Animal

Veterans Join Fight Against Untrained Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

Veterans' groups are echoing concerns of airline companies regarding the increased use of comfort animals on airplanes, saying it complicates their use of service animals, The New York Times reports. The issue stems from the proliferation of emotional support animals — often not properly trained — and the desensitization of airport workers and other passengers to the needs of those with rigorously trained service animals serving specific purposes. Over 80 veterans and disability groups recently wrote to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao asking for rules that would require emotional support animals to have specific training before being allowed on planes. The Transportation Department is expected to revise its regulations this year and clarify the definition of a service animal to address the issue.

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Animal Cruelty is Now a Federal Crime

President Trump recently signed into law an act that makes animal cruelty a federal crime, The Washington Post reports. H.R.724 — the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act — is intended to shore up jurisdictional concerns regarding animal cruelty, particularly in instances where the abuse is filmed. While existing laws banned the videos, there was previously no federal law enforcement mechanism targeting the abusive act itself. The legislation outlines exemptions such as humane euthanasia, slaughter for food, recreational activities such as hunting, trapping and scientific research among others.

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Johnson City Passes Ordinance to Ban Chaining of Animals

Johnson City commissioners last week approved an ordinance banning the chaining or tethering of animals for longer than 12 consecutive hours, the Johnson City Press reports. The ordinance will take effect in two stages – beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, with the 12 consecutive hour rule, then on Jan. 1, 2021, adding the additional requirements that the animals cannot be under six months old or left unattended while tethered. The new rule currently affects only Johnson City, but proponents say surrounding cities, including Kingsport and Bristol, have asked to review the ordinance for consideration.

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Michigan Enacts Law Regarding Cage-Free Eggs

Michigan last week enacted a law that requires all eggs sold in the state to come from hens raised in cage-free conditions. Similar laws have been passed in California, Washington, Massachusetts and Oregon, with several other states considering legislation on the issue. The Michigan law, which applies to both in-state and out-of-state farms that sell eggs commercially, specifies a 2024 deadline for compliance. Find out more by visiting Mercy For Animals.

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Nepal Becoming Hotbed of Animal Trafficking

Nepal is fast becoming an unlikely epicenter for the trafficking of rare and endangered animals, The New York Times reports. One recent trafficking attempt led a Nepali court to convict five men of smuggling baby chimpanzees from Nigeria, which can be sold on the black market to zoos, exotic-pet owners and even brothels. Nepal has arrested hundreds of traffickers in recent years who appear to be taking advantage of its lax custom rules and permeable borders with China and India. The less-than-year-old chimps are being held at Nepal’s Central Zoo while the court determines whether to return them to their home country, Nigeria.

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Animals Rescued from Michael Vick's Dogfighting Operation Remembered

The dogs confiscated from former NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation 12 years ago are subjects of a recent article by the Washington Post, which details the lives of the animals post-rescue. Forty seven dogs were saved from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in southeastern Virginia, all of which were placed with families or rescue organizations in lieu of being euthanized. Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison for his role in the operation.

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Social Media and Animal Cruelty

A controversial YouTube video in which an owner ‘pranked’ her Doberman pinscher has sparked accusations of mistreatment and conversation on what constitutes abuse, the Washington Post reports. The owner, Brooke Houts, posted a video of her putting plastic wrap on her door to have her dog attempt to run through it “just see what he does” and was later seen slapping the dog, pinning him down and appearing to spit on him. Professor of property and animal law at Michigan State University David Favre told the Post what “constitutes animal abuse varies by the language in the laws in each state” and that “cases involving bruising an animal or breaking its skin can be grounds for someone to be prosecuted … smacking and pushing might be disrespectful, but it’s not necessarily illegal.” The Los Angeles Police Department investigated the accusations against Houts and “determined it didn’t rise to the level of animal cruelty.”

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Elephant at the Center of Nonhuman Rights Case Dies at 54

An elephant at the center of a fight for nonhuman rights died yesterday at 54, the Boston Globe reports. Beulah, according to advocates, was brought to Connecticut’s Commerford Zoo in 1973 and had been a fixture of circuses and fairs in the area; including the Eastern States Exposition where she collapsed and died. The Nonhuman Right’s Project in 2017 filed a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Beulah and two other elephants owned by the zoo, seeking immediate release of the animals. The petition was ultimately denied in the Connecticut Superior Court, with its decision upheld by the state’s Appellate Court. 

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Pig Ears Recalled After Salmonella Outbreak

A second company is recalling its pig ear treats after a salmonella outbreak affecting 93 people in 27 states, CBS News reports. The latest recalled products — Premium Natural Pig Ears eight packs — were sent to retail stores and distributers by the Lennox Group company between May 1 and July 3. Another business, Pet Supplies Plus, announced a recall last month regarding salmonella tainted pig ears sold at more than 400 stores in 33 states, including Tennessee. Experts urge consumers who purchased bulk pig ears to throw them away.

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Analyzing the Politics of Animal Rights

Animal rights remains a hot button issue, with advocates making noise both legally and socially. Our furry friends have recently benefitted from state and national legislatures enacting laws to curb abuse, initiatives from fashion designers to end the use of pelts and at least one major car manufacturer now offering “vegan” vehicles. The Washington Post last week published an analysis on animal rights supporters by collecting data on the correlation between political ideology, wealth, religious beliefs, and gender; showing how each of these factors shape the bigger picture regarding support of animal and human rights. You can view that analysis here.

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