On this site you will find a comprehensive repository of information about animal law, including: over 1200 full text cases (US, historical, and UK), over 1400 US statutes, over 60 topics and comprehensive explanations, legal articles on a variety of animal topics and an international collection.
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Montreal's controversial "pit bull ban" temporarily suspended by court order. The city's new animal control by-law was supposed to go into effect on October 3rd. A Quebec superior court judge granted a temporary stay of the law and suspended the law until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 5th according to AP reports. The pit bull provisions of the new bylaw were spurred in part by a fatal dog mauling of a woman back in June. The city council says the goal of the bylaw is to promote "harmonious cohabitation between residents and pets and ensure residents’ safety." According to sources, new ownership of pitbulls is banned as of March 31, 2017 and existing pitbulls owners need to have their dogs licensed, sterilized, microchipped, and vaccinated by the end of the year. Most contentious is the requirement that registered pitbulls must be kept muzzled and on a short leash while in public. A copy of the bylaw (currently available only in French) is available on Montreal’s webpage about the animal control bylaw.
"World's most trafficked mammal" get stronger protection under CITES. Pangolins, known also as "scaly anteaters," received enhanced protection under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), moving from Appendix II to Appendix I under the treaty. Appendix I animals represent the most critically endangered animals in the world. Pangolins are unique nocturnal mammals that eat ants and termites and whose bodies are covered with overlapping scales made of keratin. Due to international trafficking primarily for their scales (used for traditional Asian medicine) and as a luxury food item in East Asia, pangolins are now threatened with extinction. Placement on Appendix I of CITES restricts all commercial trade in these animals. For more, read the US Fish & Wildlife Press Release.
Did you know some states have cruelty reporting hotlines? In March of this year, North Carolina enacted a law (N.C.G.S.A.§ § 114-8.7) that required the Attorney General to establish a hotline to receive reports of allegations of animal cruelty or violations of the Animal Welfare Act against animals under private ownership. This is not anonymous, as the law states that "[a]ny individual who makes a report under this section shall disclose his or her name and telephone number and any other information the Attorney General may require." The AG established both a hotline and website for taking these complaints: http://www.ncdoj.gov/Crime/Report-Animal-Cruelty.aspx. Similarly, the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s set up the Animal Protection Initiative aimed at criminal animal fighting rings, consumer protection, and preventing cruelty to animals. This website and hotline also covers the state's Pet Lemon Law "designed to safeguard the public and to ensure the humane treatment of dogs and cats by requiring pet dealers to guarantee the good health of any such animal sold by a pet dealer to a consumer." Check it out at http://www.ag.ny.gov/animals.
New England Anti-Vivisection Soc'y v. United States Fish & Wildlife Serv., --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2016 WL 4919871 (D.D.C., 2016). New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS), a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to animal-welfare, brought suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for issuing an export permit to Yerkes National Primate Research Center (Yerkes). NEAVS filed suit against FWS arguing that FWS had violated the Endangered Species Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and CITES by allowing Yerkes to export chimpanzees in exchange for making a financial donation that would be put towards a program to help with “habitat destruction and disease, which face wild chimpanzees in East Africa.” The court reviewed the case and determined that it did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to address the claims made by NEAVS. The court found that NEAVS was not able to establish standing under Article III of the Constitution because NEAVS had not “suffered an injury in fact.” Ultimately, the court held that NEAVS was unable to show that it had a “concrete and particularized injury in fact that is actual or imminent” and that is “traceable” to FWS’ actions. As a result, the court granted summary judgment in favor of FWS.
Wildearth Guardians v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2016 WL 4688080 (D. Mont.,2016). In this case, Wildearth Guardians filed suit to challenge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the Canada lynx. Wildearth argued that United States Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly excluded geographical areas in its final critical habitat designation. The areas that Wildearth argued should have been included in the designation were the Southern Rockies in Colorado, the Kettle Range of northeastern Washington, the state of Oregon, and certain National Forest lands in Montana and Idaho. Ultimately, the court reviewed Wildearth’s arguments and held that the Fish and Wildlife Service did wrongly exclude the Southern Rockies in Colorado and the National Forest lands in Montana and Idaho. With regard to the areas in Washington and Oregon, the court found that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not err in excluding in those areas from the critical habitat designation. The court found that with respect to Colorado, there was a close call as to one of the of PCE’s and that the Service should have favored the lynx according to the standard set in the Endangered Species Act. Lastly, the court found that the Service also erred with respect to Montana and Idaho because it failed to comply with previous court orders to inspect the lands to determine whether or not the lands contained “physical and biological features essential to lynx recovery.” The plaintiffs motions were granted in part, and the matter was remanded to the Service for further action consistent with this order. The final rule shall remain in effect until the Service issues a new final rule on lynx critical habitat, at which time the September 2014 final rule will be superseded.
Com. v. Daly, 56 N.E.3d 841 (Mass. App. 2016). The Defendant, Patrick Daly, was convicted in the District Court of Norfolk County, Massachusetts of animal cruelty involving a “snippy," eight-pound Chihuahua. The incident occurred when Daly flung the dog out of an open sliding door and onto the deck of his home after the dog bit Daly’s daughter, which led to the dog's death. On appeal, defendant first challenged the animal cruelty statute as vague and overbroad because it failed to define the terms "kill," "unnecessary cruelty," or "cruelly beat." The court disregarded his claim, finding the terms of the statute were "sufficiently defined" such that a person would know that he or she "may not throw a dog on its leash onto a deck with force enough to cause the animal to fall off the deck, twelve feet to its death . . ." Under a claim that his conduct was warranted, defendant argues that the jury was improperly instructed on this point. It should not have been instructed on defense of another because that relates only to defending against human beings and, instead, the jury should have been instructed on a defense of attack by an animal. The court found while there is no precedent in Massachusetts for such a claim, the rationale is the same as the given instruction, and defendant cannot complain that the jury was improperly instructed where he invited the instruction with his claims that his actions were necessary to protect his daughter. Judgment was affirmed.
Com. v. Waller, --- N.E.3d ----, 2016 WL 4993441 (Mass. App. Ct., 2016). Tasha Waller was convicted of animal cruelty for starving her dog to death. As a result of this conviction, Waller was placed on probation, which prohibited her from owning animals and allowed for random searches of her property. Waller appealed this decision for the following reasons: (1) the animal cruelty statute under which she was convicted was unconstitutionally vague; (2) the expert witness testimony was improper and insufficient to support her conviction; (3) she may not as a condition of her probation be prohibited from owning animals and the condition of probation allowing suspicions searches should be modified. The court reviewed Waller’s arguments and determined the statute was not unconstitutionally vague because it is common for animal cruelty statutes to only refer to “animals” in general and not specifically mention dogs. The court noted that dogs are commonly understood to fall within the category of animals and therefore the statute was not vague. Also, the court held that the expert witness testimony from the veterinarian was not improper because the veterinarian was capable of examining the dog and making a determination as to how the dog had died. Lastly, the court held that it was not improper to prohibit Waller from owning animals, but did agree that the searches of her property should only be warranted if authorities have reasonable suspicion to search the property. Ultimately, the court upheld Waller’s conviction and probation but modified the terms in which authorities are able to search her property.
Miller v. Dep't of Agric., --- A.3d ----, 2016 WL 4654364 (Conn. App. 2016). The Plaintiff, Kim Miller, argued “a severe deprivation” of her rights when the Superior Court dismissed her appeal to prevent her dogs from being euthanized. Miller owned two Rottweiler dogs that attacked the victim Cynthia Reed, causing injuries to Reed's head, the back of her neck, and her back. An animal control officer issued two disposal orders to euthanize Miller’s dogs. The Defendant, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, then affirmed the orders and Miller appealed. The Superior Court also dismissed the appeal, and Miller appealed further to the Appellate Court of Connecticut. Here, Miller argues, among other things, that her Sixth Amendment rights to confront witnesses were violated when witnesses were not available for cross-examination. Plaintiff Miller also claims that there were procedural violations in the initial hearing because of lack of written rules that applied to dog disposal orders, and claimed error when the hearing officer acted acted arbitrarily and capriciously by “interject[ing] his opinion” while questioning a witness. The Appellate Court held that: (1) the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA) did not preclude the admission of statements from the victim and an eyewitness, even though the victim and witness did not testify at the hearing; (2) a dog owner's appeal of disposal orders for a biting animal is not a criminal prosecution that invokes Sixth Amendment protections. The court reasoned that the issuance of a disposal order does not, by itself, trigger the imposition of a fine or prison term on the owner. Rather, by obviating the threat that dangerous animals pose to the public, the provision is remedial and civil in nature. The judgment of the trial court dismissing the plaintiff's appeal was affirmed.
New Orleans Bulldog Soc'y v. Louisiana Soc'y for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, --- So.3d ----, 2016 WL 4698255 (La.App. 4 Cir. 9/7/16). The Plaintiff, the Bulldog Rescue Mission, is a nonprofit dog welfare organization organized under Louisiana law to advocate for dog welfare in New Orleans. The plaintiff sought information under Louisiana’s Public Records Law related to the dogs euthanized by the Defendant, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LSPCA). LSPCA declared that they were not a public body and thus, not subject to the Public Records Law. The Bulldog Rescue Mission filed a petition for writ of mandamus in the district court, seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed their petition and the plaintiff appealed. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit held that LSPCA was a quasi-public entity subject to Public Records Law because the organization performed municipal functions on behalf of the municipal government. The court found LSPCA receives an annual compensation of almost two million dollars for providing services for quasi-municipal functions such as enforcing code violations and taking and receiving animals. Bulldog rescue also claims error with the trial court ruling that, even if LSPCA is subject to public records laws, these obligations are met through its Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) reporting requirement. This court found that the CEA contractual agreement made between the city of Louisiana and LSPCA allowing the organization to provide mandated city services related to animal control could not be used to circumscribe Public Records Law compliance. In other words, the limited statistical reporting required under the CEA is not a valid substitute for a public record request that would show all governmental functions and duties performed. The judgment of the trial court was reversed where this court found the trial court clearly erred in dismissing the Bulldog Rescue petition for a writ of mandamus.
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).
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).