Court Dismisses Challenge to USDA’s Failure to Issue AWA Avian Regulations

By John M. Simpson

Earlier this week, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., dismissed an action brought by animal rights organizations challenging the failure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue animal welfare regulations specific to birds under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  American Anti-Vivisection Soc’y, et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, et al., No. 1:18-cv-01138 (TNM) (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018).  While finding that the plaintiffs had pleaded sufficient facts to establish Article III standing to sue, the court rejected their substantive claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA):  (i) that USDA’s failure to promulgate regulations applicable to birds was “agency action unlawfully withheld;” and (ii) that USDA’s decision not to issue the standards was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.  Continue reading “Court Dismisses Challenge to USDA’s Failure to Issue AWA Avian Regulations”

PETA Language Pointers Generate Controversy

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization known for attention-grabbing publicity stunts, recently launched a new campaign to rid the English language of idioms that the organization regards as offensive to animals.  Analogizing the matter to the use of “racist, homophobic  or ableist language,” PETA claimed that replacing phrases such as “bring home the bacon” with alternatives such as “bring home the bagels” would remove “speciesism” from daily conversations.   Continue reading “PETA Language Pointers Generate Controversy”

Voters Approve Two Key Animal-Related Ballot Initiatives

By John M. Simpson.

Two animal-law-related measures of note were passed during the recent mid-term elections.

Proposition 12.  In California, voters approved Proposition 12 which establishes new standards for the confinement of certain farm animals.  The measure sets new minimum requirements for farmers as to space for egg-laying hens and calves raised for veal (to be adopted by 2020) and for breeding pigs (to be adopted by 2022).  The standards apply, not only to eggs, pork and veal produced in California but also to such products imported into the state and produced elsewhere. Continue reading “Voters Approve Two Key Animal-Related Ballot Initiatives”

D.C. Circuit Rejects PETA Nonhuman Primate FOIA Claim

by John M. Simpson

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently affirmed a summary judgment in favor of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which had denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for information about the importation of nonhuman primates.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals v. U.S. Dep’t of Health and Human Serv., No. 16-5269 (D.C. Cir. August, 17, 2018).  The appellate court agreed with the lower court that the release of such information would cause substantial competitive injury to the importers who had provided such information to HHS and therefore was properly withheld under FOIA Exemption 4, which exempts “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential” from disclosure.  5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(4).   Continue reading “D.C. Circuit Rejects PETA Nonhuman Primate FOIA Claim”

PETA UK’s Effort to Ban Staffordshire Bull Terrier Fizzles

by John M. Simpson

A recent proposal by People for the Ethical of Animals UK (PETA UK) to add the Staffordshire bull terrier (a/k/a “staffies”) to the list of dogs banned by the UK’s Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 met a dead end in Parliament on July 16.  The proposal had arisen in response to a legal review conducted by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Once the PETA UK proposal surfaced, an e-petition campaign by owners and other supporters of the breed commenced, garnering nearly 180,000 signatures.  [Petition Summary.]   The petition called “on Parliament to save our staffies and not have them banned as dangerous dogs, because they are not.  People create dangerous dogs, people are the problem.”  Continue reading “PETA UK’s Effort to Ban Staffordshire Bull Terrier Fizzles”

Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit

Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit, Finding That PETA’s “Next Friend” Lawsuit Used Monkey as a “Pawn”

By: Michelle C. Pardo

As the old saying goes, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Last year, animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), acting as a purported “next friend” of a Sulawesi crested macaque (named “Naruto”), brought a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against wildlife photographer David Slater and a self-publishing book company over a “selfie” that the macaque had taken when it grabbed wildlife photographer Slater’s camera.   PETA had alleged that the monkey, as author and owner of the photograph, had a claim for copyright infringement against defendants.  After finding that the monkey had constitutional standing, but no standing under the Copyright Act, the district court dismissed the case.  PETA appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit. Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit”

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