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November News


  Animal advocacy group claims victory after Wisconsin appellate court mandates disclosure of more records related to controversial “maternal deprivation experiments.” This research occurs with baby monkeys, where infants are separated from their mothers and then monitored after being placed in situations with stressors. This research is performed at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, which analogizes the experiments to “the separation between cow and calf that occurs on modern Wisconsin dairy farms.” The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) appealed a circuit court judgment dismissing its request for the University of Wisconsin records custodian to disclose withheld records on the baby monkey experiments. Wisconsin law presumes that all government records are public. The records at issue were handwritten notes by Animal Care and Use Committee members later used to create formal meeting minutes. The court found that these notes were not exempted from the law as records for “personal use.” In fact, the court stated, the member “was obligated to take notes at the meeting as part of her employment and that she used those notes to ‘memorializ[e] agency activity . . .’” (Court of Appeals, District IV, appeal no. 2016AP869). 

  Robots are helping scientists understand changing whale migration patterns to avoid deadly whale-ship strikes. NOAA Fisheries reports that the collaborative “Robots4whales” involves the Passive Acoustics Group at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The project uses moored buoys to autonomous underwater vehicles to detect whales by the sounds they emit using underwater microphones called “hydrophones.” The project is underway in the North Atlantic off the east coast and is directed as protecting baleen whales, like critically endangered right whales. Not only does the information collected help scientists understand migration patterns that have changed in the last decade, but it also enables the Coast Guard to avoid ship strikes and possibly change training exercises that might adversely impact the whales.

 California becomes the first state to enact a ban on the sale of non-rescue pets at pet stores. AB 485 was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, October 13th. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2019 and prohibits a pet store operator from selling a cat, dog, or rabbit in a retail pet store unless it was obtained from a public animal control agency or shelter or rescue group. It also requires each pet store to maintain records sufficient to document the source of each dog, cat, or rabbit the pet store sells for at least one year, and to post, in a conspicuous location on the cage or enclosure, a sign listing the name of the entity from which each animal was obtained. Violators of any provision are subject to a $500 civil penalty. Read the new law:

  Oregon becomes latest state to enact "rescue" law for pets in hot cars. Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 2732 into law in late June. In 2017, several other states including Indiana, Colorado, and Arizona enacted laws that shield any person, not just law enforcement, from civil and often criminal liability for breaking car windows to rescue distressed animals (and minor children) in standing vehicles. The common thread in the new rescue laws is that the person must follow several steps to ensure immunity from liability: (1) determining the vehicle is locked; (2) seeing that the animal is in imminent danger; (3) notifying law enforcement/first responders; (4) using no more force than necessary to remove the animal; (5) remaining with the animal in a safe place until law enforcement arrives. Check out our table of all the 27 state laws

New archives


K-9 police officer did not 'step aside' from duties when he left dog to die in hot car - State v. Peabody, --- S.E.2d ----, 2017 WL 4801538 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2017). A Georgia former police lieutenant was indicted on two counts of aggravated cruelty to animals after he left his K-9 named Inka locked in his police vehicle with no ventilation while he attended to tasks inside his home (the dog died). The state appeals the trial court's grant of defendant's motion to quash the indictment. Specifically, the state argues that OCGA § 17-7-52 (a law that requires at least a 20-day notice to peace officer prior to presentment of a proposed indictment to a grand jury) is inapplicable. The state contends defendant "stepped aside" from his police-related duties and was therefore not afforded the protections of OCGA § 17-7-52. This court disagreed. Since Peabody was responsible for the care and housing of Inka as her K-9 handler, leaving her unattended, albeit in an illegal manner, was still in performance of his police duties. As such, Peabody was entitled to the procedural protections of the statute according to the appellate court. Affirmed.

Filming animal 'crush' videos and handing co-defendant knife to kill puppy sufficient to sustain state jail felony. Justice v. State, --- S.W.3d ----, 2017 WL 4697920 (Tex. App. Oct. 19, 2017). Brent Justice contends that his conviction for a single count of cruelty to a nonlivestock animal was based on insufficient evidence. The incident stemmed from defendant's filming of his co-defendant, Ashley Richards, torturing and killing of a newly-weaned puppy. Justice and Richards ran an escort business that focused on the production and distribution of animal "crush" videos. On appeal, defendant argues that he cannot be found guilty since was not the principal involved in the offense. This court was unconvinced, finding that the evidence was sufficient to support a state jail felony since "[t]here is no shortage of evidence that appellant aided Richards in her cruelty," including handing Richards the knife and filming the killing. The court deleted the deadly weapon finding since it was directed at the puppy rather than a human (limited by a recent case). The case was remanded for a new hearing on punishment only since the conviction was affirmed for a state jail felony.

Specific assistance animal that demonstrated vicious behavior was not deemed a reasonable accommodation - Gill Terrace Ret. Apartments, Inc. v. Johnson, --- A.3d ----, 2017 WL 4453007 (Vt. Oct. 6, 2017). This is an appeal of a trial court's ruling in favor of a landlord on a material violation concerning the keeping of a pet in violation of a no-pets policy. The facts show that the dog, "Dutchess," never attacked another person or pet, but it did display aggressive behavior, including lunging, baring her teeth, and rearing up on her hind legs. Other tenants expressed fear of Dutchess. After months of communication between landlord and tenant, a request to keep a pet as a reasonable accommodation was granted by landlord; however, the landlord did not approve of Dutchess as the specific animal due to concerns of behavior and hostility toward other residents. At an eviction hearing in June of 2016, the landlord's request to terminate the tenant's lease was granted by the court, which concluded that the reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal did not extend to Dutchess. On appeal, the Vermont Supreme Court noted that a request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation may be denied if "the specific assistance animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others." While there was no dispute in this case that the tenant has a disability-related need for an ESA, there was credible evidence that supported the lower court's decision that Dutchess posed a threat and/or would cause substantial physical damage to the property.

New York wildlife rehabilitation rules for white-tailed deer deemed reasonable due to disease and evidence that rehabilitators "reluctant" to release/euthanize deer - Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Ctr. Inc. v. New York State Dep't of Envtl. Conservation, Slip Copy, 2017 WL 4868956 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 12, 2017). Petitioners, licensed wildlife rehabilitators with New York Wildlife Rehabilitation Licenses (WRL), challenged two statewide modifications to the WRL pertaining to white-tailed deer, which became effective in 2016. The first modification limits the time white-tailed fawns can be held for rehabilitation to a period of only April 15 to September 15 (absent prior written approval). The second modification limits the maximum holding period for an adult white-tailed deer (before release or euthanization) to 48-hours. This court did not find either modification was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. The state contends they are intended to prevent habituation and the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD). It was also based on scientific research conducted by the state's "Big Game Team" that sought to address issues of disease as well as "a documented pattern of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in New York who have been reluctant to either euthanize or release white-tailed deer." As adult deer, there was a rational basis since that time period allows the care of a temporarily stunned deer in need of a short rehabilitation period balanced against disease and habituation concerns. The petitions in this consolidated action were denied in their entirety and the proceeding dismissed.

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: