Saturday, October 25, 2014

News Briefs and Updates October 24, 2014

Dear SAOVA Friends,

Campaign financing information has been released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that includes contributions through September 30.  We have a few notable updates for you from these figures. The Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) spent a total of $78,493 supporting the campaign of Congressman Gary Peters (D) to win the open Senate seat race in Michigan against challenger Terri Lynn Land (R).  A close second is Senator Jeff Merkley (D, OR) where HSLF has contributed $75,150 to assist his re-election.

We reported previously that HSLF had contributed $41,794 to the campaign of Tony Strickland (R) in the California district 25 open Congressional seat race against Steve Knight (R).  Rounding out the list of top expenditures is the HSLF contribution of $50,941 to Congressman Bruce Braley (D) challenging Joni Ernst (R) for the open Iowa Senate seat.  

As of October 23, HSUS/HSLF contributed approximately $2 million to Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting, headed by HSUS state director Katie Hansberry, in support of their ballot initiative.  Question 1 on the November ballot would ban the use of bait, dogs and traps for bear hunting in the state. The current report from the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices shows only one percent of the campaign funds raised by supporters of Question 1 actually came from Maine donors. In addition, HSUS/Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting filed a lawsuit in September requesting an injunction against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to prevent them from speaking out publicly against Question 1 and to have all content opposing Question 1 removed from their website.  

Last week Superior Court Justice Joyce Wheeler rejected the injunction request.  “Restricting speech on contested public issues is directly contrary to the public interest, which favors a robust and dynamic public discourse,” Wheeler said in her 15-page decision. “It is [for] the voters, not the plaintiffs or the courts, to assess the relative merits of conflicting speech.  Judge Wheeler continued, “The public interest would be adversely affected if plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order were granted when DIF&W’s speech is on topics squarely within its competence as governor of statutory directives from the Legislature.”   HSUS/Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting plans to appeal the decision.

Please read and share the rest of our updates. The world not only belongs to those who show up, it's controlled by the best informed and most motivated.  Make your vote count on November 4th!

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

San Francisco — On October 16, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a formal rulemaking petition with the California Air Resources Board to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture, as it does for the energy and transportation sectors. The petition calls on the agency to require “factory farms” to report greenhouse gas emissions to the Air Resources Board, which will “cap” these emissions. California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade program stems from the state’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.  ALDF’s first-of-its-kind state petition asks the Air Resources Board to include animal agriculture in that program. California uses more than 25 million acres of land for agriculture. “Animal agriculture is systematically responsible for cruelty to millions of animals, pollution of natural resources, and health problems in our state,” said ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Our state agencies should regulate pollution from the animal agriculture industry like they do for cars and trucks.”

The inaugural “Humane Filmmaker” award will be presented this month to Director Darren Aronofsky for using computer-generated images instead of animals in the movie “Noah”.  According to HSUS the film shows that animals can be a large part of entertainment production without risking their welfare. “As more directors like Aronofsky choose digital alternatives in film, TV, and advertising, animal actors could become as obsolete as celluloid film” said Debbie Leahy, HSUS Manager of Captive Wildlife Protection.

October 13, 2014.  Perdue Farms, Inc. and The Humane Society of the United States are pleased to announce the settlement of two federal cases in New Jersey and Florida concerning Perdue's "humanely raised" claim on its Harvestland chicken labels. The settlement requires the plaintiffs to dismiss their claims with prejudice, in exchange for Perdue agreeing to remove the "Humanely Raised" label claim from its Harvestland chicken packaging.

The proposed class action cases were filed in 2010 and 2013 by individual consumers who contended that Perdue's "Humanely Raised" claim on the packaging of its Harvestland brand chicken was misleading. Perdue vigorously opposed plaintiffs' claims.

"We are pleased to see the claim removed from Harvestland's packaging, which we view to be misleading," said Peter Petersan, Director of Animal Protection Litigation for the HSUS. "We will continue to work to protect both animals and consumers."

"Perdue rejects the plaintiffs' allegations and maintains that its labels are not misleading in any way. Nonetheless, it has agreed to discontinue the labeling claim at issue," said Herb Frerichs, General Councel for Perdue Farms. "Perdue is committed to treating animals with respect and to ensure their health and safety. We are pleased this lawsuit has been resolved."
Source: HSUS press release

Burlington County Superior Court Judge M. Patricia Richmond awarded $25,000 in legal fees on October 16 to Clifford Mintz of East Windsor N.J. to be paid by plaintiffs Donna Roberts and Dawn Abrams. The fee decision comes four years after Richmond granted summary judgment dismissing Roberts' and Abrams' claims against Mintz. 

Mintz had been ranting on his blog against Roberts and Abrams, accusing them of running a puppy mill.  According to reports the dispute began when Mintz purchased a second dog from the breeders. Mintz claimed he thought the dog was another purebred, but that it turned out to be an unhealthy mix-breed.   Roberts and Abrams claimed they told him the dog had been rescued from a pet owner who could not care for him.

Roberts and Abrams compared the blogging attacks to cyber-bullying and after two years filed a defamation suit against Mintz; however, the suit was dismissed on First Amendment grounds by Superior Court Judge Patricia Lebon.  HSUS had joined the lawsuit in defense of Mintz, arguing the suit was designed to stop him from warning the public through protected speech about the unscrupulous business practices of dog breeders.

John Thompson, executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association (NSA), believes animal abuse is too common.  So if we can stop a case of animal cruelty, we may intercept violent crimes against people as well”, says Thompson.

The NSA was instrumental in working with the FBI to have animal cruelty offenses, including animal neglect, listed as a separate category in the Uniform Crime Report (UCR), the prime source of information on crime in the U.S.  Animal cruelty crimes will now be classified as distinct Group A offenses, joining other major crimes such as arson, assault, and homicide, and will require the reporting of both incidents and arrests. The reported crimes will be categorized as simple/gross neglect; intentional abuse and torture; organized abuse; and animal sexual abuse.

NSA in partnership with ICE BlackBox and the HSUS have launched a new feature within the ICE BlackBox app to report animal abusers. The ICE BlackBox app not only records the abuse, but also notes the GPS coordinates.  When someone begins recording an event, the recording is uploaded to the NSA secure servers in Alexandria VA to its National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse (NLECAA).  Kaema Akpan is heading up that effort as the center's attorney and will filter the videos to the right police agencies.  According to the NLECAA website, HSUS-funded agents will be used to assist in alerting local authorities and district attorneys.

Thompson noted that local law enforcement departments taking part in pilot programs tied directly to ICE BlackBox would instantly receive recordings of animal abuse from local citizens.

In the HSUS press release Thompson said: “We encourage everyone who has a smartphone and cares about protecting animals and our communities to download this new app.”  Thompson added, “We want to give special thanks to Cesar Millan and the Cesar Millan Foundation for their contribution in the public service announcement video that was shown at the news conference.” This PSA is the first in a series on reporting animal abuse with the ICE BlackBox App.

The app originally developed for the National Neighborhood Watch program was modified to allow the public to report animal abuse.

Sources: ABC News; AL.Com; HSUS press release
National Sheriffs’ Association website
National Sheriffs’ Association media contact: Susan Crow

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