Wednesday, September 16, 2015

News Briefs and Updates September 16, 2015

SAOVA Friends,

The epidemic of animal abuser registry proposals continues among New York Counties. Niagara County Legislature’s Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso proposed creation of a database similar to those covering individuals who commit sex crimes. The registry would contain the names and address information for all convicted abusers in Niagara County. Repeat offenders would be assigned to the list for life. County Sheriff James Voutour, whose office would be responsible for monitoring and updating, supports the registry. The registry is based on the Orange County law. Orange County lawmaker Mike Anagnostakis introduced the registry proposal earlier this year which passed the Legislature in August. County residents over 18 years of age convicted of an animal cruelty crime must be listed on the registry and cannot own another animal for 15 years. The registry will be maintained by the County sheriff.

According to a report by Mid-Hudson News, out of several New York counties that have passed animal abuse registry laws only 3 have actually been implemented. If true, this is good news. Perhaps this means that after rushing to appease activists by passing a registry law, legislators had a renewed moment of common sense.

Thank you for reading. Cross posting is encouraged.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance

September 10, 2015. A U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday that federal regulators erred in allowing an insecticide developed by Dow AgroSciences onto the market, canceling its approval and giving environmentalists a major victory. The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is significant for commercial beekeepers and others who say a dramatic decline in bee colonies needed to pollinate key food crops is tied to widespread use of a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. Critics say the Environmental Protection Agency is failing to evaluate the risks thoroughly. The lawsuit was filed in 2013 against the EPA by a number of organizations representing the honey and honey beekeeping industry. The groups specifically challenged EPA approval of insecticides containing sulfoxaflor, saying studies have shown they are highly toxic to honey bees.

USDA said earlier this year that losses of managed honeybee colonies hit 42.1 percent from April
2014 through April 2015, up from 34.2 percent for 2013-14, and the second-highest annual loss to date. Continue reading

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Sept. 1 overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listing of the lesser prairie-chicken under the Endangered Species Act. Ruling in favor of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four New Mexico counties, the judge concluded the listing was arbitrary and capricious, and that the USFWS failed to properly follow its own process for listing determinations in this matter. Further, conservation efforts have already been undertaken across millions of acres over five states to improve habitat for the lesser prairie-chicken and diminish threats to its existence. The court determined these conservation efforts, which have resulted in a 25 percent increase in lesser prairie chicken populations from 2014 to 2015, were ignored by the administration. In a 29-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Junell stated, “The Court finds FSW did conduct an analysis, however this analysis was neither ‘rigorous’ nor valid as FWS failed to consider important questions and material information necessary to make a proper … evaluation.”

Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, filed a rule making petition this month against USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) calling for additional regulations under the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) and Federal Meat Inspection Act. The coalition claims the FSIS is not meeting its statutory obligations under HMSA. The petition states the group based its claims on undercover investigations conducted by animal welfare groups and government reports. Requested changes include, codify the definition of “egregious” violations of the HMSA; issue Notice of Suspension for all egregious violations of the HMSA; require that intentional cruelty and egregious and reckless abuse be referred for criminal prosecution, fines, and imprisonment.

One proposed change calls for mandatory enforcement standards for Noncompliance Records (NR) and suspensions. For example, multiple stuns would always result in at least a plant suspension. The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) argued that adopting such a rule change would limit the ability of plants to take action when needed. “USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service wisely has permitted plants that acknowledge in advance through written plans that some animals, like large bulls or mature dairy cows, may be difficult to stun with a single blow as the law’s language requires,” Mark Dopp, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and NAMI general counsel, said in a statement. “FSIS’ approach also recognizes that livestock don’t always stand perfectly still and human beings charged with stunning and handling can’t executive every movement perfectly 100 percent of the time. If the agency is forced to use a regulatory sledge hammer when a plant does the right thing — like double stunning an animal when it appears necessary — it will only mean the wrong thing will happen more often — like failing to ensure an animal feels no pain.” Dopp continued. “During the time period detailed in this petition, our industry processed nearly 300 million cattle, pigs and sheep. While we work to ensure optimal welfare, perfection is simply not possible. Still, our overall record is one that reflects a committed, well-regulated and carefully inspected industry.” Sources: ALDF website;

Sea World of Texas is rejecting the latest allegations raised by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), that the killer whales and sea lions at the park show signs of abuse and should not be held in captivity, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports. "I have to tell you, this is the ninth time in the past two years that PETA has filed claims about our animal welfare, and none of those claims were found to have any merit," Sea World Director of Corporate Communications Becca Bedes told News Radio 1200 WOAI's Megan Bishop.  "This is no different."  Source: WOAI

September 14, 2015. An animal rights group said in a press release Monday that it plans to bill U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe for a drone that was shot down Friday while being flown over the Tulsa Republican's annual pigeon-shooting fundraiser. The Illinois-based group, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, was using the drone to monitor the event "for possible violations of Oklahoma law," and said it would release video of the shootdown and crash on Tuesday. SHARK said it would hand deliver a bill to Sen. Inhofe's DC office and file an amendment to SHARK’s ethics complaint against Sen. Inhofe "for the illegal and dangerous discharge of a firearm with his knowledge and potential consent." The complaint will be delivered to the offices of all the members of the Senate Ethics Committee, the group said.  Read more including SHARK press release

Mandatory spay/neuter (MSN) laws are promoted by groups who claim it will end euthanasia of animals, animal abandonment and shelter overpopulation. There is no success story for mandatory spay/neuter yet legislators still fall prey to the belief in a legislative quick fix.  Flyers opposing MSN can be found on the SAOVA website . Congratulations to the dog owners and groups who defeated recent attempts for MSN legislation.
* Whittier CA City Council removed MSN from a new animal ordinance which passed by a 5-0 vote.
* Proposals for MSN and Breeding Permits were presented for consideration to Spalding County GA Board of Commissioners at their August 3, 2015 meeting and both items were tabled.

City of Savannah GA spay neuter ordinance stalls after commissioners voice concerns. Residents of Savannah and Chatham County should continue to monitor.  

San Angelo TX council held a public hearing for proposed MSN ordinance which would require dogs and cats older than 4 months to be sterilized. Exceptions to the proposed ordinance include permitted/licensed breeders, medical reasons, competition animals, and law enforcement dogs. The ordinance will be considered at council’s October 6th meeting.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Iredell County NC Animal Control has proposed changes to the county ordinance. A public hearing is scheduled for August 25, 2015 at 6:00 PM, at the Iredell County Agricultural Extension Office, 444 Bristol Drive, in Statesville. The ordinance is posted online here
The proposed ordinance includes a number of very problematic changes for dog, cat, and horse owners. 

1. A poorly worded new definition of companion animal has been added. “Companion Animal means any animal kept primarily for pleasure, rather than utility, including, but not limited to, all domestic dogs (canus lupus familiarus), domestic cats (felis catus), and all members of the horse family (equidae), except when equines are used exclusively and actively for the maintenance of other utility livestock.” It is not clear which dogs will be considered utility or what purposes will be considered as kept for pleasure or why this division is necessary. Horses must never be defined as companion animals. They are livestock under state law and should remain so. Any other classification than livestock would subject horses to care standards at the whim of local officials. 

2. Size requirement for outdoor enclosures has been added. “As a guide, the enclosure should be a minimum of one hundred (100) square feet, plus five (5) square feet for each pound over twenty-five (25) total combined pounds for the animals contained therein.” Following this guideline, two 40-pound dogs kenneled together would require a 375 SF enclosure. A small kennel with 6 dogs would therefore require enclosures equaling 1,175 SF and 10 dogs would require pens totaling 1,975 SF. There is no logic or basis in either science or animal husbandry to dictate such pen sizes. These excessive space requirements impose unnecessary restrictions on hunters and dog hobbyists.

3. Added to cruelty to animals, new 5(c). ‘Dew claw removal and tail docking may only be performed by a veterinarian.’ Mandating that these simple procedures only be performed by a veterinarian places more stress and risk on newborn puppies than having the procedure done at home and risks exposure to disease.

4. Added to cruelty to animals, new 5(l), tethering requirements, setting minimum tether length at 10 feet with food, water, shelter required, and no tethering of companion animals less than 6 months of age. This requirement is problematic for hunting dogs being trained in the field. This also eliminates use of short tethers to tie out young dogs on a cable to watch older dogs being trained. In addition this provision eliminates use of short tethers for obedience and behavior training of dogs. Under the proposed ordinance many horses would now be included in the companion animal classification; however no clarification is given for using tie-rings or stall tethers. 

5. Additions to Wild and Exotic Animals definition, including them as inherently dangerous and therefore banned. (a) All primates; (b) Reptiles or amphibians which are venomous or constricting reptiles more than eight (8) feet (currently 10 feet); (c) hybrid dogs and cats. 

The justification given for banning hybrid cats and dogs is based on the fact no rabies vaccines are licensed for use in hybrids. This is a complicated subject and this discussion overlooks the logical aspect of administration and efficiency of rabies vaccinations in hybrids. The proposal to ban hybrids does not take into consideration the fact many hybrids, both dog and cat, can be generations away from the original wild-domestic cross. In a recent survey by the SBA Alliance, over 84% of 2,357 owners responded their cat was F4 or more, meaning at least four generations from the original wild cat parent. In addition, in 1996 Kansas State University ran a study on Bengals who had been vaccinated by rabies and found that 100% had retained immunity based on titers. Kansas State University continues to be part of the process to evaluate antibody test reports. 

Savannahs, Bengals and Chausie, descend from a wild ancestor. According to The International Cat Association (TICA) the Bengal has been the most popular breed for the past several years with 103,593 Bengals registered as of January, 2014. In addition, the Savannah has been the fourth most popular breed in TICA for the past few years with 9,799 Savannahs registered. The Chausie, although not as popular, comes from similar roots as the other two breeds and is also a unique, domestic cat breed, with 1,023 Chausies registered with TICA. Read more on hybrid-derived domestic breeds from TICA

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states in its Animal Welfare regulations, “Crosses between wild animal species and domestic animals, such as dogs and wolves or buffalo and domestic cattle, are considered to be domestic animals.” 

ACTION REQUIRED NOW. Contact the Iredell County Commissioners with objections to the proposed ordinance changes.

James B Mallory III, Chairman
Marvin Norman, Vice Chairman,
Thomas Bowles
Steven "Steve" D. Johnson
Kenneth "Ken" M. Robertson Jr.
Board of Commissioners Phone 704-878-3058

Please share this alert widely. Iredell County residents need to strongly oppose these new provisions.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen’s & Animals Owner’s Voting Alliance (SAOVA)

News Briefs and Updates August 20, 2015

SAOVA Friends,
The Texas Agriculture Law Blog is an outreach project of the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.  It is specifically focused on water law, oil and gas law, leasing, property rights, right to farm statutes, and animal cruelty issues. The blog provides interesting reading not only on the variety of subjects listed above but others such as the Farm Bill, easements, landowner liability, and the ESA.  Currently the blog is offering a series on how to avoid and survive undercover video investigations.  This three-part series was previously published in Dairy Herd Management magazine. Part 1 covers hiring practices and Part 2 covers farm policies and training practices. The blog can be found at

Thank you for reading. Cross posting is encouraged.

The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.

Susan Wolf
Sportsmen's and Animal Owners' Voting Alliance
Working to identify and elect supportive legislators

HUMANE WATCH August 13, 2015. When is a “Humane Society” not humane? When it launches a harassment campaign singling out a state senator.

For over a month, Rhode Island State Senator Susan Sosnowksi has endured the bullying of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The radical animal-rights group has taken out full-page ads attacking the Senator, passed around inflammatory fliers in her hometown farmers market, and accused Sosnowski of “doing the bidding of animal abusers.” What is Sosnowski’s offense? She doesn’t support an HSUS bill that creates cumbersome regulations for egg production that would have harmed a family farm in the state. Sosnowski is herself a farmer, so she most of all would understand what’s going on here.

What is particularly unjust about the Humane Society’s harassment is that there appears to be little-to-no evidence this bill would actually improve animal welfare. Rhode Island’s Livestock Welfare & Care Standards Advisory Council said the bill’s requirements are “far in excess of any standard set forth in any state without any evidence to support this increase improves hen welfare.” In fact, the legislation may result in worse conditions for hens with weaker chickens being left unprotected from the pecking of more aggressive chickens in the coop. The bill would also result in higher prices for eggs, and quite possibly lead to diminished food safety. Research published by Oxford Journals found that the safest housing system was a cage system that HSUS opposes.

However, the facts don’t matter to HSUS. Far from trying to improve animal welfare, what this extremist organization cares about is creating burdensome regulations that disrupt farming in every way possible. HSUS’s food policy director has compared farms to Nazi concentration camps and HSUS’s CEO has compared the treatment of animals to slavery. These guys don’t support any kind of egg farm—cage-free, free-range, or otherwise.

For years, animal-rights activists infamously used terror tactics against UCLA’s biomedical researchers. Activists set cars ablaze, placed incendiary devices on researchers’ doorsteps and under their cars, and sent violent threats to others. What HSUS is doing here obviously doesn’t rise to the level of violence, but it’s still disturbing. Is this how HSUS donors would want their money being used, to send some someone to Rhode Island to hassle people at a farmers market? Undoubtedly no.

Since no farm will meet HSUS’s standard of veganism, it appears unlikely that HSUS will stop harassing Senator Sosnowski anytime soon.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is taking its public relations fight against Costco Wholesale to another level. HSUS plans to broadcast graphic footage of hens allegedly being mistreated at a Pennsylvania supplier of eggs to Costco on a 1,700 square-foot billboard in Times Square. The undercover footage was shot at Hillandale Farms as part of a campaign to pressure the retailer to only sell eggs from cage-free hens. More than 300,000 pedestrians enter the heart of Times Square each day, according to the Times Square Alliance, a group that promotes businesses in the area.

HSUS also filed legal complaints with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that Hillandale Farms, a Costco egg supplier, deceived consumers with its poor animal welfare standards and “filthy and unsanitary conditions,” resulting in food safety concerns.

Costco’s CEO Craig Jelinek told FOXBusiness that they’re being unfairly targeted. Costco said in a June statement regarding the video that there are "vigorous debates about animal welfare and laying hens." "Some, such as the Humane Society, advocate that hens be cage free and not confined in cages. Some advocate that cages are safer for hens," the statement reads. “Inspections that we have conducted there as recently as this week confirmed for us that Hillandale is behaving appropriately. Hillandale has identified some areas in which it believes it can improve, including process improvement and more training for its employees.”

In the Hillandale Farms statement regarding this video they say that they have had audits by the FDA, United Egg Producers, and the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program (PEQAP), all of which report excellent results for this farm. Hillandale provided copies of these reports to ABC after HSUS sent ABC a copy of the video.  “We believe our high standards were compromised by this undercover employee, who shot the video in a barn where he was the primary caretaker, with responsibility to maintain cleanliness in the barns, address any equipment issues and remove mortality on a daily basis. It appears clear that he disregarded required operational procedures and then videotaped the barn and flock with the intent to misrepresent Hillandale Farms. A full internal investigation by our team and by independent outside academic experts in food safety and hen welfare confirmed our belief – that the images in the video reflect an isolated incident in a barn where the undercover worker held primary responsibility. It was his job to identify and address the types of issues that were shown, and he did not adequately perform his job requirements.”
Sources: HSUS website; Food Safety News; Egg-Cite; CBS Interactive

A federal judge last week dismissed an amended lawsuit filed by area pet stores against a Cook County ordinance that limits the sale of animals from large-scale breeders. The ordinance, which was originally set to take effect in October 2014, limits the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in Cook County pet stores to those that come from rescue groups, humane societies, government-run shelters or federally licensed breeders who possessed no more than 5 reproducing female dogs, cats, or rabbits. The ordinance was drafted to allow an incorporated municipality to opt out under home rule powers by passing its own ordinance governing pet shop sales. Plaintiffs, including the Missouri Pet Breeders Association (MPBA) and three Cook County pet shops and their owners, claim that the ordinance is invalid under the U.S. Constitution because it violates the Commerce Clause; the Equal Protection Clause; and that the ordinance is impermissibly vague. Pet shop plaintiffs also alleged violations of the Contract Clause.

The Court found the ordinance is facially neutral, and any disparate impact on out-of-state breeders is indirect and incidental. The Court also found it implausible that the ordinance will affect interstate commerce. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly wrote, “Plaintiffs' Equal Protection Clause and Contract Clause claims, which the Court dismissed in its order dated May 21, 2015, have not changed. Accordingly, the Court reaffirms its dismissal of those claims. (See Mo. Pet Breeders Ass'n, 2015 WL 2448332, at *6–7, *10–11.  In that opinion Judge Kennelly wrote, “The ordinance does not raise equal protection concerns, even if it will not completely solve the problems it was intended to address. Any disparate effect that stems from the distinction between sales by breeders and sales by pet stores is rationally related to the legitimate government interest of limiting the use of mass-breeding facilities.”  Kennelly continued, “Defendants have offered “plausible reasons” justifying the challenged classifications. Id. Lawmakers imposed breeder-size requirements to ensure that pet stores bought animals from small breeders as opposed to inhumane mass-breeding facilities. Because defendants have presented legitimate public interests that support the ordinance, the Court dismisses plaintiffs' Contract Clause claim”.)

Citizens for Farm Animal Protection has announced a new ballot initiative in Massachusetts to curb extreme confinement of breeding pigs, veal calves, and egg-laying hens. The coalition includes the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), United Farm Workers, Center for Food Safety, veterinarians and others. Although confining-cage practices are virtually non-existent in Massachusetts, supporters claim a ban will prevent them in the future. While previous ballot measures backed by HSUS in other states limited the ways farmers can produce meat and eggs, the Massachusetts measure also targets what products businesses here can sell.  The measure is opposed by agricultural groups and the food industry who say a ban is costly and unnecessary, if not unconstitutional. The ballot question must first be certified by the attorney general. Once approved, the coalition must collect more than 90,000 signatures in order to qualify this proposal for the 2016 statewide ballot.

Agri-Pulse August 18, 2015. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has named 19 members of his Advisory Committee on Animal Health that will serve through June 2017. The panel, which is supposed to represent “a broad range” of groups within agriculture, includes a veterinarian from the National Pork Producer Council, several academics and livestock producers as well as the director of veterinary policy with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), an animal welfare group that is widely unpopular in some circles of the agriculture industry.

In a 2012 interview posted on the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association website, the HSUS vet, Michael Blackwell, called HSUS “the most capable organization to influence our direction as a society.” When asked to name his top priority issue, he pointed to the health of food animals “especially as that is threatened by mechanized and industrial systems” that he said “can and do threaten public health and environmental safety.” Agriculture groups have criticized HSUS for its tactic of engaging in lawsuits to force producers and producer groups to spend money on legal fees and for helping to create legislation perceived by some as harmful to agriculture, such as the California egg law, which increased the space allocated in cages for every egg-laying chicken in the state.  Continue reading:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Attitude Of The Heart: The Horses Can Take Us There.

Another lovely and moving essay by Jon Katz, Bedlam Farm blog

The war against the carriage horses in New York has faltered, for now, it is far from over.  Everywhere, the animals are under siege, they are trying to take them away from us, they are persecuting us for loving and working with them. We see in the long and brutal campaign to ban the horses that money does not innoculate anyone against ignorance and cruelty,  and that people who say they love animals can be inexcusably abusive to people.

The mayor of New York has not retracted his vow to banish the horses,  or his claim that the people who ride with them are immoral, nor have the real estate developers stopped drooling and plotting over their stables. The people in the carriage trade continue to live in fear and persecution, the horses remain in peril from the people who would destroy them to save them.

A compassionate and progressive city could easily find a way to keep them safe and healthy in New York – that would be a minor achieivement compared to the building of Central Park –   but the so-called progressives there have not yet figured out that preserving the horses and the environment in the city's fabled park, it's soul,  is, in fact, the most progressive thing they could possibly do.

Despite staggering odds, the horses triumphed, they triggered a great social awakening across the country: we see the need a new kind of animal rights movement, one that keeps animals among us and treats animals and people with love, respect and dignity. Continue Reading

Sunday, August 9, 2015

When Does Animal Rights Activism Become Extremism?

Wednesday, Aug 5 2015 Comments (14)
On July 28, the FBI arrested Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane, two Oakland-based animal rights activists accused of releasing thousands of mink from fur farms during multiple cross-country sprees in 2013. The couple were also charged with vandalizing property owned by the meat and fur industries, including, allegedly, a meat distributor truck in San Francisco.

"To free animals from enslavement you have to break minor laws," says Will Hazlitt, a press officer who disseminates communiques from underground animal rights groups such as Animal Liberation Front. "Calling this terrorism is ridiculous. Is cutting a fence terrorism?"

Yes — at least in the eyes of the U.S. government. Buddenberg and Kissane were indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law introduced by Republican Sen. James Inhofe and Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein in 2006. The AETA prohibits people from engaging in activities "for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise."
Continue reading . .