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September News

  U.S. Senators introduce Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act. The CECIL Act, named in honor of the Zimbabwean lion named Cecil who was killed by an American trophy hunter in August, was introduced by Senators Bob Menendez, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, and Ben Cardin. The act (S. 1918) would amend the Endangered Species Act by extending the import and export restrictions to species proposed for listing as threatened or endangered under that Act. The bill was referred to committee in early August. Did you know the Fish & Wildlife Service has specialized information on "Sport-Hunted Trophies," including how hunters obtain permits for CITES and ESA listed species? Check out for more information.

By Just chaos [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 Advocacy groups petition UDSA-APHIS to promulgate regulations under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) for the psychological well-being of primates. The petition asks USDA-APHIS "to specify ethologically appropriate standards that researchers must adhere to in order to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates used in research." The petition, filed by groups including New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance (NAPSA), the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group (LPAG), and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), contends that the current system, which allows each facility to develop its own “plan” for environmental enhancement, is too vague to meet accepted professional standards and makes it difficult to evaluate whether a plan actually promotes primates’ psychological well-being. The petition seeks concrete and enforceable definitions and criteria that apply to all facilities. Lack of proper environments often leads primates to develop "pathological behaviors and suffer severe stress" while in artificial confinement according to the petition.

 NOAA Fisheries opens comment period for proposed rule aimed at better protecting marine mammals in international fisheries. On August 10th, the comment period began for a new rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) that would require nations exporting fish to the U.S. to "demonstrate that killing or serious injury of marine mammals incidental to their fishing activities do not occur in excess of U.S. standards." The rule has a 5-year grace period during which other nations can gather data to make sure that their fisheries do not impact marine mammals at a rate above U.S. standards. NOAA has a press-release related to the proposed rule and a link to the Federal Register for public comment.

 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


Animal Legal Defense Fund v. California Exposition and State Fairs, --- Cal.Rptr.3d ----2015 WL 5050255 (Cal. Ct. App., 2015). Plaintiffs brought a taxpayer action against defendants based on allegations that defendants committed animal cruelty every summer by transporting pregnant pigs and housing them in farrowing crates at the state fair. The trial court agreed that California's animal cruelty laws were not enforceable through a taxpayer action. The Court of Appeals addressed plaintiffs' claim, that contrary to the trial court's conclusion, plaintiffs could assert a taxpayer action to enjoin waste arising out of defendants' alleged violation of the animal cruelty laws. The appeals court rejected plaintiffs' contention, concluding that they could not circumvent the prohibition recognized in Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Mendes (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 136, which concluded that recognition of a private right of action under West's Ann.Cal.Penal Code § 597t would be inconsistent with the Legislature's entrustment of enforcement of anti-cruelty laws to local authorities and humane societies, by couching their claim as a taxpayer action.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, --- F.3d ----2015 WL 4727327 (D.C. Cir., 2015). Ten years after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) took steps to apply Animal Welfare Act (AWA) protections to birds, the task remained incomplete. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sued the USDA, arguing that its inaction amounted to agency action “unlawfully withheld,” in violation of section 706(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The District Court granted the USDA's motion to dismiss, concluding that the USDA's enforcement decisions were committed by law to its discretion. On appeal, the court found PETA had standing, but had failed to plausibly allege that the USDA's decade-long inaction constituted agency action “unlawfully withheld” in violation of the APA. The United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit therefore affirmed the District Court's judgment of dismissal.

Puppies 'N Love, v. City of Phoenix,  --- F.Supp.3d ----2015 WL 4532586 (D. Ariz., 2015). Defendant City of Phoenix passed an ordinance that prohibited pet stores from selling dogs or cats obtained from persons or companies that bred animals; pet stores could only sell animals obtained from animal shelters or rescue organizations. Puppies 'N Love operated a pet store in Phoenix that sold purebred dogs obtained from out-of-state breeders. Puppies 'N Love and its owners sued the City, claiming primarily that the Ordinance violated the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution by closing the Phoenix market to out-of-state breeders and giving an economic advantage to local breeders. All parties, including Intervenor Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”), filed motions for summary judgment.  The District Court granted the Intervenor’s and the city’s motions, but denied Puppies ‘N Love’s motion, thereby upholding the ordinance.

Article 70 of CPLR for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, The Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. ex rel. Hercules and Leo v. Stanley, --- N.Y.S.3d ----2015 WL 4612340 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., 2015). Petitioner brought this proceeding pursuant to CPLR article 70 and under the common law for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees in the custody of respondent State University of New York at Stony Brook. It sought an order directing respondents to demonstrate the basis for detaining Hercules and Leo, and an order directing their release and transfer to a sanctuary in Florida. Since the Court found it was bound by the Third Department in People ex rel Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery, which ruled that chimpanzees were not “legal persons” entitled to the rights and protections afforded by a writ of habeas corpus, it denied the habeas corpus petition and dismissed the proceeding. For more on the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), see the collection of pleadings and cases.

Wild Horse Observers Ass'n, Inc. v. New Mexico Livestock Bd., --- P.3d ----2015 WL 4712152 (N.M. Ct. App., 2015). Plaintiff Wild Horse Observers Association, Inc. (Association) appealed the District Court's dismissal for failure to state a claim. The Association claimed that Defendant New Mexico Livestock Board (the Board) had unlawfully treated a group of undomesticated, unowned, free-roaming horses near Placitas, New Mexico as “livestock” and “estray,” rather than as “wild horses” under the Livestock Code. The Appeals Court concluded that “livestock” did not include undomesticated, unowned animals, including undomesticated and unowned horses; therefore, undomesticated, unowned horses could not be “estray.” The court also concluded that the Board had to DNA test and relocate the Placitas horses, and that the Association pleaded sufficient facts in its complaint to withstand a motion to dismiss.

Case Archives


Angela J. Geiman, "It's the Right Thing to Do": Why the Animal Agriculture Industry Should Not Oppose Science-Based Regulations Protecting the Welfare Of Animals Raised for Food,  106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 128 (2008).

Steven M. Wise,  An Argument for the Basic Legal Rights of Farmed Animals, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 133 (2008).

Bernard Rollin, Animal Ethics and the Law, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 143 (2008).

Kyle H. Landis-Marinello, The Environmental Effects of Cruelty to Agricultural Animals, 106 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 147 (2008).

Zygmunt J.B. Plater, Human-Centered Environmental Values Versus Nature-Centric Environmental Values: Is This the Question? 3 Mich. J. Envtl & Admin. L. 273 (2014).