The Palm Beach Post has a disturbing story about a man who allegedly beat his girlfriend's dog to death because it defecated in the house. He was arrested and charged with animal cruelty, according to the article.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A resident of Punta Gorda Isles has applied to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission for a permit that would allow him to collapse the burrows of a pair of burrowing owls on his property, according to this article at the Sun-Herald. Burrowing owls are a species of special concern, and therefore, Florida prohibits harming the birds, their nests or their eggs without a permit. The FWC will issue a permit only after "all reasonable alternatives" have been exhausted. The article notes that a wildlife biologist with FWC has recommended that the permit application be denied.
There a reports from both Central Florida's News Thirteen and Florida Today are reporting on a number of manatee deaths that are suspected to have been caused by red tide blooms. Manatees die from red tide because the algae toxin concentrates in the seagrass they eat and they breathe the poison at the water's surface. A marine mammal biologist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife commission is quoted in the Florida Today story as follows: "They actually asphyxiate. . . . The animal suffocates. . . . In my mind it's just a horrible way to die." The story also provides contact information for manatee rescue:
If you see a sick manatee . . .
Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wildlife rescue hotline at 888-404-3922 to alert biologists of sick manatees if you notice the animal's face and lips twitching with tremors and the animal struggling to stay at the surface.
The Sun-Sentinel has an interesting article today on the increasing use of therapy dogs at hospitals around south Florida. Studies show "petting a dog can lower a patient's blood pressure, reduce stress and improve the mood of both children and adults."
Friday, December 28, 2007
According to the St. Pete Times Breaking News Blog, a St. Petersburg man was arrested on an animal cruelty charge after he killed a wounded cat in public by striking it repeatedly with a hammer. The cat may have been injured after being hit by a car. A witness told police the man allegedly said, "I'm tired of hearing it squeal all morning,'' as he hit the cat five to seven times with a hammer. The man told police he was "only putting the cat out of its misery."
The Orlando Sentinel reports here on the large number of exotic animals being kept privately in Florida. While 22 states ban the private ownership of exotic wildlife, Florida allows it. According to the story, state records show 4,500 people or businesses hold licenses to own exotic animals. However, the story notes that the records are incomplete and it is difficult to track the actual number of such animals. Based on the available inventories, a review by the St. Pete Times found that about 13,500 Class 1 and Class 2 animals are concentrated in the hands of 500 private owners. The article notes that the largest quantities of exotic animals in Florida are primates being bred for animal testing.
The Herald Tribune reports on a study taking place over the next few weeks of a rare migratory shore bird called the Red Knot. Red Knots stop in Florida during a 9,300 mile trek between the Arctic, where they nest, and Tierra del Fuego, where they winter. There were as many as 100,000 Red Knots two decades ago, but biologists estimate only 18,000 to 33,000 remain. A federal study conducted last year predicted that red knots would become extinct in a decade if their numbers continued on the same declining trend.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I'm up in West Virginia visiting family for the holidays. As such, it seemed appropriate to congratulate the Mountaineer State's senior senator, Robert Byrd, upon being named PETA's person of the year. PETA's blog references a number of positions that Senator Byrd has taken on behalf of animals. Of particular note, was a quote from 2001 regarding a bill addressing cruelty to farm animals:
"Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more and more barbaric. Six-hundred-pound hogs—they were pigs at one time—raised in 2-foot-wide metal cages called gestation crates, in which the poor beasts are unable to turn around or lie down in natural positions, and this way they live for months at a time. … These creatures feel; they know pain. They suffer pain just as we humans suffer pain."
Posted by Riley at 9:49 PM
Monday, December 24, 2007
Earlier this month, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced new legislation entitled the Tracking Animal Cruelty Crimes Act of 2007. The Act would require the FBI to add animal cruelty as a separate category to its crime data reporting system. Tracking these crimes would be a welcome reflection that animal cruelty is being taken more seriously. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
More information is available from the Humane Society of the United States at this link and from the Humane Society Legislative Fund's blog at this link. Also, it would be remiss not to give a tip of the hat to the Horse.com where I first spotted this post on the Act.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The News-Press has an interesting article on the difficulty Florida's dog racing industry is having staying afloat. At one time there were close to 30 greyhound racetracks in Florida. That number has dwindled to 13.
In addition to competition from the Florida lottery and casino gambling, the article also cites disinterest on the part of young people and pressure from animal groups as a cause for the decline.
The article also quotes Susan Netboy, founder and president of the Greyhound Protection League, who is happy the younger generation doesn’t have the time for greyhound racing:
“Young people recognize it’s exploiting the dogs and won’t spend their money there,” she said. “And it’s too boring for them. Betting on greyhounds takes time and the only people who have time to bet the dogs are the old-timers — and they’re not going to be around for much longer.
“If the greyhound tracks get slot machines, they might survive. Without them, they’ll be gone in 10 years,” Netboy said.
The Lake City Reporter talked to various Columbia County officials about dogfighting in the area. The Lake City Animal Shelter Director told the paper that "dog fighting is common in the Columbia County area, and the shelter has treated several dogs that were victims to dog fighting incidents." The sheriff's office also confirmed that a dog fighting arena that was disassembled last week had been used at least four times. Florida Department of Law Enforcement is assisting in the investigation.
Mysuncoast.com reports on the delay in the migration of seventeen whooping crane chicks on their way to Florida. Bad weather has temporarily grounded the birds in Tennessee
Only about 300 whooping cranes remain in the wild and they are protected by the Endangered Species Act. The 1250-mile trip began in Wisconsin and will end when the chicks reach the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge in Crystal River, Florida. The story also provides links to more information courtesy of Operation Migration and the Ocala Star Banner.
Here's a story from the Daytona Beach News Journal Online regarding the appeal of a dangerous dog determination. From the story's description, there was conflicting testimony over what Charlie the German Shepherd did to earn the dangerous dog classification. While he apparently didn't bite anyone, he may have knocked someone to the ground through either aggressive behavior or playful exuberance.
Regardless of the facts, the story demonstrates some of the procedural aspects of how dangerous dog determinations are made by local government. According to the story, a code enforcement made the initial determination regarding Charlie and found he should be classified as a dangerous dog pursuant to section 767, Florida Statutes.
The recourse from that determination was an appeal to the city commission, where an otherwise legislative body essentially takes on the role of judge. As the article notes, "because the appeal was part of a quasi-judicial hearing [the city commission] had to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to uphold code enforcement's ruling or whether it should be reversed. In a quasi-judicial hearing, the commission steps out of its policy making role and into a judicial role."
Now that Charlie has lost his appeal, the story indicates that the family has two weeks to certify Charlie's rabies vaccine is current, that he is identified with a tattoo or electronic implant, is sterilized, and can respond financially to up to $50,000 in injuries. Once that's been shown, the family must get a $250 yearly-renewable certificate of registration with animal control. Failure to comply may result in euthanization.
Between depositions, briefs, and traveling for the holidays, I've missed a few stories of interest. Here's a non-exhaustive list:
- ASPCA and NFL team up to fight animal cruelty (eMedia wire).
- Manatee tag redesigned (Tampa Bay Online).
- Cloning companies promise to track their animals (Wired).
- Nassau County Animal Control Making Progress (FB News Leader).
- Lee County Animal Shelter compared to "Animal House" (News Press).
- Greyhounds that attacked Yorkie are in quarantine (St. Pete Times).
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The Lakeland Ledger reports that 19 great danes were seized on Tuesday and a couple was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty. The dogs were taken to animal control facilities where they were being evaluated and treated by veterinary staff. According to the article, the floor of the home where the dogs were living "was covered in urine and feces and the ammonia odor made breathing difficult."
According to this story at the Humane Society of the United States' website, six major retailers are selling items containing real fur even though they are advertised or labeled as fake. The fake fur instead was made from rabbit, raccoon, raccoon dog, or some combination thereof. The report from HSUS's investigation is available here (pdf). The story also notes that false labeling violates the federal fur products labeling act, which is enforced by the FTC.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Police seized eight pit bulls from what appeared to be a dogfighting operation, according to today's Orlando Sentinel. The article states that police went to the house where the dogs were discovered looking for a man wanted on a sex crimes warrant. The article also indicates that man was later arrested and charged with three charges of lewd and lascivious battery on a child younger than 16 and one charge each of battery and aggravated assault with a firearm. Additional animal cruelty charges may be brought as well.
While all the charges are still pending (and as of yet unproven) in this particular case, there is the general observation to be made about the link between crimes involving animals and other crimes. The knee-jerk response to animal crimes that we hear far too often is that the police, prosecutors, etc. should be focusing on crimes on humans. What people that make those statements fail to realize is that there is no neat division between the two, and in fact, where one type of crime exists, you'll often find the other. In any event, animal cruelty should be aggressively pursued. From the article:
Additional charges are pending, once veterinarians examine the dogs to determine the extent of the operation.
"We expect there to be felony charges because we take dog fighting as a very serious crime," said Vanessa Bouffard, spokeswoman for Orange County Animal Services.
Courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel, more people in South Florida are providing for their pets in their wills. The Florida Legislature amended Florida's pet trust law this year. Thirty-eight other states now have some form of statutory mechanism to provide for the care of animal companions after death. The Sun-Sentinel article also references the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center, which is connected to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and was started in 1993 when states began passing pet trust legislation.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The AP reports at al.com that a Bonifay Florida man was sentenced by a federal judge to three years on probation after pleading guilty to smuggling endangered Alabama red-belly turtles across a state line. The man entered a guilty plea to a charge of violating the Lacey Act and a misdemeanor count of violating the Endangered Species Act.
The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, protects both plants and wildlife by creating civil and criminal penalties for a wide array of violations. For an overview, check out this link at Michigan State University Law School's Animal Legal & Historical Center.
CBS4.com has an update on the cat that was thrown from a vehicle on I-95 along with several kittens. While the kittens were killed, "Freeway" the cat survived and after months of recuperation now has a new home. As for whether any animal cruelty charges will be brought, the Broward County Sheriff Office has indicated the investigation is still open. Check out the video of Freeway at CBS 4 and an earlier story from the Miami Herald here.
Monday, December 17, 2007
The Pensacola News Journal has a story on avoiding the purchase of pets with health problems and Florida's Pet Lemon Law. In addition to understanding some of the provisions of the law, the article mentions this bit of advice discouraging giving pets as a gift:
"We discourage buying any animals for the holidays, . . . . Our stated goal is matching the right pet with the right customer. If someone tells us it's a gift for a boyfriend or girlfriend, we'll suggest a gift certificate (for a pet) instead."
Today marked another meeting between officials from Florida, Georgia, and Alabama
in the 18-year water war between the states. The Miami Herald reported today on the devastation to wildlife in Florida being caused by the lowering water levels in panhandle rivers. In addition to fading shrimp and oyster harvests, salt water is parching the tupelo trees that bees use to make honey. The story references Florida's assertion that plans allowing for the reduced water flow allow far too many endangered purple bankclimber and fat threeridge mussels downstream of the dam to be dried out and killed.
The Orlando Sentinel published this excellent piece by University of Florida Law Professor Christine A. Klein, who teaches water law and natural resources law, on the dispute. Now I'll admit some bias in that (1) I'm a UF law grad and (2) a panhandle resident, but I especially enjoyed Professor Klein's dismantling of the whole people verses animals argument. Hopefully, one day people will start to see that when the "choice" is dumbed down to this level, the results are usually disastrous for both animals and people.
What the people like Georgia's Governor Sonny Perdue, who has latched onto the people verses animals argument, fail to understand is that people don't benefit by putting the animals at risk. Georgia's water use is not sustainable. Killing off endangered mussels is only the first warning sign of worse things to come. Of course, Perdue has taken the lead in the praying for rain department... hopefully he has a plan B.
Several of the blogs that I check daily have posted on dairy issues over the past week; while each of the posts below is worth reading in it's entirety, the link to the lawyer coloring book at the Peta Files is my personal favorite:
From Blogging Stocks: Target in crosshairs of organic milk quandary.
From the Consumerist: Walmart, Target, Costco, Wild Oats sued over Aurora milk.
From the Peta Files: Dairy Lawyers Threaten PETA Over "Got Milk?" Parody.
Posted by Riley at 6:54 PM
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I'd previously posted about the trial of a rancher on animal cruelty charges here and here. According to a Naples Daily News story, on Friday, Collier Circuit Judge Elizabeth Krier sentenced the rancher convicted of five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty to sixty days in jail. Judge Krier also ordered 300 days of county probation once he’s released, with 15 days monthly performing animal-related community service.
Here's another editorial worth reading on the recent reprieve for manatees, which were scheduled to be taken off the endangered species list by the Florida Wildlife Commission. David Guest a lawyer with Earth Justice critiqued the change in the definition for "endangered" by the FWC and noted that the change was the reason that the manatee's status came up for a vote this year. It was not related to a giant leap in the number of manatees in the wild. In fact, 2006 was a record year for manatee deaths.
Here's a few links to articles on the recent wildlife deaths that are being linked to the massive red tide bloom affecting central Florida:
- Red Tide may be responsible for fish, dolphin, & sea turtle deaths (Daytona Beach Journal).
- Turtle rescued in New Smyrna as red tide continues (Daytona Beach News Journal).
- Red Tide Continues to Plague Central Florida Coast (WFTV).
In this previous post, I'd mentioned the upcoming Florida Wildlife Commission's exotic pet amnesty day scheduled for February 23rd in Miami. The amnesty will allow people to hand over unwanted exotic pets rather than illegally releasing them into the wild. The Miami Herald reports here on FWC's search for skilled caretakers for pythons and other exotic species that are received on amnesty day.
The story notes that FWC will not ask questions about whether owners have proper permits and will not issue citations. Veterinarians will be on hand to assess animals' health. For the first time, the agency is also accepting exotic mammals as well -- anything but dogs, cats and other typical domestic pets.
Here's a well-reasoned opinion piece at the Sun-Sentinel in support of proposed mandatory spay and neuter requirements in Palm Beach. The original article referenced in the opinion piece appears here.
Friday, December 14, 2007
First Coast News reports here on the discovery of a 17 foot python in Vero Beach. The story contains a warning from a pet store owner about getting a snake as a pet:
"I don't believe they're a good pet. When they get bigger, some of these snakes can get 22 feet...there's no commercial habitat, which means you have to build one," [Kim Lafferty] said.
Lafferty admits reptile owners, after just a few years, often end up with reptiles simply too big.
She says you can't sell them without a license, and most zoos, animal shelters and pet shops don't want them.
"You're very limited in what you can do, and most people will release them into the wild."
A new law set to go into effect in January will require some exotic species of reptiles and other animals to be registered and even have microchip implants so they can be tracked back to their owners if released.
The Seattle Times has a story about the impact that global warming is having on walruses. Thousands of animals are dying because walruses cannot swim indefinitely, and climb onto sea ice and beaches to rest. With less resting space available, many walruses are crowding into dwindling areas. When a hunter, plane, polar bear, or other danger appears, the rush to the water leaves many animals crushed in the stampede. Often the youngest and weakest animals, mostly calves born in the spring, are the most vulnerable.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Anyone who has been frustrated by the spotty coverage of animal protection laws in the left hand column of this blog should check out this link at the Animal Legal Defense Fund's website. At least for the time being, they are offering a free download of their updated Third Edition of "Animal Protection Laws of the United States of America & Canada." It contains approximately 2,900 pages of materials on 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. It also is fully searchable.
Here's some of the advertised categories:
• General prohibitions
• Animals covered by definition
• Classification of crimes
• Penalties (including a table of maximum penalties)
• Counseling / Evaluations
• Community Service
• Restitution / Reimbursement of Costs / Bonding & Liens
• Seizure / On-site Supervision
• Forfeiture / Possession
• Cross Enforcement / Reporting
• Veterinarian Reporting / Immunity
• Law Enforcement Policies
• Sexual Assault
• Full-text of all referenced statutes
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Although this story originates outside of sunny Florida in the cold northern tundra of Wisconsin (I'm testing to see if anyone from Wisconsin is reading), an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows that Wisconsinites can teach the rest of the country a thing or two about fighting animal cruelty. The article describes a class that trains Milwaukee police officers to recognize and pursue crimes against animals. The head of the Milwaukee domestic animal control commission, who formulated the class and is quoted in the article, thinks the class should be taught at every city in the country:
"Animal abuse is a crime and should be recognized as important. . . . A lot of people say it's just dogs. But there are all kinds of studies that show a direct link between animal and human violence."I agree - let's hope we start seeing more of these types of classes taught in Florida cities.
Monday, December 10, 2007
USA Today published an article several days back after conducting an analysis of recall data from the USDA that indicated that most meat recalled is never recovered, and is likely eaten. According to the article, of 73 meat recalls this year and last, the recovery rates per recall averaged 44%, the anal. However, the article goes on to say that for five recalls that followed reports of consumer illness, recovery rates per recall averaged only 20% There have been 54 meat recalls so far this year, which is up from 34 last year.
Just in case you are living under a rock, federal Judge Henry Hudson sentenced Michael Vick to 23 months in prison, which is apparently twice the amount of time that prosecutors had initially recommended. Anecdotally, reactions seem mixed as to whether this was a sufficient sentence, but here are some observations from two venerable animal blogs, Wayne Pacelle's blog over at HSUS and The PETA files.
The people over at Pet Project recently put up this post about charges being brought in a case in Puerto Rico involving the massacre of 80 pets that were thrown from a bridge. The AP story linked to in the post indicates that the owner and two employees of Animal Control Solutions were charged with animal cruelty
For more on the case, see this previous post.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The press coverage of the recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Key Largo focused primarily on the decision to delay any move to take the manatee off the endangered species list. Nevertheless, there were other items of interest on the agenda. The FWC's press release on what was accomplished at the meeting is available here. Also, Florida Today details a few of the non-manatee items in this article, such as:
- Approval of the new rule that requires owners of Class I animals to notify FWC immediately if an animal escapes.
- Proposal of a new rule to modify the legal dimensions of black sea bass traps.
- Consideration of a wide range of issues impacting lobsters, some of which can be addressed by FWC through rule changes and some of which will need action by the Legislature.
Posted by Riley at 10:55 PM
On Friday the Tallahassee Democrat published a letter to the editor that is worth reproducing; it mentions the links between chaining and aggressive behavior by dogs that has previously been mentioned in posts here, here, and here.
Treat Sparky Right to Prevent Animal Bites
Re: “Animal bite incidents up in Leon” (news article, Dec. 1)
The startling increase in the number of dog bites in Leon County is a reminder that dangerous dog attacks can and do happen, unless we take steps to prevent them. As an animal shelter volunteer, I know that most bites can prevented simply by caring for our dogs properly. Please allow me to share these lifesaving dog-bite prevention tips:
Report cruelty to animals right away. Dogfighters and those using dogs as “guard dogs” often beat, starve and taunt dogs to make them aggressive - and more likely to attack.
Keep dogs inside with you - never chain them up or keep them caged. Chained dogs kill more children than falls from trees and playground equipment and fireworks accidents combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Push for laws requiring dogs to be walked on leashes when not on their guardians' property.
Spay or neuter. Unaltered dogs of any breed are three times more likely to bite.
To learn about passing a spay/neuter or anti-chaining ordinance your community, visit www.HelpingAnimals.com.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Saturday, December 8, 2007
CBS4.com reports here that a South Florida couple's dalmatian was headed home from the veterinarian's office, after being shot last month by a BSO deputy. Fred the Dalmatian underwent several surgeries for a gunshot wound. An earlier storing on the shooting appears here.
- Sea Turtles Face Rocky Future (Palm Beach Daily News).
- Governor's request keeps manatees endangered (Environment News Service).
- Report shows increased human contact with Florida Panthers (Naples Daily News).
- 97 cats found in Pinellas County family's home (First Coast News).
- Big reward Offered in South Florida Case of Abused Dog (cbs4.com).
- "Canine Wine" fundraiser for Tampa Bay SPCA (Tampabays 10).
- State inspects pet stores ahead of holidays #1 (Wink News).
- State inspects pet stores ahead of holidays #2 (The News Press).
Friday, December 7, 2007
MSNBC.com has a detailed article regarding the fight against puppy mills. It includes the description of a raid on a Virginia puppy mill where some of the seized animals were taken in by a Florida shelter. The Virginia operation...
was “basically a factory farm where female dogs are constantly bred over and over again in often unsanitary conditions, and then the puppies are taken away from their moms and sent to pet stores all over the United States,” said Cherie Wachter of the Broward County, Fla., Humane Society, which took in about 100 of the dogs.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
In a previous post, there was some discussion about the ongoing battle over water between Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, and the impact that water diversion might have on several species of endangered mussels that count on the water flowing from Georgia. Now the head of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection has weighed in on the subject. As reported in the Tallahassee Democrat, DEP Secretary Michael Sole sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, stating that the corps failed to provide required data about die-offs of endangered and threatened mussels in the Apalachicola River and oysters in Apalachicola Bay. A copy of the letter is available here(pdf) courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.
The Daytona Beach Journal reports on the arrest of a man that was apparently keeping 19 cats in his apartment. According to the article, two more cats were found dead in cages, and the man's former neighbors reported to the police additional dead cats were taken from his prior residence. The rest of the article details the deplorable conditions found inside the homes. The man is being charged with felony animal cruelty, and being cited for other violations, but a quote at the end of the article from another neighbor caught my eye: "He told me he liked to hoard things and that he couldn't let them go."
Meanwhile, today the St. Pete Times breaking news blog reports that 70 cats are being taken from a Tarpon Springs home.
See this prior post and the links within for the problems associated with animal hoarding. Check out the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium's website for reports and resources on the issue.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Political Pulse blog reports here that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission decided against down-listing the manatee from endangered at today's meeting. Governor Crist, who apparently received thousands of requests to intervene on the manatees behalf, praised the decision:
"I am pleased that the Commission today approved a plan that will ensure the protection of manatees for the immediate future and for generations to come," the governor said in a statement. "Their action will keep the manatee on the endangered list and make sure that we continue to focus public attention on preserving this unique and important environmental treasure."
After dragging my feet for exactly one year, tomorrow marks the day where I'll finally be executing a new will that includes a pet trust in accordance with Florida's Animal Trust Law.
While my three cats are going to be sadly disappointed when they run into Trouble the $12 million pooch (rumored to be in Florida according to the NY Post), the trust will at least provide for their food, care and vet bills for as long as the live. Anything that's leftover is scheduled to go to animal charities. Often people forget to plan for their pets in their estates and the results may be beloved family pets ending up in the pound.
People considering these types of trusts may also want to include a provision that gives the caregiver and trustee guidance as to what to do as pets reach the end of their lives. Along these same lines, a recent CNN article on aging pets weighs the difficulty of measuring quality of life and continued treatment. The article also mentions pet hospice programs such as the Argus Institute at Colorado State University, Angel's Gate in Fort Salonga, New York, and Pawspice for terminally ill pets in the Los Angeles area.
according to new posters being unveiled by Palm Beach County to encourage pet sterilization. As reported by the Sun-Sentinel, the posters will be placed in veterinarian offices, government buildings and libraries, as well as on at least one highway billboard. The county is trying to address an increasingly dire pet overpopulation problem where upwards of 30,000 animals a year are placed in county-run shelters, with the majority put to death. The article includes quotes from a veteran animal control officer:
"Every day we get boxes of puppies and kittens," said David Walesky, a veteran animal control officer featured in the poster with his arm around Cutter, a neutered pit bull. "Our facility has more or less become a dumping ground. We're willing to do anything that will reduce the number of [unwanted] animals."As posted here previously, Palm Beach County is in the process of considering a mandatory spay and neuter ordinance to address its unwanted pet problems.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
There is a continuing saga over gaming and, as previously posted here, the disputes have bled into the realm of animal law because greyhound track owners are firmly objecting to Governor Crist's deal with the Seminoles to expand gambling at Indian casinos.
As explained in a recent column by Howard Troxler at the St. Pete Times, things have become even more interesting for the legal nerds among us (that includes me) because the Florida House of Representatives recently filed a petition for a writ of quo warranto with the Florida Supreme Court challenging the Governor's authority to make the Seminole gambling deal. The Florida Supreme Court has entered an order listing the case as high profile and provided a link that allows the interested observer to peruse the many filings. In addition to the petition itself, other documents of interest include the Governor's Response, the Florida Senate's attempt to get in on the action, and an amicus brief filed by a dog track owner.
More importantly, this case involves my second favorite of all the extraordinary writs, the writ of quo warranto (habeas corpus, to the extent it still exists, would be my favorite). Quo warranto has medeival origins and is designed to make government officials justify or explain under what authority they have taken action. As an extraordinary writ, the petitioners are supposed to have no other legal remedies available, so it's unclear at this point whether the House should have explored other grounds for challenging the Governor before trying to jump straight to the Florida Supreme Court. Time will tell if this was the correct choice.
At a recent cabinet meeting, Florida's Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson (not the same Charles Bronson pictured at right, but still a pretty good guy) warned that Florida is losing in the war to prevent Florida from being overrun by exotic species like pythons, Australian pines, and other nonnative plants and animals. Bronson said when he leaves office in 2010, he wants to broadcast one of the state’s failures. As noted in previous posts here and here there are efforts underway to address the exotic invasion, but additional laws and resources may be necessary.
At the cabinet meeting, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Governor Charlie Crist argued in favor of better land management practices. See the Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Political Pulse blog for the full scoop.
Monday, December 3, 2007
The St. Pete Times breaking news blog posts on the arrest of a man who is alleged to have held his Labrador-mix puppy aloft by a leash while brutally kicking the dog. The attack was spotted by a Hillsborough Sheriff's deputy, who confronted the man. According to the story, the man told the officer "it was his dog and he could do whatever he wanted and he did it because the dog ran away."
The contaminated pet food debacle from earlier this year may have killed more than 300 pets, as reported here by the Baltimore Sun. Previous estimates had run from a few dozen to several thousand. The statistics come from a Michigan State University study that based its findings on data collected from veterinarians, veterinary technicians and pathologists. The contaminated pet food was recalled and involved thousands of varieties of pet food and treats sold under more than 100 brands.
An article from the New Jersey Law Journal details the recent boost that animal law has received in the state from legislation, caselaw, and the Internet. Demonstrating the last of these categories, the article links to a website that deals with pet trusts. There's also an interesting passage on how the predominate, yet increasingly challenged, legal view of "animals as property" is being argued in the state: Animal-rights lawyers are also pushing the boundaries of what damages can be recovered for the death or injury of an animal. Historically, animals were treated like other personal property, with market value used to measure damages, but lawyers are seeking to apply the concept of "intrinsic value," which usually applies to items like heirlooms. In 2004, in Small Dog Rescue v. McKenney, SOM-L-864-04, New Brunswick, N.J., personal injury lawyer Linda Sinuk won a ruling allowing a rescue group to try to prove that a Cairn terrier, named Baxter, had an intrinsic value above the $200 paid to adopt him. The defendant had Baxter euthanized over his tendency to bite rather than returning him, as the parties allegedly agreed. Superior Court Judge Victor Ashrafi, denying a motion to dismiss for lack of cognizable damages, held the jury could look at what the plaintiffs would have been willing to pay for the dog and its care and maintenance had it been returned. The case then settled for $25,000. (Source: www.lawjobs.com)
Animal-rights lawyers are also pushing the boundaries of what damages can be recovered for the death or injury of an animal. Historically, animals were treated like other personal property, with market value used to measure damages, but lawyers are seeking to apply the concept of "intrinsic value," which usually applies to items like heirlooms.
In 2004, in Small Dog Rescue v. McKenney, SOM-L-864-04, New Brunswick, N.J., personal injury lawyer Linda Sinuk won a ruling allowing a rescue group to try to prove that a Cairn terrier, named Baxter, had an intrinsic value above the $200 paid to adopt him. The defendant had Baxter euthanized over his tendency to bite rather than returning him, as the parties allegedly agreed.
Superior Court Judge Victor Ashrafi, denying a motion to dismiss for lack of cognizable damages, held the jury could look at what the plaintiffs would have been willing to pay for the dog and its care and maintenance had it been returned. The case then settled for $25,000.
Federal Legislators are aiming to add language to the Farm Bill that would cut junk food sales at the nation's schools, according to this article at the New York Times.
Meanwhile, the Consumerist links to information on the Center For Science In The Public Interest's recently released school lunch report card. Kentucky and Oregon scored the highest with an A minus, while Florida comes with an almost respectable B minus. Sadly, our neighbor to the north scored a D minus.
Proponents of cutting government often like to point to regulatory failures as an example of the government's inability to address problems. I tend to think that predicting failure while simultaneously cutting government beyond its ability to effectively regulate is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Along those lines, the USA Today had this article on a report chronicling the underfunding of the Food and Drug Administration and the dangers this underfunding poses to the safety of consumers food and drugs. The report cited in the article described a "plethora of inadequacies" with the FDA, including the following list:
Inadequate inspections of manufacturers, noting that foodmakers, for example, are inspected about once every 10 years.
A "badly broken" food-import system and food supply "that grows riskier each year." In the past 35 years, FDA inspections of the food supply have dropped 78% due to soaring numbers of products and inadequate FDA funding.
A depleted FDA staff, which is about the same size as it was 15 years ago despite huge growth in agency responsibilities. Instead of being proactive, the agency is often in "fire-fighting" mode.
A workforce with a "dearth" of scientists who understand emerging technologies. Turnover rates in some scientific positions at the FDA run twice that of other government agencies.
An "obsolete" information-technology system.
Posted by Riley at 9:03 PM
Sunday, December 2, 2007
There have been a number of articles regarding the upcoming holiday season and the plans of some to give pets as gifts. In addition to those mentioned in the post below, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about animal advocates warning against giving pets as gifts. Consumers should not give an animal as a gift unless they are certain that the recipient is ready to make the long term commitment that comes with caring for a companion animal.
The article also mentions the Humane Society of the United States' first Puppy Mill Action Week campaign, which lasted from November 25 through December 1st. The purpose of the week isto educate consumers about the deplorable conditions of animals raised in commercial animal-breeding operations that supply some pet sellers. Consumers are urged to scrutinize the source of their pet before purchase. Moreover, participants are pushing for local, state and federal officials to draft better animal-welfare regulations and enforce existing laws. More information is available at PETA's Helping Animals website and HSUS's Stop Puppy Mills website.
Here's a sampling of some of the items from the past week... I'll circle back to discuss some of them in additional posts:
- Greyhound racetrack owners oppose Governor's deal on gaming (News Press).
- Caution urged for Florida's holiday pet purchasers (Tampa Bay 10).
- More caution urged for pet purchasers (wptv.com).
- Even more caution (First Coast News).
- Dog shot by Broward sheriff's deputy recovering (Sun Sentinel).
- Animal control expert speaks in Collier County (Naples News).
- Dog disappears after trip to the vet (Tampa Bay 10).
- National Wildlife Refuges support the economy (Tallahassee Democrat).
- Pitbull found near death on side of the road (nbc6.net).
Last month was another record breaker at FAL with over 2000 hits as tracked by sitemeter. The posts tapered off right at the end of the month - I've been out of town again without access to a laptop. In any event, I have a backlog of interesting links and other information to work through over the next few days, so stay tuned. Keep the emails, posts, and visits coming!
Posted by Riley at 8:24 AM