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November News

 Can monkeys seek copyright protection? According to animal activist group PETA, the answer is yes. In a recent complaint submitted to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, PETA and Antje Engelhardt, Ph.D., as Plaintiff's next friends, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Plaintiff Naruto, a six-year-old male member of the Macaca nigra species (also known as a crested macaque). In 2011, Naruto took a number of photographs of himself, including one that became famous as the “Monkey Selfie.” Defendants published and sold a book that contained copies of the Monkey Selfies and stated in that book that they are the copyright owners of the Monkey Selfies. PETA contends that the Monkey Selfies "resulted from a series of purposeful and voluntary actions by Naruto, unaided by Slater, resulting in original works of authorship not by Slater, but by Naruto." PETA observes that "while the claim of authorship by species other than homo sapiens may be novel" the Copyright Act is "sufficiently broad." Read the Complaint for more.

 U.S. District Court upholds permit denial for import of beluga whales by the Georgia Aquarium. The District Court for the Northern District of Georgia affirmed the denial for a permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) to import 18 beluga whales from Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk for public display. The Aquarium challenged the defendant National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) decision to deny a permit to import the beluga whales as arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The Court found that defendant NMFS was correct in following the statutory mandate of the MMPA after it found that the Sakhalin-Amur stock of the whales is likely declining and is experiencing adverse impacts in addition to Russian live-capture operations. Further, some of the beluga whales destined for the import were potentially young enough to still be nursing and dependent upon their mothers.

 Advocacy groups petition USDA for better enforcement of Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA). In early September, non-profit advocacy groups the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a petition to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service requesting enforcement protocols for violations and a definition of what would constitute "egregious violations." Additionally, the groups seek a change in enforcement practices that allow repeat offenders of the HMSA to receive only corrective notices. Instead, the groups hope that additional rulemaking will standardize the process and allow inspectors to shutter non-complying plants. To learn more and read the petition, go to

 New comparative table of state laws on dangerous dog laws just published! Our site has recently completed an in-depth table of laws for the 39 states that have dangerous dog codes. The table explores how each state defines a "dangerous dog," the conditions for owning such a dog, the procedure for determining whether a dog is dangerous, euthanasia provisions, and penalties owners may face. Does your state have dangerous dog laws? Find out by viewing the Table of Dangerous Dog Laws.


New archives


Lawson v. Pennsylvania SPCA,  --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 4976523 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 20, 2015). Upon an investigation of numerous complaints, the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty obtained a warrant and searched plaintiffs’ house. As a result, plaintiffs were charged with over a hundred counts that were later withdrawn. Plaintiffs then filed the present case, asserting violations of their federal constitutional rights, as well as various state-law tort claims. Defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming qualified immunity. The District Court denied the motion with respect to (1) the following claim in Count One: unreasonable search and seizure and the individual defendants' request for qualified immunity in connection with that claim; and (2) with respect to one plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim, but only to the charge relating to the puppy's facial injuries.

United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 14-40128, 2015 WL 5201185 (5th Cir. Sept. 4, 2015). CITGO was convicted of multiple violations of the Clean Air Act and its regulations, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (“MBTA”). CITGO contended that the MBTA convictions were infirm because the district court misinterpreted the statute as covering unintentional bird kills. The 5th Circuit agreed that “taking” migratory birds involved only “conduct intentionally directed at birds, such as hunting and trapping, not commercial activity that unintentionally and indirectly caused migratory bird deaths. The district court’s decision was reversed and remanded with instructions.

Colorado Wild Horse v. Jewell, --- F.Supp.3d ----2015 WL 5442639 (D.D.C., 2015). Finding the number of horses too high to maintain ecological balance and sustain multipurpose land use in Colorado's White River Resource Area, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) invoked its authority under the Wild Free–Roaming Horses and Burros Act (“Wild Horses Act”), to declare those horses to be “excess animals” and scheduled to remove them from the land. Plaintiffs—organizations challenged BLM's “excess” determinations and asked the district court to enjoin BLM's planned gather. Because the Wild Horses Act authorized BLM's excess determination and BLM appeared to have used reasonable methods to estimate the total wild-horse population, the Court found that Plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail on their Wild Horses Act claims. The Court further found that Plaintiffs were unlikely to suffer irreparable harm as a result of the gather and that the balance of equities and the public interest weighed in favor of BLM.

State v. Crosswhite, --- P.3d ----2015 WL 5439355 (Or. Ct. App., 2015).  After being tipped off about a dog fight, authorities seized several dogs from a home. Defendant was charged with one count of second-degree animal abuse and four counts of second-degree animal neglect. Defendant appealed the denial of the motion, again arguing that the state failed to prove that he had “custody or control” over the dogs. The appeals court concluded that the plain text and context of ORS 167.325(1), together with the legislature's use of the same term in a similar statute, demonstrated that the legislature intended the term “control” to include someone who had the authority to guide or manage an animal or who directed or restrained the animal, regardless if the person owned the animal. Given the facts of the case, the court concluded that based on that evidence, a reasonable juror could find that defendant had control over the dogs, and the trial court had not erred in denying defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal.

Williams v. Lexington Cnty. Bd. of Zoning Appeals, --- S.E.2d ----2015 WL 5132323(S.C. Ct., 2015). Appellant sought review of the circuit court's order upholding the Lexington County Board of Zoning Appeals' unanimous decision that the county zoning ordinance prohibits Appellant from operating a dog grooming business at her home. The appeals court found that the word kennel, as used in the relevant Lexington County Zoning Ordinance included dog grooming. The appeals court upheld the circuit court’s decision.

Case Archives


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).

The (Inter)national Strategy: An Ivory Trade Ban In The United States And China, Morgan V. Manley, 38 Fordham Int'l L.J. 1511 (2015).

For Trinkets, Tonics, And Terrorism: International Wildlife Poaching In The Twenty-First Century, Ranee Khooshie Lal Panjabi, 43 Ga. J. Int'l & Comp. L. 1 (2014).