Free Film Screening: "Maximum Tolerated Dose"
The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) and the DePaul
Center for Animal Law, in recognition of World Day for Animals in
Laboratories, presented a free screening of "Maximum Tolerated Dose," a
feature-length documentary from Decipher Films that charts the lives of
both humans and non-humans who have experienced animal testing
first-hand. A reception with "Maximum Tolerated Dose" director Karol
Pirates or Protesters? The Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
DePaul Center for Animal Law hosted a discussion on The Institute of Cetacean Research v. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
The plaintiff, a Japanese research foundation that hunts whales, sued
the defendant, an American non-profit organization of eco-activists that
is best known for starring in the television series "Whale Wars," over
interfering with their activities.
Our panel featured Harris & Moure, pllc, attorneys Charles
Moure and Rebecca Millican who represent Sea Shepherd. Paul Watson, the
founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, appeared via SKYPE. They
analyzed how the ruling may affect international maritime law, the
future of the group, and the actions of other ecological-focused
Animals as Food: The Legal Treatment of Animals in Contemporary Agribusiness and Factory Farming
The legal, moral and ethical issues surrounding animals in
contemporary food production and distribution were the focus of the
Center for Animal Law's 2013 annual fall symposium. Over the past
several years this topic has received significant attention because of
books such as "Fast Food Nation" and "Eating Animals," documentaries
like "Food, Inc." and "Forks Over Knives," and the release of undercover
footage depicting modern slaughterhouse conditions. At the same time,
consumer interest about where food comes from and the value of organic
eating and non-meat diets is at an all-time high.
To reflect these concerns, the Center presented panels on the
raising and slaughtering of farm animals, AG-GAG laws, food labeling,
and the success in banning certain food products. Gary Francione served
as our luncheon speaker.
Drug Sniffing Dogs and the Fourth Amendment
In early 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on two different cases involving drug sniffing dogs. The first, Florida v. Harris,
decided unanimously that if the police can show that a drug sniffing
dog satisfactorily earned certification or completed a training program,
the dog's alert can provide probably cause to search a vehicle. The
subsequent one, Florida v. Jardines, said that using drug
sniffing dogs at the front door of a house where the police suspected
drugs constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and thus requires a
warrant. Our panel examined the background of the cases, the
implications to criminal investigations, and the practical training and
applications of police dogs.
Non-Profit Litigation, Paid Plaintiffs and the Endangered Species Act: A Look at ASPCA's Settlement with Feld Entertainment
The DePaul Center for Animal Law hosted panel discussing issues
related to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals' $9.3 million settlement with Feld Entertainment, the owners of
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus. The hour-long
presentation examined non-profit organizations bringing suit against
large corporations, legal ethics in using allegedly paid plaintiffs,
public relations concerns, and related topics
Spotlight on Animal Crimes: A Discussion with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart
On March 14, 2013, DePaul Center for Animal Law hosted a
lunchtime talk by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. During this hour-long
presentation, Sheriff Dart focused on the Chicago Police Department
Animal Crimes Unit, animal welfare issues within Chicago and related
topics. Video to be available soon.
Examining the Legal Protection of Animals Used in Entertainment
A symposium on animals in entertainment, in conjunction with the
school's Program for Law and Contemporary Culture, is planned for fall
2012. The daylong event will feature panels on legal issues associated
with animals in entertainment.
The focus of the October 17, 2012 symposium is the legal
protection of animals used for entertainment purposes, including movies
and television, magic shows, dog fighting, circuses, and horse racing.
These areas will be examined through a filter of the ethical
responsibilities involved in using animals for entertainment purposes,
legal liability for the misuse of animals, the history of the field of
animal law in entertainment and what happens to animals after they
Revisiting the Fine Line between Freedom of Speech and Obscenity
symposium examined the recent United States Supreme Court decision in
United States v. Stevens, in which the Court held that a federal law
banning the distribution of so-called "crush" videos was
unconstitutional as an undue restraint on free speech under the First
Amendment. Speakers discussed in detail the basis for and the
ramifications of the Court's holding and also suggested other
legislative approaches to regulating videos depicting the actual killing
of small animals that would pass constitutional muster. The event
attempted to convey the horrendous nature of the crush video industry
while exploring regulatory solutions respectful of free speech concerns.
Prosecuting and Representing Animal Abusers and Caring for Their Victims
symposium delved into the legal intricacies of prosecuting and
defending those charged with animal cruelty or animal neglect. It
focused on the criminal prosecution of football star Michael Vick, who
was ultimately convicted and sentenced for his activities in running a
dog fighting operation on his property. Panelists also discussed the
outcome for the dogs rescued from Vick's operation and noted that many
were successfully rehabilitated and placed in private homes. The
symposium drew attention to outcomes for other than euthanasia, the
typical end for fighting dogs.
Companion Animal Hoarding
This event featured
policymakers, states' attorneys, psychologists, and academics who have
been involved with the issue of pet hoarding. Pet hoarding appears to
be a growing problem in the U.S., and law enforcement has faced
challenges in keeping up with the increased number of cases.
Particularly discouraging is the huge recidivism rate for companion
animal hoarders and the limited effectiveness of judicial prohibitions
on future pet ownership. The speakers discussed the dimensions of this
problem as well as possible approaches to finding more effective
solutions to it.
Menu Foods Pet Poisoning Litigation
program examined the causes and ramifications of the distribution of
tainted pet food throughout the U.S. by Menu Foods in 2007. The
speakers emphasized the need for proper government oversight of pet food
manufacturing and also explored the proper valuation of companion
animals in tort. They noted that the current legal standard for valuing
companion animals is fair market value—a standard that arguably grossly
undervalues animals as companions to humans and an integral part of the
family unit. The participants debated the pros and cons of changing
the valuation standard to provide for greater damages awards in cases
where pets have been injured or destroyed and illuminated the policy
concerns surrounding the valuation issue.
Punishment and Sentencing of Animal Abusers
symposium focused on criminal penalties imposed on those convicted of
animal cruelty or animal neglect. The speakers discussed the increased
criminalization of activities injurious to domestic animals and noted
the deterrent effect of augmented fines and prison terms. They also
explored some creative punishments, such as that imposed by one state
court judge who ordered the defendant to spend a night outside without
food, water, or shelter. The symposium increased awareness of the need
to set appropriate penalties to deter and punish animal abuse.