An article at TCPalm.com details plans by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to send inspectors in to pet stores this holiday season. The inspectors will be looking to ensure compliance with Florida's animal sales laws in section 828.29, Florida Statutes, aka Florida's pet lemon law. The law imposes a number of requirements on pet sellers and potential buyer's rights if pets are unhealthy. According to the article, those who have questions about the law, are advised to call 1-800-HELPFLA (1-800-435-7352) or (850) 410-0900.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
According to News 4 in Jacksonville, a Clay County domestic violence shelter that helps children and women will expand to accept more pets as well. The Quigley House's pet facilities are one of the largest of this kind in Florida. In the article, the executive director of the shelter notes being aware of victims that would not come to the shelter because of their pets. Often abusers use the pets as leverage or will abuse pets as a means of threatening their human victims. The shelter is holding a fund raiser to help pay for the expansion on December 1st.
It is well settled that there is a link between the abuse of animals and domestic violence. It is increasingly recognized that fear about what abusers will do to pets left behind can keep victims in abusive situations. Hopefully more Florida shelters will be adding this as an option.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
The Daytona Beach News Journal has an article describing Volusia County's consideration of mandatory spay and neuter requirements for pets. The article notes that county attorneys have started looking at similar laws in other areas, and the Animal Control Board is considering various options for next year. In 2006 alone, the largest shelter in the county euthanized more than 11,000 unwanted animals. Proponents of mandatory spay and neuter ordinances note that the laws reduce the number of animals killed in addition to saving taxpayers money in costs related to dealing with large numbers of unwanted pets.
Here's a couple stories that are from outside Florida, but are interesting nonetheless. The first article in the Roanoke Times is about Virginia prosecutor who is making a name for herself by vigorously enforcing animal cruelty laws.
Second, the Radio Taiwan International has a quick blurb here about new legislation pending in Taiwan that would increase the protection that animals enjoy under the law. Among other changes, the new law would provide for the publication of the names and pictures of animal abusers.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
TCPalm.com reports here on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission's third Non-native Pet Amnesty Day being held in February in Miami. FWC hopes to adopt out any non-native pets collected to qualified individuals. There are a number of nonnative and invasive species in Florida that have been illegally released into the wild by people who no longer want or can no longer care for an exotic pet. The Amnesty day provides such people a legal option to give up these pets.
The Amnesty day will be held February 23 at the Miami Metro Zoo. The article also has information for potential adopters:
More information on non-native animals is available at FWC's website here.
Anyone interested in adopting nonnative pets should call Jenny Tinnell at (850) 926-0128. Potential adopters will be allowed to sign up over the phone until Dec. 21, 2007. The formal certification process will begin in January 2008. Adopters must be at least 18, with no history of felonies, wildlife or cruelty violations, and no resource or captive wildlife violations for the past 3 years.
Adopters must have knowledge of natural history and caging requirements and have proper facilities for the animals they are interested in adopting. There is no fee for being a certified adopter.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
There's been a number of articles lately about the drought gripping the southeastern United States. Several have addressed the impact that the drought, and accompanying water policy decisions, will have on endangered mussels in the rivers of the Florida Panhandle.
Today, the Orlando Sentinel, reported here on the ongoing water dispute. The story notes that Fish and Wildlife Service experts have predicted recent reductions in waterflow will kill bout 2 percent of the endangered fat threeridge mussels along the Apalachicola River.
Mussels already have been hit hard by low waters for much of this year. Florida biologists have found that the shellfish, with a life span of decades, live in shallow water and cannot move quickly when the river levels drop abruptly.Earlier this month, CNN ran a story here on the impact of the drought on the forgotten coast. In addition to the damage to endangered freshwater mussels in the panhandle's rivers, the oysters of the gulf have been adversely impacted as well. The lack of freshwater flowing into the gulf has increased the salinity of the water and killed off oysters and other marine life.
Federal officials are "pushing the mussels into extinction," said Dan Tonsmeire of the environmental group Apalachicola Riverkeeper.
On November 17th, the Tallahassee Democrat ran a story that included reactions to the federal government's decision to decrease the amount of water flowing into Florida, including a call for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to file suit:
Seafood workers say oysters now are dying in Apalachicola Bay because of low fresh water flow since June.For more information, see the Appalachicola Riverkeeper's website here. The picture above is of a purple bankclimber mussel from the USFWS's website.
“Reducing water flows by millions of gallons every single day will be tantamount to a death sentence to the Apalachicola River and Apalachicola Bay if these flow levels are maintained,” U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello, said in a statement.
Apalachicola Riverkeeper asked Crist to file a lawsuit to block the flow reduction until Georgia conserves more water or restricts growth. A DEP spokeswoman said the state will examine documents before deciding whether to take legal action.
“We feel like there is sufficient hands-on, eyes-on evidence down here now to show the flows prior to any reduction have been devastating to the fish and wildlife of our estuary,” said David McLain, senior policy advisor to Apalachicola Riverkeeper.
The Sun-Sentinel reports here that Palm Beach's County Commission voted 6-0 to the double the cost to license a dog or cat that isn't spayed or neutered. The cost will be $75, while the cost for licensing a dangerous breed, such as a pit bull, will include a $100 surcharge. Additionally, a fee $100 will be imposed if animal control officers have to respond to complaints involving the pets. The changes will help offset $500,000 in property tax reductions that were ordered by the state. Next month, the commission will consider mandatory spay and neuter requirements.
The New York Times ran this report on Saturday regarding the federal prosecution of a woman charged with the importation of "bushmeat," or the meat of wild African animals. The article contains quotes from the director of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, who estimates that 15,000 pounds of bushmeat come to market in the United States every month.
In the criminal case being prosecuted, the meat in question came from baboon, green monkey and warthog. A number of different parties have expressed interest in the case. Conservationists see the importation of the meat from wild animals as a severe threat. Other scientists have expressed concern about the spread of existing or the introduction of new diseases. The story notes that "ebola can be contracted by butchering chimpanzees, and the first human case of H.I.V. probably originated through similar exposure."
The defendant's lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment arguing that the consumption of bushmeat is protected by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Consumerist blog reports here on the recall of 98,000 pounds of smoked sausage rolls over fears that they may be contaminated with Listeria. The products, manufactured by Double B Foods, were sold in twelve states including Florida. The post links to this Reuters' story.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Cordis News reports here that the European Commission and the US Food and Drug Administration have agreed to intensify their collaboration in order to reduce animal testing at a meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council. The EC and FDA agreed to cooperate more closely in the peer review of validation studies of alternative methods to animal testing for cosmetics in order to contribute to a reduction in animal tests.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
USA Today has an interesting article on the number of states that are passing pet lemon laws, which are designed to make pet sellers more responsible and to protect people from purchasing sick animals. The uptick in legislation may be related to reports of animal abuse at puppy mills or stories of pet purchasers who later learn their animals are sick. Florida's pet lemon law is available here.
On Friday, the rancher on trial for animal cruelty involving a herd of cows was found guilty of five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.. As noted in the prior post on the case, he had been charged with over 120 counts, including five felony counts. The rancher's attorney said he was somewhat satisfied that the jury didn't convict on more serious crimes. The judge had ruled that the jury would not be shown any pictures or video of the conditions of the cows.
(Sources here and here).
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Findlaw reports here on a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals holding that the Navy must decrease the amount of harm its high-power sonar does to whales and other marine life during exercises off the Southern California coast that were scheduled for January. The court determined that the actions were necessary based on the likelihood that the Natural Resources Defense Council will win its lawsuit to force the Navy to lessen the harm. The opinion is available via the Ninth Circuit's website (pdf).
The NRDC's press release on the court's decision includes the following quotes from NRDC's attorney:
“There are simple, proven ways to avoid this problem without compromising the Navy’s readiness. The court’s decision prevents the needless infliction of harm to whales and other marine species during the Navy’s training off our coast,” said Joel Reynolds, senior attorney and director of the Marine Mammal Protection Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC ), which filed the lawsuit. “ We don’t train soldiers to shoot in the middle of crowded city streets , and the Navy shouldn’t practice hunting with sonar in California’s rich ocean habitat without the most basic precautions.”
Posted by Riley at 9:58 PM
The trial for a Florida man accused of an astounding 120 counts of animal cruelty began on Wednesday in Collier County. The Naples News reports here on the first day of the trial, which involved testimony from an animal services officer who described the deplorable condition of a herd of cattle that gave rise to the animal cruelty charges. More stories on the trial available here and here.
The Central Florida Political Pulse blog at the Orlando Sentinel posts here on the reaction from dog track owners on Governor Crist's agreement to with the Seminole tribe that will allow table games and slots at Indian casinos. One dog track owner predicts "grave consequences" according to the post.
Posted by Riley at 8:56 PM
Earlier this week, Congress held hearings into the joint decision made by the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow meat and fish to be packaged in a modified atmosphere containing carbon monoxide, according to this story at ABC News. Treating the meat with carbon monoxide affects its color and makes it appear to look fresh indefinitely.
The Consumerist posts here that carbon monoxide treated meat is here to stay for now.
Meanwhile, the AP reports that Target has asked the USDA to let the company add labels that warn consumers when meat is treated with carbon monoxide. USDA officials said they would approve the proposed labeling if the wording is "truthful and not misleading." (More on Target's move is available here via Blogging Stocks, the premier blog for stock news.)
Finally, the Chicago Tribune reported here that a loophole in USDA inspection allows for meat that tests positive for e. coli to be sold if it is labeled "cook only."
Posted by Riley at 8:38 PM
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
It's increasingly clear that animal law news is entering the mainstream at a rapid pace. I just posted about Wayne Pacelle's article in Newsweek, but it also just so happens that there's an especially good article in the ABA Journal this month on animal law as well. It features quotes from some of my favorite animal law attorneys like Professor David Favre and Bruce Wagman.
Rather than post anything supplemental or descriptive about the article, other than the observation that it is unfortunately titled "Beast Practices" (silent groan), I highly recommend reading it in its entirety.
Posted by Riley at 9:04 PM
The head of the Humane Society of the United States has a great article in the latest Newsweek, available online here. It's not possible to pick a particular quote, but since this one mentions Florida, I've included it below:
No battle was ever easily won. But along the way, something remarkable has happened. In recent years, our cause has moved from the margins to the mainstream. Yes, many of our adversaries still have money and influence, and resist even the most modest reforms. But we have something better—the power of conscience and the votes of the majority. There is a sense that the winds of change are blowing in our direction, and more briskly than ever. Since 1990, I've been part of 20 successful ballot-initiative campaigns to end the abuse of animals. We have championed hundreds of new reforms at the state and federal level. There aren't many issues these days on which both parties can agree, but compassion for animals is a universal value.
We're even seeing the first stirrings of reform in the abusive treatment of the 10 billion animals a year on factory farms. Voters and lawmakers in Arizona, Florida and Oregon have outlawed confining farm animals in crates so small that they cannot turn around, and Californians will have the chance to do the same in the November 2008 elections. The ballot initiative has the potential to relieve the suffering of 20 million animals in California raised for food.
Posted by Riley at 8:53 PM
Monday, November 12, 2007
The Associated Press reports that Progressive Auto Insurance Company is offering coverage for driver's pets that are hurt or killed in a car accident. The coverage will pay up to $500 and is available at no additional cost to the insured.
Posted by Riley at 9:51 PM
Eighteen men from four states, including Florida, were arrested in Alabama and charged with animal trafficking, according to this story at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. The men were purportedly operating "fox pens" where animals are released into enclosures and dogs are then permitted to chase them down. The arrests came at the end of a two year investigation and resulted in the seizure of 55 foxes, 25 coyotes and two bobcats, and 33 cardinals that were used as bait.
Posted by Riley at 7:21 PM
Tampa Bay's 10 News reports here on the seizure of five tigers and a lion from a location in Inverness. The case has been referred to state attorneys for possible prosecution. State wildlife officials stated that the animals were badly malnourished. Over at the St. Pete Times breaking news blog, the report states that the animals were seized from a home and that the animals all weighed about 350 pounds below their normal weight.
Posted by Riley at 7:01 PM
The Naples News reports on Administrative Law Judge T. Kent Wetherell II agreement with attorneys to put a case on hold pending settlement discussions. The case involves a challenge by the Department of Community Affairs to Collier County refusal to tighten protections for red-cockaded woodpeckers. The negotiations have included the Florida Wildlife Federation and Collier County Audubon Society, which intervened in the case on the side of the DCA, and landowners John and Jane Cowan, the Hideout Golf Club and Buckley Enterprises, who intervened on the side of the county.
The Seattle Times reports here on a study that aims to research the number and health of manatees located in the Everglades. The seven year study is designed to assess the impact of Everglades restoration on the manatee that live there. The Everglades represent the largest undeveloped area of manatee habitat as well as one of the places where they are least understood.
As the Farm Bill wiles its way through both chambers of Congress, there have been a number of issues that have come up regarding animals. Given the complication and size of the bill these issues shift on an almost daily basis. Therefore, when I've seen them pop up, I've rarely posted anything about them, which is a mistake. Some of them would squarely impact the way the law affects animals in Florida.
Earlier this year, for example, the house added amendments to the Farm Bill that would end the end the sale of random source dogs and cats to research through the hands of Class B dealers and would bar the use of live animals in sales demonstrations of medical devices. HSUS reported on those amendments here and is encouraging people to contact the Senate to have similar amendments passed in that chamber.
In any event, I intend to start paying more attention. One thing that is clear about the current draft of the farm bill is that it will not include any radical changes. Along those lines, I recently finished reading Michael Pollan's best selling book The Omnivore's Dilemma, which offers a powerful critique of food and politics. Pollan recently wrote an article for the New York Times that lists some of the problems with the current draft of the farm bill.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
On Monday, a suspect was arrested in Santa Rosa county and charged with 35 counts of felony possession of fighting dogs. As of Tuesday, the suspect was being held on a $70,000 bond. Subsequently, law enforcement officers arrested two individuals on suspicion of dogfighting after the men were pulled over with two pitbulls. WKRG.com reports that the men were leaving the residence of the suspect charged with felony possession of fighting dogs.
The St. Pete Times's blog reports here and Fox News reports here on the earlier arrest.
Fox reports here that only 28,500 turtle nests were found in a 19 beach survey. Last year, there were almost50,000. from 19 surveyed beaches, down from almost 50,000 last year. A research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission noted that this could be the lowest year on record for loggerheads. Nesting numbers have declined in at least four of the past seven years.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Sorry for the slow posting - I'm in the middle of slew of depositions and travel. Here's some of the items that I've missed recently; time permitting, I hope to revisit some with more meaningful commentary:
- Trap-neuter-return program stops wild felines' breeding.
- Land o' Lakes man arrested for animal abuse.
- Sea turtle nests near 19-year low mark.
- Private property owner enrolls in the Safe Harbor Program for woodpecker protection.
- Revisions put more "bite" in Palatka's animal ordinance.
- Safety concerns lead to feeding suggestions for pet treats.
- FWC testing ducks for avian flu.
- State deal on Seminole gaming could impact greyhound track.