May 20, 2015
May 20, 2015
OPPOSE HB 234: Texas Animal Owners’ Rights at Risk
THIS BILL IS ON THE MOVE SO CALL & EMAIL SENATE COMMITTEE NOW! (See below)
HB 234 tacks on the Government’s attorney fees (unheard of) for a bond to appeal the hearing (not a trial) of an animal seizure. Why? So the bond will be so expensive no one can afford an appeal.
No Attorney Fees for the Owner if He or She Wins. If the owner wins, then the government does not have to reimburse his/her attorney fees (if lucky enough to have one) or expenses.
The Government Does not Always Get it Right. If animals are seized that does not always mean the owner was cruel. These are property cases and can divest you of your animals forever.
Hearing, Not a Trial & Not a Jury. In civil animal seizures an owner gets a hearing before a judge that is oftentimes not even an attorney (JP Courts do not require judge to be a lawyer).
Hearings are Stacked Against the Owner. The hearing occurs very quickly and can be the next day after the animals are taken so the owner often does not have an attorney. He alone facing a county attorney, investigators, sometimes vets, peace officer who got the warrant, and all of them will testify against the owner.
Appeal is the ONLY way to get a Trial & Jury. The ONLY way an owner gets a trial and a jury is if he can appeal the order from the hearing.
Animal Control & Shelters Receiving Seized Animals Do NOT Want Appeals. They do not want you to have an appeal because justice can be inconvenient and diminishes their power to take animals.
The Right to an Appeal & Jury Prevents Unbridled Government Power to Seize Property: The “Fat” Horse Case. For a while in Texas, there were no appeals and some far reaching seizures took place. A prime example of the abuse that occurred was the case of the “fat” horse. The alleged “fat” horse was taken from a man’s property with NO notice when he was NOT there, NO seizure warrant, and because the hearing was a couple of days later, he showed up in court with NO attorney (could not find one), and faced all these witnesses against him ALONE scared and embarrassed with NO witnesses for him. The allegation was he was cruel because his mare was too fat. She was about to deliver a foal. The owner tried to tell the judge to no avail so he lost his registered, beautiful Quarter Horse forever. And, Animal Planet was filming the owner against his wishes.
How to Prevent Appeals: Make them too Expensive. HB 234 tacks on the Government’s attorney fees (unheard of) to appeal bonds so that they will be too costly and no one can get an appeal.
Appeal Bonds in Seizures: NOT a % of the Bond. The owner has to pay the full bond to appeal, not a percentage of it like in criminal cases. Owner has to put up cash or collateral in the amount of the bond. Murderers can get a criminal bond easier that an animal owner in a civil property case.
Your Rights are at Stake. Call & Email the Texas Senate and tell them NO to HB 234!! Make sure any emails state your opposition in the subject title!!
Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
Committee Senators and their Staffers (listed below the senator):
Sen. John Whitmire
Sen. Joan Huffman
Sen. Konni Burton
Sen. Brandon Creighton
Sen. Juan Hinojosa
Sen. Jose Menendez
Sen. Charles Perry
May 17, 2015
Researchers and environmental activists are concerned a new state law could criminalize the collection of scientific data in parts of the state.
Lawmakers and ranching and farming groups say the law is intended to strengthen personal property rights.
“In a nutshell, if you are not trespassing already, this does not affect you,” said Brett Moline, a lobbyist for the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, which was one of the groups that pushed for the law. “The big thing is if you need to get on private land, stop and ask permission first.”
But some argue that the broadness of the law — whether if that was on purpose or accidental — creates a more nefarious policy change.
“I think if you read the law on its face, it applies to both private and public lands,” said Justin Pidot, an assistant professor at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law. “And it makes it a crime to go out on public land and collect data on natural resources and the environment. This is a concern because the relationship between citizen scientists and the government is special and deserves constitutional protections.”
Pidot made the same type of arguments, among others, in an online opinion piece he wrote earlier in the week. That piece created a furor online and spurred articles criticizing Wyoming’s new law on several other websites.
Pidot, who also has represented the Western Watershed Project in pro bono cases, said he views the law as a way to keep scientists from raising environmental issues in the state.
“It’s the sort of law where states want to enact a law to hide a problem instead of dealing with it,” Pidot said.
He said his interpretation of the law is that it would even apply to federal lands within Wyoming’s border. This includes Yellowstone National Park, where he argued someone theoretically could be punished for just taking a picture of a geyser.
But state officials say this is an extreme claim and a misreading of the law.
Jason Crowder, an assistant director with the Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments, said the law wouldn’t apply to federal lands, such as Yellowstone, since federal laws, instead of state ones, hold supremacy there.
But Crowder said it would apply to the trust lands the state manages. He said there already are regulations concerning access to those properties, so he agreed with Moline’s assessment that someone would be breaking the new law only if they were already trespassing.
Crowder couldn’t say whether there would be strict enforcement of the law, except for saying that “it would largely be a private land issue.”
Moline said trespass laws weren’t tough enough until now.
“Previously, the burden was on the landowner to prove they haven’t given notice that (it is trespassing),” he said. “So what this bill does is it requires the people collecting data to know where they are … and with technology available, it is quite easy.”
Moline added that Pidot’s claim that someone taking pictures at a national park could potentially be guilty of violating the law is “misleading.”
But this isn’t the first time the new law has caused confusion or controversy.
Earlier this year, animal rights advocates argued the legislation also could serve as an “ag-gag” measure, which would prevent animal rights advocates, journalists and others from documenting abuse on the state’s farms, ranches and food processing facilities.
State officials and supporters say this was not the intent of the law.
Senate File 12, frequently referred to as the data trespass bill, easily passed during this year’s legislative session and became effective immediately with Gov. Matt Mead’s signature.
The law makes it a misdemeanor crime to enter open land with the intent of collecting resource data — including photographs or soil, water and air samples — if there is no statutory, contractual or legal authorization or permission from the owner to collect the specified resource data.
It additionally creates a crime of “unlawfully collecting resource data” if a person enters private land and collects the data without authorization or permission.
Violators could face up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Unlawfully collected data also would not be admissible in any civil, criminal or administrative proceeding.
May 16, 2015
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas—About 50 puppies got closer to finding their
forever homes as they boarded a flight to New England Tuesday morning
from the Lone Star Executive Airport.
Operation Pets Alive, a non-profit organization that collaborates with
local shelters to increase the rate of successful adoptions of animals,
facilitated the transport of the puppies to partnering animal shelters
in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Since its beginning, the
organization has successfully transported 2,300 dogs to new homes.
“We actually started the transport program before we became an official
non-profit,” Marcia Piotter, president of Operation Pets Alive, said.
“We thought we’d just try one and see how it went, and it was amazingly
successful so we just kept it up.”
Piotter said the organization started with a small, private plane
through Cloud 9 Rescue Flights, and began running ground transports
through Peterson Express Transports Pets, LLC. Then, through a generous
donation by a local family, Operation Pets Alive added jet flights once
a month that help transport a larger number of puppies, clearing more
space in the local animal shelters….
May 16, 2015
There were two horrific cases of animals killed this week in the city of Albuquerque. It sparked us to take a look at New Mexico’s animal cruelty laws.
A few days ago, two small dogs were shot and killed in their own backyard in northeast Albuquerque. Then Friday morning, a northwest Albuquerque family made a gruesome discovery in their yard. They found a cat gutted. They believe it was a satanic ritual.
A recent study by the Animal Legal Defense Fund puts New Mexico in the top-five worst states for animal cruelty laws. New Mexico ranked number 48 out of 50. Only Iowa and Kentucky were ranked worse. Continued at site.
May 15, 2015
Cat sets new Guinness record for loudest purr Somewhere between a vacuum cleaner and an air conditioner — that’s where Guinness World Records officials documented Merlin the cat’s purr volume. A 13-year-old rescue, Merlin just set a new record, topping the previous champ’s 67.68-decibel purr with his 67.8 decibels. USA Today (5/14)
May 15, 2015
Study finds vitamin D levels correlate with cat survival Hospitalized cats with low vitamin D levels when admitted are more likely to die within 30 days than cats with higher vitamin D levels, according to research from the University of Edinburgh’s veterinary school. The authors reached their conclusions after testing blood from ill cats for a vitamin D metabolite. Commercial cat food typically contains adequate levels of vitamin D, the authors note, so owners should not give cats a vitamin D supplement, which could be harmful. However, veterinarians can use vitamin D levels to help determine prognosis, and more research may help determine whether ill cats would benefit from adding vitamin D to their treatment. PhysOrg.com (5/13)
May 14, 2015
Bite prompts lawsuit against Denver cat cafe A lawsuit filed on behalf of Sue Hodges seeks damages from the Denver Cat Company, a cafe where patrons can pet cats from a local shelter. Hodges says she was bitten on the hand by a cat there, and the bite became infected. Hodges says she missed a week of work and suffered complications from antibiotics. Denver Cat Company owner Sana Hamelin says patrons are adequately warned that cats may bite or scratch. KUSA-TV (Denver) (5/11)
- Police officer calls his dad — a veterinarian — for help with mistreated cat Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) (5/13)
May 9, 2015
By Ollie Reed Jr.Journal Staff Writer
PUBLISHED: Friday, May 8, 2015 at 12:05 am
Lots of proposals, objections and feelings were tossed around during a public hearing in Albuquerque this week concerning proposed changes to cougar and bear hunting laws, but one point was obvious.
When a member of the standing-room-only crowd asked for a show of hands for those in support of trapping cougars, only one person of an estimated 48 raised a hand.
Environmentalists, animal rights activists, some stockmen, hunting guides and even trappers attending the Tuesday meeting opposed the idea of trapping cougars to curtail their numbers.
Joe Don Autrey, a taxidermist, hunting outfitter and guide from Magdalena, said he traps coyotes, bobcats and foxes but opposes trapping cougars….
May 8, 2014
Cat watches over hospice patient A rescued stray cat named Gracie watches over owner Loyce James, who is in hospice care. Gracie taps James on the face at night and wakes her if James stops breathing or her oxygen supply becomes disconnected, and Gracie nudges her out of bed in the mornings. National Pet Week, created by the AVMA and the Auxiliary to the AVMA in 1981, honors bonds like the one between Gracie and James. WHO-TV (Des Moines, Iowa) (5/6)