Webinar presenter David Rosengard answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty. Here are just a few of his responses.
Audience Question: Lorie’s asking, I’m working on a case with approximately 65 animals. Most are dogs used for breeding. But there’s also a horse, a donkey, and some ducks. All the dogs are chained which is illegal tethering in our county. The horse is chained in full sun and the donkeys are chained in full sun. I’m reaching out to a number of national organizations. We are a very small county, very small agency. How can ALDF help, can you kind of talk us through just so that the audience can kind of hear? How do you triage cases like this?
David Rosengard: Yeah, so, so, I can walk through a few different ways we can help. It sounds like one issue, and you’ve already got this covered on the dogs, but one issue would be what sort of criminal liability, what kind of exposure potentially is there for the clients, the horse, and whatnot. And there will dig through the statute. So, figure out whether that kind of tethering is, in fact, a violation of cruelty law. And in a lot of places, that would be. And we can do that sort of preparatory legal research and assistance. We can also assist, in terms of costs of care. We have some grants available in different pools, we have some general grant funds, farmed animal-specific grant funds. And our triage process largely looks at the need, given that we do criminal work, it’s got to be a criminal case. If you’ve got something that doesn’t have any criminal, not even a potential for criminal exposure, sadly, we are going to have to pass on that. Because it would be outside of our grant boundaries. But after that, if we’ve got the resources available and it fits in a grant category that we’ve got funds, we will help out.
Audience Question: David, can you explain where that 28-hour law came from, what, where does that Figure 28 hours actually originate from?
David Rosengard: Yeah, so it’s a statutory limit imposed at the federal level, and honestly, I’m not sure why they chose 28. My suspicion, given the era this came up in, is that that was probably at the time read as being a reasonable compromise between the needs of animals and the needs of the slaughter industry. This is back in the day when a lot of animals were being for example trucked up to Chicago to be slaughtered. And so, there is a negotiation, I’m sure legislatively in on Capitol Hill to figure out where the line is between the efficiency of the profit motive of giving the animals there quickly and the pain and suffering animals experience when they’re stuck in transit for extensive periods of time without food, water, access to not relieving themselves on each other, that kind of thing.
Audience Question: David, can you explain how the different states decide an animal is protected and how they’re protected. So, for example, in one of your tables, you talked about how Arkansas and South Carolina had the except fish or the except poultry provisions. How do they go through that law, that logic?
David Rosengard: So, that’s going to be a statutory decision. And so that is made ultimately by the lawmakers in each of those states’ legislatures. And how they get there comes from a lot of places. There are some states that haven’t looked at that portion of their cruelty law in a long time. And so, they may just not have update it to meet the most recent science. There was a period in American history where people thought, fish don’t feel pain. We know scientifically at this point that, of course, fish feel pain. They have nervous systems. They tried to avoid things that hurt. But if you go back to the mid-1800s, that wasn’t something science was as clear on, or at least it wasn’t something that state houses were as clear on. There are some statehouses that have revised their law that excluded certain animals for convenience or certain lobbying interests. I would encourage people if you want to see those laws made more coherent and rational, to reach out to your lawmakers, and let them know.
Audience Question: How do we get stricter cruelty laws passed in like, for example, North Carolina. Do you have any advice, any examples of laws that can be used to get passed? Or is there additional help at ALDF can provide in terms of walking people through how to get these laws changed?
David Rosengard: Certainly. So, there are two places to go for examples of better laws. One place to look is our ALDF annually updated compendium of laws that was the map you saw earlier. You can look at, for example, at the top five states and look at their laws. Also, we will be shortly publishing a comprehensive model law that is generically applicable to any state. You can take the whole thing or just take part of it and plug it right into your statute. And so, that’s where you can get an example of a good law. How did you get that in place? There are a few options that I think are useful, and one is to be really frank with lawmakers about the way the law works. For example, if lawmakers are concerned that, including chickens, in the definition of animal, is going to cause a revolt on the part of their constituents who are chicken farmers. My response is, “Your law already excludes good animal husbandry practices or accepted animal husbandry practices from being criminal. What are people doing with chickens that is not an accepted husbandry practice that they feel the need to protect?” It is better to deal with your law in terms of us, as a society, deciding how we are and are not willing to see animals treated, what we are and are not willing to have done with our name in our name. It is better to deal with that on the level of conduct than on the level of excluding creatures from the definition of animal.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Prosecuting Farmed Animal Cruelty.