Browsing "Animal Husbandry"

Congratulations to USARK!

NAIA  and NAIA Trust are proud to announce a HUGE legal victory by one of our friends in the fight for animal owners’ rights. On April 7, 2017, the US Court of Appeals, DC District, ruled in favor of United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) over the US Fish and Wildlife Service, HSUS, and the Center for Biological Diversity. HSUS intervened in the case filed by USARK, thinking they could crush the little guy and got much more than they bargained for.

USARK advocates for the practice of responsible herpetoculture: the husbandry of reptiles & amphibians for conservation projects, zoos, museums, research facilities, education, and pets. The members practice conservation through captive breeding and work hard to preserve the right to do so.

Interpretation of a Federal law called the Lacey Act was the main dispute in this case. In 2013, USARK challenged a 2012 rule by the US Fish and Wildlife Service that designated 4 species of snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act. Four more species were added by a rule change in 2015, including the reticulated python and the green anaconda, and USARK amended their case. HSUS and Center for Biological Diversity began as only filing amicus briefs, which is basically interjecting an opinion but not actually participating as a party to the case. They later became intervening parties in 2015.

Green Anaconda

Green Anaconda

The Lacey Act is a longstanding Federal law that was enacted in 1900, with the principal “object and purpose” to “regulate the introduction of American or foreign birds or animals into localities where they have not heretofore existed.” The Act created a criminal prohibition against importation into the US of certain species, and the empowerment to declare species injurious and add them to regulation as needed. In 1960, the criminalization section was codified and clarified, but as too often happens in the law, was unintentionally made clear as mud.

The precise wording in the code prohibits “any shipment between the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any possession of the United States.” This small sentence and its interpretation was the entire issue here. FWS recently decided to interpret the sentence to bar shipments not only from other countries into the listed locales and between the listed locales, but also between the 49 continental US states. HSUS and CBD supported this interpretation, USARK disagreed.

Injunctive relief was awarded by the D.C. District Court to USARK and its members in May 2015, which FWS, HSUS and CBD then challenged through appeal. The Federal Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court decision.

The Court used a plain language interpretation to come to their decision. The Court found that the use of the word “between” introduced the list with a one-to-one relationship between the listed items. It does not speak to the relationships within any listed objects, but prohibits one-to-one within the list. The court gave the example of there being no games between the NFL teams, MLB teams, and NBA teams. While there will not be football v baseball games or baseball v basketball games, there will be games between football teams themselves and so on.

The same goes for shipment under the Lacey Act—it does not speak to shipment WITHIN one of the listed jurisdictions but BETWEEN only the listed jurisdictions, such as between Hawaii and the continental US states. If there had been intent for the law to mean interstate, there would have been no need to reference Hawaii separate from the continental US. Not only did the court interpret the plain language, but looked to the history of the Lacey Act overall and found that to also be consistent with the plain language interpretation as well. The Lacey Act originally addressed only foreign species but as the country and travel evolved, limited it by land space further: barring shipments from other countries and between islands to the continental US.

Although this ruling has withheld entry of final judgment while the time lapses for the FWS, HSUS, and/or CBD to file an appeal, the likelihood of one being granted to even hear the case much less win on the merits is quite low. There are some side issues to be clarified still under this preliminary injunction, but bottom line is that this was a major victory for USARK. The Court (consisting of a three-judge panel) ruled unanimously in their favor. The years of hard work, perseverance, and let’s be honest, the funding it takes to fight a case of this magnitude for this long, has been well worth it. We congratulate USARK on a very hard earned and momentous victory!

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The Dog Lover

The Dog Lover, a film produced by Forrest Lucas, founder and chair of Protect the Harvest, was recently released into select theaters, and is available through on demand, and on DVD at Walmart. The story is based off of various real-life events, most notably, an HSUS raid on a breeder, where the judge ruled that the search warrant was wrongfully obtained by an animal control officer who intentionally misled the court, and stars Allison Paige, James Remar, and Lea Thompson.

For a brief synopsis:

SARA GOLD is a rising star at the United Animal Protection Agency (UAPA), a major animal rights organization that conducts animal rescues and lobbies for better animal welfare laws. Handpicked for a major assignment, Sara goes undercover as a college intern to infiltrate a suspected “puppy mill” run by the enigmatic DANIEL HOLLOWAY.

Sarah soon ingratiates herself with Daniel and his family, and learns all about the world of dog breeding but is hard pressed to find any sign of animal abuse. The UAPA teams up with local law enforcement and raids the farm, accusing Daniel of the inhumane treatment of animals. Sara finds herself torn between doing her job and doing what’s right, and she awakens to the moral contradictions of her work with the UAPA.

If you have even a passing interest in dogs and a curiosity about the worlds of dog breeding and animal activism (especially the big-name animal-rights fundraising groups), we can’t recommend this highly enough!

On side note, the film asks its viewers to “investigate before you donate,” a message that is essential if we are going to break through the barriers of propaganda and social media outrage and have a serious discussion on issues of animal care and welfare. With that in mind, it is sadly telling how so many discussions in the online community about this film choose to ignore or reject its message in favor of questioning Forrest Lucas’s background and motives (like this LA Times review that seems rather disinterested in covering the movie itself). We know cognitive dissonance is painful, folks, but part of making intelligent, helpful, and adult decisions is investigating all facets of an issue, even if it involves some of your sacred cows.

Click here to see if The Dog Lover is playing near you, to order it online, or to read more about the film!

TheDogLover

 

May 2, 2016 - Animal Husbandry    No Comments

Shout-out to the Canine Breeder Excellence Seminar at Penn Vet!

Dog breeders attending a conference at the University of Pennsylvania last weekend got one heck of a lesson in the finer points of animal husbandry:

[…] a serious, sophisticated group of about 40 dog breeders who had traveled from as far away as North Carolina to learn about reproduction, genetics, behavior, and the dog microbiome at a scientific conference at the University of Pennsylvania.

Serious and sophisticated? Do those adjectives sound snobby, maybe even a little cold? They shouldn’t — at the heart of the work so many purebred dog breeders put into the dogs they love is the “serious and sophisticated” knowledge offered by seminars like this!

Doing it the right way, with the health and well-being of your dogs and puppies (and their puppies’s puppies!) as prime concern is a lot more complicated than just “throwing two intact dogs together,” especially with the smaller populations many breeds of dogs are working with. How cool it is to see these breeders putting in the time and effort to ensure the best lives for their dogs — and how cool it is that there are so many opportunities like this available today!

 

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Remember the Breeders!

In light of the ridiculous outrage over a shelter director *gasp* buying a Collie from a breeder, and the petitions and attacks from online activists (two of whom have now been cited for harassment, by the way), it is easy to get mired in that totalitarian absurdity, to respond with outrage of one’s own, to point out the contradictions and inevitable extinction (usually unintentional) of healthy, well-adjusted dogs that awaits us at the end of the activists’ road…

But do not stare too long into that abyss, move in the positive, hakuna matata (ok, maybe worry a little)… let us never forget that there are so many wonderful things good breeders have to offer! It may be stated regularly, but it can never be stated enough:

Our communities need reputable, responsible breeders. They work hard to screen their dogs for diseases, to eliminate health problems, to protect and preserve the breeds they serve, and they provide us with with healthy, well-tempered dogs. And no matter what the activists try to tell you, remember that these people do not contribute to the number of homeless dogs; a good breeder sells on a contract and will take back a dog from an owner who can not or will not provide proper care. A great many of them also work in breed rescue, which helps keep dogs out of shelters.

People want dogs. You could argue that people need dogs. So guess what? Without breeders, people are still going to sell dogs to one another — the only difference being that pet sales would be driven underground. No regulation, sales taking place in the shadows with no contracts, guarantees, or accountability — the prime concern being to simply “move the merchandise.” Isn’t this exactly what we don’t want?

And speaking of serving their communities, remember that breeders not only provide companions, but also service dogs that help our police, military, and fellow citizens with special needs.

We, too, are appalled by the intolerance of people who would deny a shelter director her choice of dog, but we will never forget to applaud all of the passionate breeders who provide us with loving, healthy pets.

Thank you!

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