Saturday, November 8, 2008
So the question is whether it is cause for rejoicing when pro-animal legislation actually becomes law.
We have seen three examples in as many months.
The Swiss have enacted a sweeping animal protection law. It includes handling guidelines for cats, dogs, sheep, goats and horses. There is a six-hour time limit for the transportation of livestock. Piglets cannot be castrated without anaesthesia.
Massachusetts has banned greyhound racing throughout the Commonwealth.
A California ballot initiative has just been approved that seeks to provide more living space to animals raised for human food: "Certain farm animals [shall] be allowed, for the majority of every day, to fully extend their limbs or wings, lie down, stand up and turn around."
However, the Swiss law allows dairy farmers to keep their cattle tied up in stalls for 240 days of the year. Tie-stalls for horses are to be phased out over five years. Zoo animals, like rhinos, can be confined in small winter quarters. Wild animals in circuses are still permitted (though banned in neighboring Austria).
The Massachusetts greyhound ban does not become effective until 2010.
California's "living space" initiative gives farmers until 2015 to shift to more humane animal production systems.
Yet, for some in the animal rights/welfare movement these measures are not only not enough (and they aren't!), but the laws are to be disdained because they don't go far enough.
These folks believe that when laws like this are proposed they should be fought, because passage of these useful but wholly inadequate enactiments give opponents the ability to argue that "enough is enough"--that the movement clamored for these laws, they were enacted, and that's all the affected animals are entitled to, at least for years to come.
This absolutist position is defensible, making for a hard choice: wait for perfection, while countless animals continue to suffer, or take what can be had when possible, but continue fighting for perfection?
In other words, is half-a-loaf better than none?
Much better--particularly, if you're a veal calf spending your entire life in a crate.
Monday, October 27, 2008
For the seventeenth consecutive year, ISAR has facilitated animal rights/welfare organizations in 26 states and 9 foreign countries in making their ISAR International Homeless Animals’ Day events a success.
In honor of ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day 2008, ISAR once again held our Seventh Annual Online Candlelight Vigil. Visitors to our website, http://www.isaronline.org/, were invited to light a virtual candle in memory of the direct victims of the companion animal overpopulation tragedy. Spanning the globe, ISAR’s virtual vigil involved participants from countries including Canada, India, Iceland, Australia, Peru, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States.
Activities for this year’s ISAR International Homeless Animals’ Day included candlelight vigils, blessings of the animals, concerts, dog swims, bowling and dance fundraisers, adopt-a-thons, microchip clinics, dog walks, open houses, award ceremonies, and raffles. Other activities included information stalls, car wash fundraisers and “meet and greets” as well as speeches given by local council members, shelter personnel, veterinarians, and humane officers.
2008 Vigil Observances
ISAR encourages all vigil coordinators to contact us with feedback, photos, and video of their events. Through your comments and suggestions, our vigils will continue to grow. Due to space constraints, we’re not able to acknowledge the many observances held on August 16, 2008. Representative examples follow.
Setting the tone for the evening on August 16th, two guitarists strummed melodies while a soft glow from 25 candles, representing the victims of pet overpopulation in Rogers, AR, struck its own chord with participants during a candlelight vigil held by Murphy Dog Park. More than 70 people gathered to lend their support and promote spay/neuter to reduce needless killing of millions of healthy yet unwanted companion animals each year. Mayor Steve Womack, signed ISAR’s Proclamation declaring August 16, 2008 as International Homeless Animals’ Day.
Fifty-three people participated in a bowling tournament held by the Humane Society of Atchison in Kansas to raise awareness for International Homeless Animals’ Day. Following the tournament, more than 70 people attended a candlelight vigil ceremony which included a blessing of the animals, live music, poems and stories. The guest speaker, a city councilmember, during their ceremony presented ISAR’s Proclamation signed by the mayor of Atchison.
SOS Chats of Noiraigue, Switzerland held an information stall in the market of Morges on August 16, 2008. More than 1000 people stopped by SOS Chats’ educational booth which was filled with literature focusing on cat overpopulation, feral cat hunting, and their latest battle against the cat fur trade. Special guest speakers at their event, included local politician Luc Barthassat, a television personality, and a local veterinarian. Miss Switzerland spoke on the importance of spay/neuter, proper animal care, and the horrors of the cat fur trade. Swiss veterinarians were prompted to donate one free spay/neuter surgery to their local shelter in an attempt to help reduce the pet overpopulation epidemic.
Close to a thousand people participated in Wet Nose Animal Rescue’s first official function on their new premises in Kungwini, South Africa by observing International Homeless Animals’ Day 2008. All money raised on this day funded their sterilization program to help combat pet overpopulation. Gold medals were awarded to participants who finished the walk for homeless animals.
Our Deepest Gratitude To Vigil Coordinators
Listed below are some of the countless organizations ISAR would like to thank for their efforts.
ISAR would like to specially thank Bryant Animal Control & Adoption Center, From the Heart Animal Behavior and Dog Training, Purrfect Cat Rescue, People Assisting Lodi Shelter (PALS), Lodi Animal Shelter, Colorado All Breed & Rescue Training, Delaware Humane Society, Concord Pet Food & Supplies, Humane Society of the Nature Coast, Superior Mutts Doggie Rescue, Inc., Susan Buser, SPCA of Central Florida, Orange County Animal Services, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Animal Guardians of Brevard, The Brevard County South Animal Care and Adoption Center (SACC), Livingston County Humane Society, Young at Heart Pet Rescue, Save-A-Pet Adoption Center, Orphans of the Storm, Knox County Humane Society, Partners for Animal Welfare Society (P.A.W.S.), Lawrence County Humane Society & Animal Shelter, Pulaski County Humane Society, The Animal Welfare Society, Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter, Minnesota Valley Humane Society, Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association, Best Friend Dog and Adoption, Inc., Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Greater Triad Shag Club, Rockingham County Animal Shelter, Cat Welfare Association, Ardmore Animal Care, The Pet Hospital - National Shelter Advisory Board, Lehigh County Humane Society, Hope – Hounds of Prison Education, Bradford County Humane Society, Defenders of Animals, Animal Defense League of Texas, Sevier County Animal Shelter, Holly Help Spay Neuter Fund, Believe in Bristol, Greenbrier Humane Society, Wisconsin Humane Society, Ozaukee Humane Society, Charleston/Kanawha Humane Association, Greenbrier Humane Society.
ISAR also truly appreciates the international participation of Anima – Etica para los Derechos Animales, Argentina, RSPCA’s Yagoona Shelter, Australia, Humane Animal Rescue Team (H.A.R.T.), Canada, Corporacion RAYA (Red de Ayuda a los Animales), Colombia, OȈKOS KAȈ BIOS, Refuge of Cats, France, Asociacion de Amigos de los Animales – AMA, Guatemala, Action for Singapore Dogs, Singapore, Musée du CHATS, Switzerland.
ISAR is also grateful to all participating media for helping us to promote International Homeless Animals’ Day this year. ISAR also sincerely appreciates every individual who utilized their local media to educate others on the importance of responsible pet care and the simple solution to the pet overpopulation crisis: spay/neuter. Media coverage included newspaper articles, radio and television interviews, and numerous online resources directing the public to International Homeless Animals’ Day observances in their area.
Organize a Vigil for 2009
As any past vigil coordinator can attest, beginning the planning process early proves indispensable in generating a bigger impact for a successful International Homeless Animals’ Day observance.
ISAR will be glad to welcome back all previous vigil coordinators as well as a host of new ones to participate in International Homeless Animals’ Day 2009. Together we will once again orchestrate a heightened awareness of the plague of pet overpopulation and on a global scale promote the importance of spay/neuter.
Individuals or organizations wishing to take part in ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day 2009 observance on August 15th can receive a free vigil planning packet by submitting a request to ISAR by mail, phone, fax, or email. Our vigil packets include guidelines for organizing a successful vigil event with tips on site selection, suggestions for speakers and vigil events, reaching target audiences, poems, songs, sample press releases, and proclamations are but a few of the items included in our packet. To save on printing costs, vigil packets are only sent upon request.
Together, we will continue to be a voice for the animals and seek to put an end to their suffering.
Please continue to make our efforts possible.
Monday, September 8, 2008
For example, a participant in ISAR’s 2008 Homeless Animals’ Day from Florida has informed us that: “Just so you know, I copied the great model spay/neuter statute you wrote in your blog and forwarded it to all Fla state senators. I’ll do the same with the state reps tomorrow.” The Executive Director of Animal Law Coalition has requested “permission to reprint this wonderful monograph”—which ISAR gratefully granted.
We have had offers to translate our Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute into Russian and Albanian, and have called for volunteers to translate it into other languages. As the translations become available, they will be posted on our website and made available to spay/neuter advocates in the appropriate countries.
Monday, August 25, 2008
This means, of course, that a UBS employee’s contribution to ISAR is worth double the amount contributed by the individual.
We invite any of ISAR’s supporters who may be employees of UBS to take advantage of its matching contributions program.
As a matter of fact, over 8,000 other companies sponsor matching gift programs.
See: http://www.firstgiving.com/ for further information.
We encourage all ISAR supporters to inquire of their employers about a matching gift program at their companies.
Monday, August 18, 2008
There are several reasons we welcome this new publication.
The Journal is a student effort, once again demonstrating that there are those in the younger generation who take very seriously the wellbeing of animals.
As ISAR has made plain in its recently published monograph "The Policy, Law and Morality of Mandatory Spay/Neuter"
before the law can be used on behalf of animals it is first indispensably necessary that core policy issues be resolved. Once they are, the legal issues are much easier to deal with.
In a radical departure from almost all the traditional journal and law review scholarship which has been published in written form for well over a century, the Stanford Journal of Animal Law and Policy is an online publication. The significance of this cannot be overemphasized. Not only are the Journal’s production costs virtually non-existent—no printing, binding, mailing, circulation, etc.—but the scope of potential readers is incalculable. Literally countless potential readers can simply access https://journals.law.stanford.edu/stanford-journal-animal-law-policy and there read and/or print any or all of the articles.
Lastly, the Journal’s choice of articles for its inaugural issue suggests that the editors have a wide ranging perspective on the subject of animal law and policy. The first of four articles is “The History of Animal Law, Part I (1972-1987), by Joyce Tischler, Co-Founder and General Counsel of the Animal Legal Defense Fund—and now de facto historian of the animal law movement. This article is essential reading for every person interested in how the movement began and its founders.
The other articles—human-animal hybridization, stem cells and animal advocates, and a lengthy book review—are sure to contribute to the ongoing debate about animal law and policy.
Subscription to the Journal is free, and one can sign up on line.
ISAR strongly recommends that its supporters do so.
Monday, August 11, 2008
ISAR PROPOSED MODEL MANDATORY SPAY/NEUTER STATUTE
THE LEGISLATURE FINDS THAT,
Whereas, there have been and there are within this state countless unwanted dogs and cats lacking permanent homes; and
Whereas, although many of these animals are healthy, many others are not; and
Whereas, the latter through no fault of their own have an adverse impact on the public health, safety, welfare, and environment; and
Whereas, the impact of these animals includes, but is not limited to, the transmission of disease, the injury and sometimes death of humans and other animals, the creation of hazards to vehicular travel, and the drain on public finances; and
Whereas, many of these animals are euthanized by shelters, humane societies, and similar organizations; and
Whereas, euthanizing dogs and cats except for bona fide medical reasons is inhumane and abhorrent to the people of this state; and
Whereas, euthanizing dogs and cats except for bona fide medical reasons is not an effective, economical, humane, or ethical solution to the problem of dog and cat overpopulation; and
Whereas, one of the most effective, economical, humane, and ethical solutions to the problem of dog and cat overpopulation is to substantially reduce, if not entirely eliminate, their breeding; and
Whereas, by such reduction or elimination the State seeks to promote the pubic health, safety, welfare, and environmental interests of its citizens;
Among the major faults of virtually all “mandatory” spay/neuter legislation is the failure to set forth explicitly the fundamental premises upon which the statutes are based. I have sought to remedy that omission by making it clear exactly what premises ISAR’s statute rests on.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Coverage of statute
(a) All dogs and cats present in this state shall be in compliance with this statute, unless specifically exempted.
This subsection makes clear that the rule is compliance with the statute, and that if there are to be exemptions they must be expressly stated.
(b) No exemption shall exist for dogs and cats present in this state which may fall under any federal statute or within the jurisdiction of the federal government or any agency thereof.
Since, as will be explained in Chapter VI, ISAR’s proposed Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute is designed to be enacted by states pursuant to the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the purpose of this subsection is an attempt to prevent animals under control of the federal government, but located within a state, to be bred. As such, a legitimate question arises about federal versus state power—but, still, this section is worth incorporating on the chance it would survive challenge.
Section 2. Requirement of spaying and neutering
(a) Subject to the provisions of this statute, every dog and cat harbored in this state shall be spayed or neutered.
This subsection is a corollary of Section 1(a), and reiterates that spay/neuter is the rule. Any deviation must be explicitly stated, and thus the burden of obtaining exemptions is on the one seeking them.
(b) For purposes of this statute, “harbor” is defined to include: legal ownership or providing regular care, shelter, protection, refuge, nourishment, or medical treatment other than as a licensed veterinarian; provided, however, that a person or entity does not “harbor” by providing nourishment to a stray or feral dog or cat, and; provided further, however, that caretakers of feral cat colonies shall use their best efforts to have those animals sterilized.
Many “mandatory” spay/neuter statutes labor with considerable difficulty to define exactly to whom the statutes applies. For example, “owners” may not be in possession or control of the animal, or one who is in control may not be the “owner.” Thus, we have selected the word “harbor” and provided the definition appearing here. Excluded from “harboring” are those who feed feral dogs and cats, because in no sense can it be said that the caretakers own or have any control over those animals. However, recognizing that the most one can do with feral populations, especially cats, is feed-trap-neuter-release (other than trap and euthanize, a subject not within the scope of ISAR’s proposed Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute), it is appropriate that those who voluntarily assume the feeding obligation make their best efforts to have the animals sterilized.
Section 3. Breeding licensees; rules and regulations
Caveat: Readers of this section’s title best not jump to conclusions. What follows is not the usual exception to “mandatory” spay/neuter statutes which effectively nullifies such laws by granting exemptions to breeders and those who “show” companion animals.
(a) Other than as expressly provided below, no dog or cat may be legally used for insemination or bred in this state except by an individual or entity holding a breeding license, which may be issued, in its absolute discretion, by the State Department of Animal Affairs or such other department as the governor shall designate.
This section begins with the absolute prohibition against breeding dogs and cats in this state, period. Express and limited exemptions are provided below.
Breeding licenses may, or may not, be issued by a government department. The exercise of “absolute” discretion, even if it results in the non-issuance of a breeding license, is very difficult to overturn in court.
(b) While a breeding license is valid, no subsequent breeding license shall be issued to any individual related to the first licensee by blood or marriage, to any entity related to the original licensee by common officers, directors, stockholders, or trustees, or to any entity controlled by the original licensee. Any license issued in violation of this subsection shall be void ab initio.
This section is aimed at preventing breeders from escaping the limitations contained in Section 4(i) below.
(c) The licensing authority shall promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement its statutory duties, including but not limited to recordkeeping requirements.
Consistent with general principle of administrative law, the department charged with issuing breeder licenses has virtually unlimited discretion in establishing applicant qualifications and regulating the conduct of licensees.
(d) Such rules and regulations shall include, but need not be limited to, provisions assuring that the animals in the breeding licensee’s care there are provided: sufficient quantity of good and wholesome food and water consistent with its breed, size, and age; shelter that will allow the animals to be protected from the elements with room to stand up, turn around, and lie down without lying it its or another animal’s waste; confinement space that is clean and disinfected; an opportunity for adequate sunlight, fresh air, and exercise.
This subsection mandates minimum humane requirements that the license-issuing authority must impose on breeder licensees. It may, of course, impose additional and more stringent requirements.
(e) In addition, breeding licensees shall be required to comply with all other state statutes relating to the care and treatment of dogs and cats.
The purpose of this subsection is to make sure that breeding licensees do not argue that only the mandatory spay/neuter statute governs their conduct. Breeder licensees must comply with anti-cruelty and all other state laws regarding animals.
Section 4. Breeding limitations
(a) A breeding licensee may use a male dog or cat only twice to inseminate a female, which must occur within a twelve month period. No further insemination is allowed thereafter.
(b) A breeding licensee may breed a female cat only twice, which must occur within a twelve month period. No further breeding is allowed thereafter.
These two subsections are designed to end the abuse of animals used for breeding, who in most places today are treated no better than reproductive machines. Veterinarians believe that inseminating and giving birth twice in a twelve month period, with no further insemination or breeding thereafter, is not abusive to the animal.
The subsections, and others that appear below, deliberately and substantially reduce the size of breeder operations.
(c) The offspring of breeder licensee’s dogs and cats may be retained by the breeding licensee, but they shall be subject to the same restrictions as their sires and dams, as shall be succeeding generations.
This subsection allows breeder licensees to retain offspring, but similarly limits their breeding.
(d) The dogs and cats covered by this section regarding insemination and breeding shall be at least four months old, the dogs no older than eighteen months, and the cats no older than twelve months.
This subsection creates a two-month window for insemination and breeding, between ages four and six months. Neither may occur before or after those ages.
(e) Once- or twice-bred female dogs and cats shall be sterilized promptly after
delivery of the female animals’ final litters.
(f) Male dogs and cats shall be sterilized promptly after they have twice inseminated females.
The purpose of subsections (e) and (f) is to turn off the reproductive valve, at least as to those dogs and cats, and to further limit the scope of breeder activities.
(g) Promptly after a male dog or cat has twice inseminated a female, and promptly after a female dog or cat has delivered her final litter, the breeder licensee shall either:
(i) Relinquish such animal to a shelter, humane society, rescue group, or similar organization for adoption only, or
(ii) Directly arrange for adoption, pursuant to the rules and regulations of the nearest shelter, humane society, rescue group, or similar organization; provided, however, that the breeder licensee shall under no circumstances transfer custody of a dog or cat to any individual or entity as to whom the breeder licensee knows, or should know, that the animal will be used for scientific experimental purposes.
In addition to the limitations provided above, these sections will oblige breeder licensees to indirectly or directly find homes for their “breeding stock.” After they have been used this way, they deserve loving homes.
(h) No breeding licensee shall release from its custody any dog or cat that has not
been sterilized, except to provide temporary veterinary care.
This section will prevent breeding stock from going elsewhere to be put through the same reproductive cycle.
(i) No breeding licensee shall possess in any calendar year more than ten unneutered male dogs, ten unneutered male cats, ten unspayed female dogs, and ten unspayed female cats, except for newborn litters which may be kept for no more than three months at which time the provisions of this statute will apply to them.
This section deliberately and substantially limits the scope of breeder operations.
Section 5. Other source dogs and cats
(a) Every individual and entity harboring an unsterilized dog or cat shall immediately present the animal to a licensed veterinarian who shall sterilize it; provided, however, that the animal need not be sterilized if it is, or appears to be, less than three months old.
This section is aimed at the person or entity who is not a breeder licensee. For example, an individual or family who rescues a dog or cat, or who is given one as a gift. The burden is on them to have spay/neuter performed. It is also aimed at whoever receives dogs or cats from out-of-state, whether an individual animal or more than one.
(b) This section does not apply to breeder licensees.
They are covered by sections above.
Section 6. Sellers of dogs and cats
(a) Upon coming into the possession of an unsterilized dog or cat, every individual and entity in the business of selling such animals, including but not limited to pet stores, shall immediately present the animal to a licensed veterinarian who shall sterilize it; provided, however, that the animal need not be sterilized if it is, or appears to be, less than three months old.
This section applies to non-breeder licensee retail sellers of dog and cats. Whatever their source of these animals, as soon as a retail seller comes into possession of them there is a duty of immediate sterilization.
(b) This section shall not apply to breeder licensees.
They are covered by sections above.
Section 7. Medical exceptions to sterilization
(a) No dog or cat need be sterilized if a licensed veterinarian, exercising appropriate professional judgment, shall certify in writing and under oath that an animal is medically unfit for the spay/neuter procedure because of a physical condition which would be substantially aggravated by such procedure or would likely cause the animal’s death.
(b) The dog or cat’s age shall not per se constitute medical unfitness.
(c) As soon as the disqualifying medical condition ceases to exist, it shall be the duty of the person having custody or control of the dog or cat to promptly comply with all provisions of this statute.
(d) Possession of the certificate referred to in subsection (a) of this section shall constitute a defense to liability under the penalty provisions of this statute.
(e) If during the disqualification period the dog or cat breeds, the individual or entity in control of the animal shall be punished in accordance with Section 13 of this statute.
This section provides a safe harbor for those dogs and cats who have bona fide medical reasons not to be neutered. Obviously, this exemption, virtually the only one in ISAR’s Model Mandatory Spay Neuter Statute, is subject to abuse. We hope that veterinarians’ respect for the law generally and what this statute is trying to accomplish in particular, and the requirement that their certification be under oath, will suffice to have medical exemptions granted only when legitimately deserved.
Section 8. Shelters and similar organizations
(a) Shelters, pounds, humane societies, and similar organizations, whether public or private, whose principal purpose is securing the adoption of dogs and cats, shall not be exempt from the provisions of this statute.
(b) No shelter, pound, humane society, or similar organization, whether public or private, whose principal purpose is securing the adoption of dogs and cats, shall release custody of any such animal to its owner or an adopter unless the dog or cat has first been sterilized.
Essentially, this section applies to all companion animal intake and adoption. All dogs and cats taken into these facilities must promptly be neutered. All dogs and cats leaving the shelter will have been neutered, regardless of whether they belong to an identified person or entity.
Section 9. Duties of veterinarians
(a) Any licensed veterinarian who shall become aware that a dog or cat who should be sterilized is in violation of this statute shall promptly inform the person or entity harboring such animal, and further state that the veterinarian has a duty to report that information pursuant to subsection (b) hereof.
This section imposes no more of a burden on veterinarians than those already imposed by law and professional ethics, as for example the duty of informing an animal’s custodian of the risks of surgery or any course of treatment.
(b) If within five business days the person or entity harboring such animal has not shown to the veterinarian’s satisfaction that it has been sterilized, the veterinarian shall report to the enforcing authority the name and contact information of the person harboring such animal and its unsterilized condition.
This section is equivalent in principle to state statutes which require veterinarians to notify public authorities regarding the rabies vaccination of dogs. Moreover, veterinarians already have reporting responsibilities to government agencies, not the least of which pertain to taxes and insurance.
Section 10. Microchipping
Promptly after beginning to harbor a dog or cat, the individual or entity shall have the animal microchipped in accordance with current technology.
The value of this section is self-evident. In addition to public authorities, shelters, and similar organizations being better able to identify lost dogs and cats, mandatory microchipping will facilitate enforcement of the entire mandatory spay/neuter statute.
Section 11. Low-cost spay/neuter
(a) The state shall itself or by contract provide facilities where its citizens can have dogs and cats humanely spayed and neutered by a licensed veterinarian for a fee established by regulation.
(b) The spay/neuter fee to be established by regulation shall be based on ability to pay, and such regulations shall provide for the fee to be waived entirely because of financial hardship.
Virtually every thoughtful person who has seriously addressed the problem of companion animal overpopulation, and organizations like ISAR that propose tough mandatory spay/neuter requirements, realize that success will depend in large part on the ability of low-income custodians of dogs and cats to have their animals neutered. By any calculation—economic, health, humane, moral—state provision of low-cost spay/neuter is eminently necessary and justifiable. (Especially when considered in relation to all the much less worthy projects states support.)
Section 12. Enforcement
Enforcement of this statute shall fall within the jurisdiction of the Attorney General, the Department of Animal Affairs, or such other department as the governor shall designate.
This section expresses a preference for licensing and enforcement to be vested in a department of state government with legal muscle, rather than burying mandatory spay/neuter in some backwater like the Department of Agriculture where it would likely be entrusted to bureaucrats with little or no interest in enforcement.
Section 13. Penalties
(a) The first violation of this statute shall constitute an offense, punishable by a civil fine of $1,000.00.
(b) Each week during which the violation continues will constitute a separate offense for which an additional civil fine of $1,000.00 shall be imposed.
(c) Immediately following the third offense, subsequent violations will be punishable as the lowest grade misdemeanor. The $1,000.00 civil fine will also be imposed for each offense after the first.
Doubtless there will be complaints that this section’s penalties are harsh. They are, and they are meant to be. Once and for all, legislatures, governors, and the regulation/enforcement community must take seriously the problem of companion animal overpopulation—and that seriousness will best be conveyed to the public at large by this section’s harsh punishments for violation. More on this subject is discussed in Chapter X, “Morality and spay/neuter.”
Section 14. Transition
Within sixty days from the effective date of this statute it shall be the responsibility of all those who harbor dogs and cats to be in compliance with this statute.
Some transition time has to be provided, and sixty days seems reasonable.
Section 15. Effective date
This statute will be effective when it is enacted by the legislature and approved by the governor in accordance with state law.
The statute’s sponsors and advocates should resist attempts by its opponents to delay the effective date, during which time they might be able to mount an effective counterattack and perhaps repeal the law or at least gut it.
Section 16. Severability
If any provision of this statute shall be held unconstitutional, illegal, or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall retain their full status as if the offending provision had not existed.
This section is important legally. If, for example, the veterinarian reporting requirement should be held by a court to be illegal, the balance of the statute would stand.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
American Bar Association, Blawg Directory: Animal Law
Lists the most popular Animal Law Blogs, based on access by ABA members.
American Bar Association, Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Animal Law Committee http://apps.americanbar.org/dch/committee.cfm?com=IL201050
List of American Bar Association programs relating to animal law, and projects of the committee. Also contains archive of committee newsletters.
Animal Law Blog
Posts news stories pertaining to animal law cases, as well as other animal-related news. Also lists names and links for animal law attorneys nationwide, and state bar associations with animal law sections.
The Animal Law Center
Animal law firm whose site provides several links to national and international statutes, and other animal law sites.
Animal Law Coalition
Posts breaking animal law news as well as the state of the law, grouped into several different animal law issues. Also contains message board for member and visitor discussion.
Animal Law Resources
Links to California Animal Law Enforcement Guide. Enforcement The Guide is a .pdf, requiring Adobe Acrobat, and details California animal laws and enforcement powers of officials.
Animal Law Review
Contains abstracts from past and current animal law articles featured in the Review, as well as links to other animal law organizations.
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Contains recent animal law cases and incidences of publicized animal abuse. Also contains information for the general public (abuse statistics and assistance finding animal law attorneys), lay professionals (books, periodicals, and courses), and attorneys (case law, statutes, and legal forms).
Animal Legal Reports Services
Subscription service, providing in-depth analysis and commentary on animal law court decisions and their impact.
Animal Protection of New Mexico
Comprehensive list of New Mexico animal laws by city and county, as well as some state resources and links for understanding and interpreting statutes.
Animal Welfare Institute
Has links under the “Government and Legal Affairs” tab to current and pending federal legislation relating to animal issues.
Contains numerous animal law statutes and cases, as well as model laws for legislative use. Also contains a searchable bibliography of animal law-related publications, including books, journal and newspaper articles, and government documents.
Anne Arundel County, Maryland, County Code Provisions Relating to Animal Control http://www.aacounty.org/animalcontrol/laws.cfm
Lists local animal law provisions.
Association of Lawyers for Animal Welfare
United Kingdom site, containing animal law articles including an international news feed.
Born Free U.S.A.
Includes some current legislation pertaining to animal protection.
Defenders of Wildlife
Under “In the Courts” tab, lists issues Defenders of Wildlife pursues in the courts, as well as statutes relevant to animal and environmental.
Dog Bite Law
A collection of national dog bite laws, with links for legal professionals, dog owners, bite victims, and more.
Lists legal resources relating only to dogs, organized by canine activities.
Doris Day Animal League
Under “Legislative Update” tab, has links to current animal protection bills. Also has “Resources and Links” tab listing legislative research search engines and tools.
Equine Legal Solutions
A collection of legal (and insurance) issues faced by horse-owners.
Florida Animal Law
Comprehensive list of Florida animal laws, federal animal laws, and animal organizations. Also includes recent news stories regarding animal law topics.
Florida State University College of Law Research Center Blog, Animal Law and Welfare http://guides.law.fsu.edu/c.php?g=84961
Basic news feed of animal law developments.
Free Information on Pet, Dog, Cat, & Horse Laws
Basic compilation of links relating to animal laws, divided by species.
George Washington University Law School, Animal Law
Outline of University’s programs, annual conferences, and an animal law news archive.
Georgetown Law Library Animal Law Research Guide
Lists of books, periodicals, and websites dealing with animal law, both United States and International. Also includes suggestions for conducting additional research on the topic.
Gonzaga University School of Law Library Animal Law, https://www.law.gonzaga.edu/files/AnimalLaw.pdf
A .pdf file explaining animal law concepts, and good bibliography of cases, books, periodicals, and electronic sites.
Great Ape Project
Organization working to give great apes the status of personhood under laws, rather than property. Has a basic “news and information” tab for additional information.
Great Ape Standing and Personhood
Site promoting the treatment of great apes as persons for the sake of legal statute enforcement, and promotion of this treatment, eventually, for other animals. Also includes a news feed on the international progress of this movement.
International Institute for Animal Law
Links to databases of animal law statutes, animal law lectures, and research projects. Site promises to contain recent animal law news “soon.”
International Society for Animal Rights
Contains substantial information about animal law, including the first state and federal case ever to mention “animal rights.” Extensive site map.
Johnson County Humane Society
Lists applicable animal law statutes for Iowa, broken down by county. Also has additional links for federal laws and animal law organizations.
Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy
List of journal’s articles and instructions for submission, as well as a database search engine focused on international animal law treaties.
King County Law Library Animal Legal Research Guide
Lists animal law sources with an emphasis on Washington State Law. Divides sources into primary and secondary sources, as well as providing additional research tips.
Lawyers.com, Animal Law
Links to some basic animal-law related articles, message boards, and a directory for finding local animal law attorneys.
Louisiana State Bar Association, Animal Law Section
Very basic site, with information about attorney members of the section and listing of state animal law provisions.
Maryland Pet, Animal Welfare Organizations, Laws and Legislation http://www.marylandpet.com/animal_welfare_laws_legislation.htm
Lists national animal law sites, as well as regional and national animal welfare organizations.
Maryland State Bar Association, Animal Law Section,
Limited website, with section ethics opinions, legislative testimony, and meeting minutes.
Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library
Lists Massachusetts animal laws, regulations, and case law, as well as a few additional web resources.
Article explaining basics of animal law, as well as links to animal law organizations and a handful of statutes.
Michigan State University College of Law: Animals Legal & Historical Web Center http://www.animallaw.info/
Database with over 800 full-text animal law cases, and 1,000 animal law statutes. Most are U.S., but some international law as well. Comprehensive “Frequently Asked Questions” section for attorneys and non-attorneys, as well as detailed search engine.
Minnesota State Bar Association, Animal Law Section http://www.mnbar.org/members/committees-sections/msba-sections/animal-law-section#.VqKX6JorK70
Basic site with a few practice links and basic information about members of the organization.
Mississippi Canine Coalition, Inc.
Lists Mississippi state animal law legislation, with a focus on dog ownership.
National Anti-Vivisection Society
Lists recent and pending legislation regarding animal rights and other developments in the area of animal law.
National Association for Biomedical Research, Animal Law Section
Definitions and summary of anti-cruelty laws and other laws affecting animal-based research. Clearly slanted towards pro-biomedical research.
National Center for Animal Law
Contains information about NCAL, different components of the law that make up “animal law,” and career links for animal law-based careers. It also contains information about Lewis and Clark Law School’s animal law curriculum, animal law-based extra curricular activities, and the group’s annual Animal Law Conference
National Institute for Animal Advocacy
Details training program for effective lobbying on behalf of pro-animal legislation.
New Hampshire Animal Law and Animal Rights
Contains New Hampshire animal laws and statutes, web links, and New Hampshire animal news.
New York State Bar Association, Special Committee on Animals and the Law http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Special_Committee_on_Animals_and_the_Law_Home
Lists education programs, relevant statutes, electronic sources and publications relating to animal law, with an emphasis on New York State animal laws.
Open Directory, Society: Issues: Animal Welfare: Legal http://www.dmoz.org/Society/Issues/Animal_Welfare/Legal/
A very basic collection of animal law sites, with no real overall theme to provide context.
Orange County Community Resources, Orange County Animal Care
Basic listing of Orange County, California animal laws.
Tracks upcoming animal abuse cases, and other animal-related cases, on dockets nationwide. Also contains chart of animal abuse laws state-by-state.
PetGuardian Pet Trust Plans
Contains information about creating a pet trust for care of pets whose owners predecease them.
Santa Clara Law, Guide to Animal Law
Links to monographs, journal articles, and electronic resources relating to animal law.
Species Survival Network
Website run by an international coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Contains information about CITES and other Animal Treaties, as well as recent news.
State Bar of Michigan, Animal Law Section
Variety of information, including a listserv, events, and newletters in addition to news, legislation, and legal resources.
State Bar of Texas, Animal Law Section
Lists animal law treatises and papers featured in the Section’s Continuing Legal Education presentations. Contains little else.
Suffolk University Law Library: Animal Law
Has links to federal and state law links, books, periodicals, law review articles, and major websites.
United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library, Animal Welfare Information Center, Government and Professional Resources https://awic.nal.usda.gov/government-and-professional-resources
Roundup of federal animal law statutes and regulations. Also has links to state and international statues and regulations.
University of Chicago Law Library, Animal Law and Animal Rights: An Introductory Guide to Selected Resources
Lists a handful of publications and electronic resources. Also includes search tips to find additional sources.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville Law Library
Lists research guides, journal articles, treatises, and other sources pertaining to animal law. Most concern Tennessee state laws, though some are national.
Washington State Bar Association, Animal Law Section
Links to information relating to animal law practice in Washington State, including events and newsletters.
Wisconsin State Law Library, Animal Law
Lists Wisconsin local and state statutes and ordinances regulating animal abuse and sales. Also lists national and state agencies engaged in the advocacy and protection of animals.
World Animal Net, Animal Protection Law
Good primers on the usefulness of animal law legislation, both national and international, and links to books and electronic resources.
Young Williams Animal Center
Outlines animal laws for various governmental levels, including federal, state (Kentucky), county (Knox), and city (Knoxville) levels.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Counting the six appendices—which provide extensive bibliographies of books, articles and statutes relating to mandatory spay/neuter, legal cases directly and indirectly on that subject, and a lengthy resource explaining the legislative process generally and how animal advocates can use it to achieve their goals—the monograph is 125 pages long. Interested persons are encouraged to download and/or print it, and they may reproduce the monograph in accordance with the permission conditions that appear on the copyright page.
The Introduction explains the context in which the monograph has been written, which is that mandatory spay/neuter “laws must be grounded not in hope, sentiment, or a benevolent opinion of mankind, but rather in the world as we find it—a real world where companion animals are too often thought of as virtually inanimate objects, mere property to be used and abused by humans.”
Part A, “The Policy Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem,” establishes the foundation premises upon which rest the remainder of the monograph: that there is today a huge national problem of companion animal overpopulation (Chapter I), that at present the only way to ameliorate it is through spay/neuter (Chapter II), and that these medical procedures must be made mandatory (Chapter III).
Part B, “The Legal Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem,” is necessarily the next consideration because if spay/neuter is to be mandatory, statutes of state-wide application will have to be enacted. To understand fully ISAR’s Revolutionary Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute and the philosophy that underlies it, an analysis is necessary of existing spay/neuter statutes (Chapter IV). Only against that background can ISAR’s model statute be understood and appreciated (Chapter V). Once one is talking statutes, inevitably the question of constitutionality or unconstitutionality arises, a crucial consideration for mandatory spay/neuter legislation (Chapter VI). Finally, once the constitutional hurdle is surmounted, other related issues arise (Chapter VII): For purposes of enforcement and otherwise, how to identify all companion animals; low-cost spay/neuter for the indigent; early-age spay/neuter; Departments of Animal Affairs.
Part C, “The Legislative Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem,” reveals how even the worst alleged “mandatory spay/neuter” statutes can be subverted by politicians, as recently occurred in California (Chapter VIII). As an antidote to fruitless lobbying and craven legislators, ISAR presents a powerful resource for animal advocates who seek to maximize their chance of getting legislation introduced and enacted (Chapter IX).
Part D, “Morality and Spay Neuter” (Chapter X) makes the case that animal protection, and mandatory spay/neuter as one element in accomplishing that task, is at root a moral issue. The chapter concludes with the thought that “[a]s ISAR’s national billboards beseech the public: “Spay/Neuter: It Reduces the Killing.”
Monday, July 7, 2008
· Zoo animals are often acquired from dealers who, in turn, have obtained them by brutal means.
· They are transported to their destinations, often over great distances, in a primitive manner with little, if any, regard to what kind of treatment their species requires.
· They are subject to attacks by vandals, and even psychopaths.
· They are often held in sterile cells or cages, suffering the debilitating effects of solitary confinement.
· They receive inadequate nutrition, eating unpalatable synthetic food, and inadequate medical care, suffering illness and disease, because of zoos’ financial constraints and zookeepers’ indifference.
· They are traded like baseball cards among zoos and other animal exhibitors, to satisfy perceived display needs.
· They are cross-bred, creating animals called “tigons” or “ligers,” that are, Frankenstein-like, neither tigers or lions.
· They are denied the life dictated by their genes and nature.
These are but a few of the reasons zoos should cease to exist, and each of them have been elaborated at great length elsewhere.
But the most fundamental objection to zoos, understood and expressed by only a small segment of today’s animal rights movement, is that zoos are an immoral enterprise because they exploit and abuse living creatures for the entertainment of the crowd, and in so doing so cause and perpetuate immeasurable suffering.
Zoos are an outrageous affront to the nature and dignity of the animals imprisoned there. The humans who gawk at zoo inhabitants are co-conspirators in the crime perpetrated against the captive animals.
Why, then, do they exist?
Geordie Duckler has written incisively at 3 Animal Law 189 (1997) that:
Zoo animals are currently regarded as objects by the state and federal courts and are perceived as manifesting the legal attributes of amusement parks. The few tort [civil wrong] liability cases directly involving zoos tend to view them as markets rather than as preserves; the park animals are viewed as dangerous recreational machinery more akin to roller coasters or Ferris wheels than to living creatures. Courts typically treat zoo keepers and owners as mechanics and manual laborers responsible for the maintenance of these dangerous instrumentalities. Disputes concerning the possession, sale and care of exotic animals, as well as the administration of the habitats in which such animals are housed, have also been treated by the courts in terms of control of materials for public exhibit and entertainment.
Note the words that I have italicized, chosen carefully by Duckler to describe captive animals imprisoned in zoos: objects, machinery, instrumentalities, materials.
In other words, zoo animals, though living creatures, are nothing more than inanimate objects.
Consider that. Primates, large cats, the magnificent elephants are no different from chairs, cars, xrays, yarn.
How, one may ask, is this possible conceptually? How can animals, that breathe, eat, drink, sleep, walk, climb, run, copulate, fear, nurture, reproduce, be considered mere inanimate objects?
Putting aside bloody biblical texts, Greco-Roman barbarity, and the influential anti-animal views of Thomas Aquinas, the father of current prevailing attitudes about animals was renowned Christian philosopher-mathematician Rene Descartes. He held that animals were automatons—literally. Decartes asserted that lacking a Christian “soul,” they possessed no consciousness. Lacking a consciousness, he concluded, they experienced neither pleasure nor pain.
Decartes’s belief was a convenient one because it allowed him to rationalize the dissection of unanesthetized living creatures—all in the name of advancing the knowledge of anatomy.
If “advancing knowledge” as a rationale sounds familiar, let’s look at some of the major excuses, but certainly not legitimate justifications, for the existence of zoos today.
They supposedly “teach people about animals”—as the captive creatures pace interminably in cages, often in solitary confinement, or inhabit the same indoor/outdoor enclosure for life while humans throw them Cracker Jacks.
They allegedly “provide scientists an opportunity to study them”—while they no longer act as their genes and instinct drive them, neither seeking food nor roaming through natural habitats.
They presumably support “breeding programs,” especially of endangered species, both as an end in itself and to use the animals as barter with other zoos.
Even if these and other “practical” rationalizations for the existence of zoos were defensible, and they are not, none of them should be allowed to trump the fact that zoos are an immoral enterprise because they exploit and abuse living creatures for the entertainment of the crowd, and in so doing so cause and perpetuate immeasurable suffering.
Zoos are an outrageous affront to the nature and dignity of the animals imprisoned there. The humans who gawk at zoo inhabitants are co-conspirators in the crime perpetrated against the captive animals.
It is in the name of moral principle that zoos should be abolished, for the benefit of the captive “living trophies” and in the name of humane principle.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
III. Spay/Neuter of companion animals must be made mandatory
B. The Legal Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem
IV. Analysis and critique of existing mandatory spay/neuter statutes
V. Text and annotation of ISAR’s model mandatory spay/neuter statute
VI. Constitutionality of mandatory spay/neuter statutes
VII. Corollaries to mandatory spay/neuter statutes
C. The Legislative Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem
VIII. California’s worse than useless “mandatory” spay/neuter statute
IX. Successfully promoting animal protection legislation
D. The Moral Component of the Companion Animal Overpopulation Problem
X. Morality and mandatory spay/neuter
1. Chapters I, II and III bibliography
For more information about ISAR's Revolutionary Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute, contact ISAR at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Part of the explanation lies in xenophobia, especially regarding the United States. For example, some years back the French Parliament banned some 3,500 foreign words—including cheeseburger, chewing gum, and bulldozer—from use by advertisers, schools, corporations and the government.
Striking back at the use of mostly American/English words seen by many in France as having wounded that country’s “national pride,” the words—and thus the thoughts they represent—were interred in the graveyard of French political correctness.
So it should come as no surprise that in this day of uber-political correctness, especially in the Europe that is drowning in unassimilated Moslem immigrants, France has enacted “anti-racism” laws. They punish, criminally, speech which could incite hatred or discrimination on racial or religious grounds. These laws criminalize words on verboten topics.
We’ll put aside for now the wider issue of criminalizing pure speech, and what it says about a government that would enact such laws and about the citizenry that would stand still for it, and instead focus on the recent L’affaire Bardot.
Former actress Brigitte Bardot has for decades been France’s most vociferous voice for animal rights in that country and throughout the world. Fearless and eloquent, Mademoiselle (she will never be “Madame” to many of us) Bardot has been a lightening rod and target for France’s large anti-animal rights constituency.
Among them is the metastasizing Moslem invasion of Europe, which has brought with it Islam’s dietary and celebratory customs, including the ritual slaughter during religious holidays of conscious animals.
Two years ago, Bardot wrote a letter of protest to then-Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy, now president of France. She said “I’ve had enough of being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts.”
For her exercise of free speech on behalf of animals Bardot was charged with a violation of the “incite hatred” law (she had been convicted of the same charge four times before).
The prosecutor wanted to send her to jail. Instead the judge fined Bardot the equivalent of $25,000, ordered that she pay about $1,500 to the “anti-racism” group that had complained about her letter, and required that Bardot reprint the judge’s order in the same place she had published her letter to Sarkozy.
Proudly unrepentant and undeterred, Bardot was quoted by her lawyer as saying “[s]he will not be silenced in her defense of animals.”
Thankfully, here in the United States animal rights activists do not exercise their free speech under threat of criminal punishment.
Because we don’t, we must applaud the courage of those who risk being branded as criminals in less enlightened countries like France.
According to the online Wikipedia encyclopedia, “the female depiction ‘Marianne,’ a national emblem of the French Republic, is, by extension, a personification of Liberty and Reason. It represents France, as a State, and its values . . . representing France as a nation and its history, land and culture. She is displayed in many places in France and holds a place of honor in town halls and law courts. She symbolizes the ‘Triumph of the Republic’, a bronze sculpture overlooking the Place de la Nation in Paris. Her profile stands out on the official seal of the country, is engraved on French euro coins and appears on French postage stamps; it also was featured on the former franc currency. Marianne is one of the most prominent symbols of the French Republic.”
Wikipedia also tell us that “[t]he official busts of Marianne, after having had [for many years] anonymous features, being represented by women of the people, began taking on the features of famous women starting in 1969”
The first French woman whose features appeared as Marianne, in 1969—“a personification of Liberty and Reason”—was Brigitte Bardot.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
ISAR's "Harming Companion Animals" Monograph To Be Used In Law School "Animal Law And Rights" Course
Since its publication, the monograph has received considerable attention and has been used as a resource by animal custodians throughout the United States.
Recently, a lawyer who this summer will be teaching "Animal Law and Rights" at a New England law school asked for a copy of the monograph for use in his course. ISAR responded by offering him copies for all 25 of the students registered for the course, and he gladly accepted.
ISAR has additional copies in its inventory, and until we run out we'll make the same offer to any lawyer teaching an animal law course elsewhere.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Supporters of International Society for Animal Rights know that in recent years we have extended our humane education activities to many places outside the United States by "exporting" thousands of copies of our Reports and each August encouraging and assisting observance of our International Homeless Animals Day and candlelight vigils.
ISAR has looked beyond our shores because the awakening animal protection movements around the world are going to need all the help they can get, particularly in countries with no tradition of humane treatment of animals.
There is encouraging news:
- Three years ago, Great Britain barred hunting with dogs--although they are still allowed to follow the scent of foxes, but just not kill them.
- In Beijing where, as in the rest of China, people eat dog meat, restaurants have had a moratoriam imposed on the practice--although after the Olympics they will doubtless revert to this barbaric practice.
- Israel has barred the production of foie gras, as have some localities in Britain, and California has prohibited it--although the law is not effective until the year 2012.
- In Scotland, live animals may not be given as prizes, nor sold to children under the age of 16--although it is easy to see how the law will be circumvented.
- Hungary, Austria, Singapore, and Croatia have barred wild animals from circus acts--although the law apparently does not apply to domestic animals.
- Italy no longer allows animals to be used on television if they would be caused stressed or be forced to act against their nature--although the law's loopholes are evident.
- Bullfighting in Spain is under attack, with doping tests now conducted to ascertain if the doomed animals' useless attempts to defend themselves has been compromised and television no longer broadcasting the obscene spectacle--although without doping and TV broadcasts the fights continue.
- Four months from now a law goes into effect in Switzerland requiring dog owners to pay for and complete a two-part course focusing on the nature and needs of their animals--although holding wild animal in captivity goes on.
- Some medical schools in Russia have stopped what has been characterized as "the harmful use of animals"--although others have not, and experimentation has not been abolished.
ISAR is encouraged by these early steps toward animal protection because they stem from the growing awareness that took hold in the United States about a generation ago: that animals do have certain rights, and that it is arrogant and wrong for humans to abuse them.
Even though the current European laws leave a lot to be desired, they are a beginning--and ISAR intends to assist their proponents in strengthening and enlarging them.
We hope that our supporters realize, as we do, that animal protection seeds are sprouting all over the world--and that they need to be nurtured. With your help ISAR will keep working hard to do just that.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Too often, especially with the advent of the Internet, advice is sought from ISAR by the custodians of companion animals about harm done to them by veterinarians through misdiagnosis, prescribing the wrong medicine, operating unnecessarily or not at all when they should, and committing every other kind of malpractice imaginable. We also receive heartbreaking reports of intentional acts of cruelty perpetrated against companion animals: dogs shot by neighbors, cats stoned by teenagers, horses maimed by sadists.
The media exposure now being given to the harm being visited upon companion animals understandably causes nightmares for their custodians, who live in fear their animals may be the next victims.
Given what is now known about the emotional aspects of the human animal bond, and how the millions of companion animal caretakers experience that bond, it’s not surprising that when harm is caused the custodian seeks some kind of recourse.
Often a complaint is made to prosecutors, the licensing authorities, or the Better Business Bureau. Sometimes newspaper announcements are placed, reporting what the wrongdoer did, or failed to do. Mostly, however, the reaction of choice is a lawsuit—usually not to recover damages for their own sake, but to expose the wrongdoer’s conduct, to prevent him from harming any animals in the future, and/or, sometimes, to punish him financially.
Once virtually unheard of, in the past two decades the number of civil lawsuits arising out of harm to companion animals has soared. Various reasons have been given for this phenomenon, among them the information explosion, a more litigious culture, a burgeoning literature on the subject, more lawyers willing to take such cases, the development of new theories on which to sue, a greater awareness of the importance of companion animals to their caretakers’ quality of life, and a greater willingness on the part of legislatures and courts to treat seriously the harm done to companion animals.
But to say that “the number of civil lawsuits arising out of harm to companion animals has soared,” is not to say that the litigation is succeeding. In fact, despite the occasional anecdotal story that makes the news-papers and a sound bite on local TV news, much of the litigation is not succeeding—not if success is measured by achieving the lawsuits’ primary goal: imposing a financial penalty on the wrongdoer so that his conduct will be deterred.
This is especially true of litigation triggered by veterinary malpractice, which is without question the source of most harm to companion animals.
Tactically, suing for veterinary malpractice is a good idea. But even if a veterinarian is found liable in a civil action, the damages are usually inconsequential because of the legal status of companion animals and the judicial system’s indifference to the value companion animals have to their custodians. Because of these two disabilities—animals as mere property, and their worth akin to inanimate objects—the cost to those who harm
companion animals is virtually nil.
In a malpractice case, if the veterinarian has the usual professional liability coverage, the insurance company, not the veterinarian, will pay the costs of the defense. If the plaintiff proves liability, the insurance company will pay, not the veterinarian.
But even if there is no insurance, or liability is imposed for conduct that the insurance does not cover (e.g., an intentional act), the damages the veterinarian has to pay will be relatively small. And to the extent that damages for harm to companion animals is minimal, there is less an incentive for a veterinarian and his staff to exercise the appropriate level of care.
It is a truism that generally people exercise care in direct proportion to their assessment of, and their willingness to incur, risk.
Most lawyers will be careful and not wait until the last day to file a notice of appeal. They appreciate the risk of disastrous consequences from a malpractice suit, if the notice of appeal is “out of time.” If the lawyer has malpractice insurance that has to pay a claim arising out of failure to timely file a notice of appeal, if he can even get malpractice insurance afterwards the company will likely raise his premium and his deductible.
But this disincentive to sloppy professional work because of either non-renewed coverage, or coverage at a higher cost, does not affect veterinarians. If their malpractice policies are not renewed and they are later found liable in a later case, the damages will usually be modest.
If veterinarians do have coverage and lose a malpractice case, the insurance company will pay the judgment and the increased premium, just as the initial premium, will be negligible.
Why is veterinary malpractice insurance so inexpensive?
The answer is obvious: The handful of awards in companion animal veterinary malpractice cases have been nowhere near the available policy liability limits because, since companion animals are considered mere “property,” their custodians cannot recover damages for their emotional loss, and pain and suffering, caused by the negligence or intentional harm.
Thus, as a practical matter, the insurance companies have little or no financial risk—especially if the award is within the policy’s deductible limit, which the insured veterinarian will invariably pay himself.
Damage awards will be nowhere near the available policy limits until our culture, legal and social alike, changes its basic attitude toward the nature of companion animals and their value to their human caretakers—an attitude rooted in outdated notions about both.
In the meantime, because the necessary change in values has not yet occurred, ISAR frequently receives reports of veterinary malpractice and intentional harm done to companion animals. Because these requests for information about what can be done to right these wrongs have so grown in number, it is no longer efficient for the ISAR to respond to them individually. Accordingly, ISAR has prepared Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages, an extensive monograph for complimentary distribution.
ISAR’s monograph is intended to be, and should be understood as, only educational in nature. It is not intended to constitute, and should not be considered, legal advice generally or for any individual situation in particular. When confronted with a legal problem regarding negligent or intentional harm to a companion animal, there is no substitute for face-to-face, fact-specific advice obtained from one’s own attorney. Accordingly, ISAR urges anyone with a potential or actual problem of this kind to consult a lawyer.
Moreover, Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law on that subject. Its modest goal is to present merely general statements of the principal legal categories, using a single example to illustrate each.
Specifically, Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages focuses on the nature and scope of wrongdoers’ liability and the damages that may be recoverable from them. The monograph’s methodology is to present brief but thorough explanations of the applicable principles of liability and damages, and then to illustrate them by the use of extensive quotations from actual cases.
Although the monograph has not been written primarily for lawyers, the information contained in it should be of considerable value to them, especially our use of actual cases and our extensive bibliography, which includes:
• Law review articles.
• Law review notes.
• Book reviews.
• International resources.
• Magazine articles.
• Miscellaneous resources.
• Newspaper articles.
• Online resources.
• Pending legislation.
• Unsuccessful bills.
• Currently existing statutes.
• Recently reported cases.
Complimentary copies of Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages may be obtained through our website, www.isaronline.org.
The monograph consists of two major parts. Part I deals with “liability” resulting from wrongful conduct. Someone must have done something either negligently or intentionally (or even through breach of contract) to cause harm to a companion animal. If there is liability, the second question, dealt with in Part II, is: what are the “damages”?
A final point: Even though most of the harm to companion animals results from
veterinary malpractice, Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages
should not be taken as a criticism (let alone a condemnation) of all veterinarians.
On the contrary.
Although among the thousands and thousands of veterinarians in the United States there are some bad apples—just as in the medical, legal, and all other professions—the vast majority of veterinarians and their staffs are caring, dedicated, competent, healers who feel deeply about the animals they treat. For them, all of us who share our lives with companion animals are eternally grateful.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Thus, if millions of companion animals are put down every year, how can there not be an overpopulation problem?
In his well researched, extremely persuasive book, Mr. Winograd provides the answer. One paragraph sums up his position:
In theory, we could be a No Kill nation tomorrow. Based on the number of existing households with pets who have a pet die or run away, more homes potentially become available each year for cats than the number of cats who enter shelters, while more than twice as many homes potentially become available each year for dogs than the number of dogs who enter shelters. Based on the existing lifespan of existing pet dogs and cats, every year more families are potentially looking to bring a new dog or cat into their home than currently enter shelters. According to one commentator, "since the inventory of pet-owning homes is growing, not just holding even, adoption could in theory replace all population control killing right now--if the animals and potential adopters were better introduced." In other words, if shelters did a better job at adoptions [and elsewhere in his book the author argues convincingly that too many do a rotten job], they could eliminate all population control killing today. This does not include the fact that the market of homes (the number of homes that do not currently have a dog or cat but will acquire one) is expanding rapidly. If shelters increased market share by just a few percentage points, we could be a No Kill nation right now. But we are far from it. (My emphasis.)If the author's figures are correct, that would mean that the vast majority of the five million cats and dogs killed each year (allowing for the sick, seriously injured, and otherwise unadoptable) could find homes--and indeed "No Kill" could be a reality.
But there's a catch--which is why Mr. Winograd hedges his argument with the "in theory" qualifier.
The catch is that the "overpopulation" mindset must be radically altered, and shelters must do "a better job at adoptions"--which is not impossible.
In the meantime, what is to be done?
To his credit, the author strongly supports spay/neuter, making that point throughout his book.
For example, he notes that the American Veterinary Medical Association "opposed the endorsement of municipal- or SPCA-administered spay/neuter clinics that provided the poor an alternative to the prohibitively high prices charged by some private practice veterinarians."
"Sterilization of animals to curb their reproductive capacity thus leading to the birth of fewer dogs and cats and consequently fewer surrenders to shelters, is one of the keys to substantially reducing shelter killing."
"While laws were passed to force people to spay or neuter their pets, little was done about the high cost of sterilization that kept poor people from complying."
"The genesis of the failed model [solution] can be found at the 1974 meeting at which self-proclaimed animal welfare 'leaders' failed to demand the one thing that could have achieved results: low-cost and free spay/neuter, particularly for the pet of the poor."
"Study after study had already confirmed that unaltered pets tend to belong to the people with the lowest incomes. If there was a solution in front of them, it was not hard to see: make spay/neuter affordable."
"At a time when every shelter in the country was telling people to spay and neuter their pets, many of these shelters were not altering the animals in their own care prior to adoption."
"Until its low-cost spay/neuter clinics were closed . . . the City of Los Angeles had begun the march toward No Kill with its municipality funded program that provided affordable access to spay/neuter services and incentives to increase the number of animals sterilized."
"Studies show the primary reasons people do not sterilize their pets are cost and lack of access to spay/neuter services."
Who is to blame?
In 1974, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Humane Association, the ASPCA, and other animal welfare groups had an opportunity to take a decisive stand [for spay/neuter]. Had they endorsed and succeeded in promoting municipally funded low-cost spay/neuter nationwide, the lifesaving results could have been dramatic. Sadly, they failed to do so. * * * Despite two more years of indisputable proof that high volume spay/neuter clinics in Los Angeles were having a decisive impact on lowering shelter deaths . . . the [conference] participants again failed to support municipally funded low-cost spay/neuter programs for fear of alienating veterinary business interests. (My emphasis.)And so the beat goes on: too many shelters do an incompetent job, spay/neuter programs fall far short, dogs and cats continute to breed (and be bred!), and as they multiply the dead bodies of their predecessors go up in smoke--in a neverending cycle of birth, suffering, and destruction.
Nathan J. Winograd has come up with a challenging, and perhaps workable, solution to the massive annual killing that goes on relentlessly in our enlightened nation. His book should be read, his ideas studied, and his leadership of No Kill applauded.
In the meantime, ISAR will continue its spay/neuter humane education in the hope that at least some companion animals will be spared the fates of many too many of their ancestors.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
In that article, Ms. Tischler graciously names as “the first animal rights lawyer” ISAR’s chairman and general counsel, Henry Mark Holzer, professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School.
She credits Professor Holzer, then a practicing attorney professionally associated with ISAR, with three accomplishments crucial to establishing the field of what today is known as “animal rights law”: with ISAR, having brought the first federal and first state lawsuit to invoke the moral concept of “animal rights”; with ISAR, having founded the Animal Rights Law Reporter, which became “the legal clearinghouse for animal rights law information”; and, again with ISAR, having organized the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law”—an undertaking, in Ms. Tischler’s words, “[t]he significance of which cannot be overstated.”
One of the topics addressed at that conference was how activists can foster the enactment of statutes and ordinances protective of animals. We included that topic because while on the legal side of the ledger it was not difficult for capable lawyers to write the appropriate laws, on the legislative side of the ledger getting them enacted and signed was an entirely different, and extremely difficult, matter.
Over the years animal protective legislation has of course been enacted, but the problem has been that except for the very few national humane orgainizations with deep pockets and strong legislative connections everyone else has lacked the requisite information and skills to lobby successfully.
Julie E. Lewin of the National Institute for Animal Advocacy (Guilford, CT) has written a book that can alter the landscape of animal legislation in the United States. Its complete title and subtitles are: "Get Political for Animals [GPFA] and Win the Laws they Need; Why and how to launch a voting bloc for animals in your town, city, county or state; A step-by-step manual for animal rights and rescue advocates and organizations."
This description promises a lot, and it delivers!
GPFA has been rightly endorsed by the Humane Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals, ASPCA, Animal Legal Defense Fund, legislators, and others.
Lewin's book has rightly been called "important," "groundbreaking," "superb," "wonderful," "a masterpiece" and "a great resource."
It is all of those things, and more.
Indeed, the Table of Contents alone consists of eleven letter-size pages, providing an overview of
the 276 page book.
The scope of what is covered in GPFA is so comprehensive that attempting to relate it here would be a disservice to the research, writing, and experience that the author brought to this invaluable project.
To illustrate this point, here are the chapter titles, without the abundance of material that each one contains.
1. "We can be power players who win strong laws for animals."
2. "The dynamics of social change: from charity to political organization."
3. "The structure of government--and why activists need to know it."
4. "The structure of politics, the culture of politics, and the political mind."
5. "The dynamics and mechanics of political campaigns and voting blocs' role."
6. "How the lawmaking process really works--and the role of the voting bloc system."
7. "Playing to win: the pro-active lobbyist for a political organization is a power player."
8. "The legal side: how individuals, informal animal rights and rescue groups, and charities can
launch political organizations for animals."
9. "How to use media to help win laws for animals--and when to avoid it."
10. "Make it happen: how to launch your voting bloc for animals."
11. "Political quiz: read between the lines."
In the history of social-cultural-political movements there have been defining moments--a speech ["Tear Down That Wall"], a book [Uncle Tom's Cabin], a judicial decision [Brown v. Board of Education]--that sent our nation down a new road.
That is what Lewin's book does for the protection of animals through the legislative processes of the United States of America.
More animal protective laws will be introduced--and thanks to Julie E. Lewin and the National Institute for Animal Advocacy, many of them will be enacted. The animals should be, as we are, extremely grateful.
To purchase a copy of Ms. Lewin's book, please visit www.nifaa.org.