Monday, December 14, 2009

From ALDF: Oppose Puerto Rico’s Plan for a Massive Primate Breeding Facility

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.

Let Puerto Rican officials know you are part of the international opposition to this cruel plan!

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!

Animal Legal Defense Fund : Animal Researchers Worried About Growth of Animal Law

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

Are our pets just property or are they more than that?

As the Washington Post reports:

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."

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."

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

In Challenge to Canada, Europe Bans Seal Trade

This is great news for the seals! The NYT reports here that the European Union's Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to ban all trade in seal products. See also the Humane Society's Victory For Seals! The European Union Bans the Trade in Seal Products.
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

Courthouse Dogs

I invite you all to check out the Courthouse Dogs site - promoting justice through the use of well-trained dogs to provide emotional support for everyone in our criminal justice system.

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

Adam's Story - National Justice for Animals Week

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

News from the Animal Legal Defense Fund on Puerto Rico

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has posted news on the approval of Puerto Rico's enactment of Law 154 -

Stunningly Great News Out of Puerto Rico - Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on September 12th, 2008­

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!
The post goes on to highlight the new law's more prominent features.

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.