The American Constitution Society's Blog has an interesting post today about cruelty cases pending in New York against practitioners of Santeria. In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, , the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Hialeah, Florida, ordinance on that grounds that it violated the First Amendment because it would have prevented Santeria worshippers from sacrificing animals. The ACS Blog notes that even if animal sacrifice for religious purposes is currently allowed under the First Amendment, the practice still can violate laws aimed at preventing cruelty to animals. For example, two Santeria worshippers are facing multiple charges over the improper treatment of animals in New York and New Jersey. They were charged with violating cruelty to animal statutes because, according to a police investigation, the animals died from malnutrition. The post also says that the two face charges for unlawfully transporting more than 100 animals from a New Jersey farm without proper documents.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Posted by Riley at 10:24 PM
I've posted previously about the practice of shark finning and how it is causing shark numbers to plummet. I was pleased to see this report from Marketwatch indicating that the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) had convinced a Tampa restaurant to stop serving shark fin soup. According to the article, AWI has identified at least 16 restaurants in Florida that are still serving shark fin soup.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Hope everyone and their companion animals are O.K. after this past week's deluge. Unfortunately, the News Journal is reporting that Tropical Storm Fay had a dramatic impact on animals in the sunshine state, pummeling sea turtle nests and separating pets from owners. In Flagler County, 40 of an estimated 200 sea turtle nests were destroyed, with Volusia County faring somewhat better. Officials at Apollo Beach at Cape Canaveral National Seashore found between 300 and 400 barn swallows that had died in the storm.
Posted by Riley at 10:10 PM
I'd posted a few weeks ago about the fact that it is illegal to keep a deer as a pet in Florida. Yesterday, Florida Today published an article about a spike in the number of people keeping pet deer. As noted in the article, not only is it illegal, but potentially dangerous as well:
Arlo Kane is an FWC wildlife biologist and knowledgeable about deer behavior. He said many people don't realize deer, as they grow and mature, become dangerous.
"Bucks, particularly during the fall, have a high level of the male hormone testosterone, and in the wild they fight and spar with other deer. In captivity or as a pet, a human becomes the opponent," Kane said.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
As alligator hunting season opens, a couple of items in Florida newspapers are calling the practice into question. Several letters to the editor, at the St. Pete Times website take the paper to task for running a story that included a "step-by-step" guide on how to kill an alligator. The letter writers call the article "horrid" and call it animal cruelty.
On Saturday, Wink News also ran an article entitled "Is the alligator hunt too gruesome?"
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I'm going through my archive of material for stories I meant to circle back and post on. Last month, in U.S. v. Stevens, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that 18 U.S.C. § 48, which prevents online depictions of animal cruelty, did not pass constitutional muster because it violated free-speech laws. The Volokh Conspiracy has a good post on the substance of the case and issue here. The law contained an exception for "any depiction that has serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical, or artistic value." While it's somewhat disheartening that the court would strike down a law that was originally passed to end videos where small animals were being crushed for entertainment, the opinion to me reads as more of a punt to the Supreme Court. The 3rd Circuit was unprepared or thought it lacked the authority to create an exception to the First Amendment that would prevent videos of animal cruelty.
The dissent lays the groundwork for why such an exception should be recognized. David Hudson, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University, discussed the dissent briefly in a recent post at the University's blog:
David Hudson, adjunct political science professor and First Amendment expert, says the dissenting opinion, written by Judge Robert E. Cowen, asserted that “the government could criminalize depictions of animal cruelty because such expression had no social value. Noting that animal cruelty laws have existed in America since 1641, he classified the government’s interest as compelling. Cowan emphasized that the statute contained a provision that protected depictions of animal cruelty having a ‘serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.’”
Posted by Riley at 11:06 AM
According to the folks at the Orlando Sentinel's Animal Crazy blog, pro-golfer Tripp Isenhour will enter a plea later this month in the case involving charges that he killed a hawk. As noted in previous posts, Isenhour allegedly became irritated with the bird and hit golf balls at it until in was hit.
Posted by Riley at 10:48 AM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
As reported at Tampa Bays 10, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is dividing flatwood salamanders into two species: frosted and reticulated. USFWS is proposing that land in Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia be considered critical habitat for the salamanders. Additionally, USFWS wants reticulated flatwoods salamanders to be classified as endangered.
Posted by Riley at 11:18 PM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The Cape Coral city council will hold a public hearing on Monday of next week to discuss a resolution on iguana ownership, according to the Ft. Myers News-Press. The resolution would request that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission designate iguanas "reptiles of concern," which would require permits to keep iguanas and microchipping of pets.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Tampa Bays 10 reported that 46 counts of animal cruelty have been filed against a Tarpon Springs woman. In April, a local animal organization and Pinellas Sheriff's office seized 121 small dogs who, according to deputies, were being confined in deplorable conditions. The charges come after a local county judge ordered that 60 of the dogs needed to be returned to the woman. The judge found that the organziation lacked the authority to take the dogs. The order is being appealed. According to the article at the St. Pete Times, animal lawyer Jennifer Dietz is representing the director of the organization that is caring for the dogs.
Monday, August 4, 2008
In the past year in Northwest Florida, wildlife authorities have found five people keeping deer as pets, according to an article Northwest Florida Daily News. Keeping a deer as a pet is illegal and is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail. Like any wild animal, the article stresses that deer are unpredictable and do not make good pets. The article describes a deer that was found wearing a collar that attacked a four-year girl and a man who received a number of puncture wounds on his chest from a deer that was being kept as pet.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
An ordinance went into effect in Tallahassee that requires pet owners to pick up after their pets, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The ordinance is designed to protect water quality. First time offenders are fined $50, second time offenders pay a $100 fine and the third and subsequent offenses up to a $500 fine.
Posted by Riley at 10:56 PM