APHIS Initiates Rulemaking on Handling of Wild and Exotic Animals

On January 6, 2023, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) and request for comments as to potential amendments to Animal Welfare Act regulations  governing exhibitors.  The ANPR solicits public comments  on APHIS’ “plan to strengthen regulations regarding the handling of wild and exotic animals for exhibition, as well as the training of personnel involved in the handling of wild and exotic animals, and to establish standards addressing environmental enrichment for all regulated animals.”

Continue reading “APHIS Initiates Rulemaking on Handling of Wild and Exotic Animals”

Fifth Circuit Declares Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Unconstitutional

In 2020, Congress passed, and President Trump signed, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) which empowers a private entity — the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (Authority) — to formulate regulations applicable to the horseracing industry.  On November 18, 2022, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit invalidated HISA as an  unconstitutional delegation of authority “vesting government power in a private entity not accountable to the people.”  Nat’l Horsemen’s Benevolent Ass’n v. Black, No. 22-10387, slip op. at 4 (5th Cir. Nov. 18, 2022). Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Declares Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act Unconstitutional”

Activist Greenwashing Case In D.C. Runs Aground

“Greenwashing,” a subject of frequent discussion, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or practice of making a product, policy, activity, etc., appear to be more environmentally friendly or less environmentally damaging than it really is.”  Greenwashing claims have become popular with activists trying to attack businesses in the animal space who make consumer-facing statements about their operations by using terms such as “sustainable” or “humane.”  Read about a recent court decision in D.C. on greenwashing on the Duane Morris Fashion, Retail and Consumer Branded Products Blog.

Animal Rights Challenge to Cartoon Poultry Product Labels Fails

A federal court in Washington, D.C. recently tossed a lawsuit brought by the animal rights group, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) challenging poultry products labels that had been approved by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   The court determined that ALDF had no standing to sue.  ALDF v. Vilsack, No. 1-21-cv-01539 (CJN) (D.D.C. Nov. 14, 2022). Continue reading “Animal Rights Challenge to Cartoon Poultry Product Labels Fails”

New York’s Highest Court Declares that Elephants are NOT “Legal Persons”

Today, in a major blow to animal rights and nonhuman animal “personhood” advocates, the New York Court of Appeals, in a 5-2 decision, rejected the effort by the NonHuman Rights Project (NhRP) to employ the common law writ of habeas corpus to free an Asian elephant named “Happy” from the Bronx Zoo.    In re Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Breheny, No. 52 (N.Y. June 14, 2022).  The case caps a long line of baseless efforts by NhRP in New York to obtain habeas relief for animals. Continue reading “New York’s Highest Court Declares that Elephants are NOT “Legal Persons””

PETA’s Defense of Its High Euthanasia Rate Is Unconvincing

In an interview posted on Youtube on June 6, 2022, Ingrid Newkirk, founder of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), discussed several subjects, including claims made in 2004 by comedy team Penn & Teller that PETA kills dogs and cats.  Ms. Newkirk described the Penn & Teller claims as “cheap” and “misinformed.” (We have reported in the past (see, for example, here) on the statistics compiled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) showing that PETA’s shelter in Norfolk, Virginia has a high rate of euthanasia when compared to other shelters operating in the Commonwealth of Virginia.)  According to Ms. Newkirk, PETA’s shelter is an “open admission shelter” that takes in “animals that are on their last legs” — “the dregs, if you will” — that “have the door slammed shut on them in other places.” The implication is that this is the reason for the high euthanasia rate.  Ms. Newkirk stated that PETA would “never” euthanize a healthy animal.

Ms. Newkirk’s interview came on the heels of an event recently sponsored by PETA called the “Poochella Festival” which PETA described as a “multishelter adoption event” designed to help “Virginia dogs find loving homes.”  According to PETA, “[o]ur shelters” — presumably PETA and the four other local animal shelters that participated in the event — “are bursting at the seams with wonderful dogs who would love to become great companions.”

Given its history of euthanizing the vast majority of dogs that it receives, the assertion that PETA is “bursting at the seams” with dogs to be adopted struck us as questionable.  So, we decided to look at the reported data to see how PETA compares with the four shelters that PETA stated participated in “Poochella:” Chesapeake Animal Services, the Norfolk SPCA, Virginia Beach Animal Control, and the Virginia Beach SPCA.

Continue reading “PETA’s Defense of Its High Euthanasia Rate Is Unconvincing”

COVID-19 In Animals Continues To Be Minor Issue In U.S.

While the overwhelming focus of the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the effect that the virus has had on humankind, there have been documented cases of the SARS-CoV-2 virus infecting animals.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) tracks the incidence of the the virus in animals in the U.S.   That analysis continues to show that infection in animals is quite small. Continue reading “COVID-19 In Animals Continues To Be Minor Issue In U.S.”

Ecuadorian Animal Rights Decision is Mixed Bag

Animal rights activists have pointed to a recent decision by the highest court in Ecuador — the Constitutional Court (Corte Constitucional Del Ecuador) — as a breakthrough for animal rights.  As the NonHuman Rights Project (NHRP)  described it, the decision “constitutes one of the most important advances in the field of animal rights and environmental law in recent years. . . .  The Court’s groundbreaking ruling advances the constitutional protection of animals — ranging from the level of species to the individual animal — with their own inherent value and needs.”

Upon closer examination, the Court’s Final Judgment is not as far-reaching as has been claimed.  Continue reading “Ecuadorian Animal Rights Decision is Mixed Bag”

Two Major Animal Rights Initiatives Rejected in Switzerland

On February 13, as millions of people in the U.S. prepared for and watched the Super Bowl, voters in Switzerland rejected two significant animal rights initiatives.  As reported (here and here) by SWI swissinfo.ch — the international unit of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation — the proposed measures included a country-wide ban on animal testing and a measure that would have given non-primate humans certain rights in the canton of Basel-Stadt. Continue reading “Two Major Animal Rights Initiatives Rejected in Switzerland”

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