Animal Suspense Fiction: The Chain
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 25, 2014
Want to win a copy of an animal rights-themed suspense novel? Enter below to win—two lucky winners will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Robin Lamont’s novel The Chain.
While the Animal Legal Defense Fund works so hard within the legal system to achieve justice for animals, we see so many heart-breaking crimes against animals. That is why it is a relief of sorts to read about another world of crime—the fictional world of a seasoned and passionate animal rights investigator, Jude Brannock, in Robin Lamont’s novel The Chain. Robin is an award-winning suspense novelist and The Chain is the first book in her “The Kinship” series.
Many of ALDF’s legal actions have relied on evidence provided by investigations on factory farms—like our ALDF v. Mendes case. Factory farms and slaughterhouses are the center of animal cruelty in America, in terms of both sheer numbers of animals harmed and the epic failure of oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. For this reason, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is vigorously fighting “ag gag” laws, and filed the first lawsuit in history to challenge a state ag gag law.
So it is a pleasure to read a fictional tale on this topic. Released just last October, The Chain tells the story of Jude Brannock’s investigation in a small town that depends economically upon a meat-packing plant in the heart of Bragg Falls. In the way that many animal rights writers are drawn to compare life with fiction, Robin’s story centers upon a whistleblower, who has documented dangerous conditions and illegal treatment of pigs at the processing plant. When Jude Brannock arrives on the scene, however, she finds the whistleblower has committed suicide and his video documentation of illegal cruelty has disappeared. The townspeople aren’t sure what to do, afraid that an investigation will affect their livelihoods. Meanwhile, a sinister force is at play to hide the dark world inside the slaughterhouse.
Robin Lamont has had an incredible journey herself—before becoming a novelist she was first a Broadway actress, an assistant district attorney, and a private investigator. Her novels always focus on social justice issues, and it is a delight to read an animal rights-themed crime fiction novel from such a talented writer–The Chain will appeal to animal advocates and the general public alike.
Part two of “The Kinship” series will look to take on the notorious Wildlife Services, whom the Animal Legal Defense Fund has consistently tackled for its cruel treatment of native predators like coyotes. Without discrimination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services has essentially acted as an extermination service for private ranchers—trapping and killing animals from coyotes to companion animals without real oversight or public scrutiny. It is this mess Robin hopes to expose in her second animal rights-themed crime fiction novel and this war on wildlife that the Animal Legal Defense Fund will continue to fight.
Robin is an animal advocate and lives in New York with her husband and her vegan rescue dog, Kaley. To learn more about the series, visit Robin’s Animal Suspense website and her Animal Suspense Facebook page. And take action online now in ALDF’s campaigns to help farmed animals.
A Better World for Animals is at Your Fingertips!
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF's Staff Writer on February 21, 2014
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is: Fight animal abuse from your home computer.
Fight animal abuse and honor animal victims from your home computer. Join the hundreds of thousands across the nation who have already taken action online to support critical ALDF campaigns, which are designed to have the maximum impact for animals. A better world for animals is at your fingertips!
Animal Bill of Rights
Help us reach one million signatures! Please join the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed the Animal Bill of Rights—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.
Expose Animal Abusers
Communities have good reason to be concerned about the whereabouts of animal abusers. In story after heartbreaking story, abusers repeat their violent crimes against helpless animals, and often go on to victimize people as well. Animal abuser registries will help keep animals and families safe. New York City recently became the largest jurisdiction to pass a measure that will create a registry of convicted animal abusers in the city. If you would like to help pass a registry in your state, please contact your local legislators and ask for an animal abuser registry where you live! Take action at ExposeAnimalAbusers.org.
First Strike and You’re Out
Currently, most states have no mandatory requirements keeping those who are convicted of animal abuse crimes away from animals following their convictions. ALDF’s model “First Strike and You’re Out” law will help in the fight against animal neglect and cruelty by keeping offenders away from potential new animal victims and will also help reduce the huge economic toll which repeat offenders impose on their communities.
Contact your state legislators today and ask them to support a “First Strike and You’re Out” law for those who are convicted of animal neglect or cruelty.
Become a Partner in Protection
Posted by Jennifer Molidor ALDF's Staff Writer on February 20, 2014
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is: Help ALDF Help Animals
Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves—so concerned citizens and our legal system must speak up for them. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been fighting to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system for over thirty years. And we want you to be a part of that critical, desperately important work—day in and day out, 365 days a year. Now, you can help animals every month of the year by making a monthly donation to the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
ALDF’s Partners in Protection program gives you a simple and convenient way to make regular contributions to ALDF via your credit card or electronic funds transfer. As a Partner in Protection, your gifts will provide a reliable, ongoing source of funding that is critical to our work on behalf animals.
Whether your monthly donation is $10 or $100, every dollar counts in the fight against animal abuse. Be a part of ALDF’s cutting-edge work to push the law to provide real, lasting protections for animals—and to get real justice for animal victims. Become an ALDF Partner in Protection by signing up today to make easy, automatic monthly donations. If you can’t make a monthly pledge today, please make a one-time donation in honor of National Justice for Animals Week—honoring animal victims with your support for ALDF’s ongoing fight to put animal abusers behind bars.
Making News for Animals
Posted by Jennifer Molidor ALDF's Staff Writer on February 18, 2014
Today’s daily action for National Justice for Animals Week is to make news for animals!
Write a Letter to the Editor
Don’t just read the news—make it! If you don’t think the issue of animal abuse is getting enough coverage in your local paper, or if you want to applaud a particular reporter for going in-depth to cover a case of animal cruelty, a letter to the editor is a great way to take action for animals.
Let your own community members know how they can join the campaign to fight animal abuse with a clear, concise letter. “Letters to the Editor” are one of the most widely read sections of the newspaper and can reach a large audience. These letters allow community members to comment on the way animal issues are being addressed in the media and influence the topics covered by the local paper. Elected officials often monitor this section of the newspaper and take notice of public opinions.
If your letter is published, share it with us, and we’ll send you an ALDF prize pack including a reusable ALDF tote bag, bumper sticker, and other ALDF goodies! Email the link to the online newspaper to email@example.com, or mail a hard copy to us at:
Animal Legal Defense Fund
c/o Megan Backus
170 East Cotati Ave
Cotati, CA 94931
Include your name, mailing address, and copy of your published letter. Letters must be received by March 31, 2014 and must relate to the theme of National Justice for Animals Week to be eligible to win.
We’ve made it easy for you to contact your local newspaper with your views, but editors want to hear from you in your own words.
Take action and write a letter to the editor now!
Actress Charlotte Ross Speaks Up for Animals during National Justice for Animals Week
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 16, 2014
This week, ALDF hosts National Justice for Animals Week, Feb 16-22—a tribute to the human heroes who protect animals, and the animal victims of cruelty. Actress Charlotte Ross, star of popular television shows like Glee and NYPD Blue, joins ALDF’s campaign as spokesperson. “As a detective on NYPD Blue, I fought for justice for victims of heinous crimes,” says Charlotte. “But you don’t need to be an officer of the law to stop abusers in their tracks. Every single one of us can join the fight to stop animal cruelty in our own communities.”
Watch our special message from Charlotte Ross below:
“ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week gives each of us the tools to stop animal abuse, and urges law enforcement, prosecutors, and lawmakers to protect our animals and communities from abusers,” Charlotte explains.
National Justice for Animals Week provides a way for all of us to take action for animals. From ALDF action alerts, adoption campaigns, spreading the message with social media, signing the Animal Bill of Rights, to downloading ALDF’s Crime Tips app—where you can report animal cruelty to law enforcement with just a few clicks on your smartphone—ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week makes it easy for you to speak up for animals.
“That’s why I’ve teamed up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to celebrate National Justice for Animals Week,” Charlotte explains. “There are so many ways that you can help stop cruelty. Please join us at the Animal Legal Defense Fund in fighting animal cruelty and honoring animal victims.”
ALDF Speaks Out For Captive Bears
Posted by Posted by ALDF Guest Bloggers Neil Abramson, Kelly Anne Targett, Daniel Saperstein, Nicholas Tamburri, and Allison Martin on February 15, 2014
Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) more than forty years ago to ensure that animals used for exhibition purposes receive humane care and treatment. Although the regulations implementing the AWA set forth specific criteria for the care of certain animal groups including non-human primates and marine mammals, one set of catch-all standards covers the vast majority of animal species. Because of their general nature, the nonspecific standards have proven largely ineffective in promoting the welfare of many species of captive animals and, therefore, cannot fulfill the AWA mandate. Nowhere are those failings more obvious than in the treatment of captive bears in this country, frequently left to languish in barren concrete dog-run style enclosures at roadside zoos. ALDF has worked to protect and defend captive bears at every opportunity, for example filing suit to free Ben the Bear and threatening to sue the Chief Saunooke Bear Park. But bears also deserve strong, species-specific standards that consider the unique needs of this complex species.
PETA, our partner in the Ben the Bear case, recently petitioned the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to urge the promulgation of bear-specific standards to better protect confined members of the species. The PETA petition specifically encouraged APHIS to establish minimum criteria to govern, among other things, adequacy of diet, space for foraging and denning, enrichment, and the need for clean water for bathing. APHIS responded to the petition by soliciting public comments on PETA’s proposal, and ALDF, with the assistance of pro bono legal counsel Proskauer Rose, immediately embraced the opportunity to speak out, once again, on behalf of captive bears.
With the help of veterinarian and animal scientist Dr. Ursula Bechert, we submitted comments to APHIS demonstrating that the generic standards as applied to captive bears violate the well-established intent of the AWA to promote the welfare of the species. We also flatly rejected the suggestion that promulgating more comprehensive species-specific standards would adversely impact Native Americans, and argued, instead, that many Native American cultures honor bears and condemn their abuse. Finally, we pointed out the international impact of this country’s failure to protect captive bears, which can foster a dismissive attitude toward the species in other countries and compromise conservation efforts on a global scale.
We truly hope that APHIS will act at this critical moment to end the suffering of captive bears by imposing stricter standards to account for the unique social, physical, and psychological needs of the species.
You can submit your own comments here, encouraging APHIS to adopt the petition and create strong, bear-specific standards under the Animal Welfare Act. APHIS has extended the deadline to comment to March 12, 2014.
Fall in Love… With Esther the Wonder Pig!
Posted by Nicole Roth, ALDF Board Member on February 14, 2014
Love is in the air this Valentine’s Day—and I am in love with Esther the Wonder Pig! If you haven’t checked out her website yet, you need to. Esther’s guardians have posted videos of Esther taking a bath, playing with her canine companions, and eating fruit! Esther’s guardians never expected to live with a 300 pound pig. They were told she was a “micropig,” estimated to be around 50 pounds full grown.
Much to their surprise, Esther just kept growing! Luckily for Esther, Cupid’s arrow had struck—her guardians had fallen in love with her. They experienced first-hand how intelligent pigs are. They saw no difference between Esther and their two companion dogs. So they not only decided to keep her… they decided to show love for all animals, by going vegan.
In reality, Esther was one of over 116,000,000 factory farm pigs slaughtered yearly in the United States. The vast majority of them do not get Esther’s happy ending. At the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we have pledged to hold farms accountable for violating the law and encourage legislatures to enact new laws to protect animals. Recently, ALDF has been working to protect pregnant and nursing pigs at the California State fair. Pregnant sows are put on display at the State fair so that the public can watch them give birth and nurse. If they were given the choice, these sows would build a nest to give birth and protect their young far away from people. The sows at the State Fair are kept in standard industry farrowing crates in which they are not able to walk, turn around, or stand comfortably. These are the same types of crates that pigs like Esther would be confined to every year in order to nurse her young. Pigs like Esther are forcibly impregnated about twice a year and confined to a cycle of gestation crates and farrowing crates for her short three to four year life before she is spent and sent to slaughter.
So while I love Esther because she is adorable, I love her even more because she is opening people’s eyes to the fact that farm animals are just as cute and intelligent as domestic animals. I hope that Esther’s growing following on Facebook and YouTube will convince more people to love and protect pigs instead of eating them. Many of her admirers are also meat eaters. I hope Esther can open their eyes to the fact that the pigs on their plate are the same as Esther. Maybe then they will think twice before grabbing a slice of bacon or, even better, stop eating all animal products like Esther’s guardians. Many people think their individual decisions do not make much of a difference. In reality, being vegan saves about 200 animals per year. Every time you refrain from buying animal products, you are telling the industry that you do not support the treatment and killing of animals like Esther. More and more people are making similar choices and the consumption of meat in the U.S. is steadily declining which means less animals are bred, raised, and killed.
Please help me save pigs like Esther! And check out her videos. She is absolutely adorable. If you are considering reducing (or eliminating!) your consumption of animal products, please find resources here for help:
- The Legal Vegan
- ChooseVeg.com: A Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Living
- Vegan Starter Kit
- Vegetarian/Vegan Starter Kit
Share with Someone You Love!
If you liked seeing Esther’s photos and reading her story, share this Valentine’s card with someone you love on Facebook by clicking below:
Legally Brief: No Zoo Animal is “Surplus”
Posted by Stephen Wells, ALDF Executive Director on February 13, 2014
This week, animal advocates around the world were horrified to learn of a Danish zoo that slaughtered a giraffe and then fed him to lions in front of children. The perfectly healthy, two-year-old giraffe, named Marius, was killed Sunday according to a Copenhagen Zoo spokesperson because he was considered surplus and his genes were already well-represented in worldwide captive giraffe populations—despite a petition begging for his life signed by tens of thousands of people, an offer from a private citizen of nearly $700,000 to spare his life, and offers from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (which houses Marius’ brother) and a zoo in northern Sweden to take him.
The Copenhagen zoo also considered the killing of Marius to be an educational opportunity. Stunned spectators, including children, were invited to witness Marius’ death and the feeding of his body to lions. A zoo spokesperson is reportedly “proud” of the event for the anatomy lesson it gave children, according to the Associated Press.
But what it teaches children should give us all pause. By slaughtering Marius, the Copenhagen Zoo demonstrated apathy for Marius’ life and his individuality. It illustrates the common viewpoint of zoos (and most wildlife “management” agencies) that individual wild animals, whether captive or free-roaming, are not deserving of consideration as individuals—only “populations” matter. And it highlights how this view translates into a lack of concern for the well-being of animals in zoos or other captive environments.
No wonder then that life in most zoos consists of being displayed in unnatural and often immeasurably depressing, crowded concrete enclosures, separated from family members and thwarted from most natural behaviors. Marius’ life held so little value to his captors that his public execution was just another spectacle. That’s really what children learn from zoos, that wild animals’ lives don’t really matter. The killing of Marius is as awful a lesson for children, and an indictment of the culture within zoos.
Recently, ALDF called on the USDA to enforce the law and prosecute captive animal cruelty violations in North Carolina roadside zoos, where giraffes, baboons, llamas, camels, sheep, deer, and goats, have been found in horrendous conditions. The culture within zoos has made it commonplace even for “reputable” zoos to dump “surplus” animals at terrible roadside zoos like the one ALDF helped rescue Ben the bear from in North Carolina. Perhaps Marius’ fate was better than that of many animals sold or dumped by zoos right here in the US on such roadside hellholes.
It’s National Justice for Animals Week!
Posted by Ian Elwood, ALDF Online Editor on February 12, 2014
Every year in February the Animal Legal Defense Fund celebrates National Justice for Animals Week, and our first action is planned for this Monday, February 17! We couldn’t be more excited! We have actions planned for each day of the week, and we are kicking off the week of action with a special announcement by celebrity and animal lover, Charlotte Ross. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be the first to see it!
- Watch the 2014 National Justice for Animals page for a new action each day!
Help us spread the word, click this image to share it on Facebook.
Check out the actions from previous years, and join us next week in fighting animal abuse and honoring animal victims!
The Great Bull Run in Texas Was Exactly What I Expected
Posted by Alexis Braun, ALDF Litigation Clerk on February 7, 2014
I attended the Great Bull Run in Baytown, Texas, on Saturday, January 25, because I wanted to be a witness to the event and the treatment of the bulls. What I saw was exactly what I expected: people scaring animals for their own entertainment. Before each run participants are led in reciting a “Bull Honorific” which includes the phrase “we honor the bull,” but there is no honor in scaring animals for our own entertainment or sport—and certainly none in scaring animals because we desire an adrenaline rush.
I arrived around one and purchased a spectator ticket. Around 1:30, Great Bull Run employees began to allow runners onto the track. When all who had registered for the run were on the track, the announcer read safety instructions. (I’m using the words “safety instructions” loosely here—the instructions lasted for just over a minute and included a reminder that you shouldn’t carry a firearm during the run.)
After the safety instructions, the announcer asked the runners to hold their bandanas in the air and led them in reciting the “Bull Honorific”: “Here we are the courageous few, to test ourselves and honor the bull. From those that run to those that fall, we honor the bull and salute you all.”
Next, the runners spread out along the track and sixteen bulls from one of the corrals were released. When the bulls saw the runners, they stopped running and tried to turn around to return to their corral. Two men on horseback whipped the bulls until they again began running towards the crowd of runners. Once the bulls breached the runners, the whole thing lasted less than half a minute. The bulls were put into a new corral, and the runners exited the track.
The next run I witnessed was the last of the day. It was during this run that a man later identified as 21-year-old Hugo Soto was trampled. Soto was immediately taken to an ambulance parked near the track and was treated for head injuries at a nearby hospital before being released later in the day.
Organizers of the Great Bull Run events have publicly denied that the runs are cruel, stating, “We do not torture, abuse or do anything cruel to the bulls.” The organizers believe that animal cruelty is limited to the torture and killing of animals. However, animals experience fear, and many might say (and I would agree) that putting animals in a state of fear for our own pleasure or entertainment constitutes animal cruelty.
There are humane alternatives to events like the Great Bull Run. We do not need to be scaring animals for our own entertainment.
Great Bull Run events are scheduled to take place in ten cities in 2014. Pledge today to boycott the Great Bull Run!
The Lost Whale
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 6, 2014
This week in ALDF’s Animal Book Club, we are reading The Lost Whale: the True Story of an Orca Named Luna, by Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm (St. Martin’s Press). There’s been a lot in the news lately about the plight of orcas—from the raging controversy sparked by revelations about SeaWorld’s mistreatment of whales in the stunning documentary Blackfish, to ALDF’s lawsuit with NRDC against the U.S. Navy for planning to kill thousands of endangered whales and dolphins (and harm millions more) with underwater sonar and explosives testing in southern California and Hawaii. And of course, ALDF was delighted with the recent news that finally Lolita, the orca held captive in illegal and miserable conditions at the Miami Seaquarium for 43 years, may receive the protections she is due under the Endangered Species Act. ALDF—along with PETA—will continue to do everything we can to give Lolita her freedom.
So in a sense, The Lost Whale addresses these issues about the harms our society brings upon all these giants of the sea, by telling the tale of one particular whale. It is the heartbreaking and true story of a lonely orca named “Luna,” who befriended humans in Nootka Sound, off the coast of Vancouver Island. One of the beauties of this story is the deeply personal connection between humans and orcas that reflects the great emotional intelligence that orcas possess. In this way, we cringe all the more to think of Lolita at the Miami Seaquarium, or Tilikum at SeaWorld, languishing miserably in pathetically tiny tanks—tanks so shallow they can’t ever dive or engage in true swimming behaviors, and so lonely it defies all natural and social experience that is their birthright as wild animals.
In The Lost Whale, Luna becomes separated from his pod, and his desperation to make connections reminds us of our common plight with nonhuman animals. Unable to find his own family (orcas are extremely family-oriented, social animals), he attempts to bond with humans. As is the case with Lolita and Tilikum, amongst animal lovers, scientists, and lawmakers controversy surrounded the issue of how best to help Luna. But one thing becomes clear—orcas belong in the wild, with their families, protected by law, safe from explosives and sonar testing, and that is why ALDF is working so hard to ensure this.
Part journalistic exposé of a national scandal, part personal tale of an interconnection between humans and animals, the charming story presented here makes The Lost Whale a book worth reading. The Lost Whale also expands upon the authors’ critically acclaimed films The Whale (narrated by Ryan Reynolds and produced by Scarlett Johansen) and Saving Luna.
NYC Creates City-Wide Animal Abuser Registry!
Posted by Chris Green, ALDF Director of Legislative Affairs on February 5, 2014
UPDATE 2-5-14: The Michigan ICHAT Registry bills just passed out of the House Judiciary Committee without a single vote against them. They now go to the floors of both chambers for full up or down votes.
On February 4, 2014 the New York City Council voted unanimously to override former Mayor Bloomberg’s veto and create a city-wide animal abuser registry across the five boroughs. ALDF has been involved in this effort since 2012, providing advice, testimony and even offering a $10,000 grant to help defray start-up costs.
The NYC registry will compile the names of convicted animal abusers and prohibit them from having any contact with animals for a minimum of five years. Shelters, Pet Stores and other entities in NYC also will be required to consult the registry before adopting out or selling an animal to anyone, and forbidden from transferring an animal to anyone on the list.
Keeping defenseless animals out of the hands of convicted abusers is an important way to address animal cruelty at its source—and today’s vote is a powerful legacy for former Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. who championed the effort. Indeed, New York City will now become the largest jurisdiction ever to implement such a registry. This is a great first step by the incoming City Council and indicative of all the potential good things to come from the recently inaugurated Mayor Bill de Blasio and his “Vision for a More Humane City for New York’s Animals!”
That is not the only good legislative news on this front. Hot on NYC’s heels, the State of Michigan is rapidly moving forward with its own version of the animal abuser registry concept. Instead of creating a separate registry, MI legislators have introduced a group of bills that instead would require shelters and animal control agencies to consult MI’s existing ICHAT system to do a criminal background check on anyone seeking to adopt a companion animal. Known as both Logan’s Law and the Animal Adoption Protection Act, the proposed bills also would prohibit animal abusers from owning animals for 5 years. Keeping our animals safe is something that resonates with legislators and voters of all political persuasions as noted by one of the bi-partisan bill sponsors Rep. Harvey Santana (D-Detroit):
“There are no Republican dogs or Democratic cats,” he said. “The issue of animal abuse reaches across party lines and concerns people on both sides. Having legislators from both parties and both chambers just makes sense. ”
After the MI ICHAT bills passed the MI Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously last October, last week I testified on behalf of the measure before the MI House Judiciary Committee—which is expected to vote favorably on the measures this Thursday. The bills then would move to the floors of both houses and could get an up or down vote by the end of the month. Michigan would be the first state to create this much-needed safeguard to keep animals out of abusers’ hands.
But Wait, There’s More!
At the Animal Law Conference held at Stanford last October, we announced ALDF’s plans to create a national Do Not Adopt Registry that will compile animal abuse conviction data into one, uniform database and make it accessible across state lines. Implementing a centralized, national registry will provide shelters, rescues, pet stores and individuals all over the country with one site to better screen potential adopters and customers to ensure they have not been convicted of animal abuse crimes, such as dog fighting or hoarding. Animal Control Officers similarly will gain an immediate, mobile means to identify abuser conviction histories during enforcement visits.
ALDF’s Do Not Adopt Registry will be open and accessible by anyone, but searchable only by name and date of birth (verifiable by a potential adopter’s driver’s license). If a name and birth date matches, then the database will provide the type/date/location of offense. This approach will keep shelters from having to negotiate a patchwork of independent, localized registries that are not linked to one another. It also will limit the manner and type of offender data available, so that only what is necessary for shelters and others to evaluate someone seeking to adopt or purchase an animal is made publicly accessible.
To that end, I’m happy to announce today that my home state of Illinois will be the first to introduce such legislation to opt-in to ALDF’s national Do Not Adopt Registry. We have been working closely with the office of Senator Sue Rezin (R-Morris) and she is expected to introduce the bill any day now.
“I am very excited for the potential of a national animal abuse registry administered by the Animal Legal Defense Fund,” Sen. Rezin said. “The registry will allow us to protect animals and make sure they are being placed in safe homes. This will be a service for the shelters and organizations that work hard to place animals in good homes, giving them peace of mind knowing that they have a database to rely on when screening potential animal owners. I look forward to passing it through the Illinois General Assembly.”
One obvious target of this identification system is dog-fighters looking for cheap victims to train or use as bait dogs. Another critical group are those convicted of animal hoarding. The issue of animal hoarding is of grave concern given that in just TWO hoarding cases in which ALDF intervened in North Carolina (the infamous Woodley and Conyers cases), a staggering 500 DOGS and CATS had to be rescued from deplorable conditions and provided care. And such care is not cheap—in just one Ohio hoarding case, the price tag to the local county for rescuing and treating the 170 animals removed from a single home was over $1.2 million! When one considers that 80% of animal hoarders are likely to repeat their behavior, anything a municipality can do to identify hoarders within their borders only makes sound fiscal sense and strong social policy.
While we all certainly understand that most animal hoarders are in desperate need of mental health treatment, in the meantime, because innocent animals remain defenseless and vulnerable to this type of abuse, as a society we need to provide every tool available to prevent hoarders from easily acquiring yet another animal to harm. Up until now there has been no official mechanism to prevent someone convicted of animal abuse from simply walking into a shelter or going on Craigslist and acquiring a new animal to abuse. Every shelter we have spoken to welcomes any means they can employ to identify another Jeffrey Nally and keep their precious animals out of such abusive hands.
So all in all it has been a positive week across the nation for legislative measures to ensure that animals are kept out of the clutches of convicted animal abusers. We here at ALDF will keep you posted as these efforts develop.
Orphaned Elephants in Kenya: Precious Lives in the Balance
Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF Founder and General Counsel on February 3, 2014
In December, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sent me to Kenya to attend the first ever Kenyan judicial workshop focused on the need to aggressively prosecute wildlife crimes, particularly the illegal killing (poaching) of massive numbers of African elephants. On my first day there, I visited the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, where I videotaped “feeding time” for baby elephants who are orphans.
In the wild African elephants live in families (or herds) composed of females and their calves, led by the matriarch. The calves are carefully protected by the entire family. Males don’t leave the herd until they are approximately 15 years old. Females stay with the herd for life.
But, what happens when humans kill some or all of the adult elephants? In many cases, the calves do not survive. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is rescuing and raising some of these orphaned baby elephants. When the orphaned calves arrive, they are often emaciated and shell-shocked. Rehabilitating them is slow and complex, with the ultimate goal to transition each elephant back into a wild herd.
On behalf of ALDF, I went to visit the Sheldrick Trust and see these precious elephants with my own eyes. Frankly, I was as excited as a flea on a dog, waiting to see the babies. I entered the facility, passed the straw filled barns where the orphaned elephants sleep at night, and waited for the current 25 rescued calves to arrive from the bush to receive their giant bottles of milk. Since one cannot safely milk a wild African elephant, the Trust has painstakingly developed and perfected a milk formula that meets the nutritional requirements of growing elephants.
The orphaned elephants came trotting in from the bush, one by one. There was a part of me murmuring, “OMG” as they entered and came close. Adorable doesn’t begin to describe these animals. They are pint-sized versions of the adults, and they freely engage in play and roughhousing. The tallest of the baby elephants is no taller than me (five feet). All of them were covered in the reddish mud of Nairobi, an effective sunblock and insect repellent, as well as a fun mess for an elephant to roll in.
At the same time, there was a lump in my throat, as I was reminded that each of these adorable children is an orphan, who probably watched his or her mother die at the hands of humans. That is tragic and inexcusable.
Since the inception of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, we have been committed to the protection of wildlife, both in the U.S. and abroad. Please join us in our effort to educate the public that ivory equals death. Forward this message and video to others and post it on your Facebook page. Tell everyone you can that we must not tolerate even one more elephant death.
At ALDF, we applaud and encourage efforts such as The David Sheldrick Trust, which enables these orphaned elephants to live out their natural lives with elephant families in the wild. That’s where they belong.
Ready for a whole lot of cute? Check out the video I took of the orphaned baby elephants.
Welcome, Emily Millward!
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on February 1, 2014
As an administrative assistant for ALDF’s Development program, Emily assists with donor support, community outreach, program development, public speaking, and philanthropy to help ALDF provide the best possible legal advocacy for animals. Emily helps thank ALDF’s generous donors for their support, and she extends our appreciation for their kindness in helping to make ALDF’s work possible.
Emily has worked for nonprofits previously, including for animal shelters as well as for organizations that work with at-risk youth. In 2013, she interned for Canine Companions for Independence and knew she wanted to focus her career on helping animals—for her, helping animals has always been a central part of life. She brings strong written and oral communication skills to this position: Emily received her bachelor’s degree in communications in 2013 from California State University, Chico, where she majored in Communications and minored in Marketing. She is the first person in her family to graduate college and is a first-generation American citizen as well as an Irish citizen.
Born and raised in Sonoma, California, she has returned to her home county after completing her education. She worked for time for a winery in Napa as a tasting room representative, but decided that she really needed to go into a career that she felt passionate about. And here she is! On weekends you can typically find her hiking throughout the valley, exploring the beauty of San Francisco. She is excited to be the newest member of the ALDF team and we are excited to have her.
Meet Meena Alagappan, Humane Educator
Posted by Jennifer Molidor, ALDF Staff Writer on January 31, 2014
One of the best ways to make a more compassionate world for all living beings is through humane education. At the 2013 Animal Law Conference at Stanford Law School, co-sponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Center for Animal Law Studies, ALDF had a chance to sit down with Meena Alagappan, executive director of Humane Education Advocates Reaching Teachers (HEART). Meena was a panel participant in “Creative Employment Opportunities,” and she presented her expertise in humane education to discuss potential rewarding careers in animal law and ways to help animals as attorneys. But her expertise also comes in the form of humane education for young people.
As director of HEART, a New York, Portland, Indianapolis, and Chicago-based public charity, Meena guides the humane education programs through free instructional services for students K-12. The primary goal of HEART is to promote compassion and respect for animals (human and nonhuman) and the environment by educating youth and teachers. The broad scope of HEART addresses the interconnections between animal rights, human rights, and care for the environment. “Our approach is to encourage young people to think about their responsibility to the earth and each other, and to think more about global consequences.”
After learning about animal-overpopulation issues, for example, students have a chance to participate in hands-on activities like designing public-service announcement posters and participating in shelter drives—to allow students to explore their creative side and demonstrate the need for spay and neuter campaigns. After learning about factory farming, students might raise money to sponsor and protect a farmed animal. “We do these workshops primarily in inner cities. It’s a big deal for these kids,” says Meena. “In one case they created a map of local, green, organic markets in the area.” Projects like these create engaged students and active memories and motivations that last forever.
A long-time advocate of humane education and animal rights, Meena has served on the American Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee and the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, and she serves on the Board of Directors for the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and the Pioneers for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). She consistently champions the important intersection of law, science, education, and animal protection, and is co-author of “A Note on Pedagogy: Humane Education Making a Difference” (Journal of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies). Meena herself was trained at Cornell University, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, and Northwestern University School of Law. She has been an attorney member of ALDF’s Animal Law Program since receiving her J.D. degree.
Meena has been with HEART since 2005, and helped restructure the organization to provide teacher training and help raise awareness about legal issues. For example, she points to a New York law that requires every publicly funded elementary school to provide some degree of humane education, section 809 of the education code. “A lot of educators aren’t aware of the law or the benefit in providing humane education,” she says, and this is where Meena steps in, as HEART partners with humane organizations, shelters, and sanctuaries to connect the needs of children with the needs of animals.
“Our goal is really to empower children by informing them and giving them the tools to make compassionate choices,” she says. “We don’t advocate any one particular agenda. At the end of each lesson we ask them to brainstorm on how they think they would like to help animals.”
“I think that children have a natural affinity for animals. They’re very open to learning, they’re eager to act, and to take ownership of their passions,” says Meena. “They are interested in not only fixing the problem but in preventing it, and that’s really what I think humane education can do.”