Bills in Play on Capitol Hill

Posted by on Oct 21, 2011 in Animals & the Law | 0 comments

Last weekend during the Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark, ASPCA’s Nancy Perry presented the latest news in legislation concerning animal welfare. There are quite a few federal bills in play during this first session of the 112th Congress. I encourage everyone to contact your own representatives in the House and the Senate to express your support for legislation that can make a difference in countless animals’ lives.

  • American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act
    100,000 horses are exported from the United States each year to slaughter in other countries for human consumption. This bill would prohibit the sale or transport of horses in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of processing them for human consumption.
  • Horse Transportation Safety Act
    Although there is a USDA regulation that prohibits use of double-decked trucks to transport horses to slaughter, the agency has commented that it lacks resources to enforce the regulation. (The federal law as it stands also allows transport in double-decked trucks for horses going to destinations other than slaughterhouses.) Although states such as Pennsylvania and New York have banned this method of transport, we need a federal law that will protect horses as they are transported across state lines.
  • Interstate Horse Racing Improvement Act
    This bill would amend current law to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing.

    Mom & baby at Currituck Reserve

    Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act
    Gorgeous mustangs along the coastline! This bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement that would ensure the management of  the free-roaming wild horses in North Carolina’s Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Veteran Dog Training Therapy Act
    The implementation of a pilot program to include dog training therapy for veterans. Even better: this bill, which just was passed as part of a package of veteran benefits, includes the use of shelter dogs. Helping veterans and giving shelter dogs loving homes — LOVE it!
  • Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act
    Prosecuting animal fighting is tough, especially when a crowd of spectators scatters and not one of them is held responsible for complicity in the criminal behavior. It’s simple: if someone goes to a dog-fighting event, (s)he is helping to make these kinds of ventures profitable. And, besides providing economic incentive, spectators are participating in an immoral, criminal activity. This bill would ensure that spectators are held accountable for their part in the animal fighting underworld. Long overdue.
  • Fairness to Pet Owners Act
    Medications for animals can be extremely pricey. This bill provides people with the ability to receive a copy of veterinary prescriptions so that they can choose to have those prescriptions filled elsewhere, perhaps at a significantly lower cost.
  • Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act
    Lots of attention has been given to the problem of puppy mills, but the fact is that not nearly enough has been done to correct this problem. This bill seeks to amend the Animal Welfare Act to further protect dogs, keeping in mind breeders’ newer business model of selling directly to the public via the internet (currently not regulated). The bill also requires exercise for the dogs, which would improve the quality of life of the puppies and the breeding dogs; typically, these dogs are suffering terrible living conditions and continuous confinement. While efforts on the state level are laudable, the pups need the protection of a federal law. Let’s do all we can to end the atrocity of puppy mills in this country.
  • Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act
    I’ve written extensively on the experimental use of chimpanzees. Even the scientific community agrees that research on primates has proven more a waste of taxpayer dollars than anything else. This bill would, once and for all, put an end to invasive research on great apes. And we’ll save an estimated $20 million in doing so. Win-Win.
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In Portland for the Animal Law Conference

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Animals & the Law | 0 comments

Animal Law Conference, Lewis and ClarkThis weekend, I’m in Portland for the 19th Annual Animal Law Conference at Lewis & Clark. The conference is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Lewis & Clark’s student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF). Each year, law students and lawyers come together to explore a wide range of hot topics in the field of Animal Law.

This year’s theme is “Standing Up for Animals: Can a Bad Economy Inspire Greater Goodness?”  Topics include:

  • Human Science: Is the End of Testing Within Reach?
  • International Voices in Animal Law: Canada & Mexico
  • Enforcement: Building a Case Against Cruelty
  • Drawing Connections Between Animal law & Other Disciplines
  • Whose Case is it Anyway? Animals’ vs. Owners’ Interests in Litigation
  • International Voices in Animal Law: Switzerland & Egypt
  • Using Your Law Degree to Help Sanctuaries
  • Animal Shelters, Humane Societies, & Rescues: When Funding Dries Up
  • Exotic Pets, People, and Public Policy
  • Global Animal Concerns
  • Making Cultural Judgments: Animals We Eat, Animals We Love
  • Wolf re-Introduction, Management, and Protection
  • Private Prosecutions & the Enforcement of Canadian Animal Protection Legislation

As you can see, it’s a weekend packed with thought-provoking topics. It’s also a wonderful weekend of catching up with friends who, during the rest of the year, are scattered around the country — all doing amazing things on behalf of animals everywhere. Extra special for me this year: Joyce Tischler, who was my instructor for the law class on Farmed Animals this past summer, will be the keynote speaker at tonight’s reception.

The conference is sold out, but you can view most of the sessions through the live webinar option available on the conference’s web site. If you’re a law student or lawyer, mark your calendar for next October so you can join us!


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Great news from the makers of Botox!

Posted by on Oct 6, 2011 in Animals & the Law | 0 comments

The Animal Welfare Act sets minimum standards of care for animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or used in public exhibitions. The USDA, through the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is required to enforce these standards. However, the Animal Welfare Act — the only federal law that covers animals used in research — excludes mice, rodents, and birds, which comprise approximately 95% of the animals being used for research purposes. Thus, the law offers no protection for these animals, as many as 100 million each year, and industries are left to regulate themselves.

So isn’t it GREAT news to know that Allergan — maker of Botox and other products — has made the decision on its own to phase out its use of animal testing? Last June, the company announced it will eliminate 95% of its animal testing within the next three years. YES!

I know any talk about  the use of Botox and other aesthetic products is going to ignite a debate. Whatever your stance on these products — like it or not — they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. As with any other pharmaceutical product, animal testing is still widespread. And, in this area, the LD50 test often has been the standard. In a nutshell, this kind of testing means that doses are tested on animals to figure out at what level 50% of the animals die. For the 100,000+ mice used each year in Botox-related research, this has meant a slow death by suffocation once the mice were injected with the product’s paralyzing ingredient.

Kudos to Allergan for committing to this change, which took ten years of research and over $65 million to achieve. Although it’s not 100% cruelty-free, Allergan’s decision will save thousands of animals each year from suffering. Taking such a step, Allergen sets the example, and we can only hope its competitors will follow suit.

Allergan aesthetic products include Botox, Juvederm, and Latisse. The company also manufactures products for eye care, including artificial tears for dry eye and eye drops for glaucoma.

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