• Don Lichterman

Serena Williams, Animal Law Symposium, Coronavirus, Birds w/ MAGA Hats, Animal & Wildlife Report!

Welcome to the Animal & Wildlife Welfare, Abuse & Crime Report brought to you by the Sustainable Action Network (SAN)!

Animal Law Symposium: Oklahoma City

Join the Animal Legal Defense Fund for our Animal Law Symposium! This day-long symposium will provide attendees with the opportunity to hear from the top voices within the animal law community, including local experts. Register now.

Amid the coronavirus scare, two innocent poodles — one a disabled senior dog — suffered unimaginably when a community officer reportedly bludgeoned them to death in broad daylight, according to the Daily Mail.

Disturbing footage shows the officer beating one of the dogs while their caretaker desperately tries to shield his other beloved pet.


The dogs and their guardian were stopped just before they stepped outside for a walk. A forceful argument erupted as the officer, out of misguided fear of disease, attempted to prevent the man from taking his dogs outside; shortly thereafter, the officer fatally clubbed the helpless animals.


“The officer threatened to beat the owner to death if he didn’t give away the dogs,” claimed the social media user who posted the appalling video.


The notion that household pets are contributing to the spread of coronavirus is baseless.


There is no evidence to suggest that these animals carry the disease, according to the World Health Organization. Despite this, some residential complexes and neighborhoods in China have banned people from walking their dogs, and public officials openly participate in killing these defenseless creatures.


These two poodles, and thousands of animals throughout China, deserve justice. Sign this petition urging Ambassador Cui Tiankai to push for full prosecution of the culprit and the promotion of educational resources to show that pets are not a coronavirus threat, and massacring them is unacceptable.

$1M worth of shark fins seized in Miami

Nearly $1 million worth of shark fins were recently seized in Miami's port. Remove the U.S. from the fin trade by demanding a #FinBanNow: http://bit.ly/2PNaUK7

Serena Williams Launches Cruelty-Free Vegan Leather Collection!

Serena Williams, and her sister Venus, are well-known in the vegan world for being top athletes who advocate plant-based nutrition. Serena is also a fashion designer having studied design at school, and recently launched her new line spring collection – S by Serena – at New York Fashion Week.


Ms Williams, who adopted a vegan diet in 2012, has the second-most Grand Slam titles for a woman (23 and counting) and is a working mother of her young daughter. Inspired by her travels around the world, in particular by Africa, Ms Williams was extremely motivated to include vegan leather in this collection.


The tennis athlete launched her premier collection last autumn at NYFW followed by a second intimate presentation earlier this month. This new collection features on-point dresses, jumpsuits and pantsuits, in vegan leather and bold prints. Williams refers to the new collection is a “fashion passport.”


She told Essence: “I feel like a lot of things are being killed and we’re not saving the earth. We can all just do one small thing and help out so that was also a lot of inspiration.”

People Glued MAGA Hats on Pigeons to Support Trump!

Harming animals to make a point is fundamentally wrong, and we must demand the people behind this stunt are stopped!


Sign on to demand this group is identified and stopped from harming any more animals in their horrible pranks.


A group of people glued little red Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats onto pigeons and set them free in Las Vegas before the presidential debate that was hosted there. Not only did they abuse pigeons, they did it on behalf of 45!


Sign now to demand this group is identified and stopped immediately!


The group calls itself PUTIN (which stands for Pigeons United to Interfere Now). The group's leader, who calls himself Coo Hand Luke, said "The release date was coordinated to serve as a gesture of support and loyalty to President Trump." But honestly, his punny name is nothing but disrespectful to the actual live birds that he harmed to pull what is essentially a childish prank.Apparently, the group had been capturing and holding pigeons captive for months in advance.


The group said they used eyelash adhesive to glue the hats to the birds and claimed it wasn't harmful, but a local group committed to rescuing and rehabilitating pigeons disagreed.


The caps impaired the birds' vision and undoubtedly caused them severe distress. SHARE

Westminster Dog Show Breeder Admits to Deadly Breeding Practices

An eyewitness recorded this alarming conversation with a breeder at the Westminster Dog Show—a show that glorifies breeding and contributes to the animal homelessness crisis. The breeder even talks about a puppy she delivered and how "his little intestines ran outside his body" before he died. This short clip demonstrates everything wrong with breeding.


After a two-year investigation by officials in Victoria, Australia, a shearer has pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals.


In late 2017, an investigator went inside 16 shearing sheds in South Australia and Victoria and documented the same sickening cruelty that PETA has repeatedly exposed. Workers still struck petrified sheep in the face with sharp metal clippers. They still cut them and stitched up their gaping wounds without any pain relief. And they still threw them out of the sheds.


Two sheep died from conditions that workers called "heart attacks," likely resulting from stress during shearing.

A Scottish sheep farmer also pleaded guilty this week to cruelty to animals after he was caught on video viciously punching sheep in the face on a farm in Scotland during a separate PETA investigation. His actions can be seen here. Our investigator also documented that shearers in Scotland struck terrified sheep in the face with electric clippers, slammed their heads into the floor, beat and kicked them, and threw them off shearing trailers across 24 sheep farms in the region. One of the sheep was suffering from mastitis and couldn't stand up, and a worker explained that she was going to be shot.


PETA and our international affiliates have now released 13 investigations of the global wool industry since 2014, when our first exposé resulted in the world's first-ever cruelty-to-animals convictions of sheep shearers. Everywhere that investigators go—from Australia to the U.S. and from South America to the U.K.—they see the same disturbing behavior. The production of all wool—no matter where it originated or what "ethical" or "responsibly sourced" claims are made on its label—spells extreme suffering and death for millions of gentle sheep and lambs.


Please share PETA's exposés with your friends and family members who might still wear wool and help prevent thousands of sheep from being beaten, cut open, kicked, and thrown down chutes.

Ground up. Hidden in coffee. Disguised. There is no limit to the tactics wildlife traffickers will use when they are attempting to sneak through wildlife contraband. But there is no fooling a dog’s nose. No matter how hard smugglers try to hide their contraband, African Wildlife Foundation’s highly trained canine detection dogs will sniff out wildlife products. In fact, it takes only 10-12 seconds for one dog to inspect a vehicle and signal to their handler where the contraband is concealed.


“If you don’t have a dog, you’re going to have to get out your toolbox,” jokes Will Powell, AWF Director of Canines for Conservation. He runs an intensive canine and handler training program in Usa River, Tanzania, pairing wildlife authority officers with a canine counterpart and training the teams to detect wildlife contraband. With the support of the Bureau of U.S. International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, African Wildlife Foundation has helped train wildlife rangers from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, and Botswana. The fully equipped canine units are deployed strategically at exit and entry points to intercept traffickers smuggling illegal wildlife products — elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, and hippo teeth are commonly seized.


For Powell, the 43 sniffer dogs his team has trained as wildlife detection dogs are just as much wildlife officers as the rangers who handle them. Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers who completed their course at the Canine Training Facility in February 2020, he explains that the program is designed for teams to “understand how we can connect with our four-legged colleagues.”


Some of the newly trained handlers will return to Entebbe International Airport, where they have already been assisting the canine unit that graduated from AWF’s program in 2016. A separate group of detection dogs and handlers will be deployed to western Uganda, where, with support from the Giorgi Foundation, AWF has constructed a canine facility at Karuma station in the wider Murchison Falls National Park. According to Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Deputy Director of Field Operations, Charles Tumwesigye, the north-western region harbors trafficking routes for wildlife contraband smuggled across the Democratic Republic of Congo border and, increasingly, from South Sudan. “The converging point is Karuma,” he says, so the Karuma canine unit must sniff out culprits in this trafficking zone before they proceed.

Canines for Conservation break the trafficking transport chain


With the addition of the new detection dogs and handler team, Uganda’s canine unit is the largest group trained by AWF. When the first team was deployed in November 2016, they initially intercepted illegal wildlife products just twice in the ensuing weeks, but the number of finds soared to 101 in the next year. The busts have been steadily declining since the initial surge, which is to be expected — traffickers avoid exit points where they are likely to be caught. This is why governments are eager to work with AWF to deploy these trained canine detection teams to their trafficking hotspots. Just the presence of the Uganda Wildlife Authority canine unit in Entebbe is enough to scare off criminals, says Powell. “They’ve learned: the dogs are there.”


Apart from acting as a deterrent where they are deployed, the canine units must collaborate with other authorities to reduce the trade of illegal wildlife products across the East African region. Tumwesigye lauds the state-of-the-art canine facilities at Entebbe International Airport: “It has made a very big difference in the way we work.” He notes that stopping traffickers is crucial, but it is equally important to ensure that the investigation and prosecution of these offenders are streamlined.


The complex network of illegal wildlife trade crosses international borders, linking criminal syndicates overseas with local actors — some might be tempted to kill wildlife while others might aid traffickers to slip through the cracks. Without coordinated action to counter this dynamic and dangerous industry, the future of Africa’s iconic species is uncertain. As a wildlife-rich country, Uganda might be a source of the illicit items, but many of the products are intercepted en route from neighboring countries and destined for overseas markets.


Combatting illegal wildlife trade by enhancing regional collaboration


Being a transit country and regional trafficking hotspot, sealing its borders and strengthening wildlife crime frameworks is a priority. In February 2020, Uganda launched the National Wildlife Crime Coordination Taskforce to improve information-sharing and interagency operations in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.


According to Tanzania Wildlife Authority’s John Kaaya, who oversees the national agency’s canine units, it is important for Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda to combine forces and protect their shared ecosystems. He underscores the value of the high-quality certification that all AWF-trained canine units receive at Usa River before they are deployed to different trafficking zones across the continent: “With similar training, they will all have the same understanding of how to combat illegal wildlife trade.” AWF is committed to embedding canine units within wildlife agencies and has worked with governments to develop 5-year strategies for the canine units in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Botswana.


The intensive hands-on training at Usa River is only the beginning. Now that the rangers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to look after their dogs and advance the detection capacity of their anti-trafficking teams, AWF will continue to integrate their crucial role into wildlife law enforcement. A newly trained Uganda Wildlife Authority handler recognizes the gravity of this responsibility. Speaking on behalf of his graduating class, he thanked AWF for introducing them to their four-legged companions and providing international canine training that they can apply in different countries across the region to safeguard species targeted by illegal wildlife trade. “You have given us friends,” he says proudly. “Our dogs are an important tool in our work, but we can communicate and enjoy together as we fight against wildlife trafficking.”


Learn how AWF works with Ugandan canine handlers, prosecutors, and investigators to streamline wildlife law enforcement in the country

AWF Enhances KWS Wildlife Cybercrime Investigations

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), cybersecurity firm Irdeto, and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have partnered to train cybercrime investigators in mobile technologies at AWF headquarters from February 17-23, 2020. The seven-day Mobile Forensic Certification Course targets investigators from KWS and is the first step in setting up the wildlife authority's digital forensic unit to fight illegal wildlife trade.


Illegal wildlife trade and trafficking is a threat to regional, national, and international security. Poachers and other actors in the illicit trade of wildlife and their parts are getting smarter. They are devising new ways to sustain their activities. As a result, they have shifted from traditional platforms and are taking the trade to the internet. To combat this menace, investigators and law enforcers have to develop new tactics to ensure the survival of African wildlife and ultimately stop the trade. Since digital platforms are the means for the trade, then the same platforms can be used to counter the trade.


“Wildlife related crime is advanced, and times are changing. Tools required for the conservation of wildlife and wildlands in Africa are also changing. As the criminals are advancing there is a need to upgrade for the successful conservation of wildlife,” said AWF Vice President, Conservation Science and Planning Dr. Philip Muruthi.


The expected outcome of the training is the development of the trainees’ skills and core competencies associated with the examination of mobile devices using the latest equipment and methodology.  These tools lead to enhanced enforcement to stop the trafficking of illegal wildlife products using digital devices and platforms.


Mr. Joseph Sarara, Head of Investigation at KWS, noted the importance of natural resources to both conservation and development. He said that the illicit trade of wildlife has serious implications not only on the ecosystem but also the species that are critically endangered. Communities around the wildlife-copious regions are equally affected.


“Illegal wildlife trade degrades our ecosystem and hinders the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. It is a major obstacle to indigenous communities. Combatting the crime is essential for achieving peace in troubled regions,” said Mr. Sarara.


AWF and Irdeto joined forces in 2018 to investigate, identify, and disrupt the sale of animal parts on the internet. The partnership aims to work with local law enforcement agencies, providing key forensic data and intelligence to help locate and arrest the criminals responsible for this illegal trading.

Sir Edwin's Shooter Is Going to Prison

Over 25,000 of you signed Lady Freethinker's petition, and now we have an important update. Justice has been served for Sir Edwin, a 3-year-old Dalmatian slain in his own home when Joshua Marcantonio of Glen Falls, N.Y. fired a shotgun through the front door, killing the innocent dog.


This week, Judge Kelly McKeighan sentenced Marcantonio to 15 years in prison after the jury found him guilty on felony charges of attempted burglary, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and animal cruelty.


This is the maximum sentence for attempted burglary.Thank you to everyone who signed the petition or spoke out for justice, the prosecutors, the jury, and the judge for taking a strong stand against violence against animals.


While no sentence can bring Sir Edwin back to his family who loved him, the court has sent a clear message that shooting a dog will not be tolerated.

Captive Primate Repeatedly Choked by Metal Ring

Your heart will break as you look into his eyes while he’s struggling to breathe and choked by a metal chain Ning Nong is treated like a money-making toy — forced to perform meaningless tricks for tourists and then left isolated in a wire cage when he’s not being used. This will only end when you STOP supporting experiences that use animals!

Hundreds of Yellowstone bison will be slaughtered, hunted or quarantined. Here’s why

Hundreds of bison from one of the last wild bison populations will be captured or slaughtered as they migrate out of Yellowstone National Park.


Between 600 and 900 Yellowstone bison will be culled from the population, according to a Yellowstone National Park news release. Most of those bison will be slaughtered or hunted, but others will be quarantined in corrals.


Bison migrate out of the park into areas of Montana in winter because there is less snow, making it easier to find food. But outside of the park, there isn’t enough room for bison to roam, officials said.


Five government agencies and three tribal groups came up with the Interagency Bison Management Plan to help control the bison population.


“In December 2019, the IBMP partners agreed to a 2020 winter operations plan that recommends removing 600 to 900 animals from Yellowstone’s estimated population of 4,900 bison,” a park news release said.


Last year, 460 bison were removed from the population through hunting or slaughter, according to Yellowstone. Ninety-three bison were transferred to the Fort Peck Reservation in 2019, the park said.


“Our goal is to build a better future for our national mammal,” the park said in a video.


WHY ARE THE BISON BEING KILLED?

Officials say the goal of the plan is to make sure the bison population isn’t growing indefinitely, which could cause overgrazing and mass starvation of animals in Yellowstone. The bison population increases by between 10 and 17% each year, the park said.

Another concern is that bison also often carry brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can cause abortions or stillbirths in infected animals. It does not kill the animals, but they could infect nearby cattle if they migrate out of the park.


“For ranchers, brucellosis has an economic impact because it affects the reproductive rate and marketability of their animals,” the park said. “Brucellosis has been eradicated in cattle herds across most of the United States. Bison and elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem persist as one of the last reservoirs of infection.”


ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES?

Bison need greater access to land to be able to leave the park’s boundaries, officials said. The area where the animals can be hunted is small, and hunting has been ineffective at limiting the number of bison, the park said.


It’s against state and federal laws to move wild bison exposed to brucellosis, which removes relocation of bison as an option, according to the park. Additionally, fertility control methods are currently not affordable or effective for bison populations, the park said.


“Many people don’t like the fact that animals from a national park are sent to slaughter,” the park said in a video. “We don’t like it either. That’s why we’re working with our federal, state and tribal partners to expand the quarantine program.”

Webinar Recording Available: Rankings in Review: State Anti Cruelty Laws

In case you missed the live webinar earlier this month on our annual rankings report, you can watch a recording of it at your convenience. In this webinar, Animal Legal Defense Fund Staff Attorney Kathleen Wood discusses the annual Animal Protection Laws Ranking Report, including what goes into creating our Compendium and Rankings Report, as well as the highlights from 2019.

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