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The Five Freedoms for Farmed Animals
Jul15

The Five Freedoms for Farmed Animals

The European Union has been setting the stage for better animal welfare since its formation. In addition to specific regulations and prohibitions that promote the welfare of animals including farmed animals, the EU first created guidelines known as The Five Freedoms: Freedom from thirst and hunger: ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health Freedom from discomfort: an appropriate environment that offers shelter and a resting place Freedom from pain, injury, and disease: prevention measures, and treatment when injury/sickness occur Freedom to express normal behavior such as nesting and grooming; sufficient space and materials to do these things Freedom from fear and distress: conditions that take into account an animal’s mental well-being Turning around, lying down, getting up, and spreading your wings — simple, basic needs that should be met for every living being. In contrast, no such basic protections are available to farmed animals in the United States. The federal law that provides protection for animals, the Animal Welfare Act, exempts farmed animals. The only federal laws in place that address farmed animals are the Twenty-Eight Hour Law of 1877 (applies to interstate transport only) and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 — which does not apply to poultry at all!  And, unfortunately, most state cruelty laws also exempt farm animals. And the industry’s argument that keeping all of the animals healthy and happy is in its own best interest is hardly convincing. Farmed animals are part of an industry that processes animals by the billions each year. When living, sentient beings are viewed as “units” of production, it becomes all too easy for the industry to simply accept a percentage of “losses” as part of doing business; and it’s all too easy for producers and consumers alike to lose sight of the fact that, when deprived of such basic needs, these beings are suffering every waking moment of their lives....

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Highlights from the “Farmed Animals: Law & Policy” class
Jul06

Highlights from the “Farmed Animals: Law & Policy” class

Yesterday I gave an overview of the Animal Law program at Lewis & Clark Law School, including the Summer Intensive Program for current law students, practitioners, and  graduate students. Today, I thought I’d provide a little more detail about the class I participated in, a two-week course on Farmed Animals, taught by Joyce Tischler, Founding Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Taking some time to focus on the substantive law available in the area of farmed animals proved to be a terrific complement to my work last summer in Washington, D.C. as a legal intern for Compassion Over Killing, an organization dedicated to ending cruelty to animals in agriculture. Because of the limitations of the few laws in place to protect animals, about 98% of all animal cruelty happens to farmed animals. The sheer number of farmed animals who need our help is staggering… BILLIONS each year in the United States alone. Our class met for three hours each morning, for nine days (Day #10 was the exam). Here are highlights of each day, coupled with some of the reading you might want to look up on your own. If you don’t have access to the Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis databases for which I’ve provided citations, you’re likely to find many of these articles and cases (or summaries of them) elsewhere online. Definitions Within the Law: What is a “farmed animal”? What is “livestock”? Considering how cultures, including our own, view particular animals differently and make distinctions between animals (i.e., a pig and a dog). suggested read: Rahyun E. Kim, Dog Meat in Korea: A Socio-Legal Challenge. 14 Animal L. 201 (2008). Common Factory Farming Practices Taking a hard look at farming practices that are widely accepted within the industry, as well as the two major federal laws that apply to farmed animals — the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the “28-Hour Law” regarding the transport of animals. Important note: the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act does not cover the slaughter of poultry; there are no standards written into law governing the slaughter of chickens and turkeys. suggested read: David J. Wolfson and Mariann Sullivan, Foxes in the House: Animals, Agribusiness, and the Law (2004). State Criminal Anti-Cruelty Laws & Exemptions for Farmed Animals In most states if a farming practice is “customary” it’s legal, no matter how cruel it might be. In effect, the industry is left to regulate itself. case: National Meat Association v. Brown, 559 F.3d 1093 (9th Cir. 2010). Environmental Issues Relevant to Farmed Animal Agricultural Practices Manure lagoons that hold 4-6 million gallons of liquid manure on a feedlot. How about that Clean Water...

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Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark
Jul05

Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark

Just back from an amazing experience in Portland! Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon is home to the Center for Animal Law Studies. Founded in 2008, the center is a collaborative effort with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Lewis & Clark offers several Animal Law classes throughout the school year to its law students, has a year-long Animal Law Clinic (the only one in the country), and also publishes the student-run Animal Law Review. And, bringing together law students and practitioners from all over who are interested in Animal Law, the law school hosts the annual Animal Law Conference, which I’ve attended twice and already have registered to attend again in October. In addition to all these wonderful programs, publications, and events, Lewis & Clark offers a Summer Intensive Animal Law Program, which I participated in last month. Lucky me, I got to live on the beautiful Lewis & Clark campus, which is built around Tryon Creek State Park, and to focus my attention completely on Animal Law specific to farmed animals. Mornings were spent in the classroom, and much of the rest of the day was spent reading. Long walks in the deliciously cool evenings, surrounded by all the trees and green, completed practically perfect days. With ALDF co-founder and Animal Law pioneer  Joyce Tischler as our instructor, the class covered so much ground during our time together. What a privilege (and a treat!) to be among this group. Summer Course Offerings for 2011: Farmed Animals: Law & Policy Animal Legal Philosophy & Development Transactional Approach to Animal Law Animal Rights & Jurisprudence Emerging Law, Policy, & Politics of Companion Animals International Wildlife Law Classes are open to law students, current practitioners, paralegals, and some Ph.D. students. I cannot recommend this program highly enough!...

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Chimpanzees: Before, During, and After Experimental Use
Apr28

Chimpanzees: Before, During, and After Experimental Use

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear a few speakers on the subject of chimpanzees: Sheri Speede of In Defense of Animals, who has worked closely with chimpanzees in Africa; Professor Richard Wrangham, who works with them in cognitive research at Harvard University; and Sarah Baeckler of Chimp Sanctuary Northwest. The stories they shared, in addition to the pictures and videos, warmed my heart as much as they amazed me. So what laws do we have that are protecting chimpanzees? How does the United States measure up to what other countries are doing? Here’s a summary of what’s already in place — in the United States and around the globe — and my hopes for the future: Before Experimental Use In the 1950s and ’60s, chimpanzees were captured in the wild for experiments as part of the United States air and space program; tests included subjecting them to compression and confinement in coffin-like capsules for longer and longer stretches of time. Wild chimpanzees were classified as “endangered” in 1976, under the Endangered Species Act; in contrast, already captured or bred chimpanzees were designated a “threatened” species, a lower level of protection. The chimpanzee is the only animal used in experimentation to have such split classification. Furthermore, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, delegated authority by the Secretary of the Interior, added a special rule that allows for the continuation of research on captive/bred chimps. A ban on breeding chimpanzees has been in effect since 1996. Nevertheless, with a life span in captivity reaching up to sixty years, there are many chimpanzees still living in confinement and subject to invasive experimental use. During Experimentation Federal Law The Animal Welfare Act, originally passed in 1966, is the major federal law that addresses the treatment of animals used in research. Also, the Secretary of Agriculture codified regulations specific to the treatment of primates used in research. Despite the attempts to create a minimum threshold of care, the laws and guidelines give the scientific community a great deal of latitude to step outside the parameters when they deem it a “necessity.” What consitutes a necessity is not clearly defined and therefore left to the researchers’ discretion. In addition to the AWA,  a second oversight program exists under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), through its PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and applies to any research that is funded by the NIH. Unfortunately, compliance and enforcement of these regulations remains a major concern, due in large part to underfunding and understaffing. State Law Beyond federal laws, state cruelty statutes can play a role in protection. Typically,...

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What Law Students Are Writing About
Apr21

What Law Students Are Writing About

Our student chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund invited any law students who have been writing papers and law review notes on animal-related topics to share their work. Their presentations at our meeting last week were proof that Animal Law is both diverse and thriving in the community. Here are some of the topics covered (a few by yours truly!), just to give you an idea of the kinds of things the field of Animal Law addresses: Non-Economic Damages in Pet Loss Cases The Tension between First Amendment Freedom of Speech Protections and Animal Crush Video Legislation The Difficulties in Prosecuting Cruelty to Agricultural Animals Regulations of Barnyard Chickens Growing Meat in Petri Dishes: Factory Farming, Human Health Risks, and Alternatives for the Future Chimpanzees in Research: Before, During, and After Experimental Use The Prosecution of Animal Hoarders Constitutional Concerns About the The Animal Enterprises Terrorism Act (AETA) Protecting Companion Animals: Inclusion in Domestic Violence Protection Orders If you’re currently a law student, I hope this will inspire you to consider the area of Animal Law as an area of study, if not a career path.  Here at the University of Arizona, we’re very excited that an Animal Law class has been added to the course offerings for next semester. If your school doesn’t (yet) offer a class, I encourage you to start a student petition and talk to the faculty about it. It worked for us! For practicing lawyers and future lawyers alike, Animal Law at the very least can present some opportunities for pro bono work. Practicing attorneys can become members of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and offer their services for cases that come up in their jurisdictions. What a great way to make a difference in the lives of so many animals who need our...

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Farm Animals: Cruelty Laws & False Advertising

Last week, we had an extra-special house guest when Cheryl Leahy, general counsel of Compassion Over Killing, came to Tucson to speak on the topic of farm animals. Some of you may recall that I worked for COK as a legal intern last summer in Washington D.C. It’s an amazing organization that uses public outreach and litigation to increase awareness and end abuses to animals in agriculture. First, a handful of unsavory factory farming facts to chew on: “Broiler” (non egg-laying) chickens are the largest number of slaughtered animals each year — approximately 9 billion. Turkeys endure painful de-beaking without any anesthesia. Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated over and over again, and their babies are taken away from them as soon as they’re born; the mothers and babies show great distress when this happens. The veal industry is a byproduct of the dairy industry; dairy farms sell off the male calves, who they have no use for themselves since they won’t ever be able to produce milk. Pigs often are confined in gestation crates for practically their entire life, where they are unable to move. Battery cage hens are confined for their whole lives to a space that is the same size as a piece of loose-leaf paper; when hens give birth to male chicks, the chicks are simply thrown away — piles of them in a garbage dumpster. Cruelty Laws There are three federal laws that pertain in some way to farmed animals: Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (poultry slaughter is exempt!) Twenty-Eight Hour Law (transportation of animals across state lines; no more than 28 consecutive hours without being unloaded for food, water, and rest) Animal Welfare Act (only applies to farmed animals if they’re used in research) In addition to federal law, each state has an animal cruelty statute. However, no matter how cruel a practice is, if the farmer can show that the treatment at issue is “customary practice,” it is exempt from the law. Basically, the farming industry is allowed to regulate itself. Not a good idea! Food for Thought: Are you being duped by advertising? When you start looking at evidence of false advertising in food products, an animal welfare issue becomes also a truth issue and a consumer protection issue. So many of the catch words and phrases used in labeling, like “humanely raised” and “animal-friendly,” are targeted to entice people not only to buy the products, but also to pay more for a product. The reality is that these happy words are not regulated at all — they’re just someone’s crafty PR-firm at work. Very few words actually are regulated by the USDA: Organic, Farm,...

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