Sunday, May 17, 2015

News Briefs and Updates May 17, 2015

SAOVA Friends,

We have written before about animal abuser registries and how dangerous they are.  Establishing animal abuser registries is a campaign championed by the California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) whose mission is to use the legal system to change the current property status of animals and advance the interest of animals under the law.

ALDF asserts that registries will not only prevent criminal conduct, but will also raise public awareness about the connections between animal cruelty and human violence. ALDF is a major promoter of the theory that animal abusers go on to victimize people. They have even gone so far as to say animal abusers are potential serial killers, citing the cases of Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler; Jeffrey Dahmer; Ted Bundy; and other infamous serial killers.  

Manchester Metropolitan University researchers Heather Piper and Steve Myers looked at such claims and found a surprising lack of any actual valid evidence for it. They write, “Research supporting the supposed links is based mainly on extreme and non-representative samples. Accounts suggesting links between those who have harmed animals and later violence toward humans often rely on the same small sample of extreme criminals in the US. Researching a limited population to produce a broadly applicable generalization is problematic. Any number of life experiences could also be shown to correlate with the behavior. A further problem is that much of the research tends to suffer from fallacies of logic. Just because some serial killers have harmed animals, this does not mean that all or even the majority of those who harm animals will become serial killers. Yet this stance is taken in much of the literature.”

Now that the FBI has established a category for felony animal abuse and is preparing to collect data on animal cruelty crimes through its National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), it may become increasingly difficult to maintain logic over hysterics when dealing with proposed animal abuser registry bills. 

All abuser registry bills must be read very carefully to ascertain what sections of cruelty law apply. If the proposed registry bill is written to include misdemeanor offenses, then failure to provide specified shelter or tethering a dog incorrectly could place someone on the registry.  Dog breeders and sportsmen pride themselves on the care provided to their dogs.  Regardless, one should never assume it is impossible to become involved in a disagreement with local officials over the adequacy of shelter or condition of kennel dogs.  Lose the argument and your name, photograph, and case information could be included in an online registry which animal activists can access. Any information placed online about animal abusers will be widely circulated, putting these individuals at risk of harassment and vigilante justice.

Registries would also include hoarders who represent a large percentage of animal cruelty cases. Animal hoarding refers to the compulsive need to collect and own animals for the sake of caring for them that usually results in accidental or unintentional neglect or abuse. Animal hoarding is a mental disorder and approximately 40 percent of object hoarders also hoard animals. Hoarders have an intense emotional attachment to the animals in their care and confuse loving the animals with the reality of their inability to provide a safe, clean, and healthy home for them. Treatment of hoarders by mental health services is a far better solution than years of public exposure and humiliation on web site lists where they are unrealistically stereotyped as dangers to society.

The first registry bill was introduced in Colorado in 2002.  Since then hundreds of bills introduced to enact animal abuser registries have been unsuccessful in twenty-seven (27) states.

It is not completely clear why in the current session the Tennessee Legislature became thoroughly enchanted with the animal abuser registry bills introduced by Senator Jeff Yarbro (D21-Nashville) and Representative Darren Jernigan (D-60). The online animal abuser registry was supported by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). As first introduced the bills included misdemeanor offenses for general animal cruelty charges which could have placed every dog breeder, owner, and sportsman in the state at risk. The House passed this version. Fortunately, a Senate substitute proposed by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-31) removed the section citing general animal cruelty.  This substitute passed the Senate and was then accepted by the House.

ALDF suffered over a decade of failure with their registry campaign. This year Tennessee sadly became the first state in the nation to honor their campaign by enacting a registry bill.

Thank you for reading. Cross Posting is encouraged.

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

May 15, 2015. Christopher A. Berry, ALDF Staff Attorney, writes on the ALDF blog “What are the legal implications for splicing human cells into nonhuman animals? When does an animal become a person—how much human material is required? Where do we draw the legal line? Cutting-edge research in “chimera” science blurs traditional morality and raises critical new questions. And human protection laws may provide the clues we need to solve this puzzle.”

Berry continues, “. . . for more than a decade scientists have been creating human-animal chimeras by grafting human stem cells into animal bodies. This results in purely human cells replacing some of the animal parts.” “A traditional use of these chimeric and transgenic creatures involves grafting human immune cells into mouse bodies because this is thought to produce more accurate results in biomedical research that uses the mice to study human diseases. But a string of recent revolutionary new research involves humanizing animal brains, resulting in chimeras and transgenics with significantly enhanced cognitive abilities.”

Berry reports that in one study from 2013, researchers implanted human glial progenitor cells—a type of brain cell that supports neurons in the brain and contributes to cognitive function—into mice brains, causing a significant increase in mouse learning ability and change in behavior.  Berry warns there are no laws regulating this type of research humanizing animal brains and no requirement that any animals that might eventually exhibit human-like intelligence receive human-like rights.

One researcher involved in this project quickly dismissed any idea that the added cells somehow make the mice more human. "This does not provide the animals with additional capabilities that could in any way be ascribed or perceived as specifically human," he says. "Rather, the human cells are simply improving the efficiency of the mouse's own neural networks. It's still a mouse." (New Scientist

However as they believe this area of research lacks proper regulation, ALDF filed a formal rulemaking petition with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking that agency to enact regulations under the Public Health Services Act. The Public Health Services Act imposes a duty on HHS to protect the rights of human research subjects in all federally-supported research. 42 U.S.C. § 289. These protections include informed consent, assessment of risks and benefits, and equitable selection of subjects. 45 C.F.R. §§ 46.101, et seq. Specifically, ALDF’s rulemaking petition asks HHS to enact regulations that (1) require special oversight of all research involving human-animal chimeras and transgenics, and (2) require that animals exhibiting human-like intelligence as a result of those experiments be granted all protection normally given to human research subjects. HHS has until December 2017 to respond to ALDF’s petition.

Berry summarizes ALDF’s efforts. “While the adoption of ALDF’s rulemaking proposal helps promote the welfare of human-animal chimeras and transgenics by requiring additional oversight, the real value is in obtaining personhood status for those animals exhibiting human-like intelligence. As it stands now, the only member of the animal kingdom with personhood status is the human species. By compelling the legal system to recognize that biologically manipulated animals with human-like intelligence and at least a drop of human DNA ought to receive the same rights as human research subjects, we can build a bridge between rights for humans and rights for all the other animals.” 
Source: ALDF Blog

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has posted proposed rule changes for Section 312 IAC 9-10-16 Dog training ground permit. The proposed rule changes would adversely affect beagling in Indiana by placing time restrictions on field trials and unreasonably limiting training opportunities.   No fences that divide the training ground into parcels less than 10 acres would be allowed.  This would eliminate smaller pens necessary for use in training unstarted dogs and puppies. Permits would not be issued or renewed without the pen first being inspected by a conservation officer or wildlife biologist. Inspection process may include the removal of a sample of rabbits for biological examination.  Additional record keeping has been proposed including name and address of each person from whom rabbits are obtained and the dates and numbers of all rabbits released into the training ground. Also required would be the recording of date of death or discovery of a dead rabbit and proximate cause of mortality of any rabbit. Records must be kept for three years and made available at inspections.  There are questionable and vague requirements for supplemental feeding and watering of rabbits, with no criteria listed, and specified percentages of types of cover.

The rule with proposed changes is posted at IDNR with a link to submit comments.  On June 4, 2015, at 5:30 p.m., at the Fort Harrison State Park
Inn, 5830 North Post Road, Roosevelt Ballroom, Indianapolis, Indiana the Natural Resources Commission will hold a public hearing on this and other proposed amendments.  Submit your comments now.

Senate Bill 373 to amend the state’s cruelty laws has unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and is now eligible for a floor vote.

The bill prohibits a dog from being tethered outside for more than 30 minutes if the temperature is below 32 degrees. Compliance with this requirement would be impossible for those who work and are not home should the temperature drop during the day.  This would also have direct, negative impact on field trials and winter dog sports. 

The bill also sets specific standards for shelter and bedding for dogs that are kept outdoors.  SB 373 requires dog housing to be moisture proof with a floor raised 3 inches from the ground, wind proof, and have an eight-inch overhanging roof to keep out rain. These requirements would force dog owners, breeders, and sportsmen who keep dogs outside in winter to virtually custom build new dog houses.  The bill includes size requirements for dog houses and prohibits certain types of bedding such as hay.

Current PA law already states that it is an offense “to deprive any animal of necessary sustenance, drink, shelter or veterinary care, or access to clean and sanitary shelter which will protect the animal against inclement weather and preserve the animal's body heat and keep it dry”.

Animal rightists and those with no practical experience in animal husbandry or dogs’ needs should not be writing Pennsylvania law.  Look up SB 373 and contact your Senator now to oppose these burdensome and unnecessary regulation changes.

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