News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Chimpanzee

This week, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit in the New York Civil Supreme Court of Fulton County (Docket #2051/2013) on behalf of Tommy, a chimpanzee who is caged in a used trailer lot. The Nonhuman Rights Project is an organization that advocates for legal rights for non-human animals. This is their first suit, and the organization plans to bring two other cases on behalf of chimpanzees. The cause of action in the present case is for habeas corpus. The Nonhuman Rights Project argues that like former slaves who were considered chattel and later granted personhood, Tommy the chimpanzee should likewise be granted legal rights.

You can monitor the progress of this suit by following the docket, using Bloomberg Law.

Ohio Bill on Assistance Dogs for Persons with PTSD

HB 310, a bill introduced in the Ohio General Assembly late last month, would include persons diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as mobility impaired for the purposes of statutes governing assistance dogs. The current law on assistance dogs includes persons with neurological or psychological disabilities limiting mobility, and persons with seizure disorders and autism. The proposed law would also prohibit falsely representing a dog as an assistance dog. You can read the full-text of HB 310 and track its progress through the hearing process through Hannah Capitol Connection, a database available on campus.

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International and Domestic Measures to Combat Illegal Ivory Trade

In 1989, members states of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention) agreed to place elephants on Appendix I of the treaty, thereby banning the international trade in ivory. The U.S. was one of the first countries in the world to ratify CITES in the mid-1970s, and since then has been a strong supporter in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Although the ban on ivory trade has been in place for over twenty years, there has been a marked rise in poaching in recent years. In response to this disturbing trend, later this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will destroy its stockpile of 6 tons of illegally traded ivory as message to poachers [read more in NYT].

Earlier this year, eight CITES member states submitted National Ivory Action Plans in an effort to step up measures against poaching. China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania, and Vietnam will take urgent measures to put their plans into action before summer 2014, when the CITES Standing Committee will review their progress.

Elephant poaching increasingly involves organized crime, and international law enforcement efforts have been made to combat the issue. See, for example, this recent report from INTERPOL on online ivory trade in the European Union.

Pets on Planes, Trains

The WSJ Law Blog recently posted on a proposed Amtrak “critter car” law – a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Jeff Denham (R., Cal.) that would allow dogs and cats on designated train cars. Pets can fly, so why not take the train, right?

The text of the “Pets on Trains Act of 2013” calls for Amtrak to develop a pet policy in which cats and dogs contained in pet kennels are permitted to travel in designated train cars (the tabby pictured here would not qualify as properly contained). Passengers must pay a fee to transport their pets by train, and the pets cannot travel more than 750 at a stretch.

Even if unaccompanied by a feline travel companion, I’d still probably opt to sit in the critter car.

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Proposed Puppy Lemon Law

Earlier this year, legislators in Illinois proposed a puppy lemon law, SB1639, which could promote legal actions against puppy mills. The act would require pet stores to disclose certain information about the dogs (and cats) sold, including the date and description of any shots or medical treatments, and the name and business address of the facility where the animal was born.

Pet owners are often understandably dismayed when they discover their newly purchased cat or dog suffers from a serious or even life-threatening illness.  Puppies and kittens bred in puppy mill conditions can suffer a wide range of medical problems. The act would afford owners some legal recourse against pet stores in such situations.

Under the proposed act, a customer is entitled to a remedy if within 21 days a veterinarian states that the dog or cat has a disease that existed before the delivery date to the customer. Customers are also entitled to a remedy if within one year the dog or cat dies of a congenital or hereditary disease.

Remedies under the proposed act include returning the pet, exchanging the pet for another one, retaining the pet and being reimbursed for veterinary bills, or if the dog or cat is dead, being reimbursed for the full purchase price plus veterinary bills.

For more information on this proposed law, and its relation to puppy mills, read the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s blog post.