Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The most striking piece of information I learned this weekend was in a panel with Nancy Perry, vice president of government affairs at The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She was discussing the bills that she is hoping will get passed before the end of this congressional session, rapidly approaching on January 3rd. One of the bills being considered is The Truth in Fur Labeling Act (H.R. 2480). If passed, it would close the loophole left in the Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951 that exempts the labeling of fur products valued under $150.
According to Congressman Jim Moran, author of the bill and co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, 13% of the fur market falls beneath the $150 threshold. Additionally, recent investigations conducted by HSUS found “a proliferation of falsely labeled and falsely advertised fur on fashion clothing sold by some of the largest names in U.S. retailing.” Of the mislabeled (labeled as “faux fur”) and unlabeled fur-trimmed jackets tested by HSUS, 96% were found to be domestic dog, wolf, or raccoon.
Here is the text of the Act that desperately needs amendment:
(d) The term "fur product" means any article of wearing apparel made in whole or in part of fur or used fur; except that such term shall not include such articles, other than any dog or cat fur product to which section 308 of the Tariff Act of 1930 applies, as the Commission shall exempt by reason of the relatively small quantity or value of the fur or used fur contained therein.
I was both shocked and disgusted to learn this. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought boots with “fur” on the interior, assuming that since it wasn’t labeled as fur and the boots only cost $30, well then of course the fur wasn’t real! Was it? I certainly hope not. The realization of this possibility really drove home for me how significant each subtle word is in the law. Yikes. Every word counts. A single clause allows products containing dog fur to go unlabeled – unbelievable.
On a lighter note, I was so excited this morning to come to school and see all of my animal law peers. I feel like we all bonded this weekend. I was particularly struck by something L&C Animal Law Clinic Director Kathy Hessler said in the last panel, “Student Career Summit.” She advised us students to not consider our peers as competition, but rather as colleagues. The spirit of the conference really supported that notion - that everyone in this field needs to support each other.
Pamela Frasch and Joyce Tischler offered an engaging panel on social movements, examining the civil rights and women’s suffrage movements and using them to predict the future of the animal rights movement. A question that arose was, is it good or bad that the animal rights movement is so dispersive?
While I have mixed feelings on that, I do believe what is perhaps most important is not that we all agree on what is the “correct” way to go about securing rights for animals, but instead, that we all need to help each other help animals. I think for this field to really see wide success, we will all need to put our varying creative ideas together and support each other in our efforts.
That said, I am so excited to work with my peers at Lewis and Clark Law School, with my peers nationally who are passionate about making a difference for animals, and with the remarkable leaders already paving the way for present and future change.
Thanks to everyone for making this conference such an enriching experience!
Jaclyn Leeds J.D. Candidate 2013 Lewis & Clark Law School Jaclyn Leeds & Fellow 1Ls, Kelly LaToza & Lora Dunn
Friday, August 27, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
The Court noted that the House Committee Report described these videos as “the intentional torture and killing of helpless animals,” which “appeal to persons with a very specific sexual fetish who find them sexually arousing.” The bill had significant support in Congress because animal cruelty is already illegal. Due to the difficulties in prosecuting this clandestine activity, Congress focused on criminalizing the creation and distribution, for commercial gain, of the resulting videos.
The Court’s majority, however, determined that the statute also potentially applied to activity that might be deemed cruel but is not illegal, such as hunting videos. Based on this finding, the Court overturned Mr. Stevens’ conviction for distributing videos of dogfighting, even though that behavior is illegal in all 50 states. In doing so, the Court supported the tradition of protecting First Amendment rights by refusing to uphold a conviction based upon a statute that it believed was not sufficiently narrowly tailored.
Importantly, the Court did not address whether preventing animal cruelty is a compelling governmental interest worthy of constitutional protection. Rather it determined that the statute in question was too broad and encroached on protected interests. Thus, the Court found the statute regulates speech protected by the First Amendment and therefore could not survive a constitutional challenge.
As noted in the Center for Animal Law Studies’ amicus curiae brief submitted in Stevens, American courts have long recognized that preventing animal cruelty ultimately serves human interests. One reason for this is the historical view that animal cruelty is abhorrent because the act of violence itself, regardless of the victim, dulls humanitarian feelings. One court in 1904 noted that constantly seeing disfigured and mutilated animals tends to corrupt the public morals. And as early as 1896, a court made clear that the legislative goal of anti-cruelty laws was “not only to protect these animals, but to conserve the public morals….”
The Center’s brief also references numerous studies explaining the connection between human and animal violence. These studies form the basis of many fundamental policy decisions. For instance:
· In the 1970’s, the FBI began using animal cruelty as one of the key factors to predict future violent behavior;
· The International Association of Chiefs of Police urges law enforcement to take animal cruelty reports seriously because violence against animals provides an early opportunity to prevent future violent crimes; and
· An article published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association summarizes the importance of addressing animal cruelty, stating that “animal abuse and neglect do not occur in a vacuum but are part of a pattern of dangerous and antisocial behavior jeopardizing people, animals, and inanimate property.”
The cumulative strength of the evidence illustrates that violence knows no boundaries. This requires regulation of both the actual acts of violence and the depictions of those acts.
Friday, April 9, 2010
As attorneys and professors working in the field of animal law, we know the issues relating to animal testing are more complex than the interviewees in This Monkey Died for You would have readers believe. For the past few years, we have visited the
For instance, there are a number of respected science-based organizations, such as the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins, that reject animal testing on scientific and ethical grounds.
Second, for every purported advancement there is a countervailing setback that shows animal testing is not an accurate predictor of outcomes in humans.
Third, if the ability to feel pain is one of the factors that triggers ethical consideration, then there should be no distinction in the protections available to an animal regardless of whether he or she is bred for research.
Fourth, Mr. Newman incorrectly portrays most animal rights activists as “extremists.” It should not be considered extreme to hope for and work toward solutions that address both advancements for human health and protections for animals.
To clarify one quote attributed to Dr. Doane, the law does not require the reduction of animals in experiments, although there is a government policy statement that encourages this outcome.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further with WW or with OHSU representatives.
Pamela Frasch, J.D. Assistant Dean, Animal Law Program and Executive Director, Center for Animal Law Studies
Professor Kathy Hessler, J.D., LL.M. Director, Animal Law Clinic Center for Animal Law Studies