Monday, August 5, 2013
Federal Bar Association Puerto Rico Chapter to Hold Lecture on “Animal Law: An Overview with an Emphasis on Issues of Domestic Violence”
Thursday, December 29, 2011
In reviewing the results from ALDF’s rankings reports over the past five years, more than half of all states and territories experienced a significant improvement in their animal protection laws:
- 27% improved 2-10%
- 16% improved 10-50%
- 11% improved by greater than 50%:
Puerto Rico: 91%
These improvements included, among others:But the lingering question and goal for us in Puerto Rico is actual enforcement of our animal protection laws. While I have noticed improvement, it continues to fall short of adequate.
One of the frequently-used measures for gauging the state of animal protection laws in the U.S. has been the presence or absence of felony-level penalties for the most egregious types of abuse. Since ALDF released its first U.S. rankings report in 2006, there has been noticeable progress in this indicator. Over the past five years:
- Expanding the range of protections for animals
- Providing stiffer penalties for offenders
- Better standards of care for animals
- Reporting of animal cruelty cases by veterinarians and other professionals
- Mitigation and recovery of the costs associated with the care and rehabilitation of mistreated animals
- Mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders
- Bans on ownership of animals following convictions
- Allowing animals to be included in domestic violence protective orders
“We are very optimistic for additional progress in the upcoming year,” added Otto. “Nevertheless, even as many jurisdictions are making substantial steps forward, others are unfortunately not. Yet irrespective of where each jurisdiction currently ranks, every state and territory has ample room for improvement.”
- Six jurisdictions added – for the first time – felony penalties for cases involving extreme animal cruelty or torture: Alaska, Arkansas, Guam, Hawaii, Mississippi, Utah
- Six strengthened their existing felony animal cruelty laws: Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, Puerto Rico
- Eight added felonies for repeated or aggravated animal neglect: Alaska, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Puerto Rico
- Six jurisdictions made repeated abandonment, or abandonment that results in the death or serious injury of an animal, a felony: Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Puerto Rico
- Three added felonies for the sexual assault of an animal: Alaska, Puerto Rico, Tennessee
Monday, December 14, 2009
Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund and an international coalition of attorneys, scientists, and animal advocates in opposing the proposed construction of a massive facility in Puerto Rico for the purpose of breeding primates for use in painful and traumatic laboratory experiments.
The proposed facility in Guayama City will, according to plans, breed many thousands of highly intelligent, sensitive macaques for export to research facilities in the United States and around the world, and potentially for on-site and/or local experimentation as well.
Less than one year ago, Puerto Rico enacted a landmark animal protection law, based in part on a set of model laws drafted by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The sweeping set of reforms provided for in Act 154 (P S. 2552) place Puerto Rico among the top tier of U.S. states and jurisdictions with regards to the strength of their laws protecting animals. This new law provides specific guidelines for experimentation on live animals: specifically, scientific research on animals at universities is allowable only when it meets criteria deeming it “absolutely essential;” any other experiments are prohibited for educational purposes at the elementary, intermediate and higher education levels, and completely banned in facilities outside of university research labs. The proposed primate breeding facility would violate both the letter and the spirit of Puerto Rico’s progressive new law, which strictly limits the use of animals in experimentation.In addition to troubling questions about its legality, such a facility would also place Puerto Rico behind the curve in the current context of scientific debate about laboratory research involving live animals. In 2007, the National Academy of Sciences published a report calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to make a fundamental shift in its toxicity testing strategies away from testing on mammals and focusing increasingly on new, more accurate—not to mention, more ethical—in vitro toxicity testing.
Here you can sign ALDF's letter to Puerto Rican officials asking them to stop the construction of this facility. Please sign! http://aldf.org/puertorico
Animal Legal Defense Fund : Animal Researchers Worried About Growth of Animal Law
Posted by Matthew Liebman, ALDF Staff Attorney on December 14th, 2009
The Scientist, "the magazine for life sciences professionals," recently ran an opinion piece by P. Michael Conn on the growth of animal law courses at American law schools.
Conn, the Director of Research Advocacy at Oregon Health and Sciences University and Oregon National Primate Research Center, collects some interesting facts: 55% of American law schools offer animal law courses, including 36 of the top 50 schools; 73% of law schools have some sort of animal law presence, through either animal law student groups or animal law courses; 68% of law schools are affiliated with universities that conduct animal research; of the law schools that offer animal law classes, 69% are at universities that conduct animal research.
While these statistics are interesting, their significance to animal research is not at all clear. Conn claims, with little explanation, that the growth of animal law may threaten animal research at universities that have both animal research programs and animal law courses. Conn suggests that some courses aim to indoctrinate students into the animal rights movement. Without citing a single example, he claims that “programs championing animal rights or ‘liberation’ set up adversarial potential on campuses and pose a serious risk to the future of animal research.” Where such “programs” exist remains a mystery. There is no doubt that increased legal awareness of animal rights could, and hopefully will, limit our ability to use animals as objects, but given the disciplinary organization of universities, even courses that do investigate fundamental questions about legal rights and animal personhood have no mechanism for interfering with the conduct of other departments.
Cryptically, Conn warns that “[f]ailure to address developments in the education of law students is likely to have a long-ranging impact on the ability to develop new treatments needed for human and animal well-being.” How exactly animal researchers hope to “address developments in the education of law students” is unclear, but there is no doubt that at least a few animal research programs have attempted to block the addition of animal law courses or at least alter their content. (Curiously, these are often the same researchers who wave the flag of “academic freedom” whenever anyone questions the merits of their research.) Considering the numerous reports of intense animal suffering at Conn’s own OHSU, perhaps he should turn his attention back to what happens in his own department.Posted in ALDF Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The case goes to trial next week in Arlington, Virginia, and is said to be one which could "redefine Virginia property law in the process."
Jeffrey Nanni has sued his former domestic partner, Maurice Kevin Smith, alleging that Smith maliciously killed their 12-pound Chihuahua, Buster, two years ago by hitting him with a wooden board. Smith has denied killing Buster but was found guilty of assault and battery and cruelty to animals in connection with the incident.
Since Buster's death, the suit says, Nanni, 42, a paralegal, "continues to suffer severe emotional distress" and should be compensated for it. The suit asks for monetary damages for Buster's worth to Nanni, "which includes Buster's unique value . . . as a companion animal."
If treated as just property, then the plaintiff wouuld be entitled to, at most, the replacement cost for a similar breed from a breeder.
I am somewhat surprised that this case is described as capable of redefining property law in Virginia. Even in Puerto Rico, where we have not been all that hot in protecting the rights of animals, the Commonwealth Supreme Court long ago recognized that when a pet owner suffers damages, including pain and suffering, as a result of injury to the pet, there is a cause of actionb against the owner of another animal who caused the injuries. The damages that may be claimed are nbot limited to the veterinary bills for the injured pet, but also encompass the suffering caused to the pet owner as a result of those injuries - a separate injury. See Infante v. Leith, 85 D.P.R. 26 (1962) (in Spanish, as I can't locate the English translation in Westlaw, sorry).
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
We must remain vigilant. With generous government subsidies, the Canadian sealing industry may soon develop new markets for seal products. We must ensure that other nations follow the example set by the EU. The ProtectSeals campaign is working in several key countries already to ensure that there is nowhere left for the Canadian sealing industry to market its products.
To provide an economic incentive for the government to act, a global boycott of Canadian seafood products was launched in the U.S. in 2005. Since that boycott began, the Canadian fishing industry has suffered a $750 million (CAD) drop in the value of snow crab exports alone to the United States.
But this is great news anyway and time to celebrate this achievement. Congratulations to the European Union's Parliament are in order!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
It truly seems like a great idea, but I wonder whether judges would be open to the same. Do we have any dog lovers on the bench?
The site is excellent in educating about the Courthouse Dogs program.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Animal victims of abuse cannot speak for themselves—so concerned citizens and our legal system must speak up for them. That’s why the Animal Legal Defense Fund has created National Justice for Animals Week—an annual event that will be dedicated to raising public awareness nationwide about how to report animal abuse—and how to work within your community to create stronger laws and assure tough enforcement. February 22 - 28 marks ALDF’s first-ever National Justice for Animals Week.
Watch this special video profile of Adam, the mascot for this year's National Justice for Animals Week.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Stunningly Great News Out of Puerto Rico - Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on September 12th, 2008The post goes on to highlight the new law's more prominent features.
With very little fanfare in the rest of the U.S., Puerto Rico has enacted a landmark animal protection law, based, in large part, directly on Animal Legal Defense Fund's Model Laws!
Included are felonies for neglect, abandonment, cruelty and fighting; statutory recognition of the link between cruelty to animals and violence toward humans through increased penalties for those with prior animal abuse, domestic violence, child/elder abuse, or who commit the acts in front of minors; "abuse" includes emotional harm; protective orders; duty to enforce -- and much more.
Also, an interesting aside -- this bill sailed through their legislature. It was introduced in May -- in the Governor's hands in early July -- signed into law and went in effect last month. That feat, in and of itself, is very remarkable.
Until we receive the officially-translated version, below is a draft overview of many of the new provisions. Still seemingly absent from the law, are mental health, better cost management/mitigation, possession bans and forfeiture provisions. That said, a very big advance for Puerto Rico.
Here's to Puerto Rico!
And more recently, ALDF also released their 2008 State Animal Protection Laws Rankings, which now ranks Puerto Rico in the Top Tier in terms of the Animal Protection Law. The full report can be found here.
We also congratulate Interamerican University of Puerto Rico for setting up a Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) Chapter - Asociacion para la Concientizacion de los Derechos de los Animales. You can learn more about Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF) chapters here.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
My congratulations to all my fellow members of the Colegio de Abogados' Comisión Especial Sobre los Derechos de los Animales who put so many hours into researching, discussing, drafting, reviewing and providing this legislation to key legislators so as to assure that it would be approved. I take special pride in having been of some assistance. But more than anything else, I take great pride in the dedication shown by all of the Special Commission's members - both lawyers and many non-lawyers, including veterinarians and representatives of various organizations such as the Humane Society of Puerto Rico, Save a Sato and others.
Our work is certainly not done, since it is no use to have animal protection laws if we do not educate judges, prosecutors, police officers, and most important of all, the population at large, as to the importance of protecting, respecting and defending our animals. The commission has a busy agenda in this regards, with a strong focus on educating school age youngsters on the importance of protecting animals.
For me working with other Commission members has truly been one of my most enjoyable experiences as a lawyer. While I'm a criminal defense attorney, and not all of my clients are innocent, in this case I can truly say all of my clients are innocent.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Circus BansYou can also visit this PETA site on Circuses.
More than a dozen municipalities in the United States have banned performances that feature wild animals. Costa Rica, Sweden, Singapore, Finland, India, and Austria ban or restrict wild animal performances nationwide. Districts in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, and Greece ban some or all animal acts. PETA has been campaigning in the United States for specific bans on the most abusive circus practices, including chaining elephants and using training tools that cause pain and suffering, such as bullhooks and electric prods.
Sign Here to Stop Circus Cruelty
Monday, November 5, 2007
Is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Government Dragging Its Feet in the Barceloneta Pet Massacre Investigation?
What tools do you use to do your job?
Because of TV shows like CSI and Law and Order, real-life jurors expect forensic science to back up all the evidence presented to them—and animal cruelty cases are no exception. These days, jurors don’t just want any old evidence—they want forensic evidence.
“It’s because of ‘the CSI effect,’” says ASPCA Forensic Veterinarian, Dr. Melinda Merck, who literally wrote the book on using science in investigating animal cruelty. Merck, who often testifies as a forensic veterinary expert for animal cruelty cases around the country—including animal hoarding, dog fighting and animal torture—has also recently authored the textbook Veterinary Forensics: Animal Cruelty Investigations.
I would hate to think that this has something to do with the fact that Barceloneta Mayor Sol Luis Fontanez belongs to the same political party as the Governor. In the meantime, the Police Superintendent reports as to how evidence has been lost here. If evidence has been lost or destroyed, much blame falls in the hands of the Police Superintendent. What steps were taken to preserve evidence? None! It is true that Animal Control Solutions President Julio Díaz Cintrón has his hands dirtied with destruction of evidence, but much of that could have been prevented by the authorities if they had acted with a minimum degree of competence. As the Puerto Rico Tourism Company puts up its arms in disgust with the adverse press publicity this pet massacre has received world-wide, one would think that the Government would do all in its power to make sure that wrongdoers do not go unpunished. Such does not seem to be the way things are working out.
Among the hypotheticals lamely advanced by Mr. Díaz Cintrón, are the possibility that the animals found under the bridge were thrown there as a result of having died in dog fights, because he alleges that near to that site there are persons who engage in dog fighting. No evidence of this other than his say so. Another hypothesis advanced by him is that the animals were somehow killed in nearby municipalities by neighbors, since there are some municipalities that have no animal control programs, and it would not be surprising for neighbors to take this into their own hands. Again, no evidence of this.
Now, let us analyze these lame hypotheticals, in light of the known facts, and Mr. Díaz Cintron's actions. Some of the known facts:
- Some 50 pets were removed (in the first round) from their owners (residents of 3 public housing projects in Barceloneta, PR) by order of the municipality, under threat of having the residents otherwise evicted from their homes.
- Some 50 pets were found --mostly dead-- under a bridge shortly afterwards, having been thrown there from a height of some 50 feet.
- At least one pet -- Yoli -- survived and was identified by her owner. See photo of Yoli with Leisha Swayne here.
- When all of these animals were discovered --mostly dead-- Mr. Díaz-Cintrón paid for mechanical equipment (an excavator) to bury the animals, but he says he did this out of goodwill rather than any sense of guilt. He did this rather quickly. But he could not bury Yoli!!
- He thereafter alleged that the animals he had picked up, had been euthanized at a veterinary clinic in Caguas, PR, and then transported and were being kept in specialized refrigerators at Animal Control Solutions' facilities. This would obviously be the clearest exculpatory evidence in his control, one would reasonably think. But Mr. Díaz Cintrón said he had to take the animals to be cremated (without first giving notice to authorities, even though he knew there was an ongoing criminal investigation), because the special refrigerators were shut off at night and the animals were decomposing rapidly and creating a terrible smell at Animal Control Solutions' facilities. This was obviously a reasonable explanation, just as we all turn off our home refrigerators at night, or just as the morgues shut off their refrigerators at night!
Julio Díaz Cintrón needs to get a new life, one that does not involve storytelling.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico before the Senate's Comisión de lo Jurídico, Asuntos Municipales y Financieros
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This was part of the description back then.
The plight of Puerto Rico's stray dogs, many of them mixed breeds known as satos, is now the subject of a campaign by animal rights groups in Puerto Rico and on the United States mainland who say the problem, while common to many countries, is unacceptable in an American territory.
The groups say there is a dire need for more animal shelters, for mass sterilizations and for an educational campaign to promote responsibility among dog owners who think nothing of dumping their pets on beaches or along roadsides when the animals are regarded as too expensive or inconvenient.
''There are few places where you see the overt suffering that you see in Puerto Rico,'' said Joyce R. Briggs, a spokeswoman with the American Humane Association in Colorado, which distributed a grim video last summer on Puerto Rico's satos to raise awareness and money for animal protection efforts.
The problem resulted, at least in part, from years of neglect and the low priority given to the strays by government officials, animal rights groups say.
Officials of the Puerto Rican government have said they consider the strays to be the responsibility of the island's 78 municipalities.
Puerto Rico has no animal control officers or dog registry. Moreover, animal cruelty laws are not enforced, animal rights advocates say, and no government agency is directly responsible for the strays. But the main problem, the advocates said, is the attitude of many Puerto Ricans.
And that is pretty much the way it still is now, only probably worse. The 1998 article goes on to state that:
Many animal rights groups advocate a broad, government-subsidized sterilization campaign, and veterinarians favor an equal emphasis on changing the public perception of strays through school programs and public service announcements and passing legislation to require owners to register their pets and make vaccines for rabies mandatory.
''The problem is not the dogs, it's the owners,'' said Dr. Carlos Mongil, [then] president of the Puerto Rican Veterinary Medical Association, which this year plans to participate in a private, subsidized spaying and neutering program. ''We can sterilize all the dogs, but if people don't change their perception, we'd still have stray dogs. The same owner who dumps won't sterilize.''
Suffice it to say that I have yet to hear of the broad, government-subsidized sterilization campaign, or the school programs or the public service announcements. Nor is there any legislation requiring guardians to register their pets. And as for the Puertorrican Veterinary Medical Association, it is still pushing legislation for microchips and mandatory sterilizations.
Spaying or Neutering Is Good for Your Pet
- Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives.
- Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat.
- Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle.
- Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.
Spaying or Neutering Is Good for You
- Spaying and neutering makes pets better, more affectionate companions.
- Neutering cats makes them less likely to spray and mark territory.
- Spaying a dog or cat eliminates her heat cycle. Estrus lasts an average of six to 12 days, often twice a year, in dogs and an average of six to seven days, three or more times a year, in cats. Females in heat can cry incessantly, show nervous behavior, and attract unwanted male animals.
- Unsterilized animals often exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than do those who have been spayed or neutered.
- Spaying and neutering can make pets less likely to bite.
- Neutering makes pets less likely to roam the neighborhood, run away, or get into fights.
Spaying and Neutering Are Good for the Community
- Communities spend millions of dollars to control unwanted animals.
- Irresponsible breeding contributes to the problem of dog bites and attacks.
- Animal shelters are overburdened with surplus animals.
- Stray pets and homeless animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and frighten or anger people who have no understanding of their misery or needs.
- Some stray animals also scare away or kill birds and wildlife.
As indicated here at The Humane Society website regarding the problem with pet overpopulation:
As a nation, we claim to love cats and dogs. Millions of households have pets, and billions of dollars are spent yearly on pet supplies and food. But as a nation, we should take a hard, sobering look at a different annual statistic: the millions of dogs and cats given up to shelters or left to die on the streets. And the numbers tell only half the story.How many more dead or suffering animals do we need to see before we decide to get more serious about this problem?
Every cat or dog who dies as a result of pet overpopulation—whether humanely in a shelter or by injury, disease, or neglect—is an animal who, more often than not, would have made a wonderful companion, if given the chance. Tremendous as the problem of pet overpopulation is, it can be solved if each of us takes just one small step, starting with not allowing our animals to breed. Here's information about this crisis and why spaying and neutering is the first step to a solution.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
In photo, Leisha Swayne, Cruelty Investigations Consultant for the RED de Protectores de Animales (The Animal Protectors Network), and Yoli, one of only two survivors of the Barceloneta Pet Massacre. We have posted a link under "Animal Rights Cases" in the sidebar to the Complaint filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico in the so-called "Barceloneta Massacre" case, or Maldonado v. Municipality of Barceloneta, et al.., No. 07-1992 (JAG), claiming in excess of $20 million. This is the case in which the pets taken from their owners under threat of eviction from their public housing, were thereafter thrown to their deaths from a bridge some 50 feet high. You have to read the Complaint. See video at ABC News. Also see posts at Manos por Patas blog here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Animal Protection Laws of the United States & Canada - Third Edition by Stephan K. Otto, ALDF Director of Legal Affairs
You can visit Animal Legal Defense Fund and download here a complimentary copy of Animal Protection Laws of the United States of America & Canada — Third Edition by Stephan K. Otto, Director of Legislative Affairs. It now also covers U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico.
It is the must-have resource for lawyers, law professors, law students, legislators, other legal professionals, and anyone who wants the most comprehensive animal protection laws collection of its kind available.
At almost 2,900 pages in length, the third edition of the compendium contains a detailed survey of the general animal protection and related statutes for all of the states, principal districts and territories of the United States of America, and for all of Canada; up-to-date versions of each jurisdiction’s laws; easy, clickable navigation; and fully searchable content.
You must provide the required information and then you will download an installer which will take you through the rest of the process.