other orcas. Because of this, ALDF and PETA sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for renewing the Miami Seaquarium’s license.

The Miami Seaquarium has also been violating the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act—the law that protects employees from deadly workplace hazards, such as swimming with wild orcas. Miami Seaquarium has been requiring trainers to swim with and even ride upon Lolita as she performs tricks in her tiny tank, despite the law. ALDF included exclusive video evidence of this ongoing occupational hazard in a complaint sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). This complaint renews the request ALDF made first in November 2013, asking OSHA to investigate this blatant violation of the OSH Act.

To see the violation in question, click here (12:25 in the video).

The Miami Seaquarium has no excuse for its lawless behavior. The 2010 death of SeaWorld orca trainer Dawn Brancheau (made notorious by the award-winning documentary Blackfish), sparked a prolonged legal battle over employee safety. This battle ended in April 2014, when SeaWorld lost its appeal before a panel of judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in SeaWorld of Florida v. Perez. The panel affirmed the decision below, which held that close contact with captive orcas is a recognized hazard, prohibited by the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Despite this clear ruling, as depicted in ALDF’s video footage of Lolita’s May 10, 2014 performance, the Miami Seaquarium continues to ask its employees to put their lives on the line, all in the name of entertainment and profit. By doing so, they are inviting another tragic disaster like the one featured in Blackfish.

The legal issue is settled. The Miami Seaquarium is not immune from the Circuit Court’s decision. OSHA now has the opportunity to prevent another tragedy. In the process, Lolita will no longer be treated like a living surfboard. If you think an investigation is overdue, you can take action here.

54 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Caging Motherhood

Posted by Carol J. Adams, Guest Blogger on June 9, 2014

How is slavery normalized and naturalized? It may seem counterintuitive, but one way is to exhibit it. In the past, this involved selling enslaved African-Americans at public auctions or encouraging artistic depictions of “odalisques” (female slaves in the Ottoman Empire). Now, sows are transported to the California State Fair and kept on display in farrowing crates with their babies. That’s why, last summer, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the Cal Expo and the U.C. Board of Regents for illegally transporting and displaying pregnant and nursing pigs at the Livestock Nursery Exhibit. Today, ALDF filed an appeal in that case.

This form of reproductive slavery begins with synchronizing sows’ pregnancies and delivery (including inducing labor). After giving birth, the sows are placed in farrowing crates. Farrowing crates were ostensibly created to keep the sow from rolling over and crushing her offspring. One wonders how pigs avoided extinction for all the centuries that they birthed prior to the creation of these body-gripping cages.

The farrowing crate frames female re-productivity: the ostensibly revered maternal body is controlled, dominated, displayed, and objectified. In fact, this captive reproduction deprives sows of expressing their maternal instinct which is to nurse and care for the piglets away from people.

The sow is burdened by sexist cultural representations that show her as wanting to be dominated, pregnant, and consumed. Consider “Lisa”:


A sexualized being who wants to bear children just for you.

Lisa was part of an exhibit at the annual convention of “pork producers.” Of course, the sow is—against her will—the real “pork producer.” For “Lisa,” production and reproduction are the same act, and her body is the raw material of production. I constantly hear from meat eaters, “it’s because of me that the animal I am eating was even born.” In fact, it’s because of the sow that “pork” and “bacon” exist; her status is so low she can be exhibited in her painful, cramped cage of motherhood. Exhibiting her is the act of reassurance that such treatment is okay. We can consult our own bodies (say on a cross country flight), and know that being confined and having restricted movement is not comfortable. Upon landing, besides reaching for their luggage stowed above them, people rise from the seats and stretch.

Any exhibit of sows in farrowing crates wants us to gawk, and in gawking be reassured. Discomfort? Anguish? “Lisa” and her sisters never get to stretch.

While the image of “Lisa” commits discursive violence, it exists to support a material form of violence. The sows at the California State Fair are not representations; they are actual beings, as is this sow:


Notice the words “Fat/Selfish bitch” in the upper left hand corner. Photo courtesy of Mercy of Animals Investigator, Iowa Select Farms.

From a sexualized female who “wants” to give you another baby through reproductive captivity to “fat selfish bitch,” the arc of the narrative being told about the child-bearing sow enforces on their lives and perpetuates some of the painful regressive stereotypes applied to women. Fat selfish bitch? Maybe she wanted to stretch.

Carol J. Adams is the author of The Sexual Politics of MeatEcoFeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals & the Earth co-edited with Lori Gruen is forthcoming.

22 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

High Time to Modernize the Methods of Kosher Slaughter

Posted by Jeff Pierce and Carmine Lippolis, ALDF Litigation Fellows on June 6, 2014


The Times of Israel announced recently that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has adopted a more modern view of gender: women will serve alongside men as Israel’s “kosher supervisors.” These watchmen and watchwomen ensure that slaughterhouse workers follow the religious mandates of shechita, granting (or withholding) the kosher imprimatur on commercially sold meat.

While we applaud the Chief Rabbinate for opening this door to women, we would urge them to modernize not merely the supervision of kosher slaughter but also its execution. The Chief Rabbinate should finally declare as abhorrent to Jewish law the abusive practice of “shackle and hoist” restraint, and should refuse to import any meat from those employing this cruelty.

But don’t kosher requirements already mandate the humane treatment of animals? Not exactly: kosher requirements generally dictate only how the animal must die. Namely, like this: while the animal is still conscious, the slaughterer makes a single slice across the animal’s throat; the animal’s blood pressure drops so suddenly that straightaway he loses consciousness.

Kosher requirements generally say far less about how the animal must live. Like their non-kosher counterparts, most animals who become kosher meat spend their lives in appalling confinement. Similarly, kosher requirements generally say little of how the animal must be handled in the moments surrounding death. Instead, secular regulations have filled that vacuum.

In the U.S., the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (PFDA) required that a slaughtered animal not collapse into the blood of those who went before him. Historically, the only method of kosher restraint was manual: the slaughterer would lay the animal on his side. But that didn’t comply with the PFDA. For the first time, kosher practitioners had to get the animal off the floor. Enter shackle and hoist. Ironically, the Jewish community opposed the PFDA because it essentially mandated cruelty.

The strong of heart may view this undercover footage of a shackle and hoist slaughterhouse in Uruguay, from which the U.S. and Israel import much of their kosher meat. In a 2010 article in The Los Angeles Times about that investigation, Temple Grandin, an expert on humane slaughter, said of shackle and hoist, “I’m getting fed up with it. It’s a really terrible practice and it needs to stop.” Grandin is joined by many influential Jewish groups who feel the same way. For example, the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards (CJLS) denounced shackle and hoist not only for its blatant cruelty but also because it violates another tenet of Jewish law, tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the mandate not to cause suffering to living creatures.

Okay, but the CJLS is an authority only within Conservative Judaism. What about an Orthodox authority? The Chief Rabbinate itself. In 2008, after PETA publicized the above-referenced investigation, Israel’s highest religious leadership insisted it would “phase out” shackle and hoist. According to the Jerusalem Post, then-Chief Rabbi Metzger set the end of 2011 as the deadline. It’s now 2014, and steers are still strung up by a chain, bellowing and kicking as their blood courses to the killing floor. Alternatives exist that comply with both the kosher mandate and secular food safety requirements.

With the power to declare what is and is not kosher comes a responsibility not merely toward those who consume but also toward those who are consumed. As the Chief Rabbinate welcomes women into the field of kosher supervision, we urge the Rabbis to live up to the promise of their predecessors and to eliminate the most repugnant method of kosher slaughter.

11 Comments  |  Leave A Comment

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Facebook Twitter YouTube Pinterest

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.