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PETA filed suit against Seaquarium, alleging that it perpetrated an unlawful take by harming or harassing Lolita, a killer whale, in violation of section 9(a)(1)(B) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1538(a)(1)(B). The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Seaquarium, but did not agree that actionable harm or harassment included only deadly or potentially deadly harm. Rather, the court held that Seaquarium was entitled to summary judgment because the evidence, construed in the light most favorable to PETA, did not support the conclusion that the conditions of her captivity pose a threat of serious harm to Lolita. View "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Miami Seaquarium" on Justia Law

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The DC Circuit affirmed the Service's 2014 and 2015 findings that information concerning the size of the Zimbabwean elephant population and status of conservation efforts in Zimbabwe did not support a conclusion that killing the animal would enhance the survival of the species. The court rejected appellants' contention that the Service erred because it applied a standard that was more stringent than the "enhance" standard in the Service's regulation. However, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Service on a claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553, because the Service erred in adopting the findings without first following the notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements of the APA. The court remanded with instructions. View "Safari Club International v. Zinke" on Justia Law

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As many as 50,000 stray dogs roam Detroit’s streets, sometimes in packs. An ordinance allows animal control officers to capture and impound stray dogs owned in violation of licensing and vaccination provisions and to euthanize them under some circumstances. It makes it unlawful to refuse to surrender an animal that has attacked or bitten a person or other animal. It allows officers to enter “real property ... for the purpose of capturing, collecting, or restraining any animal,” without a warrant. Violations are misdemeanors. Detroit Animal Control officers seized each of the plaintiff’s dogs because the dogs were running loose off of the owners’ property, attacked a person or other animal, or during evictions. In their suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the district court granted the plaintiffs an injunction with respect to the warrantless search-and-seizure claim but granted the defendants judgment as a matter of law as to other claims because the plaintiffs could not show any constitutional violations. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment and several Fourth Amendment claims but reversed rejection of two Fourth Amendment claims. Most of the plaintiffs cannot show that a Detroit policy or custom directly caused the alleged search-and-seizure violations, and all of them cannot show a cognizable due-process violation. View "Hardrick v. City of Detroit" on Justia Law

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Johnson and Lang traveled from California to an Illinois mink farm where they released approximately 2000 minks from their cages and destroyed or damaged other property on the farm. While on their way to damage a fox farm, Johnson and Lang were arrested on state charges of possession of burglary tools. Johnson and Lang were charged in federal court with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), 18 U.S.C. 43(a)(2)(A) and (a)(2)(C). The Seventh Circuit affirmed the denial of their motions to dismiss, holding that AETA is not overbroad and does not violate the First Amendment because it does not prohibit lawful advocacy that causes only loss of profits or goodwill. AETA’s definite terms do not invite discriminatory prosecutions. Having the word “terrorism” in the title of the statute does not violate the defendants’ substantive due process rights because Congress had a rational basis for using the word. View "United States v. Lang" on Justia Law

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The "good faith belief" defense for a prosecution under 16 U.S.C. 1540 is governed by a subjective, rather than an objective, standard, and is satisfied when a defendant actually, even if unreasonably, believes his actions are necessary to protect himself or others from perceived danger from a grizzly bear. The Ninth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction for killing three grizzly bears in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court held that defendant was not entitled to a jury trial; the magistrate judge, who served as the trier of fact at trial, misconceived the self-defense element of the offense, and that error was not harmless; likewise, the district court applied an objective test and the error was not harmless; and defendant was not entitled to a jury trial on remand. View "United States v. Wallen" on Justia Law

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Tenant Marie Johnson appealed a trial court’s conclusion that she violated two material terms of her residential rental agreement: a “no-smoking” policy and a “no pets” policy. After review of the trial court record, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed based on the no-pets violation: the court did not err in concluding that tenant was not entitled to a reasonable accommodation for a specific emotional support animal. The record reflected that the landlord approved tenant’s request for an assistance animal as a reasonable accommodation, but did not approve of “Dutchess” as the specific animal because of the dog’s hostility, complaints from other residents, and tenant’s inability to restrain the dog. Given this holding, the Court did not address whether the trial court erred in finding that tenant violated the no-smoking policy. View "Gill Terrace Retirement Apartments, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Animal Welfare Act's (AWA), 7 U.S.C. 2133, compliance demonstration requirement does not unambiguously preclude USDA's license renewal scheme and the scheme is not facially unreasonable. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit challenging the USDA's most recent renewal of a license for animal exhibitors (Cricket Hollow Zoo), alleging that, at the time of the renewal, the agency was aware that Cricket Hollow was in violation of numerous animal welfare requirements under the Act and its implementing regulations. The DC Circuit held that the agency's renewal scheme was consistent with the demonstration requirement in section 2133. Because the agency's decision to renew the Cricket Hollow Zoo license was made in compliance with that regulatory scheme, it was not inconsistent with the Act. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the statutory claim; vacated the district court's order granting the Government's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' arbitrary and capricious claim; and remanded to the district court with instructions to remand the record to the agency for further proceedings. View "Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Perdue" on Justia Law

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Under Chicago’s 2014 “puppy mill” ordinance, pet retailers in the city “may offer for sale only those dogs, cats, or rabbits” obtained from an animal control or care center, pound, or kennel operated by local, state, or federal government or “a humane society or rescue organization.” Plaintiffs challenged the ordinance as exceeding the city’s home-rule powers and the implied limits on state power imposed by the Commerce Clause. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the case. The Illinois Constitution permits home-rule units like Chicago to regulate animal control and welfare concurrently with the state. The ordinance does not discriminate against interstate commerce, even in mild practical effect, so it requires no special cost-benefit justification under the Commerce Clause. The court found that the ordinance survives rational-basis review, noting the city’s concerns that large mill-style breeders are notorious for deplorable conditions and abusive breeding practices, including overbreeding, inbreeding, crowded and filthy living conditions, lack of appropriate socialization, and inadequate food, water, and veterinary care, causing pets to develop health and behavioral problems, creating economic and emotional burdens for pet owners and imposing financial costs on the city as owners abandon their pets. View "Park Pet Shop, Inc. v. City of Chicago" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of qualified immunity against a trooper who shot and killed plaintiff's dog when the dog ran onto a highway and obstructed traffic. The court held that the issue was not whether the trooper had the authority to seize the dog, but whether the degree of force he employed was reasonable to accomplish the necessary seizure. In this case, the trooper's actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances and he was entitled to qualified immunity. Even assuming a constitutional violation, the trooper was entitled to qualified immunity because his conduct did not violate a clearly established Fourth Amendment right. Plaintiff has not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that an officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he shot and killed an unrestrained, unsupervised dog creating a serious risk to public safety and avoiding numerous attempts to control him without force. View "Hansen v. Black" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment for plaintiffs in an action challenging California Health and Safety Code 25982. Section 25982 bans the sale of products made from force-fed birds, such as foie gras. The panel held that section 25982 is not expressly preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), because the PPIA prohibited states from imposing "ingredient requirements" that were "in addition to, or different than" the federal law. In this case, the ordinary meaning of "ingredient" and the purpose and scope of the PPIA together made clear that "ingredient requirements" pertain to the physical components that comprise a poultry product, not animal husbandry or feeding practices. The panel also held that the PPIA impliedly preempted section 25982 under the doctrines of field and obstacle preemption. Accordingly, the panel vacated the district court's permanent injunction and remanded for further proceedings. View "Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Becerra" on Justia Law