COVID-19 Stimulus Legislation Contains Several Animal-Related Provisions

In addition to financial relief measures for those individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the omnibus spending legislation that President Trump signed on December 27, 2020 (H.R. 133 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), contains several provisions related to animals. Continue reading “COVID-19 Stimulus Legislation Contains Several Animal-Related Provisions”

Nonprofit Zoological Parks and Aquariums May Qualify for Shuttered Venue Operator Grants Under New COVID-19 Relief Bill

On December 22, 2020, the United States Congress passed an omnibus spending bill (the December relief bill) that included significant revisions and additions to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and previously amended by the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPP Flexibility Act). President Trump signed the bill on December 27, 2020.

Duane Morris has published two Alerts on the December relief bill.

Of particular interest to aquariums and zoological parks that operate as nonprofits, the December relief bill includes Shuttered Venue Operator Grants for certain businesses impacted by COVID-19, including live venue operators, entertainment businesses, arts and cultural organizations, “relevant museums” and others that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and related government and industry restrictions.

The definition of “museum” includes aquariums, arboretums, botanical gardens, art museums, children’s museums, general museums, historic houses and sites, history museums, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, specialized museums and zoological parks.

Eligibility for the grants depends in part on the entity’s reduction in gross earned revenue over the same quarter in 2019.

For businesses of 300 or fewer employees, there will be an opportunity to receive a second PPP loan, provided that certain other criteria are met. The first Alert, “Second PPP Loans Available for Certain Businesses; Changes to PPP Loan Terms and Conditions,” summarizes the criteria for the “second-draw” loans available for certain businesses.

Denial of Habeas Relief for Bronx Zoo Elephant Affirmed on Appeal

On December 17, 2020, a New York intermediate appellate court rejected an attempt by the animal rights organization, Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), to obtain habeas corpus relief for a 48-year old Asian elephant named “Happy,” who resides at the Bronx Zoo.  In re Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Breheny, Case No. 2020-02581 (Sup. Ct. App. Div. 1st Dept. Dec. 17, 2020). Continue reading “Denial of Habeas Relief for Bronx Zoo Elephant Affirmed on Appeal”

Animal Activist Group’s “Open Rescue” Violates California’s Unfair Competition Law

by Michelle C. Pardo

Animal activist group Direct Action Everywhere (“DxE”), which made headlines for its members’ multiple criminal charges as a result of trespassing and removing animals from agriculture operations, has been enjoined for its violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) for its “open rescue” actions against Diestel Turkey Ranch.  After targeting Diestel’s turkey farms with its tactics, and launching an “investigation” of its turkey raising practices, back in January of 2017, DxE sued Diestel in the Alameda County Superior Court under the UCL and the False Advertising Law (FAL).  DxE alleged that Diestel Turkey Ranch’s marketing had made misleading and deceptive claims about how its turkeys are raised.  Direct Action Everywhere SF Bay Area v. Diestel Turkey Ranch (RG17847475) (Superior Court, Alameda County). Continue reading “Animal Activist Group’s “Open Rescue” Violates California’s Unfair Competition Law”

PETA Offers Unconvincing Defense For The High Kill Rate In Its “Shelter”

by John M. Simpson.

As we have written before (here and here), the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), operates a facility in Norfolk, Virginia that it calls an animal “shelter.”  Every public and private animal shelter in the Commonwealth of Virginia is required, annually, to submit a report to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) that details the number of animals that the shelter took in during the year and what happened to them.  PETA’s  most recent report (for 2019) revealed that PETA euthanized dogs and cats at rates that far exceeded the average rates for all private animal shelters in Virginia.  The PETA euthanasia rate for dogs was more than thirteen times the average rate for private shelters, and PETA’s euthanasia rate for cats was more than eleven times the average rate for private shelters. Continue reading “PETA Offers Unconvincing Defense For The High Kill Rate In Its “Shelter””

Federal Court Enjoins California Ban on Sale of Alligator and Crocodile Parts

by John M. Simpson.

On Tuesday, a federal district court in California enjoined the enforcement of Cal. Penal Code § 653o which criminalizes the sale and possession for sale of alligator and crocodile parts in California.  April in Paris v. Becerra, No. 2:19-cv-02471-KJM-CKD, consolidated with Louisiana Wildlife Fisheries Comm’n v. Becerra, No. 2:19-cv-02488-KJM-CKD (E.D. Cal. Oct. 13, 2020).  Plaintiffs, business interests importing alligator and crocodile parts into California, brought the action against the California Attorney General and the Director of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The law had been slated to take effect on January 1, 2020, but had been suspended pursuant to a stipulated retraining order pending the court’s decision on the preliminary injunction motion. Continue reading “Federal Court Enjoins California Ban on Sale of Alligator and Crocodile Parts”

California Appellate Court Throws Out Double Jockey Fee Imposed on Racehorse Owner

by John M. Simpson

On October 5, 2020, the California Court of Appeal (Second District) reversed a trial court’s decision that had upheld the imposition by race stewards of a double jockey fee upon a racehorse owner who had replaced the jockey the day before the draw for the 2017 Breeder’s Cup Distaff race.  Fipke v. California Horse Racing Board, No. B299810 (Cal. App. Oct. 5, 2020).  The court held that the fee was prohibited by the Horse Racing Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 19500. Continue reading “California Appellate Court Throws Out Double Jockey Fee Imposed on Racehorse Owner”

COVID-19 Detecting Sniffer Dogs Deployed at Dubai International Airport

by John M. Simpson.

As we reported previously, a study conducted by the National Veterinary School in Alfort, France, suggested that dogs trained in some form of olfactory detection, such as explosives or narcotics, could be trained to detect, with reasonable accuracy, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in samples of human axillary perspiration (underarm sweat), thus suggesting the potential of sniffer dogs as a screen for the COVID-19 disease.  That approach has been deployed at the Dubai International Airport (DXB). Continue reading “COVID-19 Detecting Sniffer Dogs Deployed at Dubai International Airport”

California Federal Court Serves Up a Win to Foie Gras Producers

by Michelle C. Pardo

In 2004, after a strong push from animal rights activists, California banned the production and sale of foie gras, a luxury gourmet food and traditional French delicacy that is made from duck or geese liver.   See CA Health & Safety Code, Section 25982 (“A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond a normal size.”).  The ban went into effect in 2012.  Years of litigation by a restaurant operator and a coalition of foie gras producers, which challenged the law as vague and unreasonably interfering with interstate commerce, had been unsuccessful.  In 2017, the Ninth Circuit upheld the statute, and last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments in the foie gras industry’s challenge to the ban.

This week Stephen V. Wilson, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, granted plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and ruled that the ban did not cover the shipment of foie gras by out-of-state producers to California customers. Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec et al. v. Kamala J. Harris, et al. (2:12-cv-05735-SVW-RZ) (C.D. Cal. July 14, 2020).  Continue reading “California Federal Court Serves Up a Win to Foie Gras Producers”

Animal Rights Challenge to FWS Sport Trophy Decision Fails in D.C. Circuit

by John M. Simpson.

In Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, ___ F.3d ___, No. 19-5152 (D.C. Cir. June 16, 2020), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently affirmed a district court’s rejection of a challenge by animal rights groups to a decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to withdraw blanket findings as to whether the importation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of certain sport trophies of “threatened” species taken in other countries would enhance the survival and not be detrimental to the survival of those species. Continue reading “Animal Rights Challenge to FWS Sport Trophy Decision Fails in D.C. Circuit”