Supreme Court Addresses When a “Draft Biological Opinion” Really is a “Draft” Under the FOIA

Today, in her first published opinion on the Supreme Court, Justice Barrett delivered the majority opinion in U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv. v. Sierra Club, Inc., No. 19-547 (U.S. Mar. 4, 2021), a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case involving whether draft biological opinions of the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service were exempt from public disclosure.  The Court ruled that they were, and overturned a contrary determination by the Ninth Circuit. Continue reading “Supreme Court Addresses When a “Draft Biological Opinion” Really is a “Draft” Under the FOIA”

D.C. Circuit Ducks Constitutionality of USDA ALJ’s — For Now

A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently decided a significant case for those animal-related businesses who are subject to regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Fleming v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, No. 17-1246, 1249 & 1250 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 16, 2021). Continue reading “D.C. Circuit Ducks Constitutionality of USDA ALJ’s — For Now”

PeTA’s Euthanasia Rate — Part II

Last week, we wrote on the overall euthasia rate in 2020 for the animal “shelter” that animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) runs in Norfolk, Virginia.  (“Euthanasia rate” here means how many animals the shelter euthanized (killed) expressed as percentage of how many animals the shelter took in during 2020.  It is based on data that every animal shelter in Virginia is required to submit annually to the Virginia Department of  Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).)  PeTA’s euthanasia rate was far higher than the average euthanasia rate for other shelters in Virginia.  When compared to the overall euthanasia rate of all reporting agencies in Virginia in 2020, as reported by VDACS, PeTA’s rate was more than 11 times higher for dogs, more than 7 times higher for cats and more than 9 times higher for dogs and cats combined.

This week, we dig a little deeper into the numbers. Continue reading “PeTA’s Euthanasia Rate — Part II”

Euthanasia At PETA’s “Shelter” Still Occurring At Alarming Rate

On prior occasions (here and here), we have written about the high rate at which animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) euthanizes the animals that it takes in at its Norfolk, Virginia animal “shelter.”  All public and private animal shelters and other animal releasing agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia are required to submit an annual summary of their animal custody records to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).  PETA’s report for 2020 recently filed with VDACS reveals that PETA’s death rate still outpaces the average rate at which other shelters in Virginia euthanize animals. Continue reading “Euthanasia At PETA’s “Shelter” Still Occurring At Alarming Rate”

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”

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”

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”