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Ohio Appeals Court Rules Dogs are Worth More Than “Fair Market Value”

Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on December 13, 2016

Last month, the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that had relied on a strict property analysis in restricting damages to fair market value in a case that involved the serious injury of a companion dog. Ruling that “substantial justice was not done,” the appellate court remanded the case back to the Toledo Municipal Court, instructing it to recalculate the damages to reflect the fact “that pets do not have the same characteristics as other forms of personal property, such as a table or sofa which is disposable and replaceable at our convenience.”

The case originated in April 2015 when Jamie Rego filed a complaint for damages against Shawn Madalinksi, whose dog attacked and seriously injured Rego’s five month old pit bull puppy Kingston while on Madalinksi’s property during a visit in November 2014. At the time the complaint was filed, Rego had spent more than $10,000 on veterinary care for Kingston following the attack, which resulted in three broken legs and numerous puncture wounds.

Black and white pit bull puppy

In January 2016, the Toledo Municipal Court awarded just $400.00 in damages, finding that because dogs are legally classified as personal property, compensatory damages were capped at the market value of the animal.

The appeal argued the trial court had erred in holding that damages for veterinary expenses incurred for the treatment of a dog attacked and injured by another dog are limited to the injured dog’s market value. The appeals court agreed, noting that while dogs are undisputedly classified as personal property in Ohio, and that damages for loss or injury to personal property, including dogs, are generally limited to market value:

“…we cannot ignore the growing number of courts outside of Ohio which have awarded veterinary expenses for injuries caused by attacks from other dogs and grooming or kennel injuries. Further, some states have enacted statutes allowing recovery for economic damages such as veterinary expenses for injured pets. In addition, various courts and law review articles have discussed the plausibility of reclassifying companion animals under a ‘semi-property’ classification suggesting such terms as companion property, or sentient property.”

The court also included “the owner’s affection for the animal” as a factor that “may be considered in assessing the reasonableness of the decision to treat the animal.” However, citing existing case law, the court made clear it intended affection as a factor to be limited to assessing economic damages (e.g. vet bills) and that noneconomic damages, such as emotional distress or loss of companionship, are not available in cases involving companion animals.

Although it is still rare for courts to award compensatory damages for noneconomic harm in cases where animals are wrongfully injured, decisions like this awarding economic damages beyond market value signal continued evolution in the courts, which—though bound by animals’ legal classification—are moving toward recognizing that animals are distinct from other forms of property.

Further Reading:



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Attention Michigan: A Call to Save Michigan’s Wolves

Posted by on December 7, 2016

UPDATE: December 27, 2016 – The Animal Legal Defense Fund is disappointed to report that Governor Snyder has ignored the will of Michigan voters and signed SB 1187 into law. While the law is intended to create an open season on wolf hunting in the Upper Peninsula, wolves remain federally protected and the law will not take effect unless the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removes those protections.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund urges Michigan residents to take action once again to save the state’s wolves. Compassionate residents have voted to protect wolves—but elected officials are bending to the will of special interest groups in an effort to pass a new law that would label wolves as a “game species” —allowing them to be shot or subjected to even crueler leg-hold traps. This law, SB 1187, threatens to subvert the will of the people of Michigan, who have repeatedly demonstrated opposition to wolf hunting.

With just a few days left in this legislative session, it’s vital that Michigan residents call their state Senator and Representative now to politely—but firmly—urge them to oppose SB 1187. When calling, comments can be as simple as, “I’m a constituent who cares about wolves, and I’m calling to urge you to respect the voice of the people and reject SB 1187.”

Intense Timber Wolf (Canis lupus) Sits Under Pine

Personal phone calls have a heavy influence on elected officials—please take a few moments to assure that wolves remain protected. By making these calls, Michigan residents can hold elected officials accountable.

Michigan has been a battle ground for wolves in the past several years. For more information, read Wolf Hunting Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Michigan Court of Appeals.





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Wolf Hunting Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Michigan Court of Appeals

Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on December 7, 2016

On Nov. 23, 2016, the State of Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, also known as Public Act 281, which would have allowed wolves in Michigan to be hunted if they are ever removed from the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) list. The decision was the result of a lawsuit brought by Keep Michigan Wolves Protected (KMWP), which challenged the state Natural Resources Commission’s authority to classify gray wolves as a “game species.” In 2015, the Michigan Court of Claims found in favor of defendants (the State of Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Commission), but on appeal a three-judge panel reversed the lower court’s ruling on constitutional grounds.

The law at issue, PA 281, was enacted in 2014 as an indirect initiated state statute. These laws are citizen-initiated through signature gathering. After the signatures are collected the proposed law goes directly to the state legislature, which can decide to enact the law or put it on the statewide ballot to be voted on by citizens. PA 281, initiated by a pro-hunting group, gave the Michigan Natural Resource Commission sole discretion over wildlife management in the state and the power to decide which animals are classified as game species and can therefore be hunted. After the petition gained the required number of signatures, the Michigan legislature approved the measure in August 2014, skipping the ballot.

Three Eastern Timber Wolves Pack

That same year, Michigan voters rejected via ballot initiative two laws that would have allowed wolf hunting. Michigan Wolf Hunting Referendum, Proposal 1, would have upheld a law designating the wolf as a game animal and allowed hunting and trapping of wolves in the state. Michigan Natural Resources Commission Referendum, Proposal 2, would have upheld a law granting the Commission permission to directly designate game species and determine hunting seasons. Although these measures were both voted down by Michigan citizens, they were rendered moot since the legislature had approved PA 281.

Critics claimed the legislature had not only subverted the will of the people in enacting PA 281, but also that the wording of the measure was misleading and that many who signed the petition may not have realized they were supporting wolf hunting. In its lawsuit, KMWP argued that the petition was strategically drafted to conceal its true purpose. From the Court of Appeals decision:

“Plaintiff’s description regarding how PA 281 came into being conjures up images of a Trojan Horse, within which the ability to hunt wolves was cleverly hidden. Plaintiff claims that the initiating petition was strategically drafted in such a way as to appeal to potential signers by touting that it would ensure that only sound scientific principles would govern the taking of fish and game … that it would support our active-military members by letting them hunt and fish for free, and that it would provide money to combat the spread of Asian carp—all of which have excellent ‘curb appeal’—while surreptitiously slipping inside the body of the act a reenacting provision to ensure that regardless of the referenda votes on PA 520 and PA 21, wolves would be on the game species list, as would associated wolf hunting provisions … ”

Although the Court of Appeals conceded this assessment may be accurate, it disagreed that the measure was unconstitutionally deceptive and confusing. However, KMWP had also argued PA 281 violated the Title-Object Clause of the Michigan Constitution, which states: “No law shall embrace more than one object, which shall be expressed in its title.” The court was persuaded by this argument, finding the title of the proposed law didn’t inform the public or legislature of the law’s actual effects and that therefore the law as drafted was unconstitutional.

Specifically, the court took issue with the provision of the act granting free hunting and fishing licenses to active members of the military, finding it had no necessary connection to the scientific management of fish, wildlife and their habitats, and that without that provision—and the broad appeal of the benefit it conveyed—“we cannot presume that the Legislature would have passed PA 281.”

Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried several times to delist Great Lakes gray wolves, the courts have reversed each attempt. For now, wolves remain classified as endangered and are therefore federally protected in Michigan, which is in line with the will of the Michigan voters.

Further Reading:




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Animal Protection Coalition Urges USDA To Protect Consumers

Posted by on December 5, 2016

Newly Proposed Meat Labeling Guideline Encourages Misleading Industry Practices

Contact: Natalia Lima,, 201 679 7088

SAN FRANCISCO – The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Compassion Over Killing (COK), representing more than 6 million members and supporters, have submitted a joint comment today, as the comment period closes, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) sharply criticizing the agency’s “Labeling Guideline on Documentation Needed to Substantiate Animal Raising Claims for Label Submissions,” released in September. Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly critical, and today’s joint comment from the animal protection coalition leads the outcry.

The comment argues that FSIS’ Guideline violates the law by enabling—even encouraging—rampant consumer deception. Instead of defining a baseline standard for commonly used consumer-attracting animal product labels, like “humane,” “free-range,” and “raised without antibiotics,” the Guideline allows each company to define the terms based on their own interpretation and their internal company policies—and doesn’t even require that these policies be made public. This creates confusion and inconsistency for consumers across the market, and an open invitation for companies to mislead customers who have a reasonable expectation of what certain terms and claims mean.

The Guideline effectively renders any and all animal raising claims meaningless. It allows producers that use standard, industrial production methods to make “humane” or “animal-friendly” claims, while hindering producers that have actually instituted strict standards that come closer to satisfying consumer expectations and likely misleading the large percentage of conscious consumers who are willing to pay extra for products they believe are raised more humanely.

“The USDA’s approach blatantly violates its statutory duty to protect consumers,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund urges the agency to take steps that genuinely ensure animal products’ and by-products’ labels clarify and inform purchasers, not mislead the public.”

“Without any authority to go onto farms to see for itself how animals are being treated,” says Jared Goodman, the PETA Foundation’s Director of Animal Law, “the USDA has all but guaranteed that it will continue to approve ‘humane’ labels where portions of birds’ beaks and pigs’ tails are cut off and animals live their entire lives indoors without enrichment before being roughly rounded up and loaded onto a truck for a terrifying transportation to a violent death.”

“FSIS is taking a step in the wrong direction with this Guideline, which violates the agency’s own statutory mandates and allows producers to use inconsistent claims that will mislead consumers who care about animal welfare,” says Cheryl Leahy, General Counsel for Compassion Over Killing.

The comment is just one voice in a loud outcry against the USDA’s label giveaway to the animal slaughter and by-product industry. An online petition from PETA has garnered more than 36,000 signatures, and public interest organizations of many constituencies have weighed in with opposition to FSIS’ industry-friendly proposal.

For more information, please visit

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Protecting Pennsylvania’s Mother Dogs from Puppy Mill Neglect

Posted by Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director on December 2, 2016

Legally Brief

In 2008, as part of the Pennsylvania Dog Law, the Pennsylvania state legislature enacted some of the most comprehensive regulations on commercial dog breeders in the nation. The state had become, in the words of one legislator, “the puppy mill capital of the East,” and sought to strengthen the law primarily to ease the suffering of mother dogs used for breeding. Commercial breeders commonly kept mother dogs in cages with only metal wire strand flooring, and many dogs were literally never let outside for exercise.

pa-puppy-mill-cindy8Used because it’s cheap and easy to clean, such wire flooring is not only uncomfortable but also harmful to stand on. Paw deformities and other serious injuries often result from such conditions. The amendments to the Pennsylvania Dog Law were intended as a remedy, banning the use of metal wire strand flooring and requiring “unfettered access” to outside exercise for dogs over 12 weeks of age.

But such laws are only meaningful if they’re enforced. Under pressure from puppy mill owners, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture soon issued two broad exemptions to the law. One allowed 50 percent of the flooring to be metal wire strand in cages where mothers with nursing puppies were kept, while the other said the Department wouldn’t enforce the law if breeders provided “daily” access to an exercise area for nursing dogs.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund went to work for mother dogs and their puppies. With three Pennsylvania residents and supporters, we challenged the regulations through multiple Pennsylvania state agency review processes. Those review boards sided with the Department of Agriculture every time.

Seeing no other option, we sued the Department, asking the court to strike down the unlawful exemptions. On Sept. 9, 2016, a panel of judges ruled in our favor. Finding that the Department’s actions were contrary to the clear purpose and intent of the Dog Law, the court struck down the exemptions.

Now puppy mills in Pennsylvania are required to provide all dogs with safe, comfortable flooring and with free access to fresh air and room to exercise. Consistent with the will of the people and with the intent of the lawmakers who passed the law, Pennsylvania puppy mills will no longer be able to profit while ignoring basic needs of mother dogs. This is a significant step forward in the fight against puppy mills.

Learn more about the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s work to stop puppy mills at


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Federal Appeals Court Dismisses Challenge to California Sales Ban on Eggs Sourced from Extreme Confinement of Hens

Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on December 1, 2016

On November 17, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging California’s ban on the sale of shell eggs obtained from sources that do not comply with its animal care standards. California voters passed Proposition 2, or the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, in 2008, which prohibits the confinement of farmed animals in spaces so small they cannot turn around freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Most egg-laying hens cannot do that in “battery cages,” the cramped and tiny cages that have become industry standard and are outlawed by the new law.


Proposition 2 did not originally apply to out-of-state egg producers, which at the time supplied almost half of the eggs consumed in California. The California legislature passed AB 1437 in 2010 as an accessory bill mandating that eggs sold in California must be produced in compliance with Proposition 2, regardless of state of origin. Both laws came into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, giving California producers seven years, and out-of-state producers five years, to transition to alternate housing systems for their hens.

In March 2014, through their attorneys general or governors, six states – Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa – filed suit, arguing provisions in California’s law violated the Commerce and Supremacy Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with Farm Sanctuary and Compassion Over Killing, filed an amicus brief in support of California’s motion to dismiss, which the lower court granted, ruling the six states lacked parens patriae standing to challenge the constitutionality of California’s law. The plaintiff states appealed the decision, but it was affirmed by the Court of Appeals on Nov. 17, 2016.

Parens patriae, Latin for “parent of the country,” is a doctrine that allows states to step in and act on behalf of those who are legally unable to act on their own behalf. It has most often been used to advocate for children and mentally ill or incompetent citizens, but may also be invoked by states to protect the interests of its people and the general economy of the state.

The states’ standing argument rested on the claim that their “quasi-sovereign interest in the economic well-being of their people” had been harmed. They also argued that their citizens had been excluded from the benefits that flow from participating in the federal system because egg producers in their states would be forced to spend millions of dollars to comply with the regulations or be closed out of California’s huge market. A three-judge panel unanimously rejected this argument, ruling that the states failed to show how the law would affect their citizens and not just individual egg farmers, and that any future economic harm to their citizens was speculative.

This is not the first time Proposition 2 has been challenged, but thus far it has survived attempts to overturn it. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the law’s constitutionality in the face of a claim that its standards were too vague and therefore impossible to reasonably implement because it did not specify exact dimensions for chicken housing. The court disagreed, finding that enough room to spread their wings and turn around was specific enough.

The Ninth Circuit’s Nov. 17 decision comes just after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, which outlaws the same confinement practices that are banned in California—including  battery cages, gestation crates for pregnant pigs, and veal crates for calves—but goes further in also banning the sale of eggs and all meat products obtained from animals raised in these conditions (including outside the state).

While laws that prohibit keeping animals in tiny cramped cages may seem like a minimal step forward, these bans on specific industry practices represent some of the strongest laws that currently exist in the U.S. to prevent long-term physical and psychological suffering in animals raised for food. There are no federal laws that govern the conditions in which farmed animals are raised, and extreme confinement has become the norm in modern animal agriculture. The most intensive forms of confinement affect breeding pigs, egg-laying chickens and calves raised for veal – all three of whom were covered by prohibitions enacted in Proposition 2 and Question 3. One or more of these forms of confinement have been banned in other states as well, but California and Massachusetts now have the most comprehensive laws that address farmed animal housing standards; banning not only cruel confinement practices but also sales of products obtained from these practices (even if produced out-of-state) gives these laws a much wider reach.

Further Reading:


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Congratulations to the 2016 SALDF Chapter of the Year!

Posted by Kelly Levenda on November 30, 2016

The Animal Legal Defense Fund congratulates the Lewis & Clark Law School Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapter for winning the 2016 SALDF Chapter of the Year Award! The award celebrates a SALDF chapter that has been a strong voice for animals on campus and in their community and has shown incredible efforts to advance the field of animal law.

SALDF chapters play a vital role in the growing field of animal law. Through raising awareness of the exploitation of animals, they show their law school communities that animal protection is a serious social justice issue. SALDF members are future attorneys, legislators and judges. They will be influential in changing the law to better protect animals.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, Lewis & Clark SALDF had one of its most impressive years to date. Established in 1993, Lewis & Clark SALDF was the first student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. (There are now over 215 SALDF chapters in the US, Canada and internationally!)


Lewis & Clark SALDF fostered a culture of volunteerism. Over 40 members rolled up their sleeves at Wildwood Farm Sanctuary, cleaning stalls and constructing enclosures for rescued farmed animals. More than a dozen members took on volunteer roles at the 2015 Animal Law Conference. The group also hosted Save Endangered Animals Oregon’s ballot initiative kickoff, with members gathering signatures to stop the trafficking of wild animal parts.

The chapter raised awareness of issues affecting animals by co-sponsoring the Human-Animal Studies Conference, visiting the Wolf Haven International Sanctuary and holding a Meatout celebration where Lewis & Clark students were treated to free plant-based food, beer and raffle prizes to inspire compassion for farmed animals. The Meatout raffle and the chapter’s Cutest Companion Contest raised just under $1,000 for animal protection organizations!

The chapter also focused on networking opportunities and bringing speakers to campus. Their third annual Animal Law Networking event brought together animal advocates, attorneys, legal professionals and animal law students. Lewis & Clark SALDF brought in over ten speakers, including Peter Brandt, Senior Attorney for Farm Animal Litigation at the Humane Society of the United States; Nicole Jergovic, who prosecutes animal crimes for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office; Emily Davidsohn, Investigations Department Staff Attorney and Case Manager at the Oregon Humane Society; Quinn Read, Northwest Representative for Defenders of Wildlife and Lizzy Zultoski, staff attorney at Advocates of the West.

Thank you to the chapters that applied for this year’s award and to all of our SALDF chapters for being a voice for animals!



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“Sled Dogs” Reveals the Cold Truth

Posted by Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director on November 29, 2016

Before I joined the Animal Legal Defense Fund, I was the executive director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, and Alaska’s unique animal protection concerns will always have a special place in my heart. Alaska is home to so many iconic animals. Everyone is familiar with the image of sled dogs, made famous by the Iditarod, the annual thousand mile sled dog race. The grueling race captures the imagination, but most people are unaware that the event is propped up by an industry of shocking cruelty. Much like the abysmal puppy mills that stock pet stores nationwide with sick dogs, the breeding and raising of sled dogs is indefensible and cruel. I am honored to appear in a documentary film on the subject, “Sled Dogs,” premiering at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec. 3, 2016.


The world needs to see this documentary. The image of the sled dog industry, the things we are allowed to see, like the start of the Iditarod, is all very carefully managed. The horrifying things like the cullings and the dogs that are kept on short chains for the vast majority of their lives, are all happening out of sight, out of mind. Sled Dogs explores this reality, including how puppies are raised like athletic machines, the mass culling of 100 sled dogs in Whistler and the inherent cruelty of forcing dogs to endure the Iditarod.


The Iditarod gets at the heart of what is so wrong with the sled dog industry. While the Iditarod was inspired by the 1925 serum run to quell a diphtheria outbreak, the modern event is purely recreational. The serum, brought into Nome, Alaska by a team of dogs led by the famous Balto, saved countless lives. But Balto didn’t make the nearly 700 mile journey himself, he was one of 20 teams that participated in the relay. This fascinating piece of history has turned into the Iditarod, in which dogs are forced to do something that people in the past would have never asked dogs to do. When people absolutely relied on dogs, they would have recognized immediately that such a task would be abusive to dogs. Now the Iditarod is marketed as a re-creation, but it bears no resemblance to the event. It’s merely a big money sporting event.

“Sled Dogs” rips away the manufactured image of sled dog racing, and it has the potential to change what is considered acceptable treatment for these dogs.

Watch the trailer and learn how you can get involved at – and learn more about the cruelty sled dogs endure in the Legally Brief: Cruelty to Sled Dogs.


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Attention New Mexico: Urge Santa Fe County Commissioners to Restrict Trapping on Federal Public Lands

Posted by on November 22, 2016

UPDATE: Victory! Thanks to advocates’ great efforts – the County Commission unanimously adopted the resolution pledging the County’s help in restricting cruel and indiscriminate trapping on federal public lands.


On Tuesday, November 29, 2016, the Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution pledging the County’s help in restricting cruel and indiscriminate trapping on federal public lands, including in the Santa Fe National Forest.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has been working with local advocates and the Board of Commissioners to make this possible, but we urge you to contact the Commissioners and let them know you support this effort!

Local residents and the many visitors to tourist-friendly Santa Fe love the outdoors and use federal public lands for hiking, biking and other recreational pursuits. Santa Fe is indeed an outdoor mecca, but trapping tarnishes its reputation and endangers people, pets and wildlife.

Commercial trappers set traps on public lands, creating a risk of injury to dogs, other animals and people. An increasing numbers of dogs have accidentally been caught in traps in Santa Fe County. Even if trappers caught only the wildlife for whom they set their traps, the practice is extremely cruel: trapped animals suffer inhumane levels of fear, pain, stress, starvation, dehydration and predation.

Neither the U.S. Forest Service nor the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish can protect wildlife, pets and people from traps whose locations need not be reported. Only by prohibiting the use of animal traps can we protect the safety of individuals, families, companion animals, endangered species and wildlife.

What can you do?

  1. Write or call the Commissioners ahead of time and let them know you want Santa Fe County to work with authorities to prohibit trapping on federal public lands!  (Santa Fe: Find Your District)
  2. Attend the Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 and show your support in person! Arrive at the County Chambers before 2:00 pm to ensure you can speak in favor of this Resolution.

Let’s work together to make Santa Fe County safer and more humane for all.




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Victory for Egg-Laying Hens as 9th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Prop 2 Challenge

Posted by on November 18, 2016

Missouri’s crusade to roll back farmed animal protections approved by California voters suffered a fatal blow today when a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the case (State of Missouri ex rel. Koster v. Harris). The Missouri Attorney General’s lawsuit sought to gut California’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, or Proposition 2, which passed in 2008 and went into effect two years ago this January.


The law affords farmed animals more humane living conditions, requiring that farmers provide egg-laying hens, calves used for veal and pregnant pigs adequate space to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turnabout freely within their enclosures. In a showing of California’s staunch commitment to humane treatment, the state’s General Assembly voted to require all eggs sold—in addition to those raised—in the Golden State to meet these same requirements, improving the lives of millions of hens throughout California and across the country.

However, rather than permit their egg producers to compete in the new, California-driven humane marketplace, Missouri and five other states decided to sue. In February 2014, before the law even went into effect, the six states filed a federal lawsuit to overturn it. A few months later, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with Farm Sanctuary and Compassion Over Killing, submitted an amicus brief in support of California’s motion to dismiss Missouri’s baseless suit, and on October 2, 2014, a federal judge in Northern California granted California’s motion, prompting Missouri and the states to appeal.

Now, the Ninth Circuit has also sided with California, affirming the lower court’s finding that Missouri has no standing to sue, because its lawsuit benefits not the people of Missouri but the private economic interests of an unidentified number of its egg producers. In short, the Missouri Attorney General’s naked attempt to use state power to do big ag’s bidding utterly failed. While the Ninth Circuit left the door cracked for Missouri to file a new complaint if it can show that the law, now in full effect, is harming the state, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is hopeful that Missouri and the five other states will see that battery cages are quickly becoming obsolete, and give up their pointless campaign.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund celebrates this victory for hens and is committed to fighting for a world in which inhumane battery cages are relegated to the dustbin of history.

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Wins for Animal Protection in the 2016 Election

Posted by Nicole Pallotta on November 15, 2016

While much of the nation’s focus has been riveted on the outcome of the recent presidential election, voters in a handful of states also decided important ballot measures related to animal protection last week. First, the good news.

Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved Question 3, An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, which bans the production and sale of products obtained from the extreme confinement of farmed animals. The bill not only prohibits confining farmed animals in cages so small they cannot comfortably stand up, lie down, turn around or move their limbs, but also goes further in banning the sale of meat and eggs resulting from these practices outside Massachusetts.

election-blog-1200-630The confinement practices that will be prohibited in Massachusetts starting Jan. 1, 2022, include battery cages for egg-laying hens, veal crates for calves and gestation crates for pigs. Although only one farm in Massachusetts currently uses battery cages, and none use veal crates or gestation crates, the provision banning the sale of products resulting from these practices will have a greater impact. So far, only California has passed a law banning the sale of eggs from hens kept in cages, and no state has banned the sale of meat products from confined animals.

This new legislation—which passed by a landslide with 78% in favor—is  stronger than any similar law in the U.S. and sends a clear message that people care about farmed animals. We can expect more challenges in the future to the egregious methods of animal confinement that have become standard in the agriculture industry.

Oklahoma voters rejected State Question 777, also known as the Right to Farm bill, which would have amended the state constitution to include farming and ranching rights. Adding guaranteed farming rights to the state constitution would have made it extremely difficult to pass any new regulations related to agriculture. The amendment would have required the courts to apply the same standards to lawsuits concerning agriculture and farmed animals that it does in those concerning free speech, gun ownership and religious freedom—thus making newer state restrictions and regulations vulnerable to lawsuits. Despite the backing of powerful agriculture groups, Oklahoma voters decided not to grant the farming industry legal protection from future regulation.

In another positive development, Oregonians approved Measure 100, the Wildlife Trafficking Prevention Act, which bans the sale of animal parts from 12 endangered species to thwart illegal poaching. It passed by a wide margin.

The U.S. is now the second largest market for illegal wildlife products and Oregon joins several states that have recently enacted legislation to curtail trafficking, including New York, New Jersey, California, Washington and Hawaii. At the federal level, last month President Obama signed into law H.R. 2494, the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016, which provides tools to help the U.S. lead efforts to combat the global poaching crisis and work with partner nations to protect elephants, rhinos and members of other endangered and threatened species from being victimized by the international trafficking trade.

And in California, voters rejected Proposition 67, affirming a ban on plastic bags. Plastic bags are a significant cause of death for marine animals. After San Francisco became the first jurisdiction to ban single use plastic bags in 2007, California followed in 2015 with the nation’s first statewide ban. Proposition 67, put on the ballot by a coalition of plastic bag companies, would have overturned the ban.

Unfortunately, not all of the news was positive for animals. Montanans voted down the Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative, or I-777, a ballot measure that would have prohibited the use of cruel animal traps and snares on public lands. Although the initiative contained many exemptions, anti-trapping advocates knew they faced an uphill battle in a state with a strong hunting and trapping tradition that in 2004 approved a constitutional right to “harvest wildlife.” However, in light of the fact that advocates had tried unsuccessfully to get similar measures on the ballot in 2010 and 2014, the fact that they were able to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot this year can be viewed as a hopeful sign.

Despite the mostly positive gains made on state ballot measures this election, many are concerned about what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for animals. Although President-elect Trump has not issued any official statements on animal protection, during his campaign he pledged to dismantle environmental protections and regulations, which could have far-reaching impacts on animals and their dwindling habitats. Trump does not have a voting record on animal protection—having never previously held political office—however, many of his likely picks for cabinet-level positions, including the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, are sport-hunting enthusiasts and climate change skeptics, some of whom have demonstrated a pronounced antipathy to animal interests.

While the effects of a Trump presidency remain to be seen, we will fight to ensure the progress that has been made for animal protection will not be undone—and indeed will continue to move forward—no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

Further Reading:


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Congratulations to 2016 Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) Essay Contest Winner Jonathan Morris!

Posted by Nicole Pallotta on November 14, 2016

Jonathan Morris and Marina Golias at Animal Legal Defense Fund's Cruise for a Cause, November 5, 2016.

Jonathan Morris and Marina Golias at Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Cruise for a Cause, November 5, 2016.

We are pleased to announce Lewis & Clark Law School 3L Jonathan Morris has won the first-ever SALDF Essay Contest, the theme of which was: “How can we best protect wild animals in light of urban expansion and population growth?”

In his winning entry, Time to Grow Up: Vertical Farming as a Potential Solution to Wildlife Issues in the United States, Jonathan argued that in addition to increasing urbanization and human population growth, animal agriculture (including plant crops grown to feed farmed animals) is a significant contributor to wild animals losing their habitats. In addition to the devastating displacement effects of more land being used for agriculture, countless wild animals lose their lives each year through lethal predator control programs operated by federal and state agencies that work to protect agricultural interests. Jonathan posits that vertical farming – a method utilizing taller structures in urban areas to grow crops in a higher density, controlled environment – represents one potential solution to making more land available for wild animals, thus also reducing deadly encounters with humans.

Jonathan won two free tickets to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Cruise for a Cause, which took place November 5, 2016, and a travel stipend to help him and a guest attend.

He said: “The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Cruise for a Cause was an incredible event. I had a wonderful time meeting supporters and several staff attorneys, all dedicated to improving the lives of animals. As a law student, it is not often I am invited to attend a luxury cruise in Los Angeles. I particularly enjoyed Moby’s live performance and meeting Ed Asner. I am grateful for the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s generous invitation and hope that the cruise becomes an annual event.”

Jonathan is an active member of the Lewis & Clark SALDF chapter. He is currently doing an externship with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and has clerked for our Litigation and Animal Law Programs. In addition, Jonathan is a recipient of the 2016 Animal Legal Defense Fund Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund salutes Jonathan and all our wonderful SALDF members – the next generation of animal lawyers – as they work to develop innovative solutions to create a brighter, more humane future for all animals.

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Legally Brief: Animal Law Conference 2016

Posted by Natalia Lima on November 8, 2016

On the weekend of Oct. 7, 2016 the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School and the Lewis & Clark Student Animal Legal Defense Fund chapter hosted the 24th annual Animal Law Conference in New York City. The event brought together students, attorneys and experts with one common goal: to make the world a better place for animals through the legal system. Animal Law might still be a new field, but there’s a high demand to learn more about it. Yet again, this year’s conference was sold out well ahead of the big weekend.

The conference kicked off with an evening reception at the Manhattan Penthouse, near Union Square. Guests enjoyed plant-based appetizers while the Animal Legal Defense Fund honored pro bono attorneys and law firms Morgan Hector; Deb Robinson; Dentons US LLP; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Winston & Strawn LLP who offered invaluable help with our cases in the past year. Recent law school grad, Priscilla Rader, and current law student, Raj Reddy, accepted the SALDF Chapter of the Year award on behalf of the Lewis & Clark Law School SALDF chapter for their outstanding work to engage fellow students in animal law projects and events.

swise-blog-1200x630Throughout the weekend attendees had a chance to hear about a number of legal issues affecting animals today. Keynote speaker Steven Wise, president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, spoke of his ongoing efforts to seek legal personhood for nonhuman animals, highlighting his work on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York state. Other panels explored the first amendment’s important role in the litigation of animal protection work, the challenges surrounding military working dogs and their handlers and new approaches to helping captive wildlife, among others. You can view each presentation on the Animal Law Conference YouTube page.

fourshot-blog-1200x630Attorneys and activists from around the country were able to network and learn about new strategies they can implement in their own cases. Law students got to see firsthand how they can advance the interests of animals in the future.

We’re grateful to all of this year’s speakers and attendees for making our conference such a success. And a big thank you to our sponsors: Donor Point Marketing, The Moxie Foundation and RKD Alpha Dog, and in-kind sponsors: Beyond Meat, Happy Cow and Janet Holmes.

joan-blog-1200x630Conference attendees were the first to hear some big news: our venue for next year’s Animal Law Conference will accommodate many more guests. We’ll be back in Portland, Oregon the weekend of Oct. 13-15, 2017, and it’s sure to be one of the biggest, most exciting Animal Law Conferences yet. Make sure to watch and follow the Animal Law Conference on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates.


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LIVE with the Animal Legal Defense Fund: Ag-Gag

Posted by on November 1, 2016

Our first Facebook LIVE event gave viewers the chance to have their questions answered in a live streaming conversation with the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director Stephen Wells and Chief Legal Counsel Matthew Liebman. Up for discussion: Ag-Gag laws. With a decision in our case against Utah’s Ag-Gag law just days away, viewers brought their best questions to the table. Watch the video below to learn about the different kinds of Ag-Gag laws, why they’re dangerous, and what the Animal Legal Defense Fund is doing to stop them.

Join us on Facebook and stay tuned for a schedule of our 2017 Facebook live events.

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First-Ever Law Student Scholarship Panel Held at 2016 Animal Law Conference

Posted by Nicole Pallotta, Academic Outreach Manager on October 19, 2016

This year, for the first time in the event’s long-running history, the Animal Law Conference dedicated a panel to showcasing law student work. The Inaugural Law Student Scholarship Panel took place Sunday morning, October 9, and featured three papers chosen from among more than 30 submissions. The call for papers, written on any animal law topic during law school in the last two years, was announced by the Animal Legal Defense Fund last spring. Submissions were reviewed and ranked by a committee of practicing animal law attorneys and professors.


Papers were selected based on writing quality and animal law analysis, with the latter including originality of the topic and/or the legal analysis and suggestions for effective solutions with potential to help animals and advance the animal law movement. In addition to the opportunity to present their work, the authors of the winning papers also received a travel scholarship from the Animal Legal Defense Fund to attend the conference. The top papers were:

The panel was a success and the three panelists did an outstanding job. The selection committee also chose ten honorable mention papers, which are posted, along with the panel papers, on the conference website here (under “Inaugural Law Student Scholarship Panel”).

Our decision to organize this panel is the direct result of the incredible growth of animal law in academia and concomitant rise of student interest in animal law issues. Since 2000, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Animal Law Program has been dedicated to advancing and supporting the future of animal law, and the field has undergone near-exponential expansion in the last decade and a half. In the 16 years since we started tracking, the number of Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters has grown from 12 to 215 and, in that same time period, the number of law schools offering a course in animal law has expanded from 9 to more than 160. Along with our resources for law students and SALDF chapters, educational opportunities continue to expand.

In 2008, the inception of the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, in collaboration with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was an important milestone that broke new ground in professional higher education by creating the most extensive animal law curriculum in the world. More recently, Harvard Law School has emerged as an academic leader with the launch of its new Animal Law & Policy Program.

Students are the next generation of animal lawyers and policy makers and, as this panel ably demonstrated, they are already doing great work exploring cutting-edge legal theories and considering practical ways to use the law to help animals. We look forward to hearing more student ideas that will help move the conversation forward at next year’s panel!

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