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May News

 

  The City of Los Angeles votes unanimously to ban the exhibiting of wild or exotic animals for entertainment. On April 25, 2017, the City Council voted 14-0 to approve Councilmember David Ryu's motion to instruct the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that would ban the use of wild or exotic animals for "entertainment or amusement, including circuses, other wild or exotic animal shows, and rentals for house parties." According to the published FAQs about the proposed ordinance, AZA-accredited zoos, research facilities, "legitimate" conservation programs and film productions would be exempted. The FAQs indicate that both animal welfare and public safety are underlying reasons for the ordinance, and that "[t]he public, particularly children, also learn the wrong lessons about wild or exotic animals when required to perform . . ."

  Texas' plan to poison feral hogs put on hold. In recent years, Texas has experienced an explosion in the population of feral hogs, which landowners say causes extensive damage to ranching and native lands (the "Hog Apocalypse," according to Agriculture Commissioner, Sid Miller). In February 2017, the Texas Department of Agriculture announced an emergency rule that allowed the use of a warfarin-based poison to licensed individuals aimed at controlling the feral species. According to the rule and other sources, warfarin causes internal bleeding in the hogs that ingest it, resulting in a slow death in four to seven days. A report in the Texas Tribune now states that the only manufacturer of the product is now withdrawing its request for registration in the state, citing concerns over lawsuits. A week prior, the Texas Tribune reported that lawmakers in the state house preliminarily approved a bill requiring the state to conduct a study prior to use to determine adverse effects on wildlife.

  Mexico bans dogfighting through historic change to federal criminal code. The new law was initiated as a reform of article 82 BIS 2 of the Ecological Equilibrium and Environment Protection General Law in January, which mandated that Federation, the Federal States, and Mexico City penalize dogfighting within a year. Then, in late April, the Senate Justice Committee approved the penalties for dogfighting, which moved the bill to the full Senate. The Senate then voted to approve the penalties. The law becomes official once it is published in the Federal Register (Diario Oficial de la Federación) and prohibits things like organizing fights, owning or trading a fighting dog, possessing property used to hold fights, or attending a fight as a spectator. For more, see the Humane Society International of Mexico's account of this important vote.

New archives

Cases

Limiting of character evidence of prior "gentleness" to animals held harmless error in animal cruelty case - State v. Wright, --- P.3d ----, 2017 WL 1245397 (Or.App.,2017). Defendant was convicted of four counts of aggravated animal abuse in the first degree after he drowned all six cats that lived with him in a water-filled trash can. On appeal, defendant challenged the exclusion of evidence that he had an intellectual disability and that he had a character for gentleness toward animals. Defendant asserts such evidence would have shown he did not act with the requisite malicious intent that the state was required to prove. The appellate court found that the lower court did not err with regard to excluding defendant's reference to an intellectual disability. On the issue of character evidence of defendant's gentleness toward animals, the appellate assumed the lower court erred because the state conceded it was harmless error in its brief. In agreeing with the state that the error was harmless, the court found any further evidence would have been cumulative because other testimony spoke to defendant's gentle character toward animals. The matter was remanded for resentencing due to errors in sentencing.

Right to appeal and right to jury trial in Texas dangerous dog destruction caseHayes v. State, --- S.W.3d ---- 2017 WL 1193845 (Tex. App. Mar. 31, 2017). Defendant claims reversible error after he was denied a jury trial and a subsequent appeal of the destruction order for his dogs. Defendant's three dogs were seized after they attacked an individual riding a bicycle in front of defendant's residence. After a hearing, the dogs were found to be dangerous pursuant to Section 822.041 related to dogs causing serious bodily injury to a person. Hayes appealed the order and requested a jury trial, which was objected to by the Henderson County Attorney's Office and sustained by the court. The dogs were found to be dangerous at a bench trial and ordered humanely euthanized, while defendant was ordered to pay $2,780 to the county. On appeal, defendant argues the county court erred in removing his case from the jury trial docket. The court here declined to adopt the state's interpretation that the statute's silence as to a right of appeal indicates that the legislature eliminated that right. As to the right to jury trial, the court found Chapter 822 silent on that issue. However, the court found the order for seizure and destruction of defendant's "special personal property" guaranteed him a trial by jury under Article I of the Texas Constitution. The trial court's Final Order was reversed and the case was remanded to county court.

Adequacy of FOIA records by BLM under Wild Horses Act - Coffey v. Bureau of Land Mgmt., --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2017 WL 1411465 (D.D.C. Apr. 20, 2017). As the court here states, "Plaintiff Debbie Coffey knows a great deal about wild horses and burros—and how those animals are treated by the federal Bureau of Land Management—but she wants to learn more." As such, plaintiff, a hose welfare advocate, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the BLM to obtain communications between officials and private citizens, namely those with long-term holding contracts, involved in the Wild Horse and Burro Program. In conjunction with her request, the BLM charged plaintiff $1,680 in processing fees, but ultimately refunded her the fees a year-and-a-half later because it failed to meet FOIA statutory response deadlines. On appeal, Coffey filed a FOIA suit and both sides moved for summary judgment. Plaintiff first argues that the BLM violated FOIA when it failed to give her interest on her held processing fees. The court, however, found that awarding interest here would violate the longstanding "no-interest rule," where there was no congressional intent to award interest in such cases. As to plaintiff's argument that BLM's search for records was inadequate, the court agreed with plaintiff that the words and phrases used by BLM were too limiting to meet plaintiff's request and were thus unreasonable.

Case Archives

Articles

Animal Rights Law Reporter, published by the Society for Animal Rights, Inc., edited by Professor Henry Mark Holzer, available issues from 1980 - 1983.

Trophy Hunting Contracts: Unenforceable for Reasons of Public Policy, Myanna Dellinger, 41 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 395 (2016).

Stevens, R.A.V., and Animal Cruelty Speech: Why Congress's New Statute Remains Constitutionally Problematic, J. Alexandra Bruce, 51 Gonz. L. Rev. 481 (2015-2016).

Animals as More Than 'Mere Things,' but Still Property: A Call for Continuing Evolution of the Animal Welfare Paradigm, Richard L. Cupp, Jr., University of Cincinnati Law Review, Forthcoming; Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19 (available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2788309).

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).