In an unprecedented move, a French criminal court has condemned the practice of illegal routine tail docking of pigs and issued a fine of 50,000 euros, including 25,000 suspended, against the owners of a pig farm.
On Wednesday 6 April, the owners of a pig farm in Limoise, France supplying the Herta brand were sentenced a fine of 50,000 euros by the Moulins criminal court. The court considered the systematic docking of animals’ to be an act of abuse.
Tail docking is the practice of shortening a pig’s tail to prevent tail biting.
Tail biting usually occurs when pigs are bored or stressed due to their poor quality environment, poor health or lack of stimulation. The procedure is normally carried out without pain relief on piglets younger than 7 days. Although banned since 1994, routine tail docking is carried out in 99% of French pig farms.
This condemnation marks a real turning point! An offense tolerated for 20 years is finally condemned by justice. Tail docking is practiced routinely in almost all farms, with the complacency of state services. France was even called to order by the European Commission in 2020. The message sent today by justice is clear: the regulations concerning the conditions of animal breeding cannot be negotiated. It must apply to all farms, whether the breeding sectors like it or not, and the State is required to apply it.
Animal Law Italia urges Italian policymakers to seek a balance between the respect of religious freedom and the essential need to protect animal welfare.
Our member organisation “ALI” (Animal Law Italia) is calling on the Italian Government and Parliament to urgently review the legal framework allowing slaughtering without stunning for religious purposes. The request is supported by a comprehensive paper (see English summary here) written by legal experts and university professors of law and veterinary medicine, with the purpose of better understanding ritual slaughter and raising public awareness on the neglected issue of animal slaughter without stunning.
The research analyses the current context and the regulatory framework in force in Italy and in Europe, explaining the reasons supporting the proposed regulatory revision according to science, bioethics and consumer protection, accompanied by a feasibility plan. The association also consulted the interested religious communities, whose positions were duly noted and reported in the document.
The pledge is supported by an open letter that is accepting signatures by academics and veterinarians and a petition to the Italian policymakers.
Ritual slaughter has been considered a fundamental issue by animal welfare advocates for decades. During the last few years, different solutions have emerged throughout Europe, such as “reversibile slaughter” in Belgium, allowing a dramatic reduction of suffering for slaughtered animals, yet respecting the freedom of religion, as the Court of Justice of the European Union evaluated in December 2020.
The jurists and veterinarians therefore ask that the Italian policymakers make the use of pre-cut reversible stunning in ritual slaughter mandatory, as an effective compromise solution between the necessary protection of freedom of religion and a better consideration of the interests of consumers and the protection of animal welfare. This does not mean that other technical solutions could not also be explored in the future, as soon as they have been scientifically validated.
Animal Law Italia is confident that a dialogue can be established with religious communities, in order to quickly identify a shared solution capable of safeguarding the welfare of animals during ritual slaughters.
The review of the Italian regulatory framework for ritual slaughter is urgently needed, in light of the growing consideration towards better treatment of food-producing animals. The recent amendment of the Italian Constitution, which now includes animal protection amongst its fundamental principles, requires a comprehensive reform of all the previous legislation concerning animals.
Alessandro Ricciuti, lawyer and chairperson of Animal Law Italia
Three trucks carrying lambs sanctioned by traffic police in Italy following investigation
22 April 2022
During Essere Animali’s roadside checks with MEP Eleonora Evi, three trucks carrying lambs were sanctioned by the traffic police. The conditions were not adequate to guarantee that the animals could move naturally. In one case, a lamb traveled for hours with one leg stuck between the bars of the truck.
Two vehicles from Hungary and one from Romania, each carrying over 700 lambs across four floors, were identified at the border with Slovenia. They were reported to the authorities and followed at a distance for a total of over 2,500 km, until the traffic police intercepted them. The vehicles were sanctioned under Legislative Decree 25 July 2007, n. 151 which provides for the sanctions for the violation of the provisions stipulated in European Regulation 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.
In particular, the violations concerned the insufficient height of the compartments, which did not allow the animals to move naturally. The lambs’ heads touched the upper floor of the compartment, a condition that can cause bumps, bruises, and burns, as well as preventing adequate ventilation of the compartments. For violations of the provisions on animal welfare during transport, penalties can reach up to 6,000 euros.
Essere Animali’s activists also filmed a lamb that traveled for hours with one leg stuck between the truck bars, as well as issues related to the watering system installed in the vehicles, which several organisations have denounced as unsuitable for some time as it puts lambs at risk of suffering from thirst and potentially dehydration.
We thank MEP Eleonora Evi for her valuable collaboration, and police forces for their timely intervention. We will inform the European Commission and the Minister of Health of the outcome of the violations, providing images that document this alarming reality. The European Regulation, in addition to being frequently violated, is unable to concretely protect animals. Today it is legal to transport lambs less than two months old for journeys lasting up to 30 hours, subjecting them to conditions that cause them great stress and suffering. Together with other NGOs from all over Europe, we are calling for greater animal protection, such as a ban on the transport of live animals over long distances and unweaned animals. The European Union has the opportunity to really improve the conditions of animals; it shouldn’t betray the demands of its citizens.
Shots from my garden yesterday (28/4) and today; one of many vulpines (foxes) who come round and chill; get some scoff, and then vanish.
I love foxes; some (Limited numbers) folk still hate them; considering them pests; but I welcome them with open arms and some snacks to enjoy. Why persecute them ? – is finding food and daily survival not difficult enough for them ? – if I can help with a few food snacks and ensuring they are mange free then I will.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Activists who have disrupted three Minnesota Timberwolves games in two NBA arenas over the past two weeks are demanding that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor relinquish his role as governor and contribute $11.3 million to various entities on behalf of animal welfare.
The activists, members of the organization Direct Action Everywhere, are targeting Taylor for his ownership of Rembrandt Farms, a large-scale factory farm that produces tens of millions of eggs each year. Rembrandt’s facility experienced an outbreak of bird influenza in March.
“To have Taylor and other extremely powerful factory farming businessmen getting these taxpayer bailouts flies in the face of the values of ordinary Americans,” Direct Action Everywhere media contact and activist Matt Johnson said. “Taylor should set a powerful example by stepping away from NBA ownership and refusing to take any subsidies related to the HPAI outbreak, and donate funds previously received to help repair some of the harm of the most destructive industry on the planet.”
To combat the highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic, the company killed more than 5 million birds with a method called ventilation shutdown plus at one of its primary facilities in Iowa. Under the method, air flow into the industrial sheds where the birds reside is closed off. Activists deem the practice inhumane.
Protester Alicia Saturio glued her hands to the court during live play in the Timberwolves’ play-in game against the LA Clippers on April 12 at Target Center in Minneapolis, the first of the three incidents. Security quickly lifted her from the court and ejected her.
“I was nervous,” Saturio told ESPN. “I had never super-glued myself to anything. I wasn’t sure how the fans were going to respond. I most certainly didn’t want any of the players to be hurt, so I made sure to do it when they were down at the other end of the court.”
In Game 1 of Minnesota’s first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies, activist Zoe Rosenberg chained herself to a basket stanchion near Taylor’s seat during the game at FedExForum in Memphis. She was quickly unchained by police and carried out of the arena. Rosenberg faces charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Johnson attended Game 3 at Target Center with the intention of disrupting play. He was apprehended and tackled by security before he could reach the floor. He was placed under arrest and banned from Target Center for one year.
In Game 4 of the series in Minneapolis, activist Sasha Zemmel rushed the court just in front of Taylor, interrupting live play. She was dressed in an NBA official’s uniform. Her intention was to approach Taylor, whose net worth was estimated at $2.5 billion by Forbes magazine in 2020, and call a “technical foul” on the Timberwolves and Rembrandt Farms owner.
Security personnel immediately tackled her to the floor and removed her before she could make the gesture. The referee’s jersey number was 5.3 to represent the 5.3 million birds killed at Rembrandt. Zemmel faces charges of disorderly conduct and fifth-degree assault.
“I didn’t even know what that was,” Timberwolves young star Anthony Edwards said following Minnesota’s Game 4 win. “Y’all got to stop running on the floor in Minnesota. Do that in Memphis. We don’t need it.”
Direct Action Everywhere performs public acts of civil disobedience as well as what it calls rescue missions at farm factories. Though the recent actions are in response to the killings at Rembrandt, the group more broadly opposes factory farming.
The organization has filed a complaint to local and state authorities in Iowa alleging that Rembrandt’s conduct violated state law. It demands that Taylor expedite the pending sale of the team to Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who have agreed to terms. Direct Action Everywhere also is demanding that Taylor Corp., parent company of Rembrandt, donate the $11.3 million it received in federal funds to aid in a 2015 outbreak to public health and animal welfare organizations.
Neither the Timberwolves nor representatives of Taylor provided comments by the time of publication.
Protections for animals have been boosted this week as pieces of legislation banning the use of cruel glue traps and introducing fines for people who fail to provide the proper levels of care to their pets, zoo animals and livestock became law.
The Glue Traps (Offences) Act bans the use of inhumane glue traps which are a widely available method of rodent control but can cause immense suffering.
Animals can remain alive for 24 hours or more, eventually dying of stress, exhaustion, dehydration or self-inflicted injuries. Wildlife and domestic pets can also get stuck to the traps.
Under the Animals (Penalty Notices) Act people who fail to properly care for their pets, zoo animals and livestock could face fines of up to £5,000.
The measures in the Act will help drive up animal welfare standards closing the gap between warnings and criminal prosecution, and acting as an important deterrent alongside the current five-year maximum prison sentence for animal welfare offences, which was increased through the Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act passed last year.
Under this new legislation, fines could be handed out by enforcement authorities to pet breeders who fail to microchip puppies before being rehomed, horse owners tethering their animal in a way that neglects their basic needs or a farmer transporting livestock that are not fit for travel.
In addition, the Government’s Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has this week also gained Royal Assent. This will create a new Animal Sentience Committee made up of experts from within the field.
Animal welfare minister Lord Zac Goldsmith said:
We are a nation of animal lovers and the passing of today’s legislation is a significant moment for the health and welfare of the country’s animals.
The UK, since leaving the EU, has been able to further strengthen its position as a global leader on animal rights. The penalty notice measures being introduced today will act as a powerful deterrent, building on measures we have already taken such as increasing prison sentences for cruelty offences. We will also be protecting wildlife and domestic pets from falling victim to inhumane glue traps, and we have delivered on our manifesto commitment to put animal sentience provisions into law.
The Glue Traps (Offences) Act will ensure licences to use glue traps are only issued to professional pest controllers on an exceptional basis, to preserve public health or safety where there is no suitable alternative. Licence holders would then need to follow conditions set out in the licence to ensure the welfare of any rodents is upheld, such as regular monitoring of set traps. This means those found to have used a trap without a licence could face up to six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
RSPCA Director of Advocacy and Policy Emma Slawinski said:
It’s a good week for animal welfare; the RSPCA has been campaigning on these issues for a long time. Glue traps inflict awful injuries on wildlife, pets and other animals; it’s high time they were banned.
Recognising that animals experience feelings and emotions is vital to help protect them and Fixed Penalty Notices will help to bridge the gap between advice and prosecution.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Michael Webb, said:
As a leading animal welfare organisation, we welcome the steps made today to further protect all animals. We hope that the new Penalty Notices Act will be an effective tool in clamping down on minor offences, including breaching microchipping regulations, alongside the continued use of the Animal Welfare Act to punish those who commit an offence that harms animals.
We look forward to working with Defra to establish in greater detail which offences will be subject to the use of Fixed Penalty Notices, to ensure the Act is as effective as possible.
A statement from the Government says these three acts will help build on their “commitment to provide leadership on animal welfare and revolutionise the treatment of animals in the UK and introduce measures to protect the health and welfare of animals at home and abroad, as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”
Enjoy a non Abba Waterloo; I saw the doctor back in 1981 – featuring the Anadin brothers (2 girls) who sing here – I am sure that 1-03 ‘So What’ is Lemmy from ‘Motorhead’ ? – and Roy Wood (Wizard) on sax ?
Phoenix also penned the foreword for the 30th anniversary paperback edition, out May 5, for PETA founder and president Ingrid Newkirk.
Oscar winner and longtime vegan Joaquin Phoenix could soon be taking his animal activism to the big screen.
The actor has acquired film rights to Free the Animals, the 1992 book by PETA founder and president Ingrid Newkirk, about the militant group Animal Liberation Front. Phoenix also penned the foreword for the 30th anniversary paperback edition, out May 5.
The tome’s full title is Free the Animals: The Amazing, True Story of the Animal Liberation Front in North America. It follows “Valerie,” a young police officer whose world is turned upside down when she comes face to face with a group of monkeys removed from an animal testing laboratory. Along the way, she encounters people who are willing to risk freedom for the cause, and she joins them in living on the run from the law that she swore to uphold.
In a bid to inspire the next generation of activists, Phoenix writes, “Yes, Free the Animals is about the balaclava-wearing heroes who break windows and laws to save animals, but it’s also about everyone. It’s a call to us all to take action. Whether it’s wielding crowbars and bolt-cutters or picking up a pen or a protest sign, every one of us can and must fight injustice and push for animal liberation every chance we get.”
Phoenix’s foreword adds more context to a high-profile stop he made during his awards season run for his Oscar-winning turn in Joker. After picking up a Screen Actors Guild prize, Phoenix, still in his tuxedo, accompanied activists from LA Animal Save for a vigil outside a slaughterhouse in Vernon, California. “We offered a sip of water, comforting words and a gentle touch to the pigs on the transport trucks that stopped before passing through the gates,” he writes. “It’s heartbreaking to look into these individuals’ eyes and imagine what they must be feeling, to realize that we were likely offering them the only kindness they’d ever known, and that in a few moments, their lives would come to a violent end.”
Phoenix continues by addressing a question that he’s asked about why he attends such vigils and why he doesn’t buy animal products. The answer is simple, he writes. “I’ve seen the torture and killing that occurs when someone takes — steals — what rightly belongs to another living being. Strips what’s theirs right off their back or kills them so that parts of their body can be eaten or worn. I’ve seen what horror and fear animals in laboratories live in simply because they aren’t protected from human curiosity and there’s money in caging them to test things, like how they will react when frightened by a rubber snake or when their babies are torn away from them. Knowing all that, I have a moral obligation to act. And I know that’s how the heroes of this book, Free the Animals, felt, too.”
THR checked in with the author, Newkirk, for her response to Phoenix acquiring the feature film rights, and she said that she fielded “considerable interest” from two other stars. But she went with Phoenix in the hope that he not only directs the film but also stars in it. Newkirk has even zeroed in on the role he could play.
“I’m convinced he would win another Oscar for playing Josh, the Navy whistleblower who risked a court-martial to get help for a little dog about to die in a deep-sea diving experiment and who then went on to lead the West Coast Animal Liberation Front teams that freed many more animals who faced certain death,” she says. “Joaquin understands what animals go through and lives and breathes animal rights — it’s part of his very being. I also have his word that he would never allow the use of real animals, who often spend their lives in cages and are shipped to Hollywood sets to perform what to them are stressful, nonsensical, repetitious acts. Instead, he would use computer-generated imagery or domestic animals who live as companions — and of course, he would have access to PETA’s photo and video vaults, which contain footage from the raids described in the book.”
Phoenix, who last starred in Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon, next toplines Ari Aster’s Disappointment Blvd. and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon.
My eyes reflect the blue of the sea When they are in freedom, naturally I can jump up so high Chase and play Catch my food This is the dolphin way But when in a small space Entrapped and alone Or even with others All I can do is moan The blue sea reflection Flickers then dies Lost in man’s deception Why bother to try
The animal rights group that unearthed reports of poor treatment of Lolita the Killer Whale, and later revealed the orca’s illness, has appealed to Miami-Dade County officials for transparency about her current status and care.
“In addition to Lolita’s potential transfer, we want to ensure that Miami Seaquarium has already made substantial changes to ensure that she is currently receiving appropriate care,” wrote Jared Goodman, general counsel for animal law of the PETA Foundation, in a letter sent Monday.
The letter from the animal rights group comes as activists and advocates of the famed orca, whose plight has captivated a global following, grow concerned over the scarcity of information about her. In the void, recent social media posts have generated anxious buzz.
Goodman’s letter, sent to county Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and Commissioner Raquel Regalado, followed weeks of virtual silence about Lolita. Last month, Levine Cava and Regalado announced an arrangement with the orca’s owner, Miami Seaquarium, for an assessment of her health by independent veterinarians.
That agreement, plus the Seaquarium’s decision to retire Lolita as an entertainer, renewed a frenzy of speculation and optimism about the potential release of the orca that has been a captive performer at the marine park for more than half a century.
The actions followed PETA’s divulging, a month earlier, that the orca, believed to be in her mid 50s, suffered from pneumonia. The Seaquarium never denied the report, but at the time only acknowledged Lolita was “under the weather.”
In his letter, Goodman also referenced even more damning disclosures by PETA last fall. That’s when the animal rights advocacy organization revealed allegations by a former Seaquarium veterinarian that the orca was “fed her rotten fish, required her to engage in behaviors that harmed her, and held her in such poor water quality that it injured her eyes.”
With federal and state agencies choosing not to exert regulatory watchdog authority over the Seaquarium’s care of Lolita, it’s up to Miami-Dade County officials, PETA says. In the regulatory vacuum that now exists, PETA said it is calling on county officials to “act immediately and transparently concerning Lolita’s care and their plans for her future,” which the organization said it supports transferring her to a seaside sanctuary
“The agencies that could exercise jurisdiction are not doing so,” Goodman said. “So we are left with the county, which has assured us they will do the right thing, but then has been pretty much silence.”
USDA exempts Miami Seaquarium orca, Pacific porpoises from oversight
Lolita, known as Tokitae by U.S. orca advocates, is now in the hands of a different managerial team at the Miami Seaquarium.
The new company in charge, The Dolphin Co., also owns three other Florida marine animal attractions, including Gulf World in the Panhandle and Marineland in St. Augustine. The company’s CEO, Eduardo Albor, has not responded to numerous requests for an interview about the company’s plans for its Florida parks.
The Dolphin Co.’s license to run the Seaquarium, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, carved out the orca and the Pacific porpoises that share her tank from the federal agency’s regulatory authority.
After the county unveiled the agreement with the Seaquarium for the independent health exam for Lolita, PETA sent a list of recommended veterinarians to Commissioner Regalado.
Goodman said Regalado has not responded. So far, however, it does not appear that independent exam has taken place. Regalado did not respond to a request last week from the Palm Beach Post and the USA Today Florida Network for comment.
Animal rights lawyer said USDA has “washed its hands” of Lolita
USDA officials declined to be interviewed for this article. The agency did say it would answer written questions. But after the questions were submitted, the agency chose not to provide answers.
Instead, it simply issued this blanket statement: “Lolita is currently not being used for any activities covered under the Animal Welfare Act. USDA inspections will continue at the facility for all covered species and activities. Inspection reports, including animal inventories, will be available through the public search tool.”
Delcianna Winders, professor and Animal Law and Policy Institute Director
at the Vermont Law School, said the USDA has for a decade neglected its oversight responsibility for Lolita under the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The 1966 law set national standards for humane care and treatment of animals used for commercial purposes, including for display or entertainment at zoos and marine parks. Winders said, in Lolita’s case, the small size of her tank at the Seaquarium, the lack of protection from the sun and the absence of social companionship from other orcas all amounted to serious Animal Welfare Act violations.
“Under the law, the outcome here should have been no exhibitor license whatsoever,” said Winders, who argued an Endangered Species Act case on Lolita’s behalf as well as a challenge to the Seaquarium’s license while she worked as a PETA attorney.
Winders, who directed PETA’s captive animal law enforcement division, said exempting Lolita from the Seaquarium’s license is a “novel” regulatory approach. Doing so, she said, should at least prompt the USDA to put in a place safeguards for her care and needs, and to make sure that the third party team of veterinarians is truly independent and not tied to the attractions industry.
“The USDA apparently wants to wash its hands of the situation after a decade of being complicit in creating it,” Winders said. “It puts a tremendous burden on the USDA to make sure that, in light of the novel approach they’ve taken, they are going to ensure her well being is accounted for given that they are saying they are not going to take responsibility going forward.”
It also obligates the USDA, Winders added, to take a proactive approach in working with other federal agencies to seek a better and more appropriate home for her.
“USDA is the agency that was supposed to have been protecting her for all of these years,” she said. “It’s the least they can do for her, and they owe her at least that much.”
Congress oversight of USDA animal welfare missing “piece of the puzzle”
Florida’s zoos, marine parks, aquariums and theme park meccas are major draws for many of the 100 million-plus tourists that visit the state every year.
The Florida Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a nonprofit that sets “high ethical standards” for animal care, lists 21 members. They include titans like Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
The organization also includes as members the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, Lion Country Safari, Brevard Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Mote Marine Laboratory, Naples Zoo and St. Augustine Alligator Farm.
Despite the presence in Florida of so many zoos, marine parks and aquariums, and their valuable role in the state’s all-important tourism industry, the state has limited representation in the Capitol Hill committees that oversee the USDA and its animal welfare law compliance.
The state has just two congressional representatives — out of 50 — on the House Agriculture Committee. And neither of the two, U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, a Republican, and Al Lawson, a Democrat, come from districts in major tourism centers.
Moreover, neither of Florida’s U.S. senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, serve on that chamber’s agriculture committee.
Lack of congressional oversight, and little participation from Florida’s Washington delegation partly explains the lack of scrutiny on the USDA, according to Winders.
“That is a really big piece of the puzzle,” she said. “The Florida situation is unique but there is woefully insufficient congressional oversight of the Animal Welfare Act overall.”
Winders said the congressional committees have not held an Animal Welfare Act oversight hearing for many years. Even though, she noted, the USDA’s own inspector general has issued reports chiding the agency for failing to enforce the law.
“This is our most important animal protection statute. It impacts millions of animals in every state,” she said. “They are just not stepping up. They are letting the USDA get away with not doing the job. And animals are suffering for it, and people, too.”
Winders said it’s time animal welfare protection is place din a separate agency, as was done on environmental issues through the Environmental Protection Agency.
“The larger problem is that we have asked the Department of Agriculture to protect animals,” she said. “Animal protection is very low on their list, if it is on their list at all. It’s just a really poor fit for the responsibilities under this statute.”
Two years ago, our lives were shaken by COVID-19. As COVID-19 may have shown all too clearly, diseases can jump to humans from other animals. In fact, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals. So, how we treat wild and farmed animals isn’t just critically important to their wellbeing. It is crucial to human health.
Will you join over 312,000 people who have already signed, and add your name now?
This is one reason why, Compassion sounded the alarm on the growing emergency to change our farming system, with a petition urging international institutions to take action. During these last two years, many voices raised in the same direction, and in November 2021, the World Health Assembly committed to an international treaty on pandemic causes and response. This was a first victory, but we now need to have factory farming and animal welfare included in this treaty and linked with pandemic risk.
At the start of July, a meeting of countries in charge of the redaction of the Treaty on Pandemics will be held; this is the best time to hand over our petition and show that citizens around the world are aware of the connection between factory farming, animal welfare and pandemic, and ask for change. We will hand over our petition with other organisations, to show how many people worldwide care about this. If you have not signed the petition yet, we need you to raise your voice! We will be your spokesperson and hand in your signature directly.
We all have been impacted and suffered during the COVID crisis; we should not miss this opportunity to act so this is never allowed to happen again. Many thanks in advance for your support. Together we will be able to make it heard that there can’t be health security whilst factory farming continues. For the animals,