AMERICA’S TOP TEN ANIMAL DEFENDERS STAND UP FOR THE VOICELESS

Animal Protection Heroes to Be Honored During National Justice for Animal Week

 

COTATI, California—The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has chosen America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders – the list of top prosecutors, law enforcement officials, lawmakers and others who champion the cause of animal crime victims honored during National Justice for Animals Week, Feb. 25 – March 3, 2018. Each year, National Justice for Animals Week recognizes these individuals’ outstanding contributions to the protection of animals, raises public awareness about animal abuse and advises advocates how to pass stronger laws and demand better enforcement for acts of animal cruelty

 

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is also honoring two horses, Willow and Stormy, by naming them the mascots of National Justice for Animals Week 2018. The horses were victims of severe neglect, both pregnant and severely malnourished when law enforcement found them. They

were lucky to survive, but, thanks to the great work of the prosecutor and local rescuers, today Willow and Stormy are thriving, as are their foals. Their abuser is behind bars because the prosecutor knew how important it was to win justice for Willow, Stormy, and the other horses. Each year countless animal victims endure criminal cruelty. Willow & Stormy remind us that with persistence, we can make sure more animal abusers are brought to justice.

 

America’s Top Ten Animal Defenders include:

 

Jessica Rubin,director of legal practice program, University of Connecticut Law School. Professor Rubin was instrumental in creating Desmond’s Law, which created the nation’s first statutory animal advocate position in criminal cruelty cases. Professor Rubin is among the first attorneys approved to volunteer as an animal advocate.

 

Diana Urban, state representative, Connecticut. Rep. Urban sponsored Desmond’s Law, which allows judges in criminal animal cruelty cases to appoint advocates for animal victims. The law honors the memory of Desmond,a shelter dog who was starved, beaten and strangled to death by his owner, who, despite having admitted his guilt upon arrest, was able to avoid jail time and have the crime left off his record after rehabilitation.

 

Tom Demmery, assistant chief of police, Hollywood, Florida. Ollie the pit bull was stabbed 50 times and left in a suitcase to die. Demmery treated the case with the seriousness it deserved, and instructed detectives to “treat this like a homicide.” They found the abuser, who is now behind bars facing charges of animal cruelty.

 

Patrick Harrington, prosecutor, Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Recognizing the need to address the county’s uptick in animal cruelty situations, Harrington assembled an animal advisory committee. The group includes a deputy prosecutor, animal control officers, veterinarians and local animal advocates – all working together toward the goal of bringing animal abusers to justice.

Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, Massachusetts. Dr. Smith-Blackmore is a veterinarian, public safety and animal advocate. She uses her expertise in veterinary forensics to assist law enforcement and prosecutors in animal cruelty cases throughout the United States. Her scientific contributions have been critical in countless cases, helping to ensure the animals' conditions are fully documented and animal abusers are brought to justice. 

Richard Alloway, state senator, Pennsylvania. Senator Alloway co-sponsored Libre’s Law, a 2017 update to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. The new law strengthens protections for animals and allows legal punishments for animal cruelty to match the severity of the crime. Sen. Alloway advanced these needed changes in the wake of public support for Libre, a puppy who suffered such extreme neglect he only lived thanks to intensive veterinary care.

 

Todd Stephens, state representative, Pennsylvania. Representative Stephens co-sponsored Libre’s Law, a much needed update to Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws. The new law offers more appropriate penalties for animal cruelty crimes so that animal abusers are not let go with a slap on the wrist.

 

Earl Blumenauer, U.S. representative, Oregon. When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) abruptly eliminated public access to thousands of online records concerning enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (the federal law regulating research labs, puppy mills, zoos, circuses and more), Rep. Blumenauer led the charge to urge the USDA to return the records to the USDA website. Long a champion for animals, Rep. Blumenauer co-chairs the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus.

 

Judge Susan Skinner, Bexar County, Texas. Judge Skinner recognized the importance of taking animal cruelty seriously, and decided to implement the first animal abuse docket in her county. By presiding over these cases she ensures that bringing justice to animal victims is not overlooked in Bexar County the way it is in many other jurisdictions nationwide.

 

Greg Allen, chief of police, El Paso, Texas. Chief Allen assembled El Paso’s first animal cruelty investigations unit, responsible for handling cruelty cases and training other officers to better respond to calls about animal cruelty. A dedicated animal cruelty unit goes a long way toward securing justice for animals.

 

For more information, please visit aldf.org.

 
 

###

 

About the Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visitaldf.org.

 

 

Best And Worst States For Animal Protection Laws, 2017 Report Released

Posted on January 18, 2018

Illinois holds on to first place, Kentucky bottoms out for eleventh year in a row 

SAN FRANCISCO—The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, released the 12th annual year-end report (2017) ranking the animal protection laws of all 50 states. For the 10th year in a row, Illinois is in first place—followed by Oregon (2), California (3), Maine (4), and Rhode Island (5). Kentucky holds firmly to last place for the 11th consecutive year. It trails Iowa (49), Wyoming (48), Utah (47), and North Dakota (46) as the state with the weakest animal protection laws.

The patchwork of state and local laws is animals’ primary protection. The strength of these laws varies widely, making the Rankings Report a vital resource for anyone interested in helping animals. The Rankings are based on a comprehensive review of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws including over 4,000 pages of statutes. This is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, and tracks which states are taking animal protection seriously.

Pennsylvania is the most-improved state this year, jumping 20 places up to number 24. This achievement is thanks to major improvements like a new felony provision for first-time offenders of aggravated animal cruelty (including torture), and granting civil immunity to veterinarians who report suspected animal abuse.

The 2017 Rankings Report also highlights a trend in laws aiming to end the tragedy of animals dying in hot cars. Public awareness campaigns have helped improve the situation, but legislation is also a key component. This year’s Rankings Report is promising, showing more states granting civil immunity for removing animals from hot vehicles. Immunity laws ensure that people who rescue animals from vehicles in emergency situations are not then faced with lawsuits from owners. Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon all enacted these “reckless endangerment” provisions this year. In all, more than 25 states now have some type of “hot cars” law on the books.

More than half of all states significantly improved their animal protection laws in the last five years. Improvements come in many forms including stiffer penalties for offenders, stronger standards of care for animals, animal cruelty reporting by veterinarians, mental health evaluations and counseling for offenders, banning animal ownership following cruelty convictions and including animals in domestic violence protective orders.

“Unfortunately, laws protecting animals can vary widely from state to state,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Our annual U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings provides a tool for animal advocates, shelters and even legislators to gauge the relative effectiveness of their state’s animal protection laws and provides guidance for making positive changes.”

The full report, including details about each state, is available here for download (PDF).  The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s complete “Animal Protection Laws of the U.S.A. and Canada” compendium, on which the report is based, is available at aldf.org/compendium.

 

Animal Protection Coalition continues fight for transparency

 

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the Animal Legal Defense Fund appealed a court’s recent decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for removing tens of thousands of animal welfare records from the agency’s website. As the preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, the Animal Legal Defense Fund is leading the challenge to the information blackout with a coalition of animal protection groups including Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society and Animal Folks.

The coalition filed suit in February 2017 arguing that the USDA’s decision to remove the records previously posted in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) database violates both the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). United States District Judge William H. Orrick dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that FOIA does not provide a remedy to enforce the government’s obligation to publish certain types of records.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s claims under the APA were also dismissed. The APA authorizes courts to set aside agency actions if they are "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law" if there is no adequate alternative remedy available elsewhere in the law. Without addressing whether the USDA’s action was arbitrary or capricious, the court dismissed the APA claim on the basis that FOIA provides an adequate remedy because coalition members could submit a traditional FOIA request to the USDA for records. But obtaining animal welfare records through traditional FOIA requests significantly burdens countless animal protection organizations and other agencies. Records which were previously immediately accessible at no cost now require each individual organization to manage voluminous FOIA requests that take several months or even years to process, not to mention the possibility of large fees.

The removed documents revealed inhumane treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, roadside zoos and puppy mills across the country. The coalition used these records to advocate for stronger animal protection policies, confront the USDA over inadequate regulation of substandard facilities, supply evidence for law enforcement action and build legal cases against especially egregious violators.

In August, the USDA unveiled a new limited database to search for inspection reports and research facility annual reports. However, the documents posted have significant information redacted, including the name of some of the permitted facilities, and does not provide previously included information such as animal inventories. To date, the USDA also continues to withhold important enforcement action records such as administrative complaints and official warning letters

“The USDA cites our lawsuit in its announcement of a new public database, so they recognize the importance of providing animal welfare information,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “However, the USDA continues to withhold important information under the new system—which is insufficient.”

The organizations are represented pro bono by Margaret Kwoka, Associate Professor at University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

For more information visit, aldf.org.

###

About the Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

 

(COTATI, CA)–As summer approaches and temperatures rise, the danger of dogs dying because negligent owners left them in a hot car grows as well. 

Even on a day when it’s 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car can hit 90 degrees in just 10 minutes. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can shoot as high as 116 degrees in the same amount of time.

What can you do, within your legal rights, if you see an animal in distress in a locked car? The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has some tips.

  1. 1)If you see an animal in distress, call 911.
  2. 2)Know your state laws.

Calling 911 is the first step to saving that animal’s life. Most states allow a public safety officer to break into the car and rescue an animal if its life is threatened.

Although 29 states have some form of “hot car” law that prohibits leaving a companion animal unattended in a parked vehicle, the laws differ drastically from place to place: 

·       Only eight states — California, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee — have “Good Samaritan” laws that allow any person to break a car window to save a pet. Alabama and Arizona have bills pending.

·       In six of those states — California, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin — “Good Samaritans” must first contact law enforcement before breaking into the car in order for their actions to be considered legal.

·       In 19 states, only public officials such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal (Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Washington).

·       In New Jersey and West Virginia, although it is illegal to confine an animal in a hot car, no one has the authority to break into a vehicle to save the animal, not even law enforcement.

  1. 3)Let people know it’s not okay to leave their pet unattended in a car.
  2. 4)Get the message out with the Animal Legal Defense Fund sunshade

When an animal dies in a hot car, most of their humans say they left them “just for a minute.” If you see someone leave their animal in a parked car, tell them that even if it’s a pleasant day outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket fast. Cracking a window doesn’t eliminate the risk of heatstroke or death.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has created sunshades that remind pet owners of the risks of leaving animals unattended in a car. The sunshades feature the message, “Warning: Don’t leave dogs in hot cars,” in lettering large enough to be readable from across a parking lot. It also urges people to call 911 if they find animals locked in a car and in distress. The sunshades are available at aldf.org/hotcars and all proceeds benefit the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

For more information on keeping dogs safe this summer visit aldf.org/hotcars.

About the Animal Legal Defense Fund

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visitaldf.org.

Talkin' Pets News

04/15/2017

Host - Jon Patch

Co-Host - Jillyn Sidlo

Producer - Daisy Charlotte

Network Producer - Quin McCarthy

Executive Producer - Bob Page

Special Guests - Author Bob Bennett will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 4/15/2017 at 5pm EST to discuss and give away his book "Guide to Raising Rabbits"

Inventor & CEO of ONLY LEASH, Brett Flippen, will join Jon and Talkin' Pets 04/15/2017 at 630pm EST to discuss and give away his Only Leash

Actress Maria Menounos will stop by Talkin' Pets with Jon Patch 4/15/2017 to chat about the first ever upcoming Beverly Hills Dog Show On USA Network April 16, 2017 at 8pm EST

 

Tips from the Animal Legal Defense Fund

(COTATI, CA)–As summer approaches and temperatures rise, the danger of pets dying because negligent owners left them in a hot car grows as well. 

Even on a day when it’s 70 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car with all the windows closed can hit 90 degrees in just 10 minutes. On a hot day, the temperature inside a closed car can shoot as high as 116 degrees in the same amount of time.

What can you do, within your legal rights, if you see an animal in distress in a locked car? The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals, has some tips.

If you see an animal in distress, call 911.

Most states allow a public safety officer to break into the car and rescue an animal if its life is threatened. Calling 911 is the first step to saving that animal’s life.

Know your state laws.

More and more states are adopting “hot car” laws that prohibit leaving a companion animal unattended in a parked vehicle, with six enacted in just the last two years and two more pending. 

Although 20 states have some form of “hot car” laws, the laws differ drastically from place to place: 

•Only two states—Wisconsin and Tennessee—have “good Samaritan” laws that allow any person to break a car window to save a pet. 

•In 16 states, only public officials such as law enforcement and humane officers can legally break into a car to rescue an animal (Arizona, California. Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington)

•In New Jersey and West Virginia, no one has the authority to break into a vehicle to save an animal, not even law enforcement.

•Legislation is pending in Florida and New York to give would give any concerned bystander the legal right to help an animal in distress. Pending legislation in Pennsylvania would make it illegal to confine a dog or cat in a vehicle in conditions that would jeopardize its health but only a police, public safety, or humane officer would have the legal right to rescue the animal.

Penalties for hot car deaths of companion animals are still limited. Most states limit penalties to misdemeanors or civil fines and infractions, even for repeat offenders. Maine and South Dakota’s laws don’t impose a penalty at all.

Let people know it’s not okay to leave their pet unattended in a car.

When an animal dies in a hot car, most of their humans say they left them “just for a minute.” If you see someone leave their pet in a parked car, tell them that even if it’s a pleasant day outside, the temperature inside the car can skyrocket fast. Cracking a window doesn’t eliminate the risk of heatstroke or death.

Get the message out with an ALDF sunshade

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has created sunshades that remind pet owners of the risks of leaving animals unattended in a car. The sunshades feature the message, “Warning: Don’t leave dogs in hot cars,” in lettering large enough to be readable from across a parking lot. They also urge people to call 911 if they find animals locked in a car and in distress. The sunshades are available aldf.org/hotcarsand all proceeds benefit ALDF.

For more information on keeping dogs safe this summer visit aldf.org/hotcars.

About ALDF

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, ALDF files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

#####