Recently the Washington Post described the life and death of a 100 year old Aldabra tortoise at the National Zoo who had spent nearly a lifetime as an ambassador for tortoises, teaching visitors from around the world about this amazing species.  This reminded me of how impactful zoological gardens are to their visitors, providing education about the importance of the preservation of species, often facilitated by these institutions.

Sitatunga

I was an extern at the National Zoo while I was a senior in veterinary school, after completing an externship at the Toronto Zoo and working with veterinarians at the San Diego Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo and Royal Rotterdam Zoo.  One of the biggest differences between zoo animal medicine and traditional veterinary practice is the inability to examine and perform routine procedures on many zoo animals without sedating or anesthetizing them.

Sedation of Giant panda

However, there are some exceptions, depicted here:

Koala
Chute to examine bison
Bison
Chute to treat Fritz’ sarcoma
Treating Galapagos tortoise

Eventually, I decided to pursue a career in large animal ambulatory medicine, where I practiced theriogenology (reproduction), a field of veterinary medicine I loved.

Drawing by Purdue classmate Betsy Miller, DVM

As a result of my experience with multiple species, I was able to work with owners of all types of animals, including llama, deer, pot belly pigs, and emu in addition to traditional livestock species.  I consulted for a few zoological parks and have retained my interest in zoo and exotic animals.

As an attorney, I represent animal owners, veterinarians, all types of animal related businesses (e.g., pharmaceutical companies, farmers, breeders, zoos, aquaria, pet stores), universities, trade associations, processing plants and food-related businesses.  These businesses are often the targets of animal activists who want to eliminate animal ownership entirely.

As Stacey Ludlum, the Director of Zoo and Aquarium Planning and Design at PGAV Destinations in St. Louis, wrote:

In conversations with zoos and aquariums in recent years, it seems the (excuse me for this) elephant in the room has been the focused, laser-like attention on our community from anti-marine and zoological park activists. (See The power of partnership: could animal rights organisations and zoos/aquariums join forces).

Ms. Ludlum advocated for a partnership between animal rights organizations and those involved with zoos and aquaria to “unite over a common cause: working to protect the remaining non-captive animal populations from extinction,” certainly a laudable goal.  However, for those people and organizations who believe animals should never be owned by humans, the gap is simply too broad to bridge such a partnership.

I believe that people can continue to own, breed, raise, and sell animals, as companion animals, food-producing animals, service animals, in biomedical research, zoos and aquaria, as long as the animals are treated humanely.  We may argue about what standards of care are humane, but the standards should be based on objective, validated scientific research.  And we should expect those standards to change and evolve as animal scientists continue to study animal welfare.  See, i.e., Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science, currently directed by Candace Croney, PhD.

Edgy Animal Welfare

16 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2018

Richard L. Cupp

Pepperdine University School of Law

Date Written: July 18, 2018

Abstract

Legal animal welfare proponents should not reject out-of-hand reforms that may be celebrated by some as steps toward a radical version of animal rights. Rather, animal welfare proponents should consider the costs, risks, and benefits of all potential reforms. Some potential reforms’ risks and costs outweigh their benefits. But, both to improve animals’ welfare and to avoid irrelevance in an evolving society, legal animal welfare advocates should be willing to tolerate some costs and risks. Walking on the edge of slippery slopes is in some situations better than avoiding the slopes altogether. Connecticut’s 2016 animal advocacy statute provides an illustration of legal reform that legal animal welfare proponents should embrace even though it presents some risks of being perceived as a step toward a radical legal personhood rights paradigm.

Cupp, Richard L., Edgy Animal Welfare (July 18, 2018). Denver Law Review (Forthcoming); Pepperdine University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018/11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3216112

NOTE:  Law review articles available for free download at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=543387

Recent amendments governing the transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock, aquaculture and insects, have elicited concerns from cattle, hog, sheep, horse, bee and aquaculture producers, since the time restrictions on transport without rest for the truck drivers would literally stop livestock haulers in their tracks, creating hazards for their live cargo.

These concerns were described on the webpage of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:

The ELD enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) regulations pose significant consequences for the livestock industry. Current federal law limits on-duty time to 14 hours, with a maximum drive time of 11 consecutive hours. The driver must then rest for 10 consecutive hours before returning to duty.  For the great majority of the trips made by our livestock haulers, this is simply not enough drive time to accommodate the realities of hauling live animals across the country. Research also demonstrates that repeated loading and unloading of animals creates stress, harming the livestock as well as endangering the hauler.  Unfortunately, the impending December 18, 2017 electronic logging device (ELD) enforcement date and existing hours of service (HOS) rules may force small business owners out of the marketplace while also having the unintended impact of decreasing driver safety, and jeopardizing the wellbeing of hauled animals if they can no longer be hauled by highly skilled and trained drivers/stockmen.

To address some of these “unintended consequences” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced the publication of a guidance document, also published as a rule (83 FR 26374, pp 26374-26377) to:

clarify the applicability of the ‘Agricultural commodity’ exception in the ‘Hours of Service (HOS) of Drivers’ regulations.  This regulatory guidance clarifies the exception with regard to: drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity or returning from a delivery point; drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity; determining the ‘source’ of agricultural commodities under the exemptions; and how the exception applies when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip.

This is the latest of several attempts to clarify the rule as it relates to the transportation of agricultural commodities, including livestock and insects, since its adoption.  Notably, the Electronic Logging Devices are not required for livestock transporters until September 2018.

FMCSA previously published guidance documents at the end of May 2018, including Agricultural Exceptions and Exemptions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service (HOS) and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Rules and Regulatory Guidance: Transportation of Agricultural Commodities including Livestock. 

“This regulatory guidance clarifies that the following operations are not subject to the Hours-of-Service Regulations while operating within 150 air-mile radius of the source of the commodity:”

Drivers operating unladen vehicles traveling either to pick up an agricultural commodity, as defined in 395.2, or returning from a delivery point; and

Drivers engaged in trips beyond 150 air-miles from the source of the agricultural commodity are not subject to the hours of service regulations until they exit the 150 air-mile radius.

The guidance also clarifies that when agricultural commodities are loaded at multiple sources during a trip only the first loading point can be considered a source, which results in an ongoing concern about how these regulations restrict livestock haulers from loading and delivering livestock without interruption.

To fix some of the unaddressed issues with the law, on June 26, 2018, as reported in a press release on Senator Deb Fischer’s (R-Neb.) website, “[a] bipartisan group of 24 senators . . . filed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide an hours of service exemption for certain agriculture transporters, including livestock haulers, which would provide greater flexibility to operators throughout the country.”

The amendment ‘would ensure that the exemption for operations within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of an agricultural commodity applies year-round and does not vary from one state to another for certain months of the year.  The exemption currently applies to the planting and harvesting period, as determined by each state.  It would also provide an additional 150 air-mile exemption on the back end of a trip, as it currently exists on the front end.’

Before time runs out, it will be important for these issues to be ironed out so livestock can be safely transported without unnecessary and stressful stops.

 

Reports from two animal-related trade organizations provide insight into the current status and goals of animal rights organizations intent on eliminating the use of animals by humans, without regard to how humanely those animals are treated.

Based on these revealing comments from activists it remains vitally important that the public is exposed to the differences between animal rights activists and animal-related industries whose goals are to ensure that animals under the care of humans are treated humanely.

Members of the National Association for Biomedical Research and the Animal Agricultural Alliance attended the 2017 Animal Rights National Conference held on August 3-6 in Alexandria Virginia.

As advertised on the website

The Animal Rights National Conferences have been organized since 1981 by Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) with some breaks between 1987 and 2000, then every year since 2000. They are typically co-sponsored by more than a dozen national organizations.

Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) is a national non-profit organization working to end the use of animals for food through public education and grassroots activism. We believe in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.

Speakers at the conference talked about the “Power of confrontation in advancing animal rights,” and alleged abuses of animals used for all human purposes including: animals in Entertainment (circuses, rodeos, zoos, aquariums), animals in science (education, product testing, drug research),animals in Fashion, Companion animals, food Animals, and animals in the wild.

Kay Johnson Smith, Animal Agriculture Alliance president and CEO described this year’s conference:

The speakers at this year’s Animal Rights National Conference made their goals clear – ending all forms of animal agriculture, regardless of how well animals are cared for . . . Their persistent focus on pressure campaigns targeting restaurant, retail and foodservice brands is of great concern to the Alliance and our members. We encourage anyone with a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, to read this year’s report and hear how determined these groups are to eliminate food choices and make our society vegan.

The alliance reported that speaker encouraged attendees to protest and conduct rescues from farms without permission, and that “[b]reaking the law can often be a good thing to do.”

The Alliance also reported that one speaker, David Coman-Hidy with the Humane League encouraged attendees to damage the reputation of food companies.

Consistent with previous years, another key message from conference speakers was for attendees to focus efforts on eliminating farms of all types and sizes, not only the large-scale, modern operations (declared to be “factory farms”) that have historically been targeted.

National Association for Biomedical Research reported about the following speakers and their comments at the conference, intent on eliminating the use of animals in research:

  • Justin Goodman, lobbyist for the White Coat Waste project (WCW), an animal rights group that promotes itself as a fiscally conservative consumer watchdog group, spoke about WCW’s “defund” campaign to “take money away so [research institutions] can’t buy the animals to do the testing.” He continued to focus on making sure universities and other institutions that conduct animal research “don’t get their money.” 

  • Michael Budkie explained [Stop Animal Exploitation Now] SAEN seeks to end animal research by “hanging them with their own paperwork.” We understand this to mean the group attacks the reputations of research institutions and individual scientists by deliberately misusing or mischaracterizing written statements provided by the institutions to government agencies like the NIH and the USDA.

  • Speaking again on behalf of SAEN, Michael Budkie explained his approach to stopping animal research by targeting researchers: “We like to paint them as idiots. They are criminals. SAEN’s job is to let people know animal research is meritless. We will ruin their reputation and credibility. We are coming after them…It becomes news and we’re changing public opinion of what labs do.”

  • A celebrated figure in the animal rights world, Richard Couto conducts undercover investigations of factory farms and food enterprises that use animals. He gains access by working as an employee while filming and documenting abuse for later use in criminal prosecutions of his erstwhile employers. Joined by other so-called “undercover investigators,” they encouraged attendees to join their ranks by stating, “anybody in this room has what it takes to be an undercover investigator.”

Clearly, the goals of animal rights organizations, on display at this conference, should concern those who are involved in animal-related industries where animals are owned and cared for by humans.