Pepperdine Law School Professor Richard Cupp has posted on SSRN.com an article that is forthcoming in the Florida Law Review entitled Cognitively Impaired Humans, Intelligent Animals, and Legal Personhood.

The article may be downloaded for free at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2775288.

This Article analyzes whether courts should grant legal personhood to intelligent animal species, such as chimpanzees, with a particular focus on comparisons made to cognitively impaired humans who are recognized as legal persons even though they may have less practical autonomy than intelligent animals. Granting legal personhood would allow human representatives to initiate some legal actions with the animals as direct parties to the litigation, as is presently allowed for humans with cognitive impairments that leave them incapable of representing their own interests. For example, a human asserting to act on behalf of an intelligent animal might seek a writ of habeas corpus to demand release from a restrictive environment where less restrictive environments, such as relatively spacious sanctuaries, are available. Highly publicized litigation seeking legal personhood in a habeas corpus context for chimpanzees is underway in New York, and the lawsuits have garnered the support of some eminent legal scholars and philosophers. Regardless of its short-term success or failure, this litigation represents the beginning of a long struggle with broad and deep societal implications.

A previous article by the author was quoted and largely followed by a unanimous New York appellate court in Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. Lavery, the most prominent and controversial appellate decision addressing (and rejecting) legal personhood for chimpanzees thus far. This Article builds on that previous article, which focused on justice arguments based on young children with limited practical autonomy being granted legal personhood status. The New York lawsuits and other significant developments have highlighted important additional issues and nuances since the previous article’s publication.

Further, in the previous article the author indicated that additional scholarship was needed addressing justice arguments based on legal personhood being recognized for humans with cognitive impairments not related to typical childhood development – such as humans with significant intellectual disabilities or comatose humans. This Article analyzes these comparisons based on cognitive impairments not related to childhood, as well as analyzing issues presented by the New York lawsuits. The Article concludes that, like comparisons with young children and intelligent animals, comparisons between intelligent animals and humans with cognitive impairments unrelated to childhood do not support restructuring our legal system to make animals persons.

Further, the rights of the most vulnerable humans, particularly humans with severe cognitive impairments, would be endangered over the long term if legal personhood were granted to some animals based on cognitive abilities. Courts should continue to reject animal legal personhood in the lawsuits that will likely continue to be filed in numerous jurisdictions for decades. However, legislatures and courts should embrace societal evolution calling for greater human responsibility regarding our treatment of animals.

The Court found that “each of the five named plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and the three putative classes . . .[failed to allege with the specificity required for claims of fraud] that SeaWorld misled and deceived them and other consumers about the treatment and conditions of the killer whales in violation of various consumer statutes in California, Florida, and Texas.”1  The Court dismissed all claims, some with and others without prejudice, leaving the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend their claims for some of the counts.

 

The San Diego Plaintiffs assert four claims under California law: (1) violation of the California Unfair Competition Law (the ‘UCL’); (2) violation of the California False Advertising Law (the ‘FAL’); violation of the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (the ‘CLRA’); and Deceit.

. . .

All four claims are premised on the same course of allegedly fraudulent conduct and based on the same alleged misrepresentations and omissions, meaning all of the claims are grounded in fraud and must be pled with particularity pursuant to the heightened pleading standards in Rule 9(b).

Before the Court considered the “whether Plaintiffs have pled any actionable misrepresentations or omissions with the requisite particularity under Rule 9(b),” the Court had to determine whether the plaintiffs actually relied on SeaWorld’s alleged misrepresentations about the orcas when purchasing tickets to the park. The Court held they failed to do so, stating:

[b]ecause the complaint does not allege (let alone with any specificity) that any of the named plaintiffs saw and relied on SeaWorld’s statements about its treatment of whales when purchasing their tickets, the named San Diego Plaintiffs lack standing to bring claims on behalf of the putative San Diego Class.

. . .

Accordingly, the San Diego Plaintiffs’ claims are dismissed without prejudice to the extent they are based on affirmative misrepresentations by SeaWorld.

The Court also found these plaintiffs “failed to plead with specificity that they relied on any omissions in purchasing their tickets and therefore lack standing to bring their claims based on purported omissions as well.”

The Court rejected plaintiffs assertion that SeaWorld had to provide information about the whales’ health that they did not disclose (whether actually true or not) finding that standard would expose any company to limitless legal liability since “any consumer would have standing to sue any company that fails to disclose product ingredients or component, or business practices that cause that consumer to regret patronizing that business.”

Moreover, although the FAC includes examples of alleged advertising and representations by SeaWorld, it does not allege that Plaintiffs viewed or relied on any this advertising or statements about orca conditions or treatment before they went to a SeaWorld park. Thus, the FAC fails to plead with specificity where any omitted information could have been revealed such that Plaintiffs would have seen it prior to purchasing their tickets. Lacking such allegations, the FAC fails to plead actionable fraud based on omissions with particularity as required by Rule 9(b). Accordingly, even if SeaWorld had a duty to disclose the allegedly omitted information about the health and conditions of the whales, the FAC fails to state a claim under the UCL, CLRA, FAL, or for deceit based on omissions by SeaWorld.

The Court also dismissed with prejudice (no chance to re-plead) plaintiffs’ claims based on the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act.

The Court dismissed the Orlando and San Antonio plaintiffs’ claims for similar reasons, based on Florida and Texas law.

Finally, while the Court also dismissed “all claims for injunctive relief” with prejudice, it noted that “[t]his holding may not preclude Plaintiffs from seeking an injunctive remedy in state court.”

While the result here is laudable, the Court’s comparison of SeaWorld’s whales as “analogous to a company’s employees” will likely be quoted in future cases to support claims that whales are “persons.”

1. All quotes from Hall v. Sea World Entm’t, Inc., Case No. 3:15-cv-00660, Slip Opinion (Order entered, entered December 23, 2015).

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed another petition for a writ of habeas corpus (available of NhRP’s website) to:

a) require Respondents to justify their detention of a chimpanzee named Tommy,

b) order Tommy’s immediate discharge, and

c) order Tommy’s transfer to an appropriate primate sanctuary, which the NhRP suggests is Save the Chimps.

This is not the first attempt by NhPR to “free” a chimpanzee from “illegal captivity.”

As disclosed in the Verified Petition filed in the County of New York on December 2, 2015, the NhRP filed a number of similar cases in courts throughout New York, including a previous petition to release Tommy, which, when denied, they unsuccessfully appealed.

One previous application for a writ of habeas corpus and order to show cause was filed by the NhRP on behalf of Tommy in the Supreme Court, Fulton County on December 2, 2013 (Index No. 02051).  An ex parte hearing on the record was held . . . before the Honorable Joseph M. Sise, Justice of the Supreme Court, at which time the application was denied . . .

On December 4, 2014, the Third Department affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the NhRP’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus . . .

Verified Petition at ¶¶ 25, 27.

According to the NhRP, they are able to repeatedly re-file similar petitions because allegedly “neither issue preclusion nor claim preclusion apply to the common law writ of habeas corpus.”  Verified Petition at ¶ 32.

Likely anticipating an objection to their decision to file this petition in the County of New York (supposedly looking for a court more inclined to grant the petition), instead of Fulton County (the court where the first petition was filed and where Tommy’s owners reside) the petitioners allege:

This Court should issue the writ of habeas corpus and order to show cause . . . and make it returnable to New York County [because] . . . a writ must be returnable to the county in which it is issues except: . . . b) where the petition was made to a court outside of the county of detention, the court may make the writ returnable to such county.

Verified Petition at ¶ 12.  Petitioner made no plausible allegation for the retention of the petition in the County of New York, instead of Fulton County, over 200 miles and more than 3 hours away.

Interestingly, NhRP continues to rely on the inter vivos trust they manufactured based on New York Estates, Powers and Trusts law, section 7-8.1, which notably has no inter vivos provisions.

To support their position that they have new evidence to support their current petition, Petitioners, rely on “experts” including Jane Goodall, PhD, alleging that “chimpanzees can shoulder duties and responsibilities in their own societies and in human/chimpanzee societies,” (Verified Petition at ¶ 3) to overcome the courts’ prior denial of the writ because they concluded that chimps cannot shoulder such responsibilities, required for anyone receiving the benefit of such a writ.

NhRP continues to have significant challenges to their attempts to change policy by using, and arguably abusing the courts.  As they alleged, “[t]he New York Court of Appeals has stated that the determination of legal personhood is a policy question and not a biological one.”  Verified Petition at ¶ 3 (citing Byrn v. New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 31 N.Y.2d 194 (1972)).

Courts are not the appropriate venue to address policy questions.

More to come on this continuing saga.

 

 

With the constant attacks on people and businesses working with animals humanely in entertainment, biomedical research, animal agriculture, and with companion animals, it is encouraging to learn of at least one conservation effort where protecting wildlife does not involve condemning farmers or ranchers. Too often, farmers and ranchers are viewed with disdain by conservationists who favor wildlife over domestic livestock.

But happily, this is not always the case.

For example, as reported on NPR’s “living on earth®,” conservationist Andrew Jakes, a postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Montana who has studied pronghorn antelope[1] and their migrations for years, along with the Alberta Conservation Association and the Nature Conservancy of Montana, has undertaken a project to help pronghorns navigate more easily across private ranches surrounded by barbed-wire fencing during their annual migration. According to the National Wildlife Foundation

pronghorns have the longest land migration in the continental United States . . . migrat[ing] 150 miles each way between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park.

As reported by Clay Scott from “living on earth®” the pronghorns must navigate around fenced in property making the journey longer, requiring them to expend more energy while decreasing the time they have to forage and build up resources that would allow them to survive.

Since pronghorns don’t jump, they must find sections of fencing where the bottom strand is high enough for them to go under it in order to continue on their migration path.

According to Science Director Brian Martin from The Nature Conservancy the pronghorns are:

burning a lot of calories, which may not directly kill them but makes their chances for mortality much higher. For years, The Nature Conservancy has been modifying fences to make wildlife movement easier, but with thousands of miles of fence strung across the state, knowing where and how to change fences is critical. One of the tools helping us figure that out is the remote camera.

After studying videotape of the migration, scientists and conservationists have been swapping out the lowest strand of barbed-wire with smooth wire and raising the wire to allow for easier passage of the animals. By partnering with (and not vilifying) ranchers and scientists, conservationists should be able to continue to provide for safer migration of these uniquely North American mammals.

The same cannot be said of long-standing efforts to protect threatened or endangered species exhibited in zoos, parks and circuses.

Despite the considerable scientific contributions of facilities like SeaWorld and Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation to the body of knowledge used worldwide to protect marine mammals and elephants, attacks on these types of institutions continue to amass.

The latest challenge for SeaWorld comes in the form of a congressional bill that would “ultimately phase out captive orcas from locations like SeaWorld in the United States within 50 years,” as reported by CNBC.

The Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement Act (ORCA) is supported by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal.

In a recent post SeaWorld states:

While efforts to phase out whales in human care may strike an emotional chord, SeaWorld and other science-based organizations are part of the solution, not the problem. Here are the 4 things you need to remember:

Killer whales at SeaWorld are healthy and thriving. Through conservation work, rescue efforts and significant contributions towards advancing scientific understanding of orcas and other marine mammals, SeaWorld is a leader in protecting and preserving these species.

We have not captured a whale in the wild in 35 years – and we will not do so.

Through our work with scientists, conservation leaders, and the government SeaWorld is ensuring that all animals in human care are treated with the dignity and respect they require and deserve.

SeaWorld has always supported science-based regulation and we look forward to continued collaboration with the government so that together we meet our shared goals of protecting the welfare of our animals, as well as saving animals in the wild.

Bans like this one have been proposed across the country affecting all animal enterprises and animal owners across the country.  Instead of benefiting the animals they are intended to protect, they will only harm them, other animals and the people whose lives are so enriched by their exposure to creatures great and small.

It is time, instead, to embrace an approach that will benefit everyone and preserve our long history of working with and for animals.

“Working together works.”

[1] Pronghorns are not actually antelope.

Republished with permission from author Amanda Dettmer, Ph.D.

During their annual meeting in Chicago, the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) yesterday held a 2-hour lunchtime session dedicated to public outreach concerning animals in research. The panelists were international experts on communicating the importance of animal research to the public, and they offered invaluable advice to the hundreds of scientists in attendance.

While it’s clear that scientists – and the institutions that employ them – must be more proactive in communicating the importance of their research and the animal models they use, the panelists offered several tangible pieces of advice on how to achieve this goal. The strategies offered cater to researchers working with various animal models and, more importantly, with varying degrees of comfort in engaging the public in their research.

The session opened with remarks by the chair of the SFN’s Animals in Research Committee, Dr. Michael Goldberg, who stated, “We’ve been staying under the radar to avoid animals rights activists, and this strategy is not working,” particularly with respect to nonhuman primates in research. Earlier this year, Goldberg and the President of SFN, Dr. Steve Hyman, submitted a letter to Science in response to an article published there, “Embattled Max Planck neuroscientist quits primate research.”

The first panelist, Dr. Rolf Zeller, is the founding president of the Basel Declaration Society (BDS) and a founding signatory of the Basel Declaration, by which researchers recognize the necessity of animal research in biomedical research, and endorse the highest standards of ethically responsible animal research. Stating that researchers will “never convince PETA, but we can convince the public,” Zeller stressed the importance of engaging the public and offered the BDS’ most effective strategies for communication in Europe: regular media training sessions for trainees and established scientists, persistent use of social media, and open access publications on scientific communication. Zeller offered his “Golden Rules” for public outreach, which included:

  • 1) Receive good training in science communication,
  • 2) Be proactive and honest about your research,
  • 3) Convince your colleagues that your animal research is important (as they are often our biggest skeptics),
  • 4) Make it clear you care about animals,
  • 5) Explain why animal research is essential for patients, and
  • 6) Join the BSD and sign the Declaration to be part of a proactive community.

Pro-Test Italia

Dario Padovan, President of Pro-TEST Italia, a non-profit that “aims to promote and disseminate to the public correct knowledge on scientific research,” followed with an emboldening presentation on how the group increased positive public perception of animal research in Italy with regular strategies easily and equally employable in the US: 1) active, daily activity on social media (the group responds to every incorrect/negative Facebook comment on their page, 2) engaging young scientific experts to reach their contemporaries (saying “most users of social media are 18-34 years”), 3) regularly producing videos that show detailed primate research in a humane and responsible way (which receive tens of thousands of views and >90% “like” ratios), 4) fighting fire with fire by creating satirical anti-animal rights propaganda, and 5) getting patients who benefit from animal research involved in public outreach.

Pigtail macaques at the Washington National Primate Research Center

Dr. Michael Mustari, Director of the Washington National Primate Research Center, then highlighted the outstanding care that nonhuman primates at his, and all of the other six, National Primate Research Centers in the US, receive, as well as the significant contributions primates have made in the advances of such diseases as HIV/AIDS, polio, ebola, and Parkinson’s disease.

Mustari said, “People who argue against nonhuman primate work do not pay attention to reality.” He drove home the need to engage with the public by showing the type of video that the public needs to see regularly to understand the value of primates in research, like this one showing a quadriplegic serving himself a beer for the first time in 13 years, thanks to advances made possible by primate research. Mustari ended by discussing the inspiring global outreach the WaNPRC performs under the directorship of Dr. Randy Kyes, Head of the Division of Global Programs at the WaNPRC.

Jason Goldman

Dr. Jason Goldman, an animal-researcher-turned-science-writer, rounded out the session by sharing lessons he’s learned from animals in communicating to a variety of audiences. Using brown-headed cowbirds and betta fish as examples of animals that change their messages based on who’s listening, Goldman said, “Animals have learned what I tell scientists over and over: Different messages are required for different audiences.” Goldman offered tangible pieces of advice for burgeoning (and established) science communicators, including 1) tell personal stories whenever possible and evoke emotion (using Cecil the lion as an example), 2) use simple visuals and avoid complex graphics (even popular infographics can be hard to digest), use memegenerator.net to make your own memes to communicate science on social media (this is perhaps the easiest tip to pick up, as I was able to create my own – and first! – meme in about 30 seconds during his presentation), and 4) be relatable and make the public feel smart, not stupid.

The session concluded with a Q &A session from the participants seeking additional advice on best ways to communicate the importance of animal research to the public when you feel like your institution is resistant to the idea, how to deal with the internal struggle of loving animals while conducting research with them, and more. Given that the session went 20 minutes over its scheduled time, it was clear the audience found it an invaluable resource.

Later in the afternoon, Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, gave a Special Presentation to SFN attendees in which he discussed recent advances in neuroscience with a particular emphasis on the BRAIN initiative. Though he rarely mentioned animal models in his talk, he did field anonymous questions from the audience afterward, one of which asked 1) what his personal opinion was on the role of animals, especially nonhuman primates, in the BRAIN Initiative, and 2) what concrete steps the NIH Directorship was taking to engage the public in the importance of animal research.

Collins stated that although the NIH worked with the Institute of Medicine to end chimpanzee research in the US, this “should not be seen as a reflection of how we feel about other nonhuman primates in research.”  He concluded by acknowledging the need for primates in some of the more invasive studies for the BRAIN Initiative that cannot be conducted in humans, and by underscoring the need for continued outreach to the public on the importance of animals in advancing biomedical research.

Amanda M. Dettmer, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Her writing does not reflect the opinions of the NICHD or the NIH.

The Board of Directors of Americans for Medical Progress (AMP)[1], met for their annual business meeting on September 25, 2015 in Washington, D.C. I attended the meeting as one of the Directors. AMP’s mission is to “protect society’s investment in research by nurturing public understanding of and support for the humane, necessary and valuable use of animals in medicine,” which has become increasingly important with the increasing prevalence of misinformation distributed by animal rights extremists, and activists intent on banning the use of animals in biomedical research.

AMP provides accurate and incisive information to foster a balanced public debate on the animal research issue, ensuring that among the voices heard are those whose lives have been touched by research and those who work in the field.

Despite those laudable goals, the public’s concern about, and disapproval of, the use of animals in research has been continuously growing.

As I mentioned to the Board, I believe that if the public became aware that the animal rights’ movement is actually more harmful than helpful to animals owned and cared for by humans, public sentiment would shift back toward support of biomedical research that saves the lives of animals and humans alike.

On September 27, 2015, an article in the New York Times, described that very concern. In Protecting Apes Could Backfire author Peter D. Walsh described the plight of researchers developing vaccines to protect chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates against Ebola virus and other infectious diseases.  The research has been effectively terminated, because safety and efficacy studies required for approval can no longer be performed on captive chimpanzees without permits and approvals that research institutions have not yet applied for, presumably out of fear of retribution from activists.

As Walsh explained:

Captive trials like ours could be permitted under the new endangered species listing [adding captive chimpanzees to that list], which took effect on Sept. 14. But invasive procedures (drawing blood, for instance, or administering injections) now require a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service. These permits will be issued only for research that benefits chimpanzees in the wild.

Not a single research facility has applied for a permit so far. Whether any will is still unclear. One reason may be that it would be sure to attract the vocal opposition of those opposed to biomedical research on chimpanzees.

Walsh appeals to the research community and officials to develop more creative mechanisms to permit such research.

My concern is more universal.

Biomedical research, as previously described, benefits both humans and animals. Limiting research to the benefit of only one species will diminish its value to all. While scientists continue to develop methods and techniques that minimize the need to use animals in research, such use continues to be of paramount importance to all species.

[1] AMP is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit charity supported by the nation’s top universities, private research facilities, research-related businesses, scientific and professional societies, as well as by foundation grants and contributions by individuals.

Co-authored by Elizabeth G. Litten, Esq. and Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.  Also posted on HIPAA, HITECH & HIT

As reported in expressnews.com:

Joseph Larsen, a Houston­based open records lawyer, said if Texas A&M owns the animals, the chapter cited in the attorney general’s opinion that grants veterinarian­-client confidentiality should not apply because the veterinarians are working for the university. He said the law applies only to veterinarians who see animals that are owned by someone else.

However, nothing in the Texas Veterinary Practice Act provides such an exception.

A client is defined as the “owner or other caretaker of the animal.”  § 801.351(a)(1).

Furthermore, veterinary practice requires the existence of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship which exists between laboratory animal veterinarians, Texas A&M and the animals in their care. The law sets forth requirements of the Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship as follows:

 a) A person may not practice veterinary medicine unless a veterinarian-client patient relationship exists. A veterinarian-client-patient relationship exists if the veterinarian:

(1) assumes responsibility for medical judgments regarding the health of an animal and a client, who is the owner or other caretaker of the animal, agrees to follow the veterinarian’s instructions;

(2) possesses sufficient knowledge of the animal to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the animal’s medical condition; and

(3) is readily available to provide, or has provided, follow-up medical care in the event of an adverse reaction to, or a failure of, the regimen of therapy provided by the veterinarian.

(b) A veterinarian possesses sufficient knowledge of the animal for purposes of Subsection (a)(2) if the veterinarian has recently seen, or is personally acquainted with, the keeping and care of the animal by:

(1) examining the animal; or

(2) making medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises on which the animal is kept.

c) A veterinarian-client-patient relationship may not be established solely by telephone or electronic means.

§ 801.351.

There are no laws or regulations exempting laboratory animal veterinarians from licensure in Texas. However, the “board may issue a special license to practice veterinary medicine to an applicant who is: (1) a member of the faculty or staff of a board-approved veterinary program at an institution of higher education . . .” § 801.256.

Special licenses may also be granted to veterinarians working for the Texas Animal Health Coalition or the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, but a special license is not available for a laboratory animal veterinarian serving in that capacity for a university.

In other jurisdictions, like New Jersey, the “practice of veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry” does not include:

(6) Any properly trained animal health technician or other properly trained assistant, who is under the responsible supervision and direction of a licensed veterinarian in his practice of veterinary medicine, if the technician or assistant does not represent himself as a veterinarian or use any title or degree pertaining to the practice thereof and does not diagnose, prescribe, or perform surgery. (N.J.S.A § 45:16-8.1.)

However, a laboratory animal veterinarian providing for the clinical care of the animals may still have to be licensed and governed by veterinary practice state laws.

The Beagle Freedom Project, concerned that Texas may set a new precedent for universities in other states, is reportedly considering filing a lawsuit.

Notably, Florida, known for its expansively permissive open public records act, has recently adopted a law which provides for an exemption to the State’s open public records act for animal medical records held by any state college of veterinary medicine that is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on education.

In support of this law, the

Legislature finds that the release of such animal medical records compromises the confidentiality protections otherwise afforded the owners of such animals treated by licensed veterinarians in this state . . . [and] that the privacy concerns that result from the release of animal medical records outweigh any public benefit that may be derived from the disclosure of the information.

These concerns arguably also apply to animals owned by research facilities.

Co-authored by Elizabeth G. Litten, Esq. and Nancy E. Halpern, DVM, Esq.  Also posted on HIPAA, HITECH & HIT

HIPAA does not protect animals’ health information – it applies to the protected health information (or PHI) of an “individual”, defined as “the person who is the subject of” the PHI. However, state laws governing the confidentiality of health information also come into play and, in some cases, expand upon HIPAA’s privacy protections.

Leo Litten
Leo Litten

Physicians, for example, must abide by state law and licensing board requirements specific to medical record maintenance and confidentiality. In most states, veterinarians, like physicians, are required by law to keep the medical records of their patients confidential, unless their client — the patient’s owner — authorizes the release of the medical records, or the records are requested by the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners or as ordered by a court.

This requirement was affirmed in several legal opinions recently issued by the Texas Attorney General in response to letters sent from the Office of General Counsel of The Texas A&M University asking “whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the “Act”), chapter 552 of the [Texas] Government Code.” Texas A&M had received at least 48 requests “for information pertaining to specified dogs and any specified protocols pertaining to the dogs at issue during a specified time period.”

The requests for information came from individuals claiming to have “virtually adopted” the dogs in question, as reported by expressnews.com.

The Beagle Freedom Project, whose mission is to “rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories,” encourages people to adopt research animals virtually, even though those animals are actually already owned by various research institutions and universities across the country.

The “adopters” then demand the medical records of their “adopted” animals in letters citing the state’s open public records act which sets forth requirements of various state agencies to provide requested information within a prescribed period of time.

Texas A&M has refused to provide that information, based on the opinion of the state Attorney General citing the restrictions in the Texas Veterinary Practice Act, which requires a veterinarian to maintain medical records confidentially and provides that the veterinarian can only release those records upon receipt of:

(1) a written authorization or other form of waiver executed by the client; or

(2) an appropriate court order or subpoena.

Occ. Code § 801.353 (b).

As further reported in expressnews.com: “Joseph Larsen, a Houston-­based open records lawyer, said if Texas A&M owns the animals, the chapter cited in the attorney general’s opinion that grants veterinarian-­client confidentiality should not apply because the veterinarians are working for the university. He said the law applies only to veterinarians who see animals that are owned by someone else.”

However, nothing in the Texas Veterinary Practice Act provides such an exception.

To Be Continued…

 

Indiana state legislators asked their state Attorney General to investigate the Humane Society of the United States, “accus[ing] the group of deceptive fundraising practices, saying its advertisements mislead Hoosiers into believing that donations will benefit abandoned pets at local humane society shelters, which are not affiliated with the national group,” as reported on indystar.com.

Indiana would be the second state to investigate the HSUS over its allegedly misleading advertising campaigns. In 2014, “Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt issued a consumer alert against the Humane Society of the United States on Wednesday just hours before an organization with a history of antagonism toward the animal rights group launched a week-long advertising campaign in the state,” as reported on tulsaworld.com.

“The alert says the attorney general’s office has received complaints that HSUS mislead donors after last year’s Moore tornadoes by telling them their money would go to help local shelters and dislocated animals.”

In response HSUS “sued Pruitt, accusing him of harassing the group for political reasons because he doesn’t agree with the organization’s goals.”

The HSUS response to Indiana’s requested investigation is similar:

This is an obvious political attack from politicians who stand in the way of protecting animals from captive hunts, puppy mills, and factory farms,’ said Erin Huang, the Humane Society’s Indiana state director. ‘The Humane Society of the United States is transparent in our work and our track record of protecting all animals from cruelty.’

Indiana State Sen. Brent Steele and five of his fellow Republican senators stated in their letter to the Attorney General:

Hoosiers would be well-served to know that their donations may go to high-powered lobbying and public relations experts of a national organization that has attacked institutions, traditions and practices that are part of Indiana’s heritage, such as farming, ranching and hunting . . .

Apparently, HSUS frequently objects to agricultural bills introduced or supported by Steele, possibly including Senate Joint Resolutions that (1) provide that the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good (SJR 2); and (2) that would provide that the Constitution of the State of Indiana guarantees the right of the people of Indiana to engage in diverse farming and ranching practices (SJR 12).

It is not unusual for HSUS to target legislators that they endorse or reject. In Rhode Island HSUS has recently announced that it plans to go after state Senator V. Susan Sosnowski because she did not support a bill that would require egg farmers to provide what the state’s Livestock Welfare & Care Standards Advisory Council determined “space ‘far in excess of any standard set forth in any state without any evidence to support that this increase improves hen welfare.’” The National Association of Egg Farmers also warned that such a law will result in higher-priced eggs.

According to the Providence Journal.com, HSUS “says Sosnowski is doing the ‘bidding of animal abusers,’ [and that] it plans to run print and television ads about her in the coming weeks and asserts that her opposition to the bill is what brought the General Assembly to a halt last week.”

Notably, Senator Sosnowski raises poultry.

 

Originally published: SAN ANTONIO, July 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

Republished with permission

Words can hurt you if you ignore these extremists! They’ve been telling us their agenda to end all interaction with animals for years, but few believed them.

Animal “rights” groups profess to work for improved animal treatment while their ultimate goal is to abolish the following:

1) breeding and ownership of pets;

2) use of animals in biomedical research;

3) raising farm animals for food, clothing, by-products such as insulin;

4) use of animals in education and entertainment, including zoos, aquariums, circuses and rodeos; and

5) all forms of hunting (including field trial competition, trapping and fishing), according to

Gary Francione and Tom Regan, “A Movement’s Means Create Its Ends,” were quoted in Animals’ Agenda:

There are fundamental and profound differences between the philosophy of animal welfare and that of animal rights … Thus welfare reforms, by their very nature, can only serve to retard the pace at which animal rights goals are achieved.

There is a cult-like following among national animal “rights” organizations, such as Humane Society of US, ASPCA, PETA, Animal Legal Defense Fund and state affiliated groups, but most followers are unaware of the true radical agenda they support vocally and financially.  The zealots are in our legislative halls at all levels of government and manipulate a gullible media to promote their legislative campaigns.

There are more pet owners in the country than these extremists so elected officials would be wise to consider this before promoting their anti-pet proposals. Vegans constitute less than 2% of the population.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has told us for years that no more pet breeding should be allowed so the cat and dog surplus would decline and “eventually companion animals would be phased out and we could return to a more symbiotic relationship – enjoyment at a distance.”

Animal Rights Extremists believe that any use of an animal is “exploitation,” including pet ownership which they compare to slavery. Steve Wise, with “The Nonhuman Rights Project,” has sought “personhood” for animals in our court system for years, removing animals from property status beginning with the apes and then all animals eventually. The consequences would be disastrous if Wise succeeds. Animals could be assigned a legal court “guardian” and owners won’t “own” their animals anymore. It would end all use of animals for any reason in one fell swoop!

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture examined the phenomenon of animal rights extremism in the United States and reported:

Many advocates of animal rights oppose all ways in which animals are confined and utilized by humans, whether it be for food, clothing, servitude, or household pets. All extremist animal rights groups are believed to be associated with each other by leadership, membership, or both.