Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of May 3, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Gene Bauer, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary who will discuss the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act's history, implications and relationship to swine and bird flu. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will focus on rescue and rehabilitation with bird rescuer and Author Suzie Gilbert.

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of April 26, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Professor Paul Waldau of the Center for Animals and Public Policy to discuss animals and religion. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will focus on the practice and consequences of feline declawing with Dr. Jennifer Conrad of the Paws Project.

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ISAR In The Supreme Court Of The United States

In our blog of January 12, 2009, entitledFree Speech and Cruelty to Animals” we wrote of an important case heading for the Supreme Court, United States v. Stevens.

The Stevens case involves a 1999 federal statute which made it a crime to “create, sell, or possess” depictions of illegal cruelty to animals, especially so-called “crush videos” (the nature of which I leave to the reader’s imagination).

It’s important to understand that the statute did not criminalize the illegal cruelty itself, which was and is a crime, as it should be, under the laws of all fifty states. The statute criminalized creating, selling, or possessing depictions of cruelty to animals.

Thus, because videos, DVDs, movies, books, magazines and other graphic materials are exercises of speech (and often press) rights, the prohibitory federal felony statute seemed to create an exception to First Amendment protection.

After enactment of the statute, a legal search of the home of a Virginia man, Robert J. Stevens, turned up three videos depicting illegal cruelty to animals which were introduced, narrated and commented on by him. Accompanying printed material of which he was the author was also seized.

Stevens was indicted on three counts of violating the statute, convicted in the trial court, and sentenced to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (in a 10-3 vote) ruled the law to be an unconstitutional abridgment of Steven’s First Amendment right of free speech, and reversed his conviction.

The court majority’s decision turned on whether the First Amendment’s free speech guaranty was outweighed by the federal government’s interest in prohibiting depictions of illegal animal cruelty. As the dissenting three judges wrote:

The majority today declares that that the Government can have no compelling interest in protecting animals from intentional and wanton acts of physical harm, and in doing so invalidates as unconstitutional a federal statute targeting the distribution and trafficking of depictions of these senseless acts of animal cruelty. Because we cannot agree, in light of the overwhelming body of law across the nation aimed at eradicating animal abuse, that the Government’s interest in ensuring the humane treatment of animals is anything less than of paramount importance, and because we conclude that the speech prohibited by [the statute] to be of such minimal redeeming social value that its restriction may be affected consistent with the First Amendment, we respectfully dissent.

Thus, what separated the majority and the dissent—what separated the statute’s unconstitutionality from its constitutionality—was application of the test employed by the Supreme Court of the United States when “fundamental rights” such as free speech are restricted by legislation: does the law serve a “compelling government interest and, if it does, is the law “narrowly tailored” to achieve the sought goal? If it does and is, the law will be upheld; if not, not.

On December 15, 2008 the government asked the Supreme Court to review the case.

Our January 2009 blog promised that if the Court agreed to hear the case ISAR would submit an amicus curiae (“Friend-of-the-Court”) brief.

This week, the Supreme Court accepted United States v. Stevens for review.

Accordingly, ISAR will submit an amicus curiae brief.

Our brief will be prepared by ISAR’s chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer and attorney Lance Gotko, a partner in the New York law firm of Friedman Kaplan Siler and Adelman.

When ISAR’s brief is filed with the Court, we will post it on our website. Those persons and organizations who want to be informed when our brief is posted should register on our website for the ISAR E-Newsletter and simply enter in the “contact” box “Please notify about brief.”

Thursday, April 16, 2009


It has recently been reported that California state assemblyman Cameron Smyth is sponsoring Assembly Bill 233, which would give a $100.00 tax deduction to those who adopt a pet from a government run animal shelter.

Nearly ten years ago ISAR drafted its “Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute.”

We said then that recent Congressional action on the tax code, and revelations about the Internal Revenue Service, has focused the attention of many Americans on the subject of taxation. [Today, even more so]. That, in turn, has led us at ISAR to develop an idea which combines a modest amount of tax relief for conscientious taxpayers with our commitment to foster spay/neuter in every way we can.

Most knowledgeable people understand that the American system of income taxation, both federal and state, is only secondarily concerned with raising revenue (compared to all revenue raised by taxation, income taxes account for only a small percentage), and that the real purpose of income taxes is to stimulate certain activities and to discourage others.

For example, the federal tax code long stimulated oil and gas exploration through depletion allowances. Business is encouraged through still-generous write-offs for equipment purchase, other depreciation and even entertainment. Charitable giving is fostered by the deductibility of contributions. Home ownership is assisted greatly by deductions for real estate taxes and mortgage interest. Other activities are discouraged through taxation. Gambling losses, for example, are not tax deductible. And so it goes, with the federal tax code being driven to a considerable extent by social policy. [If there was ever any doubt about that, there should be none today].

In the states, the same is true, with tax codes encouraging certain activities and rewarding them with tax breaks, and discouraging others and penalizing them with higher tax rates and non-deductibility.

In principle, there is absolutely no reason why tax codes, federal and state alike, cannot allow tax deductions for spay/neutering of taxpayer's dogs and cats. Granted, obtaining such legislation from the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes national tax laws, might be problematic. But not impossible.

On the other hand the situation at the state level is much different. There, legislators are much closer, and typically respond more readily, to their constituents—as many animal rights activists already know from their efforts to obtain the enactment of pro-animal legislation.

ISAR's proposed legislation is a win-win proposition, and there is something in it for everyone.

First, and foremost, countless animals would be spayed and neutered who would otherwise not be, countless births would be avoided, and thus there would be a drastic reduction in the numbers of unwanted dogs and cats in shelters and roaming America's streets.

Next, although there would be a minuscule drop in tax revenues, there would be a concomitant savings of considerable taxpayer dollars that are now spent on catching, briefly maintaining, killing, and disposing of, millions of unwanted cats and dogs.

Related to this point is that fewer unwanted cats and dogs mean more time available to shelters and humane societies to do more productive work, e.g.: cruelty investigations, public education, adoption programs.

Then of course, there is the tax relief-benefit which, though not large, would be of some help financially. This, in turn, would create more paying business for veterinarians, who could then, it is hoped, afford to provide more pro bono or low-cost services to the truly needy.

An indirect, but nonetheless important, benefit of reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs are the public health and policy aspects, e.g.: less need to vaccinate for rabies the victims of bites from stray animals; cleaner streets and public areas; fewer brutalized cats and dogs.

ISAR is making this project—obtaining tax relief for persons who spay/neuter their dogs and cats—a priority. We have prepared a flyer explaining our idea, containing arguments in favor of tax deduction legislation, and providing language for an off-the-shelf bill that can be introduced into any state legislature by a sympathetic legislator. On the Congressional level, ISAR will make its "Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Bill" available to individuals and non501 (c) (3) organizations who can carry the ball on the Hill.

Often, there is an idea whose time has come. We here at ISAR believe that for this idea— ISAR's "Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Bill"—the time has certainly come.

The language of ISAR’s statute is terse and straightforward:

1. Allowance of deduction.
Subject to the limitations provided in paragraph 2 hereof, there shall be allowed as a deduction against adjusted gross income amounts paid by the taxpayer for the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats which are maintained as pets in the taxpayer's household.

2. Limitations.
a.) The deduction herein provided shall be allowable only as to sums which have actually been paid.
b.) The spay or neuter surgical procedure shall have been performed by a duly licensed veterinarian on a live cat or dog.
c.) The amount of deduction for each cat or dog who shall have been spayed or neutered may not exceed the reasonable cost of the spay and neuter procedures in the geographical location where the surgery was performed.
d.) The deduction herein provided shall be limited to no more than three companion animals (i.e. dogs and cats) per household in any one taxable year.

Now, with the introduction of California’s Assembly Bill 233 offering a tax deduction to that state’s taxpayers for adoption of a pet from a government shelter, there is no reason other legislators cannot offer similar legislation regarding spay/neuter. Interested California senators and/or assemblypersons should contact ISAR via phone, fax or email for assistance.

International Society for Animal Rights
Phone: (570) 586–2200
Fax: (570) 586-9580

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of April 19, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Dona Gosgrove Baker, Founder and President of the Feral Cat Caretakers' Coalition. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will discuss the issue of animal hoarding with Psychology Professor and Author of Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring, Randy O. Frost. Also, Dr. Peter Borchelt will be available to answer your questions on peculiar pet behavior.

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.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Animals Today" Announcement

Program of April 12, 2009

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time segment will feature Douglas Schultz, writer and producer of the nature film, The Loneliest Animals. Mr. Schultz's documentary explores species at the brink of extinction and the challenges in preserving and propagating the lineage. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will discuss illegal whaling, seal slaughter and the abuse of sharks with animal crusader, Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

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.

Friday, April 3, 2009

ISAR and "Animals Today" Radio Show

Beginning on Sunday, February 8, 2009, ISAR became one of the inaugural sponsors of the new nationally-heard "Animals Today" radio program.

"Animals Today" is broadcast on Knews Radio, from California's Coachella Valley, a station on which Dr. Laura and Sean Hannity, among others, can be heard.

Hosted by Dr. Lori Kirshner, founder of Southern California's Desert PAWS Foundation, "Animals Today" addresses a variety of contemporary animal-related topics. Through Dr. Kirshner's commentaries, interviews with experts, and responses to phone-ins, listeners are exposed to some of today's most interesting and important issues relating to animals, both domestic and wild.

"Animals Today" is broadcast on Sundays from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time. Future programs will feature interviews with experts from such organizations as Animal Legal and Historical Web Center, Bighorn Institute, Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Dr. Kirshner's guests will include lawyers, behaviorists, teachers, ornithologists, veterinarians, rescuers, judges, writers, and many others.

This Sunday's 2:00-3:00 PM segment will feature veterinary orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Sebasteyn, who'll discuss common orthopedic problems encountered in dogs. Also in the first segment, Dr. Lori will be speaking with Bob Vitere, President of the American Pet Products Association who'll promote new products for your companion animal's enjoyment. In the broadcast's second hour, Dr. Kirshner will discuss the issue of rabbits as pets just in time for Easter.

During "Animals Today's" popular segment with animal behaviorist Dr. Peter Borchelt, he'll try to answer as many listener questions as possible. So if your parrot is peculiar, your cat is crying, or your hound is hyper-or if you have any other animal-behavior questions-either email Dr. Lori anytime, or call into the show at about 3:45 PM, Pacific Time. Email her at Knews Radio/Animals Today call in lines: Local: (760) 416-8475--Toll free: (888) 589-6397.

Thanks to current technology, "Animals Today" can be heard throughout the world by anyone with access to a computer because the Southern California radio station on which the program appears will "stream" it. Streaming means a radio broadcast can be heard on the Internet while simultaneously being broadcast over the airwaves.

Some previous broadcasts of "Animals Today," are now archived at the show's website: Along the left column, click "Listen to the show." A new screen will appear showing the dates of previous shows. Then click the play button on the hour(s) you want to hear.

However, your computer must be Java "enabled," meaning the Java program must be downloaded onto your computer in order to access archived broadcasts. If your computer is not already Java enabled, click the message displayed for instructions on how to do so.

To hear "Animals Today" over the Internet at 2:00-4:00 PM Pacific Daylight Savings Time, turn on your computer and be sure the sound is at an acceptable level. Open your web browser (e.g., aol,Yahoo) and carefully type in the address bar, and then click to open that address. The Knews radio website will appear. On the top of the page, click "Listen Live." A new box will appear and the program will begin at the appropriate time. (Listeners may be asked to register, but doing so is optional and registration is not necessary to hear the show.)

"Animals Today's" toll-free call-in telephone number while the program is being broadcast is: 1-888-589-6397. (The station recommends calling from a land-based telephone rather than a cell phone.)

Through this Blog, ISAR will make available weekly broadcast schedules for "Animals Today." To be kept informed, simply subscribe to ISAR's blog by entering your email address in the subscription box on the right side of the page.

ISAR has become a sponsor of "Animals Today" because we believe that a serious nationwide (indeed, international) program addressing important contemporary animal issues has become a moral imperative.

We personally know the creators and hostess of this program, and we know their dedication to animals is profound. Thus, ISAR will do everything in our power to help "Animals Today" succeed, and we earnestly solicit the assistance of those of you who believe as we do.

Please forward this important announcement to as many individuals and lists as you can, asking the recipients to do the same.

ISAR has linked to the "Animals Today Radio" website( and we ask those who support the program to do the same. (A word to potential sponsors: Please note that advertising rates for "Animals Today" are very reasonable, given that the program can be heard by anyone having access to a computer. Interested parties should contact Peter Spiegel at (760) 285-4981 or

As a famous broadcaster said for many years, "See you on the radio."