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March News

   Two states consider bills that impact the sale of pets by commercial breeders (sometimes known as "puppy mills"). New Hampshire Senate Bill 569-FN, sponsored by Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, broadens provisions in RSA 437 related to commercial kennels. The added language requires that commercial kennels meet inspection requirement prior to issuance of licenses. Further, an applicant for a license or renewal must not have been convicted of an animal cruelty offense in NH or any other state. A requirement for a criminal background check by the FBI has been added. By contrast, Florida lawmakers are considering an appropriations bill that would deny local units of government (cities and counties) the ability to ban the sale of puppies by pet stores and void any local laws that currently do so. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the language is part of a $350-million tax bill and "would bar local governments from prohibiting the sale of taxable personal items that may lawfully be sold anywhere in the state," including puppies and kittens. Seminole County recently adopted an ordinance that bans the sale of dogs and cats at pet stores unless the animals were obtained from animal shelters or rescue organizations. The article indicates that more than 60 counties and cities have implemented similar restrictions across the state.

   Mississippi bill seeks to change state law to make it easier for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder use service animals in public places. House Bill 944 revises the state's Support Animal Act by expanding the definitions section to recognize the use of support animals for military veterans and others suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder/syndrome. HB 944 adds definitions for "traumatic event," "post-traumatic stress disorder," and "support animal," which specifically includes the function of calming an individual with post-traumatic stress disorder during an anxiety attack. A recent article in the Enterprise Journal details how one veteran worked with state Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb and Jeff McCall, a former military dog handler and operator of the International K-9 Foundation, to get the bill passed. The legislation now awaits the signature of Governor Phil Bryant. Did you know other states previously amended their service animal laws to address the specific needs of our nation's veterans? Louisiana changed its definition of "service dog" in 2014 to include a dog "providing assistance to persons, including veterans with traumatic brain injury or post traumatic stress disorder." Michigan amended its service animal laws in 2016 to define a “person with a disability” to include a veteran who has been diagnosed with (1) post-traumatic stress disorder; (2) traumatic brain injury; or (3) other service-related disabilities.

   Recent news highlighting unusual or even aggressive service or emotional support animals aboard flights sparks change in airline policy. In response to concerns over abuse, two major airlines (Delta and United) announced last month that they would be tightening their service and support animal policies. In a press release, Delta stated, “Ignoring the true intent of existing rules governing the transport of service and support animals can be a disservice to customers who have real and documented needs.” But what exactly does federal law provide? Regulations allowing service animals stem from the Air Carrier Access Act, a law that prohibits disability discrimination by commercial airlines. The regulations allow both service animals AND emotional support animals to accompany disabled passengers. Delta and United’s new policies align more with the requirements of the ACAA regulations. An airline is never required to accommodate unusual service animals like snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders, and exotic service animals are left to the discretion of the airline. Interestingly, trained psychiatric service animals are treated the same as emotional support animals for purposes of the ACAA regulations. Thus, even a trained psychiatric support animal that interrupts self-destructive repetitive behaviors for a person with OCD must provide documentation 48-hours in advance just like a person using an ESA. For more see, our FAQ.

   How much is that doggy in the window? It may depend on your lease agreement. According to a recent Washington Post article, the advent of “pet leasing,” purchasing a pet through a payment plan over the course of months or years, has been on the rise. Not only does this often double the sales price of the animal, but animal advocates suggest it raises serious issues of ownership/care and reinforces the “pets as property” paradigm. Interestingly, Massachusetts was the first state to address the unconventional pet arrangement known as “pet leasing” in 2008. The concern at that time was directed at companies that provided membership fees to possess dogs on a temporary basis. After January 1, 2018, California law (West's Ann.Cal.Civ.Code § 1670.10) voids contracts that allow the purchase of pets on retail installment agreements (where transfer of ownership is delayed until final payment is made). In 2017, Nevada also enacted legislation (SB 185, § 3) prohibiting leases for a living animal where the animal is expected to have a de minimis value at the end of the lease contract. 

New archives


Court affirms Board's denial of request to keep captive tigers in residential neighborhood. Hauser v. Ventura County Board of Supervisors, --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----, 2018 WL 94788718 (Cal. Ct. App., 2018). The plaintiff appeals her denial of a conditional use permit (CUP) to keep up to five tigers on her property in Ventura County, CA. In her application, plaintiff indicates that the project would include three tiger enclosures, a 13,500-square-foot arena with a roof over 14 feet in height, with the area surrounded by an eight-foot-high chain link fence encompassing over seven acres. The captive tigers would be used in the entertainment industry: movie sets, television commercials, and still photography. In denying the application, the Board found that the plaintiff failed to prove two elements necessary for a CUP: the project is compatible with the planned uses in the general area, and the project is not detrimental to public health, safety or welfare. The court noted that plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating her entitlement to the permit. In fact, while plaintiff claims "an unblemished safety record," she submitted videos showing tigers "roaming freely in the backyard of her Beverly Hills home" and tigers posing with plaintiff and her sister on the beach. The court observed that, "[h]er well-intentioned desire to own [the tigers] does not trump her neighbors' right to safety and peace of mind." The judgment of the lower court was affirmed.  

USFWS’ disagreement with scientific study improperly heightened 90-day standard in endangered species citizen petition. Buffalo Field Campaign v. Zinke, --- F.Supp.3d ---- 2018 WL 646887 (D.D.C. Jan. 31, 2018). Plaintiffs Buffalo Field Campaign and other environmental groups petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") to add the Yellowstone bison population to the federal endangered species list. After the Service made a threshold “90–day” determination that Buffalo Field's petition failed to present sufficient scientific evidence that listing the bison may be warranted, Buffalo Field brought suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, alleging that the Service's determination was arbitrary and capricious. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Service applied an improper standard when evaluating Buffalo Field's petition, granted Buffalo Field's motion for summary judgment, denied the Service's cross-motion, and remanded the case for the agency to conduct a new 90–day finding using the proper standard. In particular, the court observed that the Service "simply picked a side in an ongoing debate in the scientific community," thereby in inappropriately heightening the standard of evaluation for a 90-day petition. Because of that, the court agreed with the Service that remand is the appropriate remedy as opposed to directing the Service to begin a 12-month review.

Injunction issued to prevent declaw of captive Big Cats because it constitutes a "taking" under the ESA - People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Wildlife in Need & Wildlife in Deed, Inc., Slip Copy, 2018 WL 828461 (S.D. Ind. Feb. 12, 2018). Plaintiff (PETA) filed a complaint for injunctive relief against the Defendants (WIN) alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) relating to the declawing of the Defendants' captive Big Cats (lions, tigers, and hybrids). WIN operates as a AWA-USDA licensed wildlife exhibitor and charges the public a fee to directly interact with the Big Cat Cubs. Defendants "routinely" declaw the Big Cats, not out of medical necessity, but because it "makes them easier to handle." Testimony showed that two Big Cat Cubs died as the result of complications from declawing and Defendants do not provide post-surgical pain medication or antibiotics. The court held a hearing on the present Motion for Preliminary Injunction. In reviewing the factors supporting issuance of the injunction, the court found there was a likelihood of success in proving the declawing and baby cat "play" time constituted takings under the ESA. In addition, there were no adequate remedies available at law and the court held irreparable harm would result from the declaws. Thus, the court GRANTED Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction.

Case Archives


Courtney G. Lee, The Animal Welfare Act at Fifty: Problems and Possibilities in Animal Testing Regulation, 95 Neb. L. Rev. 194-247 (2016).

Randall S. Abate & Jonathan Crowe, From Inside the Cage to Outside the Box: Natural Resources as a Platform for Nonhuman Animal Personhood in the U.S. and Australia, 5 Global J. Animal L. 54 (2017).

David Mahoney, Zuchtvieh-Export Gmbh v. Stadt Kempten: The Tension Between Uniform, Cross-Border Regulation and Territorial Sovereignty, 40 B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 363 (2017).

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: