Japanese macaques, along with 11 other primate species were first listed as threatened on October 19, 1976 by FWS.[1]  However, by special rule, 50 C.F.R. §17.40(c)(2) captive members of these species were exempted from protections under the Endangered Species Act by FWS.  Now, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has petitioned FWS to correct what they describe as the unlawful deprivation of protection under the ESA.  See Petition to Include the Captive Members of the Species of Primates Enumerated in 50 C.F.R. §17.40(c) as Protected Members of their Respective Species Under the Endangered Species Act.

PETA based its petition, at least in part, on FWS’s relisting captive chimpanzees as endangered species, along with their previously listed wild counterparts.  Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Listing All Chimpanzees as Endangered Species, 80 Fed. Reg. 34500 (June 16, 2015).  .  In 2015 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a final rule to classify all chimpanzees, both wild and captive, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Until this change, only wild chimpanzees were listed as endangered while captive chimpanzees were listed as threatened.

“We are listing all chimpanzees, whether in the wild or in captivity, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We have determined that the Act does not allow for captive chimpanzees to be assigned separate legal status from their wild counterparts on the basis of their captive state, including through designation as a separate distinct population segment (DPS). It is also not possible to separate out captive chimpanzees for different legal status under the Act by other approaches. Therefore, we are eliminating the separate classification of chimpanzees held in captivity and listing the entire species, wherever found, as an endangered species under the Act.”

FWS will only issue permits for studies of chimpanzees “only for scientific purposes to benefit wild chimpanzees or to enhance the propagation or survival of chimpanzees, including habitat restoration and research on chimpanzees in the wild that contributes to improved management and recovery.”

If FWS adopts this position for the species currently listed as threatened, more than 316 Japanese macaques involved in research at various biomedical research facilities would be subject to the same fate as many chimpanzees, who unfortunately died when moved to “sanctuaries” since they were not permitted to remain under the care of knowledgeable and trained experts at research facilities.  See Dr. Collins please save our chimps, by Cindy Buckmaster.

Regardless of the outcome of this petition, these animals should remain in facilities where they can be properly cared for, and, if at all possible, the research they have been involved with should be completed so that it is not a loss.

[1] One of the original 12 primates was relisted as endangered in 1990.

I had the opportunity to present an “Animal Law Update” on October 21, 2016 at the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research’s 23rd Annual IACUC Conference – the region’s premier training conference for professionals in laboratory animal research field.  Among this year’s 110 participants were key institution decision makers, Animal Care and Use Committee members, lab animal veterinarians, animal welfare compliance specialists and other lab animal research team members from the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, academic research institutions, and government officials from USDA and NIH.

 

During my presentation I discussed the legal issues affecting animal-related industries, including the biomedical research community and analyzed activist activities that can help the research community predict, prepare for, and defend against such challenges.   I was also re-elected to the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research during the annual meeting, held at the beginning of this conference.

 

Dr. William Stokes, Assistant Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA, APHIS, Animal Care provided an informative USDA Regulatory Update and Insights.  Dr. Stokes shared USDA Animal Care’s “5-year Strategic Plan” including the mission and vision of the agency, also available on its website:

New to the agency is the introduction of the term “critical noncompliant items” (“NCI’s) which includes all “direct noncompliant items” and certain “indirect noncompliant items.”  Dr. Stokes explained that this term was not really new, and had been used in practical effect, by the agency for a long time.

Dr. Stokes also provided important data from USDA’s inspections authorized by the Animal Welfare Act including:

  • There were over 10,000 unannounced inspections in FY16 of research facilities, breeders, dealers, exhibitors, transporters and intermediate handlers;
  • There were about 1350 inspections of the 1050 registered research facilities;
  • 76% of these inspections had no NCI’s;
  • Of the 561 NCI’s in research facilities, 38% of those were related to activities and conduct of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees, and specifically related to the semi-annual reports that are required by the AWA.

Dr. Stokes  informed the attendees about the updated public search engine that serves as the database for USDA licensees and related inspection reports, known as the Animal Care Information System (ACIS3).  USDA  sent a bulletin on  09/22/2016 to stakeholders titled “New Terms Will Appear on USDA Inspection Reports.” As Dr. Stokes explained, there are two new terms that will appear on reports and in search results:

  • Focused inspections
  • Critical noncompliant items.

Dr. Stokes ended his presentation reminding all attendees that the goal of USDA and its licensees is to “optimize welfare.”

 

 

This is the time of year that nonprofit organizations hope for contributions from those who have the means and interest to support these organizations.

This year, I encourage you to consider supporting curiousSCIENCEwriters.

curiousSCIENCEwriters (cSw) is an innovative, independent steAm initiative that trains creative high school communicators to bring complex science to the general public through the power of story. Science and technology are advancing exponentially, yet fewer than 7% of American adults are scientifically literate. With growing medical, environmental and social issues facing us all, it is essential that the next generation of communicators be prepared to help people make sense of emerging science that affects their personal health and well-being, as well that of the world around them. Whether scientists, journalists or citizen scientists, they will require critical thinking and technical skills to fight science illiteracy that has reached historic levels.

How does it work?

“Each year, curiousSCIENCEwriters selects a group of high school students through a highly competitive application process to participate in an intensive extracurricular training program. A key element includes mentoring by scientists and science communications professionals through remote and onsite sessions. This collaborative process, which involves teams of student writers, editors, and graphic designers, results in credible, engaging science stories that the student staffers help disseminate through a variety of traditional and trending media outlets.”

Jayne Mackta, a colleague, supporter and friend, is the founder and creative director of curiousSCIENCEwriters.

Jayne has devoted her adult life to advocating for families affected by genetic disorders and promoting public understanding of biomedical research. Since her first job out of college with the Encyclopedia Americana where she reduced lengthy articles to single paragraphs, she has searched for the secret of saying more in fewer words. A fierce enemy of jargon, Jayne delights in coaching young editors in the art of deleting words that obscure meaning.

cSw, a program of States United for Biomedical Research (SUBR), relies exclusively on tax-deductible donations from citizens like you, concerned about the toll science illiteracy is taking on the health and welfare of our world.

Click here to read some of the fascinating stories written by cSw student staffers.

Consider this innovative and important program if you are donating this year. You can donate online by clicking here.

 

FDA issued a draft revised guidance for industry, “General Principles for Evaluating the Human Food Safety of New Animal Drugs Used In Food-Producing Animals” in July 2016 that “described the type of information that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) recommends sponsors provide [the agency] to address the human food safety of new animal drugs used in food-producing animals.”

In addition to proving that drugs are safe and efficacious in the targeted livestock species, drug companies (sponsors) face increasing hurdles to prove that “food derived from treated animals is safe for human consumption.”

FDA has already begun implementing other changes to “the way medically important antibiotics have been used in animal agriculture for decades.” See FDA’s Guidance #213.

As reported on its website, FDA explains:

“[o]nce the changes are fully implemented, it will be illegal to use these medically important antibiotics for production purposes, and animal producers will need to obtain authorization from a licensed veterinarian to use them for prevention, control or treatment of a specifically identified disease.”

Food animal veterinarians and livestock farmers are concerned about their ability to treat animals with antibiotics appropriately when needed. In response,

“[t]he FDA acknowledges the important role medically important antimicrobials play in treating, controlling, and preventing disease in food-producing animals. However, the agency has been actively engaging veterinary organizations, animal producer organizations and other stakeholders to express our position that medically important antibiotics labeled for continuous or undefined durations of use is not consistent with judicious use principles, as outlined in previously-released guidance documents.”

In “General Principles for Evaluating the Human Food Safety of New Animal Drugs Used In Food-Producing Animals” FDA “provides, in one document, an overview of the overall process for the human food safety evaluation of new animal drugs used in food-producing animals, including:

  • Determining an acceptable daily intake (ADI);
  • Calculating safe concentrations;
  • Assignment of a tolerance;
  • Calculation of a withdrawal period and a milk discard time; and
  • Evaluation of carcinogenic compounds.”

In addition to analyzing the appropriate withdrawal times for meat, milk, and eggs, the agency evaluates the proposed drugs for their potential to create additional pressures on antibiotic resistance in humans.

However, FDA has identified drugs that may not have to undergo this analysis if it (and its metabolites and excipients) are not:

  • “regularly considered to have properties that would exert pressure towards the emergence or selection of bacteria of public health concern;
  • used to treat zoonotic gastroenteritis or other bacterial diseases in humans;
  • under development to treat bacterial diseases in humans; or
  • indicated for a bacterial disease in food-producing animals (i.e., indication is instead antifungal, antiprotozoal, anthelminthic, etc.).”

With the emergence of new methods of disease treatment and  prevention (using, for example, genetically immune livestock) hopefully veterinarians and farmers will not have to rely on antibiotics to treat animals and keep them healthy, since it will be increasingly difficult to obtain and retain the ability to use these drugs in livestock.

The intentional misrepresentation of facts is one of the most disturbing (if not illegal) tactics that animal rights organizations use to convince the public that individuals and businesses involved with the breeding, raising, and care of animals for companionship, biomedical research, conservation research, sports, entertainment, and food and fiber, is inhumane.

We have previously described the intentional misrepresentation that pet stores sell puppy mill puppies based on the false statement that all commercial breeders are puppy mills. Puppy mills are substandard, unlicensed large scale facilities where dogs are improperly cared for.  Pet stores buy from licensed USDA facilities, or small breeders who exceed the humane standards of care required by law, not from substandard breeding facilities.

Similar misrepresentations of facts are pervasive from animal rights organizations opposed to the use of animals in biomedical research, even when that research benefits animals.

The following purported quote from FDA is repeated by groups like PETA and the Beagle Freedom Fund to “prove” that research in animals does not provide valid scientific results that can lead to successful drug approvals for human use:

The Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that 92 percent of drugs that test safe and effective in animals are failing in Phase I clinical trials.

The biomedical research community has attempted to explain why this statement is misleading by reviewing the original statement made by FDA.

For example, as posted on July 25, 2008 on Speaking of Research :

The statistic is from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), used to illustrate inefficiencies in drug development. However the actual statistic is much broader, it should be:

92% of drugs fail during human trials

The original quote was:

A new medicinal compound entering Phase 1 testing, often representing the culmination of upwards of a decade of preclinical screening and evaluation, is estimated to have only an 8 percent chance of reaching the market.

In another post on Speaking of Research on January 23, 2013, guest author Professor Robin Lovell-Badge further explained:

Those opposed to animal research often point out that most drugs that pass the legally required toxicology tests in animals go on to fail in human clinical trials. They then go on to suggest that this shows that animal research does not work, or that it is proof that animals are not accurate models for humans.

However, this is misleading without an understanding of the relevant context and the reasons for the animal safety tests.

Dr. Lovell-Badge goes onto explain that preclinical testing includes both animal testing an non-animal testing, all performed to prevent harm to humans during Phase 1 clinical trials in humans which has proven to protect humans from drugs found to be unsafe.

This topic is also the subject of a report published in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, “Use of animals for toxicology testing is necessary to ensure patient safety in pharmaceutical development,” by Raja Mangipudy, John Burkhardt and Vivek J. Kadambi. See Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Nov;70(2):439-41. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2014.07.014. Epub 2014 Jul 21.

I agree with the authors’ conclusion:

[W]e believe that for the foreseeable future, drug development will continue to depend upon nonclinical experimentation in animal models to provide data in hazard identification and characterization for healthy volunteers and patients. While offering great promise, alternative in vitro systems that can entirely recapitulate the complexity of higher organisms have yet to be designed. Development of engineered 3-dimensional organ systems will create new opportunities to conduct hypothesis-driven research into specific organ system toxicities or provide models for screening compound libraries for toxicity during the lead optimization process. As for all surrogate systems, they will evolve over time as the science improves, but will still falsely predict negatives for unique toxicities that result from complexities not replicated within the in vitro test system. Translation of our complex human biology into safe and effective treatments will continue to require the use of humane animal testing (Nature Medicine Editorial, 2013).

 

Guest blog by Shannon Stutler [1]originally published on March 29, 2016, 12:10 PM in the Baltimore Sun.

Republished with permission.

As the loving owner of a wonderful former shelter dog and as a veterinarian, I must stand in opposition to legislation that is now working its way through the Maryland General Assembly. House Bill 594 — Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research Act of 2016 [2]— would impose on Maryland’s research and teaching institutions onerous mandates that would do little to support animals and could have an unintended consequence: Increasing number of animals in Maryland’s shelters that might be euthanized rather than adopted.

The proposed bill would have the state regulate the way in which institutions handle the adoption of dogs and cats following completion of the research studies in which they are needed, and imposes state reporting requirements that are duplicative of information already reported under the U.S. Animal Welfare Act.

The adoption of post-study animals is already widely embraced by the research community. A large number of institutions already have customized, responsible and detailed adoption policies managed by veterinary specialists familiar with the special considerations and needs of retired research animals.

Having worked as a veterinarian in several research institutions in Maryland, I know first-hand of the loving attention that each animal gets by animal care technicians and veterinary teams. Wherever possible upon completion of a study, dedicated staff who have given the best of care to these animals also work hard to find them great homes, often networking with potential families and adoption groups. I personally have placed mice, rats, ferrets, a pig and two goats, and I am currently working with a research institution to develop a policy so that it might arrange for the post-study adoption of fish.

The bill now under consideration in Maryland is simply “feel good” legislation proposed by animal rights activists who seek the immediate end of all animal-based research. Similar legislation has been introduced in other states by the animal rights group Beagle Freedom Project, which targets research institutions to further its own agenda of ending all animal-based research. The dogs and cats obtained by Beagle Freedom Project have been used as props in inflammatory ads, videos and social media posts to falsely accuse scientists and to vilify biomedical research.

One of the leaders of the group is a convicted felon, having served several years in a federal prison for his role in a campaign of harassment and threats against scientists, research staff and their families, as well as those who have business relationships with research institutions. Therefore, several research institutions, concerned by the negative impact of the activists’ emotive campaign and for the safety of their staff, actually have been forced to shut down their own adoption programs, and thus animals that could otherwise have found homes have been euthanized.

Research dogs, depending on their age, can be more challenging to crate train and housebreak than other dogs. Extreme patience and consistency are required to ensure that these dogs, after their placement in private homes, do not later end up abandoned or in shelters.

Animal shelters are already overburdened. Animal adoption organizations in Maryland and throughout America struggle to find homes for the dogs and cats in their care. According to Save Maryland Pets, a coalition that includes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), 45,000 cats and dogs die in Maryland shelters every year at a taxpayer cost of $8 million to $9 million, and the “96,000 pets entering Maryland animal shelters annually stand barely a 50 percent chance of survival.” Adding research animals to this population would surely increase the number of shelter animals that must be euthanized.

Dogs and cats together make up less than 0.6 percent of the animals needed for research in the United States. Without these animals, life-saving cures and treatments for our loved ones, both human and animal, would not be available today or in the future. We owe these cats and dogs the best of care during and after their research studies.

For the sake of the animals, I urge Maryland’s legislators to reject this unnecessary legislation.

Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun

[1] Dr. Shannon Stutler, a veterinarian, is a diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and of the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine. She is also a Certified Professional IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee) administrator. Having served as a veterinarian in the U.S. Army, she is now an independent veterinary consultant.

[2] This bill was not passed by the Maryland legislature but is likely to be re-introduced next session.

 

The humane standards of care of animals are constantly changing, as informed by scientific advances. Animal agriculture, in particular, has been evolving for decades. Livestock housing techniques, like other husbandry practices, have continuously evolved to protect animals from exposure to diseases, pests, environmental extremes, and from each other. Animal scientists and veterinarians continuously research methods, techniques and equipment to maximize animal comfort, while providing necessary protection.

Some recent advances exemplify the importance of continued research in disease protection and husbandry techniques that benefit animals and humans alike.

As reported in the National Hog Farmer, Merck Animal Health has been granted “licensure of its Prescription Product, RNA Particle vaccine platform from the USDA.”

Merck Animal Health described its innovative vaccine platform, and its significance to animal industries:

The RP technology platform is used to make vaccines for swine, bovine, equine, avian, companion animal and farmed aquaculture diseases. Pathogens are collected from a farm and specific genes are sequenced and synthetically inserted into the platform creating RNA particles, making safe, potent vaccines able to provide herd-specific protection. This system was instrumental in producing the first conditionally licensed vaccine to help control porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, a deadly virus that has killed more than eight million piglets since suddenly emerging in the United States in 2013. It also was utilized to produce a conditionally licensed vaccine against H5 avian influenza, which was subsequently awarded a USDA Stockpile in October.

Perhaps this platform could be used to develop effective vaccines to protect horses infected with the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus which has increasingly spread throughout equine racing, show, and pleasure barns and facilities, resulting in prolonged quarantines, and unfortunately, illness and death.

Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation recently announced its intention to fund more than $1 million in projects, as reported by Matt Hegarty in the Daily Racing Form:

The 11 new projects include a study of the latency of equine herpesvirus in horse populations. A strain of equine herpesvirus, EHV-1, has wreaked havoc on racing circuits when the highly contagious disease has been detected at racetracks or training facilities, leading to quarantines and shipping restrictions.

Advances have not been limited to disease prevention.

Researchers have announced a probable solution to the culling of male chicks in the egg industry. Because males do not produce eggs, they are culled.

Now, as reported by ABC/Australia, scientists studying poultry diseases at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong “accidentally . . . made a breakthrough with biotechnology” discovering a way to identify male chick embryos before they hatched, making the culling of billions of male baby chicks unnecessary.

The scientists discovered they could inject an embryo with “a green fluorescent protein gene placed on the male chromosome” which could “ensure the males are never born, let alone culled.”

It is important to note that without biomedical research involving animals, these advances, which benefit animals, would not have been possible.

dogs and catsstatus of cats and dogsIn this interesting article David Grimm describes the changing public opinion about biomedical research that involves animals, observing:

as Americans have embraced pets as virtual children . . .they’ve soured on animal research. In 2001, only 29% of the public deemed animal testing ‘morally wrong;’ by 2013, it was 41%, and 54% of those aged 18 to 29.

Animal research is essential, not only to research, develop and insure medications and treatments are safe and efficacious for humans, but also for animals.  As the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology notes “[d]ogs remain critical in understanding the fundamental processes of life and in developing treatments for injury and disease.”

 

dog research

The emergence of a new strain of canine influenza virus which sickened many and killed some dogs in and around Chicago earlier this year, can be controlled with a newly USDA conditionally approved vaccine, that could only have advanced this far in the approval process because it has been tested on animals.

As noted by the AVMA:

H3N2 canine influenza appeared limited to Korea, China and Thailand until March 2015, when an outbreak that started in the Chicago area was determined to be due to an H3N2 strain.

The H3N8 canine influenza virus represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution; the entire genome of the H3N8 equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs, and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus.

If you are interested in giving back to some of these animals who have been so critical in the advancement of biomedical research, consider providing a home to those “heroes” through Homes for Animal Heroes, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the research community who has been rehoming research animals for more than 40 years.

As they explain:

Animal-based research is still critical for saving and improving human and animal lives, and the truth is that dogs, and other animals, are still a necessary part of this process.

They help us understand and treat a variety of cancers, along with numerous cardiovascular, metabolic, joint, skeletal, muscular, neurologic, and even cognitive disorders. Researchers continue to explore and develop non-animal alternatives to meet our demands for cures, and we support this quest wholeheartedly! In the meantime, animals are still required for biomedical progress and we are grateful for the improved health and well-being that we and our pets continue to enjoy as a result of their contributions.

These dogs are heroes to countless people and animals. We, literally, owe them our lives. Many of them need homes when their work is done.

If you are looking for a new pet, or want to contribute to a notable cause, now is the time to support an animal hero.

Several bills have been introduced in the New Jersey Assembly which would unintentionally negatively impact biomedical research which is vital to the health of humans and animals alike. Below, the NJABR provides the basis for its recommended amendments to these bills to preserve their intent, while eliminating their unintended consequences to biomedical research.

New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR)[1] (republished with permission)

Assembly Bill Nos. 4773 and 4808, which seek to halt the possession, transport, import, export, processing, sale, or shipment of certain animal species threatened with extinction, would unintentionally interfere with life-saving research.

The safe, humane, and rapid transportation of research animals is critical to biomedical research programs throughout the world. The ability to transport animals to institutions and scientists that need them is a crucial component of scientific advancement. Unique disease models, genetically modified animals, and professionally produced high quality animals of every species can only be provided to institutions conducting research if there is the ability to transport these animals from one location to another.

All chimpanzees, even those used in research, are designated as endangered species by the federal government. As such, A4773 and A4808 would prohibit the transport of chimpanzees through New Jersey. This prohibition would even apply to animals being moved to sanctuaries at the end of their time in research. Equally concerning, as defined in the A4808, “priority species” would include blood and other fluids as a product of the animal, which is also critical to certain research programs.

To be clear, NJABR’s concerns are not just focused on human health. Great apes in the wild, including chimpanzees and gorillas, are extremely vulnerable to the Ebola virus, with fatality rates as high as 95 percent. Ebola has killed as many as one-third of the world’s gorillas and chimpanzees in the past few decades in parts of Africa. In order to eradicate the virus in animals, testing on the affected species is needed.

NJABR proposes an exemption from any possession and transportation prohibitions in A4773 and A4808 for animals being used for biomedical research. (See attachment). The proposed amendment for the legislation is narrowly tailored to permit the transport of the designated species to and from legitimate research institutions that are licensed and inspected by the federal government to ensure animal welfare.

Scientific knowledge developed through animal research has saved countless lives, improved human and animal health and alleviated untold pain and suffering. The research community insists on the humane and ethical treatment of all animals used in research, education and testing. The community is guided by the 3Rs philosophy of reducing the number of animals used for research, replacing animals with other methodologies when possible and refining their use when possible. Without exception, the members of NJABR embrace their legal and ethical responsibilities to ensure that animals are not used needlessly and are spared all unnecessary pain and distress.

Proposed Amendment for Assembly Bill No. 4773

To be inserted as a third exemption listed in Section 1(d):

(3)  The priority species is being transported for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Proposed Amendment for Assembly Bill No. 4808

To be inserted as a new Section 9 in the bill:

Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, nothing herein shall be deemed to interfere with any animal being transported, imported, exported, processed, sold or shipped for purposes related to the conduct of biomedical research at a facility licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture pursuant to the federal Animal Welfare Act or at a facility conducting biomedical research in compliance with the United States National Institutes of Health Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

[1] Nancy E. Halpern serves on the Board of Directors and the Government Relations Committee of the NJABR

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.