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April News

  SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Group, Inc. agrees to end captive breeding program for killer whales (orcas). The company came to an agreement with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in mid-March to end the decades-long captive orca breeding program. The agreement came after the state regulatory body in California (the California Coastal Commission) said it would only approve expansion to the orca exhibit at the San Diego SeaWorld park if the company ended its captive breeding program. While the company took the Commission to court to argue the authority to make such a demand, it eventually agreed to end the breeding program. According to NPR, the company will also phase out its theatrical shows that feature orcas over the next three years.

  British Government will hand over chicken farming standards over to industry in late April. The Guardian reports that ministers in the U.K. government are planning on repealing animal welfare codes related to chicken farming later this month. The new guidelines will be created by those in the chicken industry, concerning animal welfare advocates across the country. The British Poultry Council will make the new guidelines available to the public on April 27th. Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) officials indicate that the overarching animal welfare legislation will remain in place, but that "industry-led guidance" will support that legislation.

 The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) announces its findings for 17 petitions under the Endangered Species Act. These 17 petitions were put forth to either list or delist species under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). One petition sought to list the Yellowstone Bison. However, that petition was one of six that the FWS rejected as failing to provide "substantial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted." The rejection of the petition is a blow to the Yellowstone population, as it faces a planned cull starting on February 15th. Animal advocates have filed a preliminary injunction to stop the killing and allow citizens and journalists First Amendment access to parts of the park where the cull is to occur. According to ALDF, a hearing on the matter is set for February 5th in District Court in Casper, Wyoming.

Beginning in January 2016, the FBI begins to track animal cruelty offenses. The data will be collected as part of the Uniform Crime Report National Incident-Based Reporting System, a program that collects data from law enforcement agencies around the country to provide national statistics on criminal activity. Previously, animal cruelty offenses were categorized under "other offenses," but the FBI was persuaded by decades of research showing a strong link between animal cruelty and violence against humans. The advocacy group Animal Welfare Institute has pushed for the categorization for over a decade and partnered with the National Sheriffs Association to provide research that supports the data collection. According to an FBI Unit Chief, animal cruelty can be "an early indicator of violent crime." To hear/read a podcast from the FBI on this proposed implementation from last January, see . For articles on the connection between human violence and animal cruelty, see the "Related Materials" tab on this Topical Introduction.


New archives


Britton v. Bruin, Not Reported in P.3d, 2016 WL 1019213, 2016 WL 1019213 (N.M. Ct. App., 2016). In this case, plaintiff appealed a decision by the district court denying her petition for a writ of mandamus. Plaintiff petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to stop the City of Albuquerque's effort to control a large population of feral cats in its metropolitan area by “trapping, neutering them, and then returning them” to the location at which they were found. The district court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus because the court held that there was “a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.” Also, the court held that because the city’s program did not result in any unconstitutional action, the writ of mandamus was not appropriate. The court affirmed the district court’s ruling, looking only at whether or not there was “a plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.” The court did not address the issue of whether or not the city’s population control effort was appropriate and should continue. The district court's order denying Petitioner's application for a writ of mandamus is affirmed.

De Leon v. Vornado Montehiedra Acquisition L.P., --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2016 WL 814825 (D.P.R. 2016). The defendant in this case sought to dismiss plaintiff’s case, stating that the plaintiff claim did not have proper constitutional standing under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The court denied defendant’s request and held that plaintiff did present sufficient evidence to establish standing under the ADA. In order to establish standing, the plaintiff needed to prove three elements: (1) actual or threatened injury, (2) causal connection between the injury and the challenged conduct, and (3) that a favorable court decision can redress the injury. The court determined that plaintiff did satisfy all three elements by showing that plaintiff’s disabled daughter was not allowed in defendant’s shopping mall with her service dog after the mall security guard was not properly informed of protocol regarding service dogs. Ultimately, the security guard mistakenly believed that the service dog needed documentation in order to enter the mall; however, the dog was properly identified as a certified service dog and should have been allowed into the mall. Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied.

Swanson v. Tackling, --- S.E.2d ----, 2016 WL 718465 (Ga. Ct. App. 2016). This is an interlocutory appeal by the dog owners (the Swansons) in a personal injury lawsuit for a dog bite. The court in this case overruled the lower court’s ruling that the defendant was not entitled to summary judgement after defendant’s dog bit a child but the dog had never shown a propensity to injure anyone prior to the incident. Plaintiff was suing defendant after defendant’s dog bit plaintiff’s child on the arm and head. Plaintiff argued that defendant is responsible for the injuries caused by the dog because the defendant neglected to properly restrain the dog. The court reversed the lower court’s decision and held in favor of defendant, stating that there was no evidence that was presented to indicate that defendant could have or should have known that the dog would act in this way towards the child. In order to prevail, the plaintiff needed to present evidence that the dog had acted in a similar way in the past.

Case Archives


Designing a Model Dog Park Law,  John J. Ensminger and Frances Breitkopf, Animal Legal & Historical Center (2016).

Take it to the Limit: The Illegal Regulation Prohibiting the Take of Any Threatened Species Under the Endangered Species Act, Jonathan Wood, 33 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 23 (2015).

Redefining The Modern Circus: A Comparative Look At The Regulations Governing Circus Animal Treatment And America's Neglect Of Circus Animal Welfare, Jacqueline Neumann, 36 Whittier L. Rev. 167 (2014).

Why Can't I Know How The Sausage Is Made?: How Ag-Gag Statutes Threaten Animal Welfare Groups And The First Amendment, Daniel L. Sternberg, 13 Cardozo Pub. L. Pol'y & Ethics J. 625 (2015).

Interpreting “Enhancement Of Survival” In Granting Section 10 Endangered Species Act Exemptions To Animal Exhibitors, Anne Haas, 32 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 956 (2015).