With a tip of the hat to How Appealing, there were a number of stories late in the week about an interesting case out of Austria involving a chimpanzee named Pan and the attempt to have the court recognize legal personhood on the Pan's behalf. According to the AP article that the stories were based on, Pan and another chimp named Rosi were captured as a baby in Sierra Leone in 1982 and smuggled into Austria for use in experiments. Customs officials discovered the shipment ad turned them over to an animal shelter, where they have lived for the past 25 years. Now, the animal shelter has filed bankruptcy and Austrian animal activists are concerned about what will happen to the chimps. A judge dismissed a case brought by an animal group ruling that the group had no legal standing to argue on Pan's behalf. The group states that it will appeal to the Austrian Supreme Court.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Findlaw reports here that the United States Bureau of Land Management has temporarily closed the National Wild Horse and Burro Center in northern Nevada where 130 horses have died based on fears about salmonella. The concerns apparently stem from a group of horses that were extremely weak from a lack of food and water due to drought, which made them more susceptible to the disease. Under the 1971 Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, BLM is required to manage horses and burros in the areas where they were found in 1971.
The press release from the BLM is available here. A list of questions and answers provided by BLM is at this link.
As noted in this previous post, the Humane Society of United States and Grey2k U.S.A., Inc. were recently parties in a case that was argued at the Florida Supreme Court. At issue in the case was whether a trial should be held on alleged signature fraud in placing a voter referendum on the ballot in 2004 involving slot machines. Ultimately, the referendum was passed allowing for the possibility of slot machines at dog and horse racing tracks in South Florida.
In a ruling that favors HSUS and Grey2K, the Florida Supreme Court discharged the case today. The Court held that jurisdiction had improvidently been granted. The decision, available here, found that a majority of the First DCA did not certify the question to the Supreme Court because only six of the twelve judges voted in favor of certification. Moreover, the Supreme Court agreed with arguments presented by the Secretary of State and Attorney General that advocated in favor of developing more facts about the case. Quoting from the Secretary of State's Answer Brief, the Court stated:
The long-standing principle that an election cures irregularities in the process and thereby promotes finality and administrative efficiency is a weighty one; similarly, the ability of citizens to amend the state constitution through the initiative process without fraud is extremely important. This Court should avoid making rulings affecting the application of these principles until the specific allegations of fraud are adjudicated. A fully-developed record with a proven set of facts will allow this Court to carefully consider and balance the competing legal principles; that cannot properly be done based on speculative, unproven factual allegations.The decision will allow trial court proceedings to go forward.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
A couple days ago, the New York Times ran an article reporting on the a federal report prepared pursuant to the Endangered Species Act that shows that populations of loggerhead sea turtles are falling. One of the possible causes for the drop might be expanded commercial fishing. Florida, which makes up the largest part of one of the two largest nesting areas for loggerheads in the world, has seen a drop of 4% in nesting sites per year. More information on the status, conservation efforts, regulatory oversight, and key documents is available from the NOAA's Office of Protected Resources here.
Today, the Orlando Sentinel reported here about the release of 25 loggerhead turtles that were raised in captivity. The turtles were captured moments after their birth in 2004 and were raised until they were 2 feet long and weighed about 100 pounds. The loggerheads were studied to determine how to prevent turtles from getting caught on commercial fishing hooks. Be sure to check our the video of the release at the Sentinel's website.
Monday, September 24, 2007
The Miami Herald reports here that the trial of a Miami police officer accused of killing his K9 partner has been delayed until December. The officer is on unpaid leave while facing charges involving animal cruelty and killing a police dog after being accused of kicking the dog, named Duke, several times.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
How Appealing posts here and here about Friday's decision out of the Seventh Circuit that dissolves an earlier injunction against the enforcement of an Illinois law aimed at ending the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The decision, authored by Judge Posner, is available at this link. Among the notable quotes:
- "States have a legitimate interest in prolonging the lives of animals that their population happens to like."
- "Of course Illinois could do much more for horses than it does—could establish old-age pastures for them, so that they would never be killed (except by a stray cougar), or provide them with free veterinary care. But it is permitted to balance its interest in horses’ welfare against the other interests of its (human) population; and it is also
permitted to take one step at a time on a road toward the humane treatment of our fellow animals."
- "There would be an uproar if restaurants in Chicago started serving cat and dog steaks, even though millions of stray cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters."
Friday, September 21, 2007
As previously noted here and here, the move toward preventing dogs from being chained or tethered is gaining more and more support in 2007. Now, Alachua County, as the High Springs Herald reports, has passed a new ordinance that limits the amount of time that dogs can be chained. After hearing from an expert on the negative impacts of chaining, the Alachua County Commission unanimously voted to ban the chaining or tethering of dogs for more than three hours in a 24-hour period.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The Florida Supreme Court held oral arguments this morning in a case involving the 2004 voter initiative that allowed slot machines at certain greyhound racing facilities in South Florida. The issue before the Court involved whether it was appropriate to have a trial on the legality of the signatures that were gathered in support of placing the initiative on the ballot. According to this story in the Houston Chronicle, the opponents of the measure allege that some signatures are from dead people, pets and voters who now deny signing.
In addition to Floridians Against Expanded Gambling, the Respondents on the case included the Humane Society of the United States and Grey2K, U.S.A., Inc., a nationwide organization dedicated to protecting greyhounds and ending greyhound racing. The link to the video from the oral argument isn't up yet, but the Answer Brief of the Respondents is available here and the Petitioner's initial brief is available here. The en banc decision below that certified questions to the Florida Supreme Court came from the First District Court of Appeal and is available at this link.
A pet pig named "Big Pig" was stabbed multiple times at a Sun City petting zoo by unknown intruders. News on the attack here, here, and here.
Police arrested two men now charged with the petting zoo attacks. More info here.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
- Man arrested after beating dog.
- Recovered manatee released.
- Hormone-fed milk cows fade from market.
- House sale set aside because of animal hoarding.
- Animal Chip Implants may cause cancer.
- Gov. Crist opposes cutting manatee protection officers.
- 19 Florida panther fatalities so far this year.
- Alex the super-star parrot's last words.
Friday, September 14, 2007
While there's more than enough Florida Animal Law items to discuss and fill these pages, occasionally there are animal law items that take place outside Florida that are too interesting to pass up or might have some tie to similar legal issues in Florida. Moreover, there are also the interesting items about Florida animals that may be tenuously connected to the law. While the focus of this blog remains squarely on Florida animal law, as long as two of the three exist (i.e., animal law or Florida animal), I won't hesitate to post on the items because they aren't off topic. Where something takes place outside Florida, I'll add a label identifying it as such.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Courtesy of this news brief at the St. Pete Times, the Florida Wildlife Commission decided that Florida residents that keep wildlife will not have to provide their neighbors with notice about the animals on their property.
Posted by Riley at 9:57 PM
This story in the New York Times does a better job than my post of a few days ago at laying out the developments in alternatives to animal testing that now exist. As noted in my post, the article also notes the head start the Europeans have in this arena. Nevertheless, the article also mentions a recent study issued by the National Academy of Sciences that was commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency. The NAS study concluded that that over time, the use of animals for testing could be greatly reduced and possibly eliminated.
The Keynoter reports that Monroe County Judge Mark H. Jones sentenced two defendants who pled guilty to alligator poaching to six months in jail, five years probation, and eight hours of community service a month for three years working with animal groups. The defendants will also be psychologically evaluated. According to the article, the two defendants shot the 6-foot female's eyeballs with a pellet gun and then beat her to death with a baseball bat.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
From the St. Pete Times Breaking News Blog, the Florida Wildlife Commission voted 6-0 to delay a decision that would remove manatees from the state's endangered species list. As noted in yesterday's post, Governor Crist had written a letter to the Commission requesting such a delay. A response to the Governor's action from Defenders of Wildlife is available here.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The White Collar Crime Prof Blog has this post describing of the recent Department of Justice arrests and indictments of five individuals for trading in exotic skins and parts manufactured from sea turtles and other protected species of wildlife. The DOJ press release is available here. Sea turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty of which the United States, Mexico and approximately 170 other countries are parties. Check out the CITES website for more information on the treaty and the type of protection it provides.
The picture above is of a hawksbill turtle, which was the primary source for tortoise shell before its trade was banned.
The Florida Wildlife Commission had been expected to vote to downgrade manatees from endangered to threatened at its regional meeting this week, but now Governor Crist has weighed in with a letter asking FWC to delay that vote. The Orlando Sentinel and St. Pete Times Political Blogs cover Crist's letter here and here respectively. The letter is available from St. Pete Times here.
Yet another article, appearing in the International Hearald Tribune and credited to a reporter with the Boston Globe, is available here on the rapidly expanding field of animal law. Here's a choice blurb from the article featuring a quote from professor David Favre, but I wholeheartedly recommend the entire article, which also features quotes from animal law guru Steven Wise:
"For literally thousands of years animals have been part of personal property," says David Favre, a law professor and animal law specialist at Michigan State University, "but in the past five years we're seeing courts take a broader view that animals are not like televisions and computers, that our relationship with them is more complex than that."
At the same time, the field of animal law is growing. Nearly half of the 190 accredited law schools in the United States now offer animal law courses, up from a handful 10 years ago, and around 100 now have chapters of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. A rising number of lawyers are dedicating themselves, in whole or in part, to the practice, and the American Bar Association and 13 state bar associations now have animal law committees.
For the most part, the lawyers arguing these new sorts of cases avoid the language of animal rights. In the eyes of the law, only people have rights, and even many animal lawyers are unwilling to dissolve the boundary between animal and person. Instead, many argue that animals should be something intermediate, a form of sentient property.
Still, a few animal lawyers see the evolution in the law paving the way to a more fundamental rethinking of the legal status of what they call, to emphasize our own connection to the animal world, "nonhuman animals."
Posted by Riley at 4:59 PM
Saturday, September 8, 2007
In a previous post, I mentioned the increasing number of states that have animal law sections and committees. From Law.com comes this story about the local animal law committee in Suffolk County, New York. In addition to a decent description of the types of cases an animal law practitioner might expect, the story contains a link to a pamphlet put out by the New York State Bar on animal law. Although I'm unaware of any in Florida currently, the spread of formal animal law groups to local bar organizations seems to be a growing trend as well.
Posted by Riley at 8:08 AM
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
As noted in the previous post, I'm out and about on vacation with limited Internet access, so I've brought a number of books I optimistically will be reading. One of the books in the stack is the 1993 update of Pete Singer's classic Animal Liberation. Always a controversial subject, I'm currently reading the chapter on animal testing. This made several news items I spotted today all the more interesting. First, over at the Orlando Sentinel's animal blog, there was this post on the testing done by pet food companies. It referenced a longer article that appeared in the Sunday NY Times' Magazine, which is available here. Finally, was this article from the UK who was honored for developing methods that reduce the number of animals that are needed in experiments. One of the points Singer makes in his book is that the U.S. is behind the curve in adopting new cost-effective methods that in many cases are superior to animal testing.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
One good thing about the Leona Helmsley bequest of $12 million to her dog is that it has increased the awareness of planning for pets. The News Herald has a story here. See my previous post about this year's changes to Florida's pet trust laws here.
Also, I'm out and about the next two weeks with limited Internet access, which is why the posts may seem a bit abbreviated.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Saturday, September 1, 2007
The News Herald out of Panama City has this story about an individual charged who allegedly disposed of bodies of domestic pigs infected with the Brucellosis bacteria on his property. According to the report a number of agencies, including the Department of Environmental Protection, the USDA, the Florida Department of Consumer and Agricultural Affairs, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission coordinated on the matter.
Posted by Riley at 6:36 AM
The Wall Street Journal Online has an interesting story about a case where an Briavid bird watcher is on trial for animal cruelty after shooting a cat. These cases pose a dilemma for animal enthusiasts.
While cats, both domestic and feral, undoubtedly are responsible for killing wild birds, including some rare and endangered species (the story mentions the piping plover, previously posted on here) does the impact on birds constitue grounds for euthanizing or killing cats? For the two sides of the debate, here's a
link from the American Bird Conservancy. And a while their website has additional information, there is a brief response to the ABC from Alley Cat Allies available here. Of course, the best solution would be for people to spay
and neuter their cats to cut down on the number of homeless and feral cats.
Posted by Riley at 5:57 AM