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December 2013

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December 2013

Organization files first-ever lawsuit seeking 'bodily liberty' on behalf of captive chimpazee in New York. The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, demanding that a chimp named "Tommy" be released from private captivity to a sanctuary that is part of the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA). Tommy is said to be held captive in a cage located in a shed that stands on a used trailer lot. More suits on behalf of other captive chimps in the state are said to follow. The supporting affidavits offer support from scientists around the world that chimpanzees are self-aware and autonomous and should therefore be recognized as legal "persons." Read the filings in this court case. To find out more about the NhRP, see http://www.nonhumanrights.org/.

 

Federal appeals court grants temporary injunction to halt horse slaughter. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued a temporary injunction preventing the U.S. Department of Agriculture from inspecting plants in New Mexico and Missouri that were slated to begin slaughtering horses for human consumption. The injunction came after a federal judge in Albuquerque dismissed a lawsuit filed by the United States Humane Society and other animal protection groups seeking to stop the New Mexico plant from opening, alleging National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) violations. To learn more about the recent history surrounding horse slaughter, see our Topic Area. To follow case news submitted by plaintiffs in the case, see Front Range Equine Rescue's site.

 

West Virginia agencies collaborate to address problems posed by lack of state exotic animal regulations. The Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, and the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health have joined to create legislation to present to lawmakers in January 2014. The legislation would ban the private possession of certain species of animals with exceptions including circuses and licensed research facilities. Reports also indicate the measures would include the creation of a Dangerous Wild Animal Control Board, similar to Ohio's recent dangerous wild animal legislation. Notably, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a law passed in 2012 (SB 477) that would have restricted exotic animal possession. Does your state ban exotic pets? See our Map to find out.

 

New petition drive in Michigan threatens efforts to allow voters the ability to repeal Michigan's wolf hunting law. A group calling itself "Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management" filed the petition with the Board of State Canvassers in early December. If the group collects sufficient signatures, this citizen-initiated bill will head directly to the state legislature. Because this measure includes appropriations, it would circumvent any voter referendum on the wolf hunting issue. Members of the group "Keep Michigan Wolves Protected" previously initiated a petition drive to repeal the wolf-hunting law that spurred the Republican-led Michigan Legislature to give the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) authority to designate game species. This anti-wolf hunting group has now created a second petition-drive in response to that law. To see actual harvest numbers in the state's wolf hunt, see the DNR's page.

 

World Trade Organization (WTO) panel finds EU restrictions on the import of seal products are justified under  free trade exception for measures "necessary to protect public morals." This may be one of the first applications of the "public morals" exception for animals. The panel addressed challenges by countries including Norway and Canada that the EU Seal Regime prohibiting the importation and marketing of most seal products unfairly favors European Communities. While the WTO did find that the EU Seal Regime was a valid exercise of the "public morals" exception to free trade, there were issues with treatment of imported versus domestic seal products. To read the WTO Dispute Settlement (DS401) see http://www.wto.org/english/tratop

 

 

November 2013

 

Ohio seeks to join 25 other states that allow pets in domestic violence protection orders. H.B. 243 would amend the state's existing domestic violence protection order law to allow a judge to "include within the scope of a protection order issued under this section any companion animal that is in the complainant's or alleged victim's residence and may issue additional orders as it considers appropriate for the protection of the companion animal." For more on domestic violence and animals, see the Topic Area and Protection Orders and Pets. Photo by Erick Pleitez (Rejoyce over touch) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADog_at_shelter.jpg).

Ohio's proposed "Goddard's Law" seeks to strengthen the state's anti-cruelty measures. This proposed law (H.B. 274) was named for a popular weather anchor and animal advocate. The law would go one step further than the "Nitro's Law" amendments passed earlier this year. Goddard's Law would make it a felony of the 5th degree to cause “serious physical harm,” defined to mean “physical harm that carries a substantial risk of death" on the first offense. The law applies only to companion animals (as defined in the proposed law) and excludes livestock.

 

U.K. moves toward ban on all wild animals in traveling circuses. Initially, a report commission by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) recommended that the ban should include large species such as big cats and elephants, but not other wild animals such as raccoons, camels, or snakes. The government responded that the legislatively recognized term "wild animals" should not be subdivided based on species. As a result, all wild animals will be banned by the end of March, 2015. Read the House of Commons response on the ban.

 

Supporters of a ban on pig gestation crates in NJ renew efforts after veto of S.1921 by Gov. Christie (R.). The original measure was passed by both the house and senate with overwhelming support. It was then vetoed by the Governor in June. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched a campaign to educate NJ voters on the issue. The bill has a number of exceptions, including medical research, veterinary procedures, farm and 4-H exhibitions, and transportation, among others. Photo by Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, New Zealand (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, New Zealand) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

U.S. District Court for Nevada approves settlement with Dept. of Justice in discrimination case involving residents with assistance animals. The $167,000 settlement was reached in a case with a housing complex in Reno, NV. Tenants alleged that the housing complex discriminated against residents with disabilities who used assistance animals. According to the DOJ press release, the complex required pet fees for assistance animals, required assistance animals to be licensed or certified, and barred uncertified service dogs. This action was brought under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), which requires person with disabilities to be given equal opportunity to enjoy their homes through "reasonable accommodations" that include assistance animals. Learn more about federal service animal laws and housing issues under the FHA.

 

October 2013

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources effectively outlaws the rehabilitation of many species of orphaned or injured wildlife. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, the agency will stop issuing permits for the rehabilitation of raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes, coyotes, feral pigs or bats. The assistant chief of wildlife was quoted as saying there is "no biological reason to rehabilitate these animals" and anyone finding an orphaned animal should leave it in the wild. Humane organizations should euthanize any animals they receive. The state outlaws the possession of wild animals without a permit through Ala. Code 1975 § 9-2-13 and Ala.Code 1975 § 9-11-320 to 328. To learn more, see our Wildlife Rehabilitation Topic Area.

 

The City of West Hollywood enacts another progressive animal ordinance banning the commercial display of exotic animals. The measure protects the public from the dangers associated with displaying exotic animals and also protects the animals themselves from cruel and inhumane treatment, according to the city. The ban includes acts such as circuses, trade shows, parades or races. Among the exemptions to the ordinance include veterinarians, educational activities sanctioned by the Association of Sanctuaries and the American Sanctuary Association, and films with permits where the American Humane Association monitors animal welfare. Read more at http://www.weho.org/index.aspx?page=23&recordid=2290. Also, discover West Hollywood's other animal ordinances, which include a cat "declaw ban" and ban on most fur sales.

 

The Supreme Court of Connecticut hears argument on "whether [a horse] belongs to a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious." After a two-year old boy was bitten on the face by a horse causing permanent scarring, his parents sued the horse's owner. The lower court granted defendant-owners' motion for summary judgment, concluding that defendants owed no duty because plaintiffs failed to show that this horse had a tendency to bite people. On appeal, plaintiffs contended that Connecticut law allows for a negligence cause of action based on proof of the natural propensities of the species. The appellate court reversed the summary judgment order and sent the case back to trial court. In late September, the horse's owner appealed the decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court. This is a first-of-its-kind determination for a court in the U.S. To read more, see http://bigstory.ap.org/article/conn-court-weighs-if-horses-are-innately-vicious. Also, read the Connecticut Court of Appeals case.

 

Horse slaughter at new plants in New Mexico and Iowa and now Missouri temporarily halted after federal district court grants temporary restraining order (TRO). According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a District Court judge has issued a TRO to halt inspection at a Missouri horse slaughter plant. This is in addition to plants located in Roswell, NM and Sigourney, IA. Previously, federal law prohibited the use of federal funds for the ante-mortem inspection of equines slated to be slaughtered for human consumption. When this law expired without congressional renewal, FSIS was required to inspect these plants. Read the FSIS statement at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/horses/Const_Update_062813.pdf. Read the District Court of New Mexico's order granting the TRO at http://www.frontrangeequinerescue.org/documents/slaughter.aug2,%20decision.pdf.

 

Animal welfare organizations and individuals file suit claiming Utah's new "ag gag" law violates constitutional guarantees. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, CounterPunch magazine and five individuals filed suit in US District Court against Governor Gary R. Herbert and Utah Attorney General John Swallow claiming that Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-112 violates the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. In essence, the suit claims "[t]he law creates the crime of 'agricultural operation interference' in an effort to impair the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, and labor issues on modern industrial farms." Read the full Civil Rights Complaint.

 

 

September 2013

 

Two victories for animal advocates in the fight against foie gras production. Foie gras is a food product made from the fattened livers of geese or ducks as the result of the forced feeding of these animals. Animal advocacy organization Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) voluntarily dropped its lawsuit against Hudson Valley Foie Gras after the company removed any reference to the word "humane" from its website. The ALDF initially sued Hudson Valley Foie Gras arguing that the company violated the Lanham Act and California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Laws by claiming to be “the Humane Choice” while still engaging in the unnatural force-feeding of ducks. Additionally, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the California ban on the sale of foie gras in the state (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 25980, et seq.). The court rejected claims that the law restrains free trade.

 

Horse slaughter at new plants in New Mexico and Iowa temporarily halted after federal district court grants temporary restraining order (TRO). The court has also now imposed a bond on the animal advocate plaintiffs of $500,000 to keep the ban in effect. The plants, located in Roswell, NM and Sigourney, IA were scheduled to be the first plants to open after the "ban" on horse slaughter expired. Previously, Section 794 of Pub. L. 109-97 prohibited the use of federal funds for the ante-mortem inspection of equines slated to be slaughtered for human consumption. This lack of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) mark of inspection effectively prohibited the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. When this law expired without congressional renewal, FSIS was required to inspect these plants. Read the FSIS statement at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/horses/Const_Update_062813.pdf. Read the District Court of New Mexico's order granting the TRO at http://www.frontrangeequinerescue.org/documents/slaughter.aug2,%20decision.pdf.

 

NOAA Fisheries denies Georgia Aquarium's permit to import 18 beluga whales from Russia for display. The decision was based on requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). NOAA Fisheries concluded that the application did not meet several of the MMPA permit criteria, including whether the importation would have a significant adverse impact on the Sakhalin-Amur beluga whale stock and the fact five of the whales were were potentially still nursing and not yet independent. To read NOAA Fisheries Decision Memo on the denial, see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/georgia_aquarium_belugas.htm.

 

Colorado's "Dog Protection Act," requiring law enforcement to undergo training to prevent unnecessary shooting of dogs in line of duty, becomes law. C.R.S.A. § 29-5-112 aims to assist in training officers to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, as well as to employ non-lethal means whenever possible. The statute creates a dog protection task force—consisting of veterinarians, officers, animal behavior specialists, animal welfare experts and animal control officers—to develop minimum training curricula that local law enforcement must follow. In addition, local law enforcement agencies are required to develop a training program. To learn more about police shooting pets, see our Topic Area.

 

Animal welfare organizations and individuals file suit claiming Utah's new "ag gag" law violates constitutional guarantees. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, CounterPunch magazine and five individuals filed suit in US District Court against Governor Gary R. Herbert and Utah Attorney General John Swallow claiming that Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-112 violates the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. In essence, the suit claims "[t]he law creates the crime of 'agricultural operation interference' in an effort to impair the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, and labor issues on modern industrial farms." Read the full Civil Rights Complaint.

 

August 2013

 

Animal welfare organizations and individuals file suit claiming Utah's new "ag gag" law violates constitutional guarantees. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, CounterPunch magazine and five individuals filed suit in US District Court against Governor Gary R. Herbert and Utah Attorney General John Swallow claiming that Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-112 violates the First Amendment, the Supremacy Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. In essence, the suit claims "[t]he law creates the crime of 'agricultural operation interference' in an effort to impair the public debate about animal welfare, food safety, and labor issues on modern industrial farms." Read the full Civil Rights Complaint.

 

Colorado's "Dog Protection Act," requiring law enforcement to undergo training to prevent unnecessary shooting of dogs in line of duty, becomes law. C.R.S.A. § 29-5-112 aims to assist in training officers to differentiate between threatening and non-threatening dog behaviors, as well as to employ non-lethal means whenever possible. The statute creates a dog protection task force—consisting of veterinarians, officers, animal behavior specialists, animal welfare experts and animal control officers—to develop minimum training curricula that local law enforcement must follow. In addition, local law enforcement agencies are required to develop a training program. To learn more about police shooting pets, see our Topic Area.

 

Iowa Court of Appeals does not find that defendant who intentionally kills 7-month old Boston Terrier puppy with baseball bat acted with requisite "depraved intent." In State v. Meerdink, --N.W.2d --, 2013 WL 3457628 (Iowa Ct. App. 2013), defendant was convicted of animal torture under 717B.3A(1). Defendant appealed the district court's decision, arguing that the evidence shown was insufficient to support a finding he acted “with a depraved or sadistic intent,” as stated by the Iowa statute. The appeals court examined dictionary definitions to conclude that there was insufficient evidence to show that the defendant met the depraved intent standard. Additionally, the appeals court also concluded the district court erred in not defining “depraved intent” as used in the statute. The case was therefore reversed and remanded back to district court for dismissal.

 

New Mexico plant receives permit from USDA as 6-year ban on horse slaughter for human consumption ends. The plant, located in Roswell, NM, becomes the first plant granted a permit in the US since the 2007 ban expired. Section 794 of Pub. L. 109-97 prohibited the use of federal funds for the ante-mortem inspection of equines slated to be slaughtered for human consumption. This lack of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) mark of inspection effectively prohibited the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. When this law expired without congressional renewal, FSIS was required to inspect these plants. Read the FSIS statement at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/horses/Const_Update_062813.pdf.

 

India bans the use of animal testing in cosmetics. According to the Times of India, the Bureau of Indian Standards ratified the removal of requirements for animal tests from India's cosmetics standard. Instead, the county now moves toward alternative tests that do not involve invasive animal testing. See http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-06-29/flora-fauna/40271084_1_humane-society-international-animal-testing-cruelty-free

 

 

July 2013

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, the US Fish & Wildlife Service moved to list all chimpanzees including captive-born chimps as endangered. Under current listing, wild chimps are listed as "endangered," while captive chimps are listed as "threatened." The new rule would make all chimpanzees endangered, regardless of their status. If this proposed rule is finalized, a permit would be required to take all chimpanzees into and out of the United States. Read the FWS Press Release.

 

 

Gray wolf no longer protected as endangered or threatened species. On June 7th, the Fish & Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened species. The Service cites the "successful recovery efforts" as the reason for removing federal protection for the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) and Great Lakes populations. Public comment is being accepted on the rule change through September 11, 2013 with more information at http://www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.

 

 

New York Senate passes animal abuse registry bill. This bill (S2305A) requires each violator of "Buster's Law" (sections 351 or 353-Aof the Agriculture and Markets Law) to register his or her name and address with the division of criminal justice services. Criminal justice services must maintain this information in an electronic format available to entities such as breeders, pet stores, law enforcement, humane societies, as well as the public.

 

 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces 90-day finding on petition to list the Miami Seaquarium orca named "Lolita" under the Endangered Species Act. In January, several animal advocacy groups filed a petition with NMFS to include Lolita in the ESA listing of Southern Resident killer whales. The agency found the biological information met the ESA criteria for listing. The agency is currently conducting a status review and seeking public input for the Southern Resident killer whale population, and will also decide whether to include Lolita. To read the 90-day petition, click here. To learn more about Lolita and other orcas, see the Captive Orcas Topic Area.

 

With the heat wave that's hit the western U.S., some may wonder about laws that prohibit leaving pets in vehicles. Only 14 states have laws that specifically prohibit this conduct (though general anti-cruelty laws may still cover certain circumstances). To learn more about these laws, see our Table of State Laws Protecting Animals in Unattended Vehicles.

 

 

June 2013

Nevada Governor signs bill prohibiting local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances with dog breed restrictions. AB 110 will amend NRS 202.500, the law that sets forth conditions under which a dog can be deemed vicious or dangerous. The bill states that a dog may not be found dangerous "based solely on the breed of the dog" and that a local authority cannot "adopt or enforce an ordinance or regulation that deems a dog dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of the dog."

 

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces 90-day finding on petition to list the Miami Seaquarium orca named "Lolita" under the Endangered Species Act. In January, several animal advocacy groups filed a petition with NMFS to include Lolita in the ESA listing of Southern Resident killer whales. The agency found the biological information met the ESA criteria for listing. The agency is currently conducting a status review and seeking public input for the Southern Resident killer whale population, and will also decide whether to include Lolita. To read the 90-day petition, click here. To learn more about Lolita and other orcas, see the Captive Orcas Topic Area.

 

New Jersey Senate passes bill aimed at prohibiting "gestation crates" for pigs. This bill, S-1921, would amend the cruelty code by adding the offense of cruel confinement of gestating pigs, a disorderly persons offense. Violation would be punishable by a fine of $250 - $1,000 and up to 6 months imprisonment. Each gestating sow that is cruelly confined is regarded as a separate offense under the bill. If approved, New Jersey joins other states such as Arizona, California, Maine, Michigan, and Rhode Island with such measures.

 

Ohio House unanimously passes "Nitro's Law," a bill establishing stricter penalties in animal cruelty cases. Nitro's law (HB 90) was named for a dog who died along with many other dogs after being starved and neglected at a dog training facility. The owner was eventually given only probation for misdemeanor charges. The proposed law allows prosecutors to charge owners, managers, or employees of a dog kennels who fail to provide basic care with a 5th degree felony instead of a misdemeanor.

 

Do you know how pets are protected when disaster strikes? In the wake of recent natural disasters, many people begin to wonder how displacement from their homes would affect their pets. Some states have created plans that help address such issues as evacuation with pets, relocation, and temporary sheltering. To learn more see the Pets and Disaster Planning Topic Area.

 

 

May 2013

 

European Union Court denies Inuit group's attempt at overturning ban on importation of seal products. The EU banned the importation of any seal products in 2010. The General Court of the EU rejected the application from the Inuit group that claimed the ban had an Inuit exception. This exception, the court found, is focused on subsistence hunting by Inuit communities, rather than large-scale marketing of seal products. To read the press release from the Court, see http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2013-04/cp130055en.pdf

 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service allows Wisconsin hunter to bring endangered black rhino "trophy" back to U.S. The Service granted the importation permit to a hunter who killed the rhino in 2009 in Namibia. The black rhino has been listed as a critically endangered species under federal law and a CITES Appendix-1 species for over 30 years. The hunter donated significant funds to the Namibian government, which the Service states is used to fund conservation efforts. To read the USFWS statement on why it allowed the permit, see http://www.fws.gov/international/permits/black-rhino-import-permit.html.

 

Michigan legislature proposes animal abuser registry. HB 4535 would require anyone 18 years of age or older convicted of an animal abuse offense to register within 5 calendar days following release from incarceration or from the date of sentencing. The only existing animal abuse registries occur on the local level, with the first in Suffolk County, New York, then in Rockland County, New York, and finally in Albany County, New York. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has cataloged a history of such measures, available at http://aldf.org/article.php?id=1231.

 

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has 10 days to decide fate of latest "ag gag" bill. The bill, SB 1248, makes it a crime for those who film footage or photograph episodes of animal abuse to fail to bring that footage to law enforcement within 48 hours. Critics of the bill claim that the measure is aimed at silencing whistle blowers and undercover investigations in the livestock industry. Does your state have an "ag gag" or animal industry interference law? Find out by looking at our Map.

 

 

Proposal by NIH committee recommends all but 50 of 350 chimpanzees used in federal research be retired. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils Working Group proposal will go the NIH director after the 60-day period for public comment.The report also calls for cuts in grants to study chimps in laboratories and a restriction on breeding them for research. Retired chimps would be sent to a national sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in northwest Louisiana.

  

 

April 2013

ALDF loses federal challenge seeking rules against force-fed foie gras. Plaintiffs ALDF and others petitioned the USDA and FSIS to promulgate regulations condemning force-fed foie gras as an adulterated food product under the Poultry Products Inspection Act. FSIS refused to do so. The Court ruled that such a decision falls under the USDA's discretion by law. The Defendant's motion was granted and the case was dismissed with prejudice. Read the full case.

 

 

Lawmakers urge the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service to take the wolf off endangered species list. In a letter signed by 66 Republicans and 6 Democrats from both the House and Senate, lawmakers argued that endangered species protections for the gray wolf are making it difficult for ranchers and farmers to protect livestock. Despite the FWS determination that the species still needs protection, these elected officials argue that the wolf should be removed from the federal list. To read this letter, click here. To learn more about the wolf's legal status, see the Topic Area.

 

Florida SB 504 proposes multiple charges for multiple animal cruelty violations.Under the bill, a person who commits multiple acts of animal cruelty or aggravated animal cruelty against an animal may be charged with a separate offense for each such act. The bill also expands the definition of “racketeering activity" to include animal fighting.

 

 

Nevada legislature puts forth bill to stop animal sales at "swap meets." Assembly Bill 246 would prohibit the sale or other transfer of ownership of a live animal at a swap meet. Animal advocates who support the bill argue that swap meets are inappropriate places to sell live animals. The meets often contain underage puppies crowded in small cages.

 

 

Proposal by NIH committee recommends all but 50 of 350 chimpanzees used in federal research be retired. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils Working Group proposal will go the NIH director after the 60-day period for public comment.The report also calls for cuts in grants to study chimps in laboratories and a restriction on breeding them for research. Retired chimps would be sent to a national sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in northwest Louisiana.