Monday, November 23, 2009

ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day 2009

ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day® 2009 was commemorated for the 18th consecutive year on August 15th with Candlelight Vigil observances in 24 states and 6 foreign countries.

For the eighteenth consecutive year, ISAR has facilitated animal rights/welfare organizations in 24 states and 6 foreign countries in making their International Homeless Animals’ Day events a success.

In honor of ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day 2009, ISAR was pleased to once again hold our Online Candlelight Vigil for the eighth consecutive year. Visitors to our website, http://www.isaronline.org/, were invited to light a virtual candle in memory of those directly affected by the global tragedy - pet overpopulation.

Activities for this year’s ISAR International Homeless Animals’ Day included candlelight vigils, blessings of the animals, concerts, adopt-a-thons, microchip clinics, dog walks, open houses, award ceremonies, and raffles. Other activities included information stalls, “meet and greets” as well as speeches given by local council members, animal advocacy representatives, shelter personnel, veterinarians, and humane officers.

2009 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 15, 2009. Representative examples follow.


Four hundred people gathered for Bark In The Park held by Holly Help Spay-Neuter Fund in Bristol, Virginia in honor of ISAR’s International Homeless Animals’ Day 2009. To help increase attendance, Holly Help Spay-Neuter Fund incorporated many activities in addition to their candlelight vigil that included speeches, presentations, and distribution of flyers, contests, awards, a celebrity and pet walk with individuals from local governments from Virginia and Tennessee, and local media. One of the more effective components bringing to light the problem of pet overpopulation was the big rig depicting graphics of dogs and cats in shelter cages with brightly colored statements declaring “Crime – being born into a world without enough homes – punishable by death” and “To spay or not to spay…you decide!” According to Holly Help Spay-Neuter Fund Founder/Operator, Sue Williams, “judging by the reaction of those attending the event after hearing the local euthanasia statistics read out loud on stage the impact was very effective and was substantial by increased donations for spay/neuter.” With regard to increasing attendance at their vigil, Ms. Williams advises others to, “Invite local celebrities and individuals from local government along with media anchors to attend and participate in events.”

Sleeping with Dogs…One of Life’s Benefits was the theme surrounding eleven rescue/adoption/advocacy groups, three vendors and more than seventy-five participants at The Queenie Foundation Inc.’s fourteenth annual International Homeless Animals’ Day observance held in Connecticut on August 15th. M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut, signed ISAR’s Proclamation declaring August 15, 2009 as International Homeless Animals’ Day. The city council of Glastonbury, CT, wrote a proclamation based on ISAR’s and presented it to The Queenie Foundation, Inc. Events at this observance included an interfaith blessing of the animals, vegetarian cuisine, music and raffles, informational booths and a candlelight remembrance. Special guest speakers, Diana Urban, CT 47th District State Representative, and Sue Mercer from Bikers Against Animal Cruelty spoke on the importance of companion animal responsibility and a cruelty free society. No stranger to organizing an ISAR International Homeless Animals’ Day observance, Enid Breakstone, Founder and Executive Director of The Queenie Foundation, Inc., cannot stress enough the importance of working together for holding a successful event. Ms. Breakstone encourages everyone hosting an International Homeless Animals’ Day observance to, “invite all the rescues and advocacy organizations that you can find in your area/county/region to table at your event. It’s important for the public see that the most urgent issue facing companion animals is euthanasia, hence spay/neuter is paramount. The public needs to see that the reason there are so many organizations in operation is because there is a serious need to handle the volume of animals who find themselves homeless. If we depend solely on county and municipal shelters, millions more would die.”

West Virginia was the setting for the Mountaineer Spay Neuter Assistance Program’s (M-SNAP) first annual International Homeless Animals’ Day Candlelight Vigil on August 15th. With candles radiating with hope for a better future for companion animals, approximately fifty people gathered to bring attention to the plight of homeless animals while listening to enlightening speeches, live music, and participating in a blessing for the animals. When asked for her general impression of their vigil’s effectiveness in educating about the perils of pet overpopulation and the solution to spay/neuter, Nancy Young of M-SNAP stated, “We distributed our flyers to every bulletin board we could locate, published the invitation on our website and on Facebook. Volunteers also promoted by word of mouth. We sent a PSA to the local radio stations and a press release to the local newspaper. We presented a wonderful program and, although we didn’t have a huge turnout, everyone thought that for the first effort, it was a success. M-SNAP will definitely repeat the candlelight vigil each year.”

More than three thousand people gathered in Pretoria, South Africa to pay tribute to homeless animals during an International Homeless Animals’ Day observance held by Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre. During the event, all animals under Wet Nose’s care spent the day romping and playing with the locals. Activities included live entertainment, flea market stalls, delicious food, dog shows, award ceremonies, and the dedication of their brand new animal hospital facility. Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre was also presented with keys to a new vehicle for their animal inspection division. With regards to this year’s International Homeless Animals’ Day event, Tracy Forté, Managing Director of Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre, said, “It was the most amazing experience to have so many loyal animal lovers and supporters here at once. This year was the best International Homeless Animals Day ever held by Wet Nose, we never expected so many people! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped make this day so awesome. To all those who spread the word, forwarded the advertisement on the net and brought along family and friends – THANK YOU! We will be ready and waiting for even bigger crowds next year!”

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 KXCI 91.3 FM, Center for Animal Rescue and Adoption, HOPE Animal Shelter, Spay and Neuter Solutions, Inc., Citizens for a No-Kill Tucson, City of Glendale Building Safety Department Staff Members, Murphy Dog Park, Bryant Animal Control & Adoption Center, For the Sake of Dogs, Fort Bragg Feed and Pet, Animal Care Services, Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary, La Plata County Humane Society, inside/out, Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance, All Breed Rescue & Training, The Animal Haven, Humane Society of Greater Miami, Cats Exclusive, Inc., Brevard County South & North Animal Care and Adoption Centers, Animal Guardians of Brevard, Cats Angels, Inc. SPCA, SPCA of Central Florida, Susan Buser, Orange County Animal Services, The Central Illinois Animal Welfare Coalition, Humane Society of Indianapolis, Humane Society of Elkhart County, Siouxland Humane Society, Lexington Humane Society, Chesapeake Cats and Dogs, Inc., K9Resque, Minnesota Valley Humane Society, College View Manor, Dellridge Health & Rehabilitation Center, New Rochelle Humane Society, Merlin’s Song, Edgecomb-Nash Humane Society, The Greater Triad Shag Club, Cleveland Animal Protective League, The Mutt Hutt, The Happy Dog, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Gress Mountain Ranch, BSA Troop 72, Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, Hillside SPCA, The Greystone Restaurant, Bradford County Humane Society, No Kill Lehigh Valley, Defenders of Animals, Crescent Park Carousel Commission, Believe in Bristol, Green Mountain Animal Defenders, Greyhound Rescue Foundation, Animal Defense League, The Kanawha/Charleston Humane Association, Greenbrier Humane Society.

ISAR also truly appreciates the international participation of PACE, Canada, Estonian Society for the protection of Animals, Tallinn Environmental Board, Estonia, OIKOS KAI BIOS, France, SPANA, Jordan, SOS Chats, Switzerland.

Special Thanks

ISAR is grateful for the support from U.S. Governors and Mayors who acknowledged the companion animal overpopulation crisis by signing ISAR’s Proclamation declaring August 15, 2009, as International Homeless Animals’ Day. ISAR would also like to take this opportunity to encourage every elected official who has not participated in this year’s International Homeless Animals’ Day observance to please consider doing so for next year’s event. ISAR cannot stress enough the importance of having the support of all elected officials in combating pet overpopulation!

ISAR is extremely appreciative 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 and online resources (blogs, online communities, etc…) 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 2010

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 2010. 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 2010 observance on August 21st 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, and sample press releases are but a few of the items included in our packet. Beginning in 2010, you can also receive, for a donation of $5.00 to ISAR, our International Homeless Animals’ Day posters to advertise your event, Proclamations to be signed by your governor and mayor declaring the day as International Homeless Animals’ Day, coloring sheets and more. Your donation will also guarantee advertisement of your organization’s event to thousands of people on ISAR’s website http://www.isaronline.org/, as well as promotion on ISAR’s online communities including Facebook and Myspace. Vigil packets are only sent upon request.

Together we will continue to be a strong voice for the animals.

Working together we do make a difference.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ISAR's Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales


At this very moment, literally countless numbers of dogs, certainly hundreds of thousands, are held captive around the world in wretched conditions, while being used and abused as living breeding machines by conscienceless breeders, facilitators and commercial retail sales outlets whose only concern is for their own profit.

Because much of that abuse occurs in the United States, and because ISAR's self-imposed mandate is the protection of animals, we have prepared a comprehensive Monograph containing ISAR's Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales. In effect, our Monograph is a brief in support of our Model Statute. ISAR's approach to the dog breeding problem is revolutionary because our goal is to end virtually all breeding of dogs in the United States and to prohibit the importation of canines bred elsewhere. End the breeding, not perpetuate it.

ISAR's Model Statute's imposition of tough regulations on breeders, facilitators and commercial retail sales outlets is unapologetically draconian. This is our intention and our goal, because only in this manner can the dog-trade's participants' appalling, and often illegal, conduct be regulated out of existence once and for all.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Introduction.
1. Breeders:
Types of breeders. Genesis of puppy mills in the United States.

"Life" in a puppy mill.
Puppy mills are a blight on civilized society.
The moral case against puppy mills.
Federal efforts to regulate breeders and others.
State efforts to regulate puppy mills.
The Petland case and the torturous road of litigation.
2. Facilitators:
ISAR definition.
USDA definition.
Examples of facilitators.
3. Retail sellers:
Introduction.
State laws.
4. Constitutionality of regulating dog breeding and sales.
5. ISAR's Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales:
Animal Welfare Act.
Preface to ISAR's model statute.
ISAR's Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales.
Preamble.
Part I. Definitions (annotated).
Part II. Breeders (annotated).
Part III. Facilitators (annotated).
Part IV. Commercial retail sales outlets (annotated).
Part V. Miscellaneous provisions (annotated).
Conclusion.
Appendix:
A. ISAR's Model Statute Regulating Dog Breeding, Facilitation and Sales (unannotated).
Preamble.
Part I. Definitions (unannotated).
Part II. Breeders (unannotated).
Part III. Facilitators (unannotated).

Part IV. Commercial retail sales outlets (unannotated).
Part V. Miscellaneous provisions (unannotated).
B. Petland first amended complaint.

The entire monograph can be found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Half A Loaf, Revisited

One year ago we published the blog that appears below.

The animal rights/welfare movement here and abroad is awash in proposed legislation (see ISAR's Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter statute), much of which will never be enacted or, if enacted, never enforced.

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 anesthesia.

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 enactments 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.


The blog highlighted the dilemma faced by serious people in the animal protection movement, especially those who recall Voltaire’s famous observation that “the perfect is the enemy of the good”—meaning that while one seeks utopia in human affairs, “the perfect,” much else, “the good,” doesn’t get done.

As to animal protection, while we wait (and work toward) much better Swiss, Massachusetts California and other laws (“the perfect”), the benefits that could have accrued (“the good), are lost.

We were reminded of this problem recently when asked to support anti-tethering legislation pending in Pennsylvania. (Tethering is the cruel practice of chaining a dog to a stationary object, thus severely restricting its freedom of movement.)

Should we not support the proposed new legislation because in approving it we would be accepting the existence of that cruel, indefensible practice, even though the law would ameliorate some of the more egregious conditions under which tethered dogs live? In other words, do we seek “the perfect,” with not even a nod to reality?

Or do we support the proposed new legislation precisely because of the amelioration, abjuring “the perfect” to gain “the good”? In other words, do we accept the reality that “the good” means reducing suffering, at the expense of “the perfect,” which in a utopian world would be an outright prohibition of tethering?

After much soul-searching, we recalled the concluding two sentences of our earlier blog:
“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.”

To paraphrase, as to tethering: Is “half-a-loaf better than none”? Much better--if you’re a dog chained to a stationary object and whose entire universe consists of several square feet (at best), primitive shelter (at best), almost no human contact (at best), and little interaction with your own kind (at best).

This said, however, ISAR insists on making unmistakably clear that we unequivocally oppose the practice of tethering both as a moral and humane imperative the practice of tethering, and that our support of the pending Pennsylvania legislation is not intended, nor should it be construed as, our sanction, approval, or any other kind of endorsement of the cruel practice of tethering.

If ISAR had its way, Pennsylvania and every other state would immediately enact laws making tethering of dogs illegal, with severe penalties. Let there be no mistake about ISAR’s position!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Animal Rights Books for Sale

ISAR has for sale a limited number of historically important books on the subject of animal rights. Individuals or organizations interested in purchasing books, either singly or in quantity, should Click Here and provide either an email address or telephone number so that an ISAR representative can take the order. Descriptions of each book, and the price per single copy (shipping and handling costs are added), are as follows:

Animals' Rights, Considered in Relation to Social Progress
By Henry S. Salt
Preface by Professor Peter Singer

Originally published in 1892, Salt's classic Animal Rights, Considered in Relation to Social Progress was rescued from obscurity by ISAR and republished in 1980. The book is, in the words of Professor Singer's Preface, "the best of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century works on the rights of animals." ($5.00, hardcover)

The Struggle for Animal Rights
By Professor Tom Regan
Introduction by Colman McCarthy

Published by ISAR in 1987 and dedicated to its founder--the late "Helen Jones who understood animal rights before the rest of us"--Regan's book provides a clear statement of the animal activists' agenda--what they must do, where it should be pursued, and how they can succeed. ($3.00, softcover)

The Extended Circle
By Jon Wynne-Tyson

Lauding the author's anthology of humane thought--which contains commentary by personages from St. Francis of Assisi to William Wordsworth--Professor Peter Singer noted that it is "a marvelous collection of material which will bring encouragement and inspiration to every compassionate reader," while Professor Regan said that "this remarkable book should become the bible of all concerned with humane education and the concept of animal rights." ($7.00 hardcover)

Christianity and the Rights of Animals
By Andrew Linzey

It is no secret that that the Biblical and Christian view of animals was that they did not possess any rights that humans were obliged to respect. In this book, the author--Chaplain and Director of Studies at the Center for the Study of Theology, University of Essex--presents a comprehensive and well-argued theological case for the rights of animals, offering a challenging critique of modern insensitivy toward animal life. ($3.00 softcover)

All Heaven in a Rage
By E.S. Turner

In the nature of a factual/intellectual expose, this book describes how the British nation was led and forced into showing some compassion to certain animals. It illuminates the philosophical, legislative, and social components of that struggle. As one of the book's endorsers wrote, "it ends once and for all the smug myth that the British are the only nation that loves animals and that the only people who are cruel to them are foreigners." ($3.00, softcover)

The Duty of Mercy, and the
Sin of Cruelty to Brute Animals
By Humphrey Primatt
Richard D. Ryder (ed.)

Humphrey Primatt, a clergyman, lived in the Eighteenth Century and was among the first to address the issue of animal rights. Richard D. Ryder discovered Primatt's book in 1976 in an Oxford library. In Ryder's Introduction to it, he writes that "with unprecedented clarity, [here] was a complete book devoted to the moral treatment of animals and composed by a mind comprehensible to my own. This little known doctor of divinity displayed in the 1770s remarkable similar thoughts to those Peter Singer, Tom Regan . . . Andrew Linzey, myself and others had recently been expressing in the 1970s." ($3.00, softcover)

Moral Inquiries on the
Situation of Man and of Brutes
Lewis Gompertz
Peter Singer (ed.)

Lewis Gompertz (1779-1825) was, among his activities on behalf of animals, a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Great Britain. In Professor Peter Singer's Preface to Gompertz's book, he writes that "Gompertz was an authentic pioneering exponent of the set of ideas that, a century and a half later, have been taken up by the animal liberation movement." ($3.00, softcover).






Monday, October 19, 2009

The Need For ISAR's Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law



INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS
SKYPE PRESENTATION

"The Need For ISAR's Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law"

Presented by Professor Henry Mark Holzer
Chairman, International Society for Animal Rights


Last week ISAR conducted a follow-up Skype presentation to "Unpublished Insights Into United States v. Stevens" entitled "ISAR's Analysis Of The Supreme Court Oral Argument In United States v. Stevens" with ISAR's Chairman Professor Henry Mark Holzer. In case you were unable to attend ISAR's Skype presentations you can download the podcasts from ISAR's website.

Utilizing the facilities of Skype (at no charge to listeners), ISAR will welcome back Professor Holzer who will focus on ISAR's Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law.

On October 22, 2009, Professor Holzer's next thirty minute presentation, entitled "The Need For ISAR's Mandatory Spay/Neuter Law," will take place at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Immediately following this presentation, Professor Holzer will take a few minutes to answer questions.

We encourage you to forward ISAR's Skype presentation information to everyone on your email contact list and ask them to do the same.

To pre-register for our Skype presentation, be sure to add username ColleenGedrich to your Skype contact list before Thursday, October 22, 2009.

On October 22, 2009, ISAR will initiate the Skype-to-Skype call at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time. If you do not have a Skype account (which is free), please visit http://www.skype.com/ to create one.

Please note: ISAR's Skype presentation will be recorded. Participation in ISAR's Skype presentation constitutes consent to use the recording on our site, iTunes, Blogger, and elsewhere, and asking a question constitutes permission to use the questioner's name in our promotion of the recording.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Animal Suffering Matters, by Andrew Linzey. Reviewed by Professor Henry Mark Holzer

Andrew Linzey is a warhorse of the animal rights movement, and one of its leading intellectuals. He is Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and a member of the Faculty of Theology at Oxford University in England.

Dr. Linzey’s newest book, of some twenty, is published by Oxford University Press and is important for at least four reasons.

First, in his own words, “[t]his book attempts to provide a clear, introductory text accessible for high school and university students. * * * This volume is also intended to meet the specific needs occasioned by the increasing number of university courses in animal welfare, animal rights, human-animal studies, animal ethics, animals and philosophy, animals and religion, animal law, and even animal theology at the university level in both Europe and the United States. This is in addition to the many pre-university, advanced-level, and high school courses in the United Kingdom and the United States in liberal arts, humanities, philosophy, religious studies, and ethics that now increasingly include normative questions about our treatment of animals within their fields of study.” Few tasks are more important than this for the animal protection movement, for it is the future generations that will be responsible for making another quantum leap in the understanding of the human-animal relationship, and the protection of the latter. In that respect, Dr. Linzey’s book is more than a welcome addition to the literature; it is an indispensable one.

Second, the structure of Why Animal Suffering Matters well serves the case it makes. Part I is entitled “Making the Rational Case,” and consists of two chapters. Of them, the first—“Why animal suffering matters morally” (Chapter 2 is entitled “How we minimize animal suffering and how we can change”—sets the tone for everything that follows. At the end of Chapter 1 Dr. Linzey provides a summary of its main points, a useful tool for his intended audience. Most important is his central point that whatever differences exist between humans and animals, they are not necessarily morally different. This emphasis on the moral, though not overly theological, aspects of human treatment of animals suffuses Dr. Linzey’s book in a welcome departure from some other works in this genre which minimize the moral case if they address it at all. The reason the book’s structure serves the case it makes is because Part I is an essential predicate to Part II, which examines “Three Practical Critiques”: hunting with dogs, fur farming and commercial sealing. In Dr. Linzey’s discussion of each of these topics omnipresent is always the moral calculus, the litmus test by which these, and other animal-destructive, activities must always be judged.

Third, is the content of the moral calculus itself, too important and serious to be facilely summarized here. Suffice to say that despite the author’s life-long association with theology, his moral case does not rest entirely by an appeal to a “higher being” which somehow bespeaks of the need for humans to be kind to animals. For example—one of many—Dr. Linzey makes the point that if the principle of medical informed consent “is morally sound, the absence of the capacity to give consent [by animals], informed or otherwise, must logically tell against [emphasis in original] the abuse of animals. It makes the infliction of injury not easier, but equally difficult, if not harder, to justify. At Tom Regan extols when weighing the relative risks and harms involved in experimentation: ‘Risks are not morally transferable to those who do not voluntarily choose to take them’.”

Fourth, in Why Animal Suffering Matters Dr. Linzey takes on Peter Singer, a utilitarian considered by many to be the father of the animal rights movement (which, by his own admission, he is not). Among other indefensible ideas, Singer believes it is permissible for “society,” which is nothing more than an aggregation of individuals, to murder disabled newborn babies up to a month old—a “logical” corollary of his view that even partial-birth abortion is morally acceptable, and should be legally as well. If for no other reason—and there are many—Andrew Linzey’s book should be read is because of his critique of Singer’s views, which, for whatever good they may have done years ago for the animal protection movement, have lately allowed our critics to point to his unsavory position on infanticide in an effort to discredit his defensible arguments for animal liberation.

In the end, the first paragraph of Dr. Linzey’s conclusion, sums up much of his book: “Concern for animal suffering, like concern for the suffering of young children, ought reasonably to arise from the following considerations: their inability to give or withhold their consent, their inability to verbalize or represent their interests, their inability to comprehend, their moral innocence or blamelessness, and, not least of all, their relative defencelessness and vulnerability. These considerations, and the sheer volume of animal suffering, are masked, minimized, or obfuscated by a range of powerful psychological and linguistic mechanisms that prevent us from directly confronting our treatment of animals as a moral issue” (emphasis supplied).

Dr. Linzey’s invoking the parallel between young children and animals comes at a coincidental time. On October 6, 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral argument in the case of United States v. Stevens, which presented the question of whether the government can suppress the creation, possession and sale of depictions of cruelty to animals just as it has been held to possess the constitutional power to suppress depictions of child pornography (a copy of ISAR’s brief in that case can be viewed HERE). There is indeed a correlation, and in each situation the principle which binds the treatment of young children and animals and should protect both is morality.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

United States v. Stevens: Popular Wisdom May Be Wrong

Two days ago the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Stevens, the notorious case involving the constitutionality of a federal statute criminalizing the creation, possession or sale of depictions of certain forms of cruelty to animals. Stevens was convicted of the “sale” prong of the statute.

Commentary in the print, broadcast and electronic media has it that the statute is in deep trouble and may be ruled an unconstitutional abridgement of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.

Maybe.

But then again, maybe not.

The Popular Wisdom is apparently based on three things that happened at oral argument.

One was the less than sterling performance of the Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, but that does not matter because few appellate cases are won or lost on oral argument. The justices know the law, read the briefs and are assisted by four law clerks.

I have left oral argument believing I’ve won, but lost. And believed I’ve lost, but won.

Second, Justice Scalia adamantly conveyed his displeasure with the statute, as an infringement of free speech. He is, however, but one of nine justices.

Finally, as usual, Justice Thomas asked no question. He rarely does, but nonetheless well understands the core issue in the case and in the past has written opinions which could augur well for the statute’s constitutionality.

However, questions and comments by Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Kennedy, Breyer and Alito could suggest a decision which would save the statute’s constitutionality.

Almost simultaneously with the publication of this blog on Thursday morning I will be giving a Skype presentation elaborating on these observations and, going out on a long limb, making a prediction of what the Court will decide in this most important case.

ISAR's Skype presentation will be available for download from ISAR's website at www.isaronline.org.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ISAR's Analysis Of The Supreme Court Oral Argument In United States v. Stevens




International Society For Animal Rights Skype Presentation
"ISAR's Analysis Of The Supreme Court Oral Argument In United States v. Stevens"

Presented by Professor Henry Mark Holzer
Chairman, International Society for Animal Rights




Last week ISAR conducted a Skype presentation entitled "Unpublished insights into United States v. Stevens" with ISAR's Chairman Professor Henry Mark Holzer.

Supporters of ISAR know that we've filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in the First Amendment/Animal Rights case of United States v. Stevens (see ISAR's Amicus Curiae Brief Has Been Filed In The Supreme Court, ISAR Amicus Curiae Brief in U.S. v. Stevens, ISAR In The Supreme Court Of The United States, Free Speech and Cruelty to Animals).

In our most recent blog posting about the Stevens case, Animals in Court, we provided a list of, and links to, the briefs of the parties -- the government, and Stevens -- and those individuals and organizations who have filed amicus curiae briefs, and we encouraged our supporters to review the Tables of Contents to see which amici are making what arguments.

As a follow-up to ISAR's presentation "Unpublished insights into United States v. Stevens," ISAR will welcome back Professor Holzer (and interested Skype members) for a thirty minute presentation on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time for his commentary and critique on the oral arguments in the Supreme Court two days earlier. Immediately following this presentation, Professor Holzer will take a few minutes to answer questions relating to the United States v. Stevens case.

We encourage you to forward ISAR's presentation information along to everyone in your email contact list and ask them to do the same.

To pre-register for our Skype presentation, be sure to add username ColleenGedrich to your Skype contact list before Thursday, October 8, 2009.

On October 8, 2009, ISAR will contact interested individuals by initiating a Skype-to-Skype call at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time. If you do not have a Skype account (which is free), please visit http://www.skype.com/ to sign up.

Please note: this presentation will be recorded. Participation in ISAR's Skype presentation constitutes consent to use the recording on our site, etc, and asking a question constitutes permission to use the questioner's name in our promotion of the recording.

Monday, October 5, 2009

ISAR's Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute

About a decade ago, again ahead of the curve, ISAR came up with the suggestion that Congress amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide a tax deduction for the cost of spay/neuter. (A copy of ISAR’s Model Statute can be found HERE.) In the introduction to ISAR’s Model Statute we set forth the policy reasons for the deduction, and argued that it’s a “win-win” situation, as indeed it is.

Sadly, nothing came of ISAR’s groundbreaking idea—until now.

A few months ago, Representative McCotter introduced H.R. 3501 (the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (‘HAPPY’) Act”), entitled “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for pet care expenses.” The Bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The Bill recites that Congress finds “63 percent of United States households own a pet” and that “the Human-Animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.”

Accordingly, the IRC amendment would allow a “deduction for the taxable year an amount equal to the qualified pet care expenses of the taxpayer during the taxable year for any qualified pet of the taxpayer,” limited to $3,500. (The statute goes on to define “qualified pet care expenses” and “qualified pet.”)

Because ISAR is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization we can’t lobby for legislation, but we certainly can observe that, given our Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute, H.R. 3501 is a welcome development—but for one problem. Had ISAR’s input been sought in the drafting of H.R. 3501, we would have suggested that the deductible “qualified pet care expenses” mandatorily include spay/neuter. In other words, no reimbursement for any expenses unless included in them was the cost of spay/neuter.

Perhaps Representative McCotter, or his co-sponsors will see fit to amend their amendment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

International Society for Animal Rights Skype Presentation



"Unpublished insights into United States v. Stevens"

Presented by Professor Henry Mark Holzer
Chairman, International Society for Animal Rights



Supporters of ISAR know that we've filed an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in the First Amendment/Animal Rights case of United States v. Stevens (see ISAR's Amicus Curiae Brief Has Been Filed In The Supreme Court, ISAR Amicus Curiae Brief in U.S. v. Stevens, ISAR In The Supreme Court Of The United States, Free Speech and Cruelty to Animals).

In our most recent posting about the Stevens case, Animals in Court, we provided a list of, and links to, the briefs of the parties -- the government, and Stevens -- and those individuals and organizations who have filed amicus curiae briefs, and we encouraged our supporters to review the Tables of Contents to see which amici are making what arguments.

Here's an update. Nine justices will hear oral argument in the Stevens case on October 6, 2009, one of them, Sonia Sotomayor, having been only recently appointed to the Court.

The question is: who's going to win the case?

Will it be the government, if the Court upholds the statute making it a federal felony to create, possess or sell depictions of cruelty to animals?

Or will it be Stevens, who was convicted of violating the law, if the Court strikes down the statute as a violation of his First Amendment rights?

Utilizing the facilities of Skype, ISAR will present (at no charge to listeners) an analysis by Professor Henry Mark Holzer of the possible outcome of the Stevens case. He will focus on what can be expected of each justice in light of Supreme Court precedent, their own philosophies, and the nature of the case.

On September 30, 2009, Professor Holzer's fifteen minute presentation entitled "Unpublished insights into United States v. Stevens" will take place at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Immediately following this presentation, Professor Holzer will take a few minutes to answer questions relating to the United States v. Stevens case.

To sign up for this Skype presentation, be sure to add username ColleenGedrich to your Skype contact list.

On September 30, 2009, ISAR will contact interested individuals by initiating a Skype-to-Skype call at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time. If you do not have a Skype account (which is free), please visit http://www.skype.com/ to sign up.

Please note: this presentation will be recorded.

As a follow-up to "Unpublished insights into United States v. Stevens," ISAR will welcome back Professor Holzer (and interested Skype members) on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 1:00PM Eastern Standard Time for his commentary and critique on the oral arguments in the Supreme Court two days earlier.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Profit Trumped Principle


Nationally, ISAR had taken the anti-Vick lead by obtaining numerous signatures in our petition campaign in support of our effort to deny Vick economic and other benefits which he might enjoy as a result of the "celebrity" he acquired from his criminal acts.

To this day, ISAR continues collecting many signatures from supporters.

When in May 2009, ISAR received an e-bulletin from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stating that it was going to "provide an opportunity for Michael Vick to get involved in some of their anti-dogfighting outreach programs." ISAR immediately sent not one letter, but two letters to HSUS President Wayne Pacelle questioning the humane society's latest move to paper over what Vick had done.

When it became apparent to ISAR that Vick and his handlers were engaged in a sophisticated campaign to have him reinstated and re-employed in the NFL, we wrote to league Commissioner Goodell registering in the strongest terms our disapproval. Our letter can be found here.

Lest any of ISAR's supporters, let alone Vick, think that we're finished with him, here's what happens next.

ISAR has designed a striking poster displaying the slogan "Profit Trumped Principle" for our supporters to have printed and distributed at events such as NFL games where Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles will be present.

Simply click here to obtain a larger file for higher printing quality. Next right click your mouse on the larger image. You will be offered options to save, email or print the image. For best quality results ISAR recommends saving the art file to a flash drive and taking it to your local print shop. There you can have the poster printed in color on a thicker stock of paper. Some printing companies may accept the file via email or if you have access to a color printer feel free to print ISAR's "Profit Trumped Principle" poster at your convenience.

Please help ISAR--in public, and in his face--keep fighting Michael Vick!!




Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vick Scores Yet Again

The cleverly orchestrated charade about whether criminal dog abuser Michael Vick would be reinstated in the National Football League, and once he was whether some team would employ him, has finally played out. Last week, the felon Vick was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Nationally, ISAR had taken the anti-Vick lead by obtaining numerous signatures in our petition campaign in support of our effort to deny Vick economic and other benefits which he might enjoy as a result of the "celebrity" he acquired from his criminal acts.

To this day, ISAR continues collecting many signatures from supporters.

When in May 2009, ISAR received an e-bulletin from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) stating that it was going to "provide an opportunity for Michael Vick to get involved in some of their anti-dogfighting outreach programs." ISAR immediately sent not one letter, but two letters to HSUS President Wayne Pacelle questioning the humane society's latest move to paper over what Vick had done.

When it became apparent to ISAR that Vick and his handlers were engaged in a sophisticated campaign to have him reinstated and re-employed in the NFL, we wrote to league Commissioner Goodell registering in the strongest terms our disapproval. Our letter can be found here.

Lest any of ISAR's supporters, let alone Vick, think that we're finished with him, here's what happens next.

ISAR is putting together a program to use our billboard campaign to keep after Vick by continuing to remind the football-going public about the horrendous crimes he committed in abusing pit bulls and other dogs.

Because our plans are in the formative stage we need to keep them close to the vest, so we can't say much yet.

But what we can tell you is that we are going to use billboards to carry the anti-Vick message, and that those billboards will be as close to the Philadelphia Eagles' stadium as we can afford to place them.

Which brings us to the ever-sensitive subject of money.

Designing, printing, installing and paying for billboard rental is costly. ISAR can bear some of the expenses, but we surely can use some help.

Please donate to ISAR's anti-Michael Vick billboard campaign. Even as little as a $10.00 contribution will help, and if you request that we use your contribution for only billboards we'll be happy to oblige.

We must continue to get out the word about this monster, who fakes contrition and remorse to get himself back on the NFL gravy train.

Please help ISAR--in public, and in his face--keep fighting Michael Vick!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Animals Today Radio Show

Animals Today Radio, the show ISAR has been sponsoring, has moved to a new station and a new time. You can now listen to Animals Today Radio on KPSI 920 AM on Sundays from 8:00AM to 9:00AM beginning on August 30th.

For more information about the Animals Today Radio show, please visit www.animalstodayradio.com.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Veterinarians Are Running Scared

In ISAR’s monograph Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages we make the categorical statement that “Even though most of the harm to companion animals results from veterinary malpractice [obviously we were not talking about breeders], Harming Companion Animals 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.” (Page 7. Emphasis in original.)

Apparently the issue of veterinarian “bad apples” which ISAR addressed in our “Harming” monograph, and which is a sore spot for all custodians of companion animals, has finally gotten the attention of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here, under date of August 1, 2009, is an article from the “javma news”:

The AVMA will turn a fledgling veterinary outreach program to law schools and the legal community into an ongoing activity.

The Executive Board approved the State Advocacy Committee's recommendation to continue the Legal Outreach Program.

The program has been around since April 2008 when the board approved its creation. It provides a veterinary perspective to the legal community on animal law issues. Veterinarians who have practiced in a clinical setting and attorneys familiar with this area provide law students, lawyers, and veterinary students with background information on the unintended consequences of awarding noneconomic damages.

Background information provided with the recommendation states that many of the law school and continuing education programs for lawyers are taught or presented by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, The Humane Society of the United States, or other animal rights proponents. The veterinary perspective in these courses has been almost nonexistent. Most of the time, law students and lawyers are not aware that there may be another side to the story on complicated issues such as pet guardianship and noneconomic damages.

The state legislative and regulatory affairs department in the AVMA Communications Division has contacted 19 law schools so far, developed a PowerPoint presentation, assembled a roster of 20 speakers, and conducted a training webinar for speakers. In all, the program coordinated eight presentations in fall 2008 and spring 2009, with several planned for this fall.

Originally, the board allocated $5,400 for 2008 and $16,250 for 2009 to cover speaker compensation, travel expenses, and speaker training for the program. Adrian Hochstadt, JD, assistant director for state legislative and regulatory affairs, said the cost was not as great as anticipated, and the program will be under budget for both years. Savings were realized as a result of using AVMA staff or local speakers and holding a webinar instead of in-person training sessions.

The board approved funding the program now at a cost of about $7,000 annually.
(Emphasis supplied.)

When ISAR learned of this program—which the American Veterinary Medical Association has every right to present—an ISAR staffer sought additional information: “I read that you have assembled a roster of 20 speakers for your program. Can you direct me to where I might find that list and when they will be speaking? Do you have an itinerary that you can email?”

An AVMA lawyer responded by asking whether we were “interested in a program at a particular school?”

Our response: “I interpreted this to mean that this coming fall you will have speakers presenting your point of view at several law schools, and I'm wondering what law schools and who are the speakers.”

AVMA: “I would need to know what is the purpose of the request.”

At that point, ISAR broke off “communication” with the AVMA’s lawyer, even though our intention was to open a dialogue about the issue of non-economic damages for the intentional and negligent harm to companion animals. We wanted to know the organization’s official position.

Own research has obtained that information.

In the July/August 2009 issue of the General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division magazine of the American Bar Association there appears an article by the AVMA’s president and the lawyer with whom ISAR had been in contact, from the organization’s State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Department.

They ask: “What’s wrong . . . with recognizing an owner’s claim for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship—in short ‘non–economic’ damages—arising from a wrongful pet loss in cases of professional negligence?”

Excellent question. Actually a question we wanted to ask the AVMA before it began to treat ISAR like someone trying to ferret out a military secret.

Their answer cites “unintended negative consequences” and “harm [to] the very animals we seek to protect.”

The argument the authors develop is lengthy. Some of it is persuasive, some specious. ISAR encourages its supporters to read the article http://www.abanet.org/genpractice/magazine/2009/jul_aug/petlawsuits.html because it is obviously an opening salvo in organized veterinary medicine’s current campaign against state legislatures allowing non-economic damages for harming companion animals.

This is a hot subject and ISAR will have a lot to say about it in the future, because the “animals-as-property” problem is among those at the core of the animal rights philosophy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

ISAR Seeks Twenty-First Century "Coast Watchers"

During World War II, courageous Australians, American guerillas, and indigenous inhabitants of enemy-occupied South Pacific islands provided essential intelligence about the Japanese to General MacArthur’s forces as they fought their way across the ocean en route to the Philippines. They were the Twentieth Century “coast watchers.”

In order to launch an ambitious amicus curiae program (see ISAR's Amicus Curiae Program), ISAR is seeking to recruit fifty lawyers—for much less hazardous duty.

We are asking one lawyer from each state to monitor the courts in his or her state for animal protection cases about to go up on appeal--cases which raise questions of law (not simple fact disputes). (Large states may have to be divided.)

Then, all ISAR’s “case watchers” have to do is send Professor Holzer a link to an appeal which might warrant the submission of an amicus brief. Please email the links here amicus@isaronline.org.

Professor Holzer will screen the incoming information. If an amicus brief is warranted, ISAR will try to recruit a lawyer to work with Professor Holzer to prepare and file one—just as ISAR did with the recent Stevens case in the Supreme Court of the United States.

There are important animal protection cases in appellate courts around the country which are not being handled as effectively as they could be, and ISAR would like to rectify that situation. In this regard, see our recent blog about the Stevens case.

We know that most of the thousands of ISAR supporters who receive this blog are not lawyers, so we earnestly ask you to forward it to any lawyer you think might be interested in becoming, on behalf of the animals, a Twenty-First Century Case Watcher.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Animals In Court

We have often written about the importance of the legal system to the fight for animal rights (ISAR's Amicus Curiae Brief Has Been Filed In The Supreme Court, ISAR Amicus Curiae Brief in U.S. v. Stevens, ISAR In The Supreme Court Of The United States, Free Speech and Cruelty to Animals), and most recently about the case of United States v. Stevens now pending in the Supreme Court of the United States and scheduled for argument on October 6, 2009.

As ISAR supporters know, we have submitted an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) brief in that case on behalf of the government, in an effort to save the federal statute which makes it a crime to create, possess or sell videos of animal cruelty.

In our various essays about the importance of the Stevens case to the cause of animal rights, we have expressly and by implication stressed even the greater importance of using the courts in the name of animal protection, and doing so by taking advantage of court rules which allow the submission of amicus curiae briefs.

In the Stevens case, the “Petitioner” is the United States government, represented by the Solicitor General of the United States, which lost in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit when it declared the “crush video” statute to be an unconstitutional abridgement of the First Amendment.

The “Respondent” is Robert J. Stevens, who was convicted in the federal trial court of trafficking in the illegal videos.

Below you will find a list of individuals and organizations who have filed amicus curiae briefs, and on whose behalf—and live links to their actual briefs.

ISAR encourages you to open each brief to its Table of Contents. There you will find an outline of each argument. Apart from the constitutional and other arguments, we want you to focus on a separate, but extremely important, question: who has supported the animals, and who has supported the complicit animal abuser?

Supporting the government are a few “criminal justice” interests. They understand the importance of the statute for law enforcement. Another brief focuses on technical constitutional analysis, and argues that the statute is constitutional and applies to Stevens.

That leaves only five briefs from animal protection organizations—NWARN, HSUS, ALDF, ISAR, ASPCA—in support of constitutionality, and thus for the animals. Putting aside the obvious differences in approach among the briefs, the fact is that these five organizations have stood up for the animals. ISAR’s question is: where is everyone else?

Our answer is that they’re either indifferent or asleep at the switch, and we don’t know which is worse.

That’s not true of the other side, supporting the monstrous Mr. Stevens. Weighing in are the hunters, booksellers, entertainers, reporters, media, photographers, hikers—you name them (and you can read not only their arguments, but their stated interests in this case, which include everything from “freedom of expression” to “enjoying the outdoors”).

You will note from the covers of these briefs that the amici are represented by some of the brand names of the First Amendment bar, lawyers and professors alike, and some of America’s largest law firms.

The Stevens case is thus both an example and a microcosm of what the animal protection movement is up against in the courts of America.

Unless many more participants in this movement understand the importance of using the courts to help animals, and begin to act accordingly, we will continue to fight on an unequal playing field and the real losers will be the animals.

Amicus briefs

For the Petitioner, and the statute


Brief for The Center on the Administration of Criminal Law in Support of Petitioner

Brief for The Northwest Animal Rights Network in Support of Petitioner

Brief for The Humane Society of the United States in Support of Petitioner

Brief for The Animal Legal Defense Fund in Support of Petitioner

Brief for Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia, in Support of Petitioner

Brief for International Society for Animal Rights in Support of Petitioner

Brief for American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Support of Petitioner

Brief for Washington Legal Foundation and the Allied Education Foundation in Support of Petitioner

For the Respondent, and against the statute

Brief for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc., in Support of Respondent

Brief for the Association of American Publishers, Inc., the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American University Presses, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Entertainment Consumers Association, Entertainment Merchants Association, Film Independent, Freedom to Read Foundation, Independent Book Publishers Association, Independent Filmmakers Project, Independent Film & Television Alliance, The International Documentary Association, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, the National Association of Theater Owners, Inc., and Pen American Center, in Support of Respondent

Brief for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Thirteen News Media Organizations in Support of Respondent

Brief for The Professional Outdoor Media Association, the American Society of Media Photographers, the North American Nature Photography Association, the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association, and the Texas Outdoor Writers Association in Support of Respondent

Brief for the National Rife Association of America, Inc., in Support of Respondent

Brief for the 1st Amendment Lawyers in Support of Respondent

Brief for the the DKT Liberty Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Democracy and Technology in Support of Respondent

Brief for the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Support of Respondent

Brief for the Safari Club International and the Congressional Sportsmen Foundation in Support of Respondent

Brief for the National Coalition Against Censorship and the College Art Association in Support of Respondent

Brief for the CATO Institute in Support of Respondent

Brief for A Group of American Law Professors in Support of Neither Party

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vick Scores Again

Convicted dog abuser Michael Vick—who bankrolled a dog fighting ring operating on his property, and lied to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell about it—has once again crossed into the end zone. But instead of scoring points in a football game, this time he has been the catalyst for exposing yet again the dirty underside of professional football and the amoral pragmatism of America’s largest animal protection organization.

There’s no need to reiterate for ISAR’s supporters the obscene cruelty to animals in which Vick participated, to which he pleaded guilty, and for which he went to prison.

While there, ISAR undertook to collect petition signatures in support of our effort to deny Vick economic and other benefits which he might enjoy as a result of the “celebrity” he acquired from his criminal acts.

When it recently became apparent to ISAR that Vick and his handlers were engaged in a drive to have him reinstated in the NFL, we wrote to Commissioner Goodell registering in the strongest terms our disapproval. Our letter can be found HERE.

Goodell ignored us and the many, many ISAR supporters and others who signed our petitions.

And now we learn that Vick has been reinstated in the NFL, subject to minimum conditions which are of no importance compared to what Goodell has done.

As ISAR has said repeatedly, Vick’s conduct was not only illegal. It was immoral. While his advocates and sycophants have stressed that Vick “has paid his debt to society—a truism because there’s no doubt he has served his sentence—they miss the point. ISAR asks: Is there no moral price to be paid by Vick for committing horrific animal abuse—and laughing when household pets are savagely dismembered by inherently non-violent dogs who have themselves been tortured into becoming vicious killers?

Obviously the NFL believes not only is there no moral price to be paid, but instead the perpetrator is to be rewarded for his crime. To paraphrase the show business cliché, “the game must go on.” All that’s left for ISAR to do—and do it we will!—is to continue exposing Vick for the animal abusing con-man he is, and encourage football fans to boycott every game he appears in.

A final word—about how Vick was able to pull off his reinstatement. He did it with the aiding and abetting of the publicity hungry HSUS and its chief salesman, Wayne Pacelle. HSUS does some good work, and ISAR respects it for that. But enabling Vick to reenter moral society based on the rationalizations HSUS has propounded, reflects not Vick’s immorality, which everyone knows about and is a given, but something worse: HSUS’s pragmatic amorality, a complete disinterest in whether a moral principle is even involved.

Well, it is.

ISAR knows that.

And we can only hope that football fans know it, too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of July 26, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Craig C. Downer, Wildlife Ecologist, to discuss Bureau of Land Management proposals and wild horses. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will be speaking with Michael Schaffer, author of One Nation Under Dog - Adventures in the New World of Prozac-Popping Puppies, Dog Park Politics, and Organic Pet Food. Also in the second half, Dr. Peter Borchelt will be available to answer your pet behavior questions.

For more information on how you can participate in the ISAR-sponsored "Animals Today" radio show, please visit our blog ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show.

In case you have missed any of the "Animals Today" radio shows, previous broadcasts are now archived at the show's website: http://www.animalstodayradio.com/. At the top of the page, the link "Click here to listen" will take you to a new screen showing the dates and guests of previous shows. Click on the links to listen to a particular show.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of July 5, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature author John Holland to discuss horse cruelty and neglect. Also in the first half, Dr. Lori will discuss pending legislation related to horse slaughter for human consumption with Laura Allen, Executive Director of Animal Law Coalition. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will be speaking with author and biologist Stacey O'Brien about her bestselling book, "Wesley the Owl." Also in the second half, Dr. Peter Borchelt will be available to answer your pet behavior questions.

For more information on how you can participate in the ISAR-sponsored "Animals Today" radio show, please visit our blog ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show.

In case you have missed any of the "Animals Today" radio shows, previous broadcasts are now archived at the show's website: http://www.animalstodayradio.com/. At the top of the page, the link "Click here to listen" will take you to a new screen showing the dates and guests of previous shows. Click on the links to listen to a particular show.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of June 28, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature author and roadrunner expert, Jim Cornett. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will be speaking with Dr. Eric VanNice, a veterinarian specializing in animal dentistry and oral surgery. Also in the second half, Dr. Peter Borchelt will be available to answer your pet behavior questions.

For more information on how you can participate in the ISAR-sponsored "Animals Today" radio show, please visit our blog ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show.

In case you have missed any of the "Animals Today" radio shows, previous broadcasts are now archived at the show's website: http://www.animalstodayradio.com/. At the top of the page, the link "Click here to listen" will take you to a new screen showing the dates and guests of previous shows. Click on the links to listen to a particular show.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Th-th-th-that's all folks!": Henry Cohen's Review of Steven M. Wise's New Book

These immortal words were spoken at the end of every Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated short movie cartoon. They were stuttered by “Porky Pig,” an overweight, cuddly, smiling, technicolor, blue-jacked, walking-talking “ham” who sometimes wore a blue beanie.

The Porky Pig cartoons were yet another example of the obscene disconnect between the fantasy and the reality—and the ability of literally countless humans to evade the knowledge that the Porky Pig they and their children love and laugh at in the fantasy world is in reality the bacon and Porky chops on their dinner plates. (One can imagine Jack and Harry Warner screening the latest Porky Pig cartoon—and adjourning for lunch at the studio commissary to dine on bacon, or perhaps Porky chops.)

ISAR hopes that disconnect will be ameliorated by the grotesque revelations in Mr. Wise’s new book, as reviewed by Henry Cohen, Esq. WARNING: Mr. Wise’s book, while sparing the reader from some of the most grisly aspects of how hogs are treated, nonetheless goes into heart-wrenching detail about how they are abused. Necessarily, Mr. Cohen’s review refers to some of that abuse. ISAR’s position is that the many abuses to which animals are subjected should be publicly exposed, no matter how painful that knowledge may be. Only through the truth can progress be made toward ameliorating, if not eliminating, those abuses. Neither we, nor our supporters should shrink from that truth.

An American Trilogy: Death, Slavery, and Dominion on the Banks of the Cape Fear River
By Steven M. Wise (Da Capo Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2009. 289 pages, $26.00).

Reviewed by Henry Cohen (Mr. Cohen is a lawyer with the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, and book review editor of The Federal Lawyer. The opinions expressed in this review are solely his own.)




"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Fate.”

One could hardly guess from the title of this book that at its heart is a powerful exposé of the pork industry, focusing on the horrors of hog farming in America today. The heart of this book, unfortunately, beats within a skeleton that is weak and disjointed, but no matter – the heart keeps the book very much alive.

The only allusion to the main subject of the book in its title or subtitle is the word “dominion,” as in the statement in Genesis that man shall have dominion over every living thing that moves upon the earth. Some religious believers use this statement to justify the use and abuse of animals by humans. But first I’ll explain the rest of the title, which lays out the skeleton of the book.

Steven M. Wise is an animal rights lawyer and the author of three previous books, two on animal rights and one on the end of slavery in England. Wise learned that a large hog-breeding factory (the word “farm” would not be appropriate) in Bladen County, NC, was on a site once inhabited by Native Americans and later by African-Americans. The Native Americans became victims of genocide, the African-Americans were enslaved, and the hogs are viewed as part of man’s dominion. The treatment of all three groups – Native Americans, slaves, and factory-farmed animals – constitutes an American trilogy of horror: hence the title of this book. Sensibly, Wise does not attempt to compare the evils inflicted upon these three groups, but, if you think it inappropriate even to mention the maltreatment of hogs in the same sentence as the maltreatment of Native Americans and African-Americans, then you haven’t read this book. What you will learn from it about hog farming will shock you.

Now, what is significant in the fact that Native Americans, slaves, and a hog factory all occupied the same site in North Carolina? Not much, in my view. Although linking the three may have seemed a good idea, Wise should have abandoned the notion when he saw how much better the heart of the book about the pork industry (chapters 5 through 9) was than the rest of the book. The rest of the book is interesting in parts, but it is a mishmash, covering, among other things, the history of Bladen County, including its slave and Indian populations; Indian attitudes toward animals (they killed animals, but respected them and believed that the animals gave themselves willingly to be killed and, in any case, would be resurrected – attitudes that, to some, are superior to the white man’s callousness, but, to me, still leave the animals dead); the history of the English translations of the Bible; historical Christian attitudes toward slavery (some Christians justified enslaving black people as the Curse of Ham); the spread of disease from the Old World to the New, and the view of Cotton Mather and others that God was killing off “those pernicious creatures” – Indians – to benefit the English; the breaking up of slave families when members of such families were sold; and disputes within today’s fundamentalist Christian community over the environment, as some of the younger members of that community have come to believe that a Christian can be pro-environment. A theme that runs through these non-hog chapters of the book is that Genesis has been a disaster for Native Americans, black slaves, and animals. But Wise does not consider the extent to which Genesis has caused these disasters, or has merely been used to justify them. (Admittedly, citing Genesis to justify an evil can cause more of the evil.) In any case, some of these sundry subjects make for dull reading, but, when Wise begins his exposé of the pork industry, An American Trilogy becomes impossible to put down. The exposé begins with a chapter titled “Wilbur.”

Wilbur is a pig, and Wise traces Wilbur’s genealogy, conception, birth, and life, from nursing, through castration without anesthesia, teeth clipping, tail cutting, ear notching (nine notches on each ear for identification purposes), weaning before he is old enough to be weaned, being jammed in a pen for six months with just three square feet of space, and, finally, at the end of those six months, his bloody slaughter. The pigs raised in these factories are not named, of course, and I do not believe that Wise knew of a particular pig named Wilbur (other than the Wilbur of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, who, unlike Wise’s Wilbur, was saved from being slaughtered). Rather, Wise apparently created Wilbur as an exemplar of the more than 100 million pigs raised and slaughtered in the United States every year. There is nothing dishonest in Wise’s creating Wilbur, however, because each of the more than 100 million pigs raised and slaughtered in the United States every year is an individual who could have a name. Pigs are at least as intelligent as dogs, and, despite their being treated as if they are unfeeling and interchangeable parts in an assembly line, each pig has a unique personality, according to people who know them.

Did I refer to Wilbur’s “conception” in the previous paragraph? Yes, Wise tells us about Wilbur’s parents and how they might have conceived him. Sows gestate for just under three months, and, on factory farms, they live in seven-foot-by-two-foot metal “gestation crates” while pregnant. Wilbur’s mother could scarcely move in the crate, because she weighed more than 400 pounds and stretched the length of the crate. When Wilbur was born, she had given birth eight times in the previous three and a half years, which means that she spent almost two of those years in a gestation crate. After each time she gave birth, she was not given freedom to move, but was transferred to a “farrowing crate” to nurse her piglets; it too was only seven feet long, but, to make room for the piglets, it was five feet wide instead of two. Unfortunately, by the eighth time she gave birth, Wilbur’s mother’s PPSY (the number of pigs produced per sow per litter each year) had decreased, so she had to be killed and replaced by a more profitable sow. I will spare you Wise’s description of how she was killed.

Wilbur’s mother was impregnated by artificial insemination, because that procedure is a more efficient means to ensure pregnancy than is the natural procedure. That means that 700-pound boars must be masturbated and their semen collected; every ten days is ideal. Wise quotes animal science professor Temple Grandin:

Each boar has his own little perversion the man had to do to get the boar turned on so he could collect the semen. Some of them were just things like the boar wanted to have his dandruff scratched while they were collecting him. ... The other things the man had to do were a lot more intimate. He might have to hold the boar's penis in exactly the right way that the boar liked, and he had to masturbate some of them in exactly the right way. There was one boar ... who wanted to have his butt hole played with. ...

Throughout An American Trilogy, Wise nicely mixes the horrors he reports with lighter passages such as this, as well as with interesting descriptions of his own research efforts. The pork industry is not eager to allow visitors (particularly animal rights lawyers) to witness their practices. Farm animals are not protected by the federal Animal Welfare Act or by state anti-cruelty laws, and Wise describes frustrated workers repeatedly beating and kicking animals, as well as smashing the heads of tiny piglets onto a cement floor (this is on tape).

Things are getting worse. Wise writes, “In the eight years following 1991, the number of hogs in North Carolina surged from 2.7 million to 10 million, [and] the number of factory hog farms jumped . . . .” Having been a vegetarian for more than 30 years (since soon after reading Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation when it was published in 1975), I have nearly given up hope in our species, and have come to feel that all I can do is to heed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s admonition with which I opened this review, and not be complicit. If Emerson were writing today, of course, he’d have to mention factory farms as well as slaughterhouses, because factory farms inflict a lifetime of torture on farm animals, and not merely an agonizing death. But I think that you get the idea.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of June 21, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Laura Allen, Executive Director of Animal Law Coalition, to discuss Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to reduce mandatory holding time in California animal shelters to save money. Also during the first segment, Dr. Lori will discuss Australia's important animal welfare issues with Wendy Lake from the Lort Smith Animal Hospital. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will be speaking with Stacey Konwiser from The Living Desert in Palm Desert.

For more information on how you can participate in the ISAR-sponsored "Animals Today" radio show, please visit our blog ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show.

In case you have missed any of the "Animals Today" radio shows, previous broadcasts are now archived at the show's website: http://www.animalstodayradio.com/. At the top of the page, the link "Click here to listen" will take you to a new screen showing the dates and guests of previous shows. Click on the links to listen to a particular show.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

ISAR's Amicus Curiae Brief Has Been Filed In The Supreme Court

After weeks of legal and other research by ISAR's chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, and Lance Gotko, Esq., of the New York law firm Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman, ISAR's friend-of-the-court brief in United States v. Stevens has been filed in the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court agreed to review the Stevens case because a lower federal appeals court held unconstitutional the federal statute criminalizing the making, selling or possessing depictions of "crush videos" and other torture and killing of animals.

ISAR's brief is in support of the government and argues, in effect, that the statute is constitutional.

Our amicus curiae brief is now available at http://isaronline.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/US_v_Stevens.pdf

A brief suggestion to those interested in reading the brief . . . . . . . . . . . .

The basic issue presented to the Supreme Court by the Stevens case is whether the federal statute is constitutional.

For non-lawyers, and even for some unfamiliar with constitutional law and the task of the Supreme Court, portions of ISAR's brief may be difficult to understand completely. We have two suggestions.

First, read the brief in this order: Summary of Argument (pages 2-3); Introduction (pages 3-7); Point III (pages 16-26); Point IV (pages 26-34); Conclusion (pages 34-36); Point I (pages 7-12); Point II (pages 12-16); Interest of Amicus Curiae (unnumbered page 1).

Second, ask a lawyer of your acquaintance to explain the more technical legal aspects. ISAR is proud of our "friend-of-the-court" brief and the statement it makes in behalf of animal rights. We have gone to court for the animals before and, only if we have your financial support can we continue to do so.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of June 14, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Dr. Joel Griffies, specialist in animal dermatology and co-owner of the Animal Dermatology Clinics located in the states of CA, GA and KY will be focusing on common skin ailments in pets. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will be speaking with Tim Racer, co-founder and vice president of BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls). Also joining the show will be aviation expert Richard Dolbeer to update listeners on new developments concerning airplanes and birdstrikes, and what many airports are failing to do about the issues.

For more information on how you can participate in the ISAR-sponsored "Animals Today" radio show, please visit our blog ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show.

In case you have missed any of the "Animals Today" radio shows, previous broadcasts are now archived at the show's website: http://www.animalstodayradio.com/. At the top of the page, the link "Click here to listen" will take you to a new screen showing the dates and guests of previous shows. Click on the links to listen to a particular show.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ISAR Hits A Nerve

Corrected Version

As ISAR supporters (and by now countless others in the animal protection movement) know, our Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute has attracted considerable attention because of its unapologetic restrictions on breeding. Comes now a May 15, 2009 column—Reflections, by Frank L. Martin III, in the Missouri West Plains Daily Quill—in which the author does us a great service. After quoting at length the breeder-restrictions in our model statute, Mr. Martin regurgitates the tired and indefensible false alternative of “since when do animal ‘rights’ prevail over human rights?” As our supporters know, recognizing the one is not to denigrate the other, animal protection can comfortably coexist with human rights and, as even Mr. Martin recognizes, putting “puppy mills out of business” is a “laudable goal.” His mistake is in not understanding that while puppy mills are the worst example of breeders, there are others who contribute to the overpopulation of companion animals—and that ISAR’s Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute seeks not to put them out of business but merely to slow down their production, and thus feed fewer of them into the pipeline of death. (ISAR’s thanks to John Rothgeb, whose letter-to-the-editor observes that our Model Mandatory Spay/Neuter Statute aims to eliminate “abusive breeding.”)