As previously described, NJ bill A1219 would require veterinarians or health officials to notify known pet owners prior to rabies testing of the deceased pet, which currently involves decapitation to provide maximum protection to laboratory professionals conducting such testing.  The bill was conditionally vetoed by the Governor, who has proposed reasonable amendments regarding such notification to “ensure that pet owners are properly informed of the protocols associated with the process [of post-partum rabies testing] in order to minimize this trauma” while also enabling rabies testing where necessary to protect public health when reasonable notification methods were not successful or the testing was not approved.

Notably, pet owners can avoid most situations that would require rabies testing of their beloved pets by taking the following steps:

  1. Keep your pet’s rabies vaccination status current and up to date;
  2. Provide accurate identification of your pet with redundant methods wherever possible, including:
    1. a valid rabies tag;
    2. an identification tag attached to the collar with the pet owner’s accurate contact information;
    3. a functional microchip which is registered with the microchip company, veterinarian, and local municipality with the owner’s contact information; and
  3. Do not let your pet wander off property unleashed or unattended.

Since accidents do happen, even with those pet owners who would not knowingly allow their pet off-leash or off their property, redundant methods of identification can help animal health officials and veterinarians to promptly locate a pet’s owner and to obtain any needed approval for necessary health treatment or testing.

The proposed amendments to this bill provide for the proper balance between pet owner’s rights and public health, as stated in the Conditional Veto,

In order to properly balance the goals of this bill with the health and safety of our communities, I am recommending modest revisions to allow a health official or veterinarian to proceed with rabies testing in the absence of written acknowledgment from the owner if reasonable and documented attempts to contact the owner and obtain a signature are unsuccessful.

Hopefully, these amendments will be adopted so the bill can be finally approved.

According to the owners of Sospiro Goat Ranch, a small family goat farm in North Carolina, as reported on their blog, “the Facts About the Attack On Our Farm,” dated 7/4/2018, “vegan terrorists” trespassed onto their farm and stole two kids (baby goats)—one in 2017 and another, Freddie, in 2018—claiming that the kids were sick and deprived of veterinary care, an allegation the farmers dispute vigorously in a YouTube video, worth watching.

As the farmer reveals, the first kid was being treated for a common parasite—coccidia—as diagnosed and prescribed by their veterinarian.  The second kid was completely normal until the “vegan terrorists” stole the week-old kid, replacing the safe, nutritious milk provided by his dam, with a bottle that was improperly fed resulting in aspiration pneumonia (as described by the farmer).  Aspiration pneumonia can be caused by incorrect drenching or bottle-feeding technique.  If Freddie contracted aspiration pneumonia by his untrained handlers, in addition to the jury-rendered felony larceny and breaking and entering conviction of DxE founder Wayne Hsiung, the State of North Carolina should consider filing animal cruelty charges against Hsiung.

Intentional trespass onto any animal facility, with an intent to steal the animals being raised and cared for by farmers, breeders, or other animal enterprises—the modus operandi for DxE around the US—must be met with fierce opposition, and not just in a court of law.  The public should be outraged by the blatant lack of regard by those who enter farms and breeding operations with no consideration of the biosecurity measures implemented daily to protect the animals raised therein from the introduction and spread of disease into or throughout the facility.

As reported in drovers.com.

Hsiung shared his animal activism beliefs when he took the stand as his first witness. One of his core arguments is that he believes Americans are entitled to the “right to rescue” animals facing cruelty, neglect, poor living conditions or untreated medical emergencies, and that he believes what he did was not only legal, but the moral thing to do, the article said.

The prosecution argued that this was a case of trespassing, breaking and entering and larceny, and that Hsiung had no prior knowledge of this specific goat’s existence before trespassing on the night of Feb. 11, 2018.

As reported by Lurah Lowery in the Hendersonville Times-News, Hsiung told the Times-News he plans to file an appeal. “‘I feel it’s bittersweet – I’m free,’ he said. ‘On the other hand, there are so many animals that are still suffering and in captivity. The goal from the very start of all of this was to encourage the government to take these animal cruelty situations at farms a little more seriously.’’

FACT CHECK—there is no evidence of ANY acts of animal cruelty at the Sospiro Goat Ranch.  The only “evidence” of cruelty are the acts of Hsiung and his co-conspirators who harmed a perfectly healthy goat kid while stealing him under the false banner of “right to rescue.”

California recently updated it’s website providing answers to “Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR)” pursuant to California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 16, Sections 2032.1, 2032.15, and 2032.25.

Answers to the first four questions posed, clarify when a VCPR is required, but the answer to the last question may require specific examples to clarify when a VCPR is not required.  Consider the answer to Question No. 5:

Question No. 5:

Can a veterinarian do laboratory tests on an animal patient where no VCPR is established?

Answer to Question No. 5:

Yes; a VCPR is required only if the veterinarian is administering, prescribing, dispensing or furnishing a drug, medicine, appliance, or treatment to the animal patient (except for wild or unowned animals). Part of establishing the VCPR is obtaining sufficient knowledge of the animal(s), which includes through laboratory testing, to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.1, subs. (a), (b)(2).).

If the client requests treatment for the animal patient after the laboratory test results are returned, a VCPR, which includes a physical exam, must be established. (CCR, tit. 16, § 2032.1, subs. (a), (b).)

If, as a result of laboratory test results, the client requests treatment, it is understandable, legally and otherwise, that a VCPR is required before treatment is provided.

However, the question that arises based on the initial response, is whether a veterinary technician or other employee working under the supervision of a veterinarian, can obtain the samples from the patient and submit them to a laboratory for such laboratory testing?  Would a veterinarian have to order such testing and if so, wouldn’t that require the establishment of a VCPR in order to determine testing was indicated?

If not, could a veterinarian establish a service which provides for testing requested by the owner, and performed by staff under the veterinarian’s supervision?

The duties of the supervising veterinarian set forth in 16 CA ADC § 2035 (California Code of Regulation) states,

The supervising veterinarian shall have examined the animal patient prior to the delegation of any animal health care task to a R.V.T. [Registered Veterinary Technician], permit holder or veterinary assistant.  The examination of the animal patient shall be conducted as such time as good veterinary medical practice requires consistent with the particular delegated animal health care task.

So, while the answer to FAQ No. 5 appears to permit laboratory testing before a VCPR exists, when considering other regulatory requirements, it is not clear when such testing would actually occur.

Perhaps the California Veterinary Medical Board could provide examples of when a situation would arise in which testing occurs without the preliminary veterinary exam.

S4168, a bill introduced in the NJ Senate, would require licensure for veterinary technicians.  New Jersey has not required licensure of veterinary technicians or other veterinary assistants, and the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association has historically been opposed to such requirements.  Instead, regardless of the experience, training and education of veterinary assistants, New Jersey licensed veterinarians are legally liable for any and all acts or omissions by such assistants working under the responsible and/or direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian in the relevant practice.

“Responsible supervision,” defined in existing regulations and the proposed bill, means “that the supervising licensed veterinarian has assumed full responsibility for the actions or omissions of the persons being supervised” and “acts performed in the office of a veterinarian in the physical presence of the veterinarian pursuant to the order, control and full professional responsibility of the veterinarian,” respectively.

“Direct supervision” is not defined in existing laws but is defined in the proposed bill.

‘Direct supervision’ means acts performed in the office of a veterinarian in the physical presence of the veterinarian pursuant to the order, control and full professional responsibility of the veterinarian.

The bill would require an individual seeking licensure as a veterinary technician apply to take a qualifying examination, with “sufficient proof that the applicant is qualified to be licensed as [a] veterinary technician” and to pay appropriate fees.  The bill would permit a licensed technician to “perform any task for which the technician has been trained as delineated in the American Veterinary Medical Association’s essential task list for veterinary technician teaching programs,” under the responsible supervision of a veterinarian.

Both provisions are reasonable, but except for the licensure requirement, do not appear to change the status quo.  In other words, the supervising veterinarian remains the solely liable licensed party.  This may also be the case in other states in where veterinary technicians are licensed, but there are usually comprehensive regulations that govern the practice of veterinary technology in addition to whatever statutory authority exists.

The primary concern here, at this time, is how such a law would impact existing practices that may be struggling with maintaining valued employees who, suffering from compassion fatigue during the pandemic, may have resigned or retired.  And, if veterinary technicians in the future had to be licensed in New Jersey, shouldn’t there be an exemption for those already employed?

Some of the COVID-related issues affecting veterinarians and their practices are described in “Are we in a veterinary workforce crisis?” published in JAVMAnews, Sept 15, 2021,

Many practices . . . have struggled with losses of staff members.  Whether a team member became sick, had to quarantine, or needed to stay home for childcare or other personal reasons, operating with a suboptimal number of employees only made a challenging situation worse.

As the article further describes, these COVID-related workplace issues are compounded by the relatively high turnover of staff, including veterinary technicians, in veterinary practices as compared with other health professions.

The AVMA offers members solutions to manage “[t]he stress and pressure veterinary professionals are dealing with today [which are] both real and prevalent.

The attorneys in the Animal Law Practice Group at Fox Rothschild are experienced in representing veterinarians and veterinary practices, and can serve as an additional resource for any corporate matters that may arise, including practice management, entity formation, mergers and acquisitions, financing, securities, ownership transition and exit strategy.

Labeling of meat and poultry products has been the subject of numerous lawsuits, in which labels claiming products are, for example, “natural,” “humanely-raised,” “antibiotic-free,” are alleged to be fraudulent, amongst other allegations.  With the expansion of meat and poultry products produced from cultured cells derived from animals instead of the traditional methods of food production from harvesting of livestock and poultry raised for food, animal agriculture producers have raised concerns about confusion resulting from labeling cell-derived products as “meat” or “poultry.”

For those interested in commenting (who have not already done so), see Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

USDA-FSIS has extended the comment period for its proposed rule to December 3, 2021.  As reported on the federal website, 1,085 comments have been received.

FSIS is requesting public comment on 14 specific issues, including:

1. Should the product name of a meat or poultry product comprised of or containing cultured animal cells differentiate the product from slaughtered meat or poultry by informing consumers the product was made using animal cell culture technology? If yes, what criteria should the agency consider or use to differentiate the products? If no, why not?

2. What term(s), if any, should be in the product name of a food comprised of or containing cultured animal cells to convey the nature or source of the food to consumers? (e.g., “cell cultured” or “cell cultivated.”)

a. How do these terms inform consumers of the nature or source of the product?

b. What are the benefits or costs to industry and consumers associated with these terms?

c. If meat or poultry products comprised of or containing cultured animal cells were to be labeled with the term “culture” or “cultured” in their product names or standards of identity (e.g., “cell culture[d]”), would labeling differentiation be necessary to distinguish these products from other types of foods where the term “culture” or “cultured” is used (such as “cultured celery powder”)?

3. If a meat or poultry product were comprised of both slaughtered meat or poultry and cultured animal cells, what unique labeling requirements, if any, should be required for such products?

4. What term(s), if used in the product name of a food comprised of or containing cultured animal cells, would be potentially false or misleading to consumers? For each term, please provide your reasoning.

5. What term(s), if used in the product name of a food comprised of or containing cultured animal cells, would potentially have a negative impact on industry or consumers? For each term, please provide your reasoning.

6. Should names for slaughtered meat and poultry products established by common usage (e.g., Pork Loin), statute, or regulation be included in the names or standards of identity of such products derived from cultured animal cells?

a. If so, is additional qualifying language necessary? What qualifying terms or phrases would be appropriate?

b. Do these names, with or without qualifying language, clearly distinguish foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells from slaughtered products?

7. Should terms that specify the form of meat or poultry products (such as “fillet”, “patty”, or “steak” be allowed to be included in or to accompany the name or standard of identity of foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells?

a. Under what circumstances should these terms be used?

b. What information would these terms convey to consumers?

8. Should FSIS establish a regulatory standard of identity under its authorities in the FMIA and the PPIA (21 U.S.C. 607(c) and 457(b)) for foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells?

a. If so, what would be the standard and how might compliance with the standard be verified?

b. If so, what would be the labeling terminology for products that do and do not meet a formal standard of identity? What would be the anticipated categories of use? For example, mechanically separated poultry that does not meet the standards of identity outlined in 9 CFR 381.173 may be diverted for production in broths and bases, as well as reaction flavors, i.e., flavors produced by the heating of the protein source in the presence of a reducing sugar.

c. If so, what are the benefits and costs to industry if the standard of identity is established? Please provide quantitative and qualitative feedback in your response and explain the basis of any quantitative estimates.

d. If so, what are the consumer benefits and costs to the standard of identity recommended?

9. What nutritional, organoleptic (e.g., appearance, odor, taste), biological, chemical, or other characteristics, material to consumers’ purchasing and consumption decisions, vary between slaughtered meat or poultry products and those comprised of or containing cultured animal cells?

10. Should any of the definitions for “meat”, “meat byproduct”, or “meat food product” found in 9 CFR 301.2 be amended to specifically include or exclude foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells?

11. Should any of the definitions for “poultry product” or “poultry food product” found in 9 CFR 381.1 be amended to specifically include or exclude foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells?

12. Should FSIS-regulated broths, bases, and reaction flavors produced from cultured animal cells be required to declare the source material in the product name, ingredient sublisting, or elsewhere on the label?

13. Should the presence of cultured animal cells in further processed products regulated by FSIS, such as a lasagna made with cell cultured beef cells as an ingredient, be qualified on the product label? If so, how should this be qualified?

14. What label claims are likely to appear on FSIS-regulated products comprised of or containing cultured animal cells? Should FSIS develop new regulations or guidance on such claims to ensure they are neither false nor misleading?

Recently introduced Senate bill 4058 would reintroduce third parties into the enforcement, seizure and relocation of companion animals based on alleged acts of animal cruelty after the legislature successfully ousted the quasi-governmental entity, the New Jersey Society for the Protection of Animals from enforcing animal cruelty laws.  Instead the legislators placed that authority squarely with County Prosecutors who can also delegate that authority to Municipal Prosecutors.

There are four new proposed sections in this bill (Sections 4, 5, 6, 7) which seem to be entirely redundant of existing Section 3 (Section 7 of P.L. 2017, c. 189) and which itself disproportionately impacts those of lower socioeconomic status, for whom payment for room, board and veterinary care at an animal shelter or other facility would not be affordable and therefore forfeiture of a pet, even before cruelty charges were proven, would be the only viable option.

This new sections define “animal care agency” to include an animal rescue organization, a humane society or other organization with temporary custody of an animal and “Enforcement agency” to include any organization . . . involved in the monitoring of animal welfare and animal cruelty violations.”

None of these entities are required to comply with regulations requiring sanitary operations of animal facilities which includes kennels, pet shops, shelters and pounds, unless animal care agency, as defined in the proposed bill would be included under the definition of “Pound” which means “any establishment of the confinement of dogs or other animals seized either under the provisions of N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16 or otherwise.”  NJSC8:23A-1.1 (emphasis added).

Animals can be confiscated before any hearing is held.  The law would require that a hearing should be scheduled no later than 30 days after the date on which a complaint is filed with the court, but if the court fails to hold a timely hearing, it will not affect the disposition of the animal, and the costs of care would continue to accrue.  The accused has no access to or right to provide for an independent veterinary examination of a seized animal.  Another licensed veterinarian would be permitted to perform whatever veterinary procedures s/he deemed necessary, including euthanasia.  Certainly, animals should be provided with necessary veterinary care, but there can be significant disagreements amongst veterinarians about what constitutes necessary care in any given situation.  Regardless of the outcome of the case, the owner must reimburse the seizing or holding entity for the cost of that care, even if the prosecutor fails to prevail in court.

“If a person liable for the reasonable costs of care pursuant to this section is found not guilty of the allege criminal animal cruelty offense that led to the seizure of the animals, and if the person has made timely payments of the reasonable costs of care pursuant to this section, the person shall have the right to immediately repossess the person’s animal and to be reimbursed by the animal care agency for all of the reasonable costs of care, except those related to necessary veterinary care, that were paid by the person to the animal care agency.”  New Section 6(h)(emphasis added).

If the person cannot afford to pay for the reasonable costs of care during the pendency of the case, the person’s animal would be considered forfeited.

This bill suffers from at least these deficiencies:

  1. It would reintroduce non-profit organizations back into the animal cruelty enforcement scheme and would permit care provided to animal seized from an alleged cruel situation to a totally unregulated entity;
  2. It exacerbates the existing disparate treatment of pet owners with lower socio-economic status who may have failed to provide “necessary veterinary care” no matter how minor;
  3. It fails to differentiate between truly egregious acts of animal cruelty from those that are either frivolous or outdated;
  4. It fails to provide an accused access to due process by prohibiting access to seized animals by the owner or an independent veterinarian.

According to Animal Legal Defense Fund, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio has recognized hippos as legal persons for the first time in the United States, because a Community of Hippopotamuses Living in the Magdalena River is a litigant in a lawsuit filed in Columbia and the District Court granted a discovery application filed by ALDF to issue subpoenas to expert witnesses to testify “in regard to . . . [their]  knowledge and impressions about managing the fertility of the Community of Hippopotamuses Living in the Magdalena River using the nonlethal immunocontraceptive porcine zona pellucida (PZP).”

While it is clear from ALDF’s press release, that it intends to argue that the legal status of animals has changed as a result of the Court’s granting of this application, the following demonstrates the flaws in such an argument:

First, the Court order includes no declaration or holding that animals or more specifically, the Community of Hippopotamuses Living in the Magdalena River, are legal persons or interested persons.

Second the Court ordered “Counsel for Applicant is authorized to issue subpoenas in substantially similar form to those attached to the Declaration of Ariel Flint as Exhibits A and B.”  Those subpoenas include no discussion or declaration or holding that animals or more specifically, the Community of Hippopotamuses Living in the Magdalena River, are legal persons or interested persons.

Third, ALDF bases its conclusion that the Court recognized animals as persons, because, as litigants in the Columbian lawsuit they are litigants and therefore, according to Supreme court precedence are “interested persons.”  This conclusion is erroneous because it ignores ALDF’s  admission that such a conclusion is limited by “courts [which] have recognized foreign litigants as ‘interested persons’ for the purpose of obtaining Section 1782 discovery even if they would not be recognized as persons in our domestic legal system for other purposes . . .”   D.I. 1 (Application), pp. 7-8 (emphasis added).  The Supreme Court warns against “engag[ing] in comparative analysis to determine whether analogous proceedings exist here [because] [c]omparatives of that order can be fraught with danger.” Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241, 263 (2004).

Fourth, the Supreme Court, in Intel Corp. v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 542 U.S. 241, 265 (2004), “in determining whether a discovery order should be granted in a particular case . . . a district court could consider whether the § 1782(a) request conceals an attempt to circumvent . . . other policies of . . . the United States.”  Current U.S. policy does not grant personhood status to nonhuman animals.  If this application were not filed as an ex parte application, the goal of ALDF’s application may have been questioned.

The application was filed on October 15, 2021, as an ex parte application without notice to the defendant or other interested parties, and the Order was granted the same day.  ALDF argues that its ex parte application is warranted because ‘[t]he Community may require the Witnesses’ testimony as soon as November of this year.”  D.I. 1 (Application), p. 5 (emphasis added).  “[T]he practice of ex parte undermines the impartiality of the court . . . [because] [t]he court has a limited view of the situation with only input from one party to the conflict.”  In re Beluga Shipping GMBH & Co. v. Suzlon Energy LTD., 2010 WL 3749279, at *5 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 23, 2010).  Despite one conclusory statement that the witnesses may be required to testify by November, it is unclear whether ALDF has met its burden to overcome the otherwise required notice to nonmoving parties.

Defendant in the underlying Columbian case, Ministerio deAmbiente y Desarrollo Sostenible et al could file a motion to quash the subpoenas ordered by the Court.  In that event, it is unclear whether other interested parties could file amicus briefs or a motion to intervene.  Regardless, we should expect ALDF’s conclusion that animals have been granted personhood status to form the basis of existing and future lawsuits, as well as support for legislation related to the legal status of animals.

Most of you should already be aware of concerns about the spread of foreign animal disease, African Swine Fever (ASF), into the United States.  for those who need an update:

ASF has never been identified in the US, but it is coming closer, having been recently found in swine in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Since at least 2018, USDA has taken many steps to enhance education and surveillance and testing plans, including at least:

Federal Order: APHIS Suspends the Interstate Movement of Live Swine, Swine Germplasm, Swine Products, and Swine Byproducts from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands September 2021

Swine Hemorrhagic Fevers: African and Classical Swine Fever Integrated Surveillance Plan May 2019

A qualitative assessment of the likelihood of ASF virus entry to the United States. March 2019

A non-animal origin feed ingredient risk evaluation framework. March 2019

A literature review of non-animal origin feed ingredients and the transmission of viral pathogens of swine., March 2019

ASF Emerging Risk to Animal Health – Notice,  August 2018

Chinese Provinces Reporting ASF – Map, February 26, 2019

USDA-Industry ASF Surveillance and Response Points September 2018

USDA-Industry ASF Prevention Points September 2018.

Preparedness and response plans are available on USDA’s website.

USDA has partnered with State animal health officials, trade associations, and farmers and ranchers to implement its enhanced preparedness and response plans-a requirement for a successful outcome.

The most recent step has been a submission of a “dossier to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) detailing the actions taken to finalize a new African Swine Fever (ASF) protection zone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”  While ASF has not been diagnosed in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, additional protective measures have been implemented to help prevent the entry of the disease to those jurisdictions.

All those involved in the raising and marketing of swine in the US should update their biosecurity protocols, working with trusted veterinary and industry partners, to protect livestock from exposure to this foreign animal disease.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council submitted a petition for rule-making to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and submitted a similar petition to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban trade in wild mammals and birds to and from the U.S.

The petitions request prohibitions on the importation (and possibly exportation) of wildlife under a precautionary principle, to prevent the outbreak of another zoonotic disease that could result in a pandemic.  Despite the lack of evidence of an intermediary animal species that spread SARS-CoV-2 from bats to people, the petitions base their requests for prohibitions based, in part, on the spread of COVID-19.  The spread of COVID-19 has been largely based on spread from and between people, so reliance on this pathogen is misplaced.  In fact, except for spread on mink farms, believed to have started as a reverse zoonosis (spread from people to animals), AVMA and international and federal animal health officials have advised that animals are not a known source of the spread of SARS-CoV-2 to people.

The following quote from the petitions, citing to other sources, is devoid of evidence

‘1.7 million currently undiscovered viruses are thought to exist in mammal and avian hosts’ of which ‘631,000-827,000 could have the ability to infect humans.’

CDC Petition, at page 6 (citing IPBES (2020) Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) (emphasis added).

If undiscovered, how can the number of these viruses be quantified or qualified?

The reliance on “One Health” and prohibitions on animal importation, ownership and use based on concerns about zoonotic diseases is not limited to these petitions.  Many animal rights organizations are relying on similar theories to advance their agendas.

Of course, there are a number of zoonotic diseases in wildlife residing in the United States.  The best method of housing to protect livestock from exposure to such potentially-infected wildlife, is to employ indoor housing with rigorous biosecurity controls.  Many animal rights organizations are opposed to those biosecure housing facilities, and instead, some have advanced proposals to prohibit the use of caging to house livestock, at least in the European Union.

Instead of overarching prohibitions, I propose that federal and state laws continue to permit importation and exportation of all animals, where such conduct is based on the identification of species and location-based risks and after implementations of reasonable and science-based testing where appropriate.