Animal Legal Defense Fund (Animal Rights vs And Animal Welfare)
“All of Our Clients Are Innocent!”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is an American non-profit law organization that aims to protect the rights and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. It was founded in 1979, by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law. The ALDF has campaigned for stronger enforcement of anti-animal cruelty laws and more humane treatment of animals. Their activities include filing lawsuits, providing legal assistance to prosecutors handling cruelty cases, working to strengthen state anti-cruelty statutes and hosting seminars, workshops and other outreach efforts. In addition to their national headquarters in Cotati, California, the Animal Legal Defense Fund maintains an office in Portland, Oregon.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s primary programs include a litigation program, aimed at stopping the abuse of companion animals, and animals abused in industries including factory farming and the entertainment business; a criminal justice program, which assists law enforcement agencies and legal prosecutors in seeking maximum penalties for those who abuse animals; and an animal law program, to advance the field of animal law in law schools and among legal professionals.
ALDF has “hundreds of dedicated attorneys” that may bring suits themselves, or the organization may retain outside legal counsel. Their civil actions include filing amicus curiae briefs arguing the case for “recognition of the bonds between humans and nonhuman animals.” The ALDF also awards grants to attorneys involved in animal-related cases, provides expert testimony and assists those seeking non-economic damages in cases involving death or injury of a companion animal.
Examples of litigation by ALDF include suits filed in North Carolina, a state that permits uninvolved third parties to sue an animal abuser. One sought custody of 106 dogs held in negligent conditions by a dog breeder. A settlement was reached whereby the breeder surrendered ownership of the dogs. In 2005, the organization sued a Californian animal trainer who had they accused of violating the Endangered Species Act and anti-cruelty statutes by beating chimpanzees with sticks. The suit was settled without the trainer acknowledging any wrongdoing, however the chimps were retired from performing and transferred to an animal sanctuary in Florida. In 2007, the ALDF filed a lawsuit against a pig farming company, who they claimed were intensively breeding pigs at a Californian farm in conditions that were in violation of the state’s anti-cruelty laws. The organization sought a court order to improve the treatment of the animals, and urged the Los Angeles Dodgers to cease buying hot dogs from the supplier to “avoid the stigma” of association. In 2008, the suit was dropped when the company stopped breeding pigs at the farm for a “variety of business reasons.”
ALDF’s Criminal Justice Program is staffed by attorneys, including former prosecutors, with expertise in animal protection law who provide free legal assistance to prosecutors and law enforcement agencies. They aim to ensure that state criminal anti-cruelty statutes are vigorously enforced and that those convicted of animal cruelty and neglect receive appropriate sentences. They also work with state legislators to enact felony anti-cruelty statutes in states that do not yet have them and to upgrade existing laws in states that do. The Criminal Justice Program also maintains a nationwide database of animal cruelty cases and current and model animal protection laws available to prosecutors, legislators and researchers.
ALDF’s Animal Law Program works closely with law students and law professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. The Animal Law Program also assists bar association members interested in forming animal law bar sections or committees and partners with pro bono coordinators interested in developing animal law volunteer opportunities at their firms.
Cases & Campaigns
In May, following a petition by ALDF, PETA, Orca Network, and others, the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a rule to grant Lolita the same status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that covers all other Southern Resident orcas—the pod that she was seized from in 1970. ALDF and PETA believe that the current confinement conditions that Lolita is subjected to are prohibited by the ESA. This action opens the door to the prospect that she could be retired from performing and transferred to a seaside sanctuary.
In January Caltrans agreed to remove bird-killing nets at a local highway project, and vowed to use safer construction methods after settling with ALDF and conservation groups.
In July, ALDF filed the first lawsuit in the nation to challenge the constitutionality of an ag gag law. Utah’s law, which criminalizes the videotaping on factory farms, attacks activity protected under the U.S. Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In a groundbreaking end to its false advertising lawsuit against New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is celebrating the company’s decision to stop advertising its products as “humane.”
In July eleven bears were removed from gladiator-style bear pits at a North Carolina roadside zoo after ALDF sent the Chief Saunooke Bear Park a letter threatening to sue for ongoing harm to the grizzlies.
In March, the Clay County (Kentucky) Circuit Court entered an agreed order of judgment resolving ALDF’s lawsuit against the county to stop systematic abuses at the local animal shelter.
In June, ALDF finalized a settlement and court order resolving a lawsuit alleging widespread egregious animal abuse and neglect at Cal-Cruz Hatcheries, Inc., a Santa Cruz, Calif. hatchery that processed millions of birds each year destined for the chicken and duck meat industries. Following the lawsuit, which was based on an undercover video, Cal-Cruz is no longer in operation, and the former owner may no longer work with animals.
In August, a North Carolina judge granted Ben the Bear permanent sanctuary at the Performing Animal Welfare Society as a result of a lawsuit against Jambbas Ranch—ALDF attorneys worked to represent the plaintiffs. Ben had languished for years on cement in a chain-link kennel—he now has the chance to live like a bear should, with plenty of space to roam, play, and forage in his new habitat.
In February, Guam voted to dramatically strengthen the territory’s laws protecting animals. Guam’s new legislation adopts robust minimum care standards and other definitions which mirror much of what is contained in ALDF’s model animal protection laws.
In November, ALDF won its lawsuit to free Tony the Tiger from the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. The judge ordered the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to revoke the current permit and prohibited it from issuing any new permits to the Truck Stop.
ALDF’s nationwide push to develop a system for law enforcement officials and the public to find out when a convicted animal abuser is in their community scored a historic victory when lawmakers in Suffolk County, New York voted unanimously to create the country’s first animal abuser registry.
On the same day ALDF launched its Expose Animal Abusers campaign, California State Senator Dean Florez announced a bill to create an animal abuser registry for the state that would require animal abusers to register in their communities.
After more than 100 live and approximately 150 dead Chihuahuas and Chihuahua-mixes were removed from Kenneth Lang Jr’s home in 2009, ALDF provided a grant of $3,500 to allow the Dearborn Police Department to conduct necropsies on 10 of the Chihuahuas whose bodies were removed from freezers on 56-year-old Lang’s property. Kenneth Lang Jr. pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in January 2010.
ALDF secured permanent custody of seven horses rescued from Michael, Judy, and Gayle Keating, the abusive North Carolina owners who allowed them to starve nearly to death, in the case of ALDF v. Keating.
On October 6, the United States Supreme Court directly addressed the issue of animal cruelty for the first time in more than fifteen years. ALDF submitted an amicus curiae brief in the case of U.S. v. Stevens, urging the Court to uphold the law and recognize that the prevention of cruelty to animals is a compelling government interest.
In August, ALDF filed lawsuits in Kentucky against Estill and Robertson Counties for neglecting their homeless animals, despite their legal requirement to provide basic humane care.
ALDF called on Kentucky’s legislature to push for comprehensive changes in its laws protecting horses and other animal; the Bluegrass State ranked last in the nation for animal protection laws in 2008.
U.S. Animal Protection Laws Rankings
The Animal Legal Defense Fund’s annual report comprehensively surveys animal protection laws of all U.S. states and territories. It is the longest-running and most authoritative report of its kind, assessing the strength of each jurisdiction’s animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 pages of statutes. Each jurisdiction receives a raw score based on fifteen different categories of animal protection; the Report then ranks all 56 jurisdictions by comparing their raw scores. The Report also highlights the top, middle and bottom tiers of jurisdictions and notes the “Best Five” and “Worst Five”
Animal Rights VS And Animal Welfare
What is the difference between “animal rights” and “animal welfare”?
Animal welfare theories accept that animals have interests but allow these interests to be traded away as long as there are some human benefits that are thought to justify that sacrifice.
Animal rights means that animals, like humans, have interests that cannot be sacrificed or traded away just because it might benefit others. However, the rights position does not hold that rights are absolute; an animal’s rights, just like those of humans, must be limited, and rights can certainly conflict. Animal rights means that animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation. Animal welfare allows these uses as long as “humane” guidelines are followed.
The issues surrounding the philosophies of animal rights and animal welfare are very familiar to those who utilize animals in industry, entertainment, sport or recreation. As society has migrated from our agricultural roots to a more urban existence, the importance of distinguishing between animal rights and animal welfare becomes paramount.
Animal Welfare, as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association, is a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthansia.
Animal welfare proponents seek to improve the treatment and well-being of animals.
Animal welfare proponents believe that humans can interact with animals in entertainment, industry, sport and recreation, and industry, but that the interaction should include provisions for the proper care and management for all animals involved.
Animal welfare proponents support self-regulation of animal sports, including rodeo, polo, three-day eventing, FFA competitions, horse racing, field trials and endurance riding.
Animal welfare groups utilize scientific evidence to base animal care and handling guidelines.
Animal Rights is a philosophical view that animals have rights similar or the same as humans. True animal rights proponents believe that humans do not have the right to use animals at all. Animal rights proponents wish to ban all use of animals by humans.
Animal rights proponents support laws and regulations that would prohibit rodeos, horse racing, circuses, hunting, life-saving medical research using animals, raising of livestock for food, petting zoos, marine parks , breeding of purebred pets and any use of animals for industry, entertainment, sport or recreation.
Animal rights proponents believe that violence, misinformation and publicity stunts are valid uses of funding donated to their tax-exempt organizations for the purpose of helping animals.
Arson, vandalism and assault are common tactics used by underground animal rights groups to further the animal rights cause. Groups such as the Animal Liberation Front, which have been classified as terrorist by the FBI, routinely use criminal activities to further their cause.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has taken a formal position defining the difference between the two labels, Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare. In their detailed Policy on Animal Welfare and Animal Rights, they state that they cannot endorse the views of Animal Rights Groups. Here’s a quote from their policy:
“Animal rights is a philosophical view and personal value characterized by statements by various animal rights groups. Animal welfare and animal rights are not synonymous terms. The AVMA wholeheartedly endorses and adopts promotion of animal welfare as official policy; however, the AVMA cannot endorse the philosophical views and personal values of animal rights advocates when they are incompatible with the responsible use of animals for human purposes, such as food, fiber, and research conducted for the benefit of both humans and animals.”
Let’s take a closer look at the fundamental differences between Animal Welfare and the Animal Rights philosophy:
Animal Welfare – Animal Welfare includes all animals, whether used for food, companionship, or sport. It is based on a principle of ownership of animals. It reflects a common sense approach that animals should be treated well and that animal cruelty is wrong. Animal welfare standards and guidelines for animal use and management are based on sound veterinary and animal husbandry experience, research and practices. The AVMA views Animal Welfare as a, “…human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia”. It also means animals that provide for human needs experience no unnecessary suffering.
Animal Rights – Animal Rights advocates and their groups believe in the ideology that there is no distinction between animals and humans. They view animal ownership as exploitation and slavery. The true goal of Animal Rights Groups is to work for legislation and humane care only until all animals are no longer owned or utilized by human beings.
The NCRAOA (North Carolina Responsible Animal Owners Alliance), has described what Animal Rights Groups are all about and their activities:
“Animal Rights Groups exploit our love of animals to work for various types of restrictive legislation (limit laws, breed specific legislation, mandatory spay/neuter) as well as laws that are steps toward changing the legal status of animals as property”, and “The animal rights movement is about control not animal welfare. Supporting legislation based on emotion and philosophical interpretation provides a platform in our legal system for incremental increases toward animal status changes.”
Lately we have been accused of being against the proper care and husbandry of animals. This has happened because over the years we have been working hard to shed light on extremist Animal Rights Groups. We have exposed their activities and their agenda. They are afraid the public will finally realize they are staging a dramatic impact on the rights and way of life of all Americans.
Since they are feeling threatened and are afraid of exposure, they have fought back against us. They have called us the “bad guy”, and much worse. While doing this they have conveniently blurred the definition of Animal Rights, which both confuses and misleads the public. They accuse us of being “anti-animal” and “against animals”. We have even been accused of “hating horses” and benefitting from killing them. These accusations are not even close to the truth. They are outright fabrications. Folks who are affiliated and work with Protect The Harvest have pets, and a number also have horses and livestock. We care about animals; we care about their health and well-being. We practice and support Animal Welfare.
While these outright falsehoods that have been launched against us create more work and some challenges for us, it also shows that we are making progress. In short, we support Animal Welfare, but we are against Animal Rights. Taking a stand against Animal Rights in no way means that we do not care about animals or their welfare. We do care or we would not be investing time, money and a whole lot of effort in educating the public about protecting our rights, animal ownership, agriculture, and our heritage.
1. About Us, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Retrieved August 29, 2008
2. Animal Legal Defense Fund, Retrieved September 4, 2014
3. Litigation Program, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
4. Fido, Fluffy Become More High Profile Part of Law, USA Today. March 29, 2008.
5. Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues to Rescue 100+ Dogs From Real-Life House of Horrors in Raleigh, Animal Legal
Defense Fund. October 31, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
6. Animal Rights Group Settles With Owner of Seized Dogs, WRAL.com. December 12, 2007.
7. ALDF Files Suit Against Hollywood Chimpanzee “Trainer” in Federal Court, Animal Legal Defense Fund. November 18, 2005. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
8. Hollywood chimps ‘given freedom‘, BBC News. December 10, 2006. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
9. Jim Doyle, Big pork producers accused of cruelty to sows, San Francisco Chronicle. January 19, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
10. Animal Rights Activists Urge Baseball Team To Halt Hot Dog Sales, 10News.com, May 14, 2007. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
11. Animal activists drop pig cruelty case against Corcoran hog farm, KESQ.com, March 7, 2008. Retrieved September 4, 2008.
12. “Judge’s Refusal to Review Seaquarium’s Violations of Law Prompts Court Appeal – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
13. “Caltrans to Remove Bird-killing Nets at Highway Project, Vows to Use Safer Methods – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
14. “Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Historic “Ag Gag” Lawsuit – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
15. “Animal Abandonment is a Crime – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
16. “Freedom for Bears at Chief Saunooke Bear Park – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
17. “Settlement in Clay County Lawsuit Will Mean Dramatic Improvements in Conditions for Kentucky’s Homeless Animals – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
18. “Animal Cruelty Lawsuit Settled: Santa Cruz Hatchery Closed, Owner Agrees Not to Work with Animals for Five Years – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
19. “Judge Grants Ben The Bear Permanent Sanctuary – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
20. “Animal Legal Defense Fund Applauds Improvements to Guam’s Anti-Cruelty Laws“. Aldf.org. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
21. “Victory for Tony the Truck Stop Tiger!“. Aldf.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
22. “Historic Vote in Suffolk County, New York Creates Nation’s First Registry for Animal Abusers“. Aldf.org. 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
23. “Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Exposeanimalabusers.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
24. “Canine “CSI” Crucial in Charging Chihuahua Hoarder“. Aldf.org. 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
25. “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues to Rescue Starving Horses in Horrific Wake County Neglect Case“. Aldf.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
26. “U.S. Supreme Court to Rule on Animal Cruelty Ban“. Aldf.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
27. “ALDF Takes Kentucky Counties to Task for Failing to Protect Homeless Dogs and Cats“. Aldf.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
28. “ALDF Calls For Sweeping Reform in Laws Protecting Bluegrass State Horses“. Aldf.org. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
29. “Annual Study Names 2013’s “Top Five States to be an Animal Abuser” – Animal Legal Defense Fund“. Animal Legal Defense Fund.
* The New Legal Hot Topic: Animal Law</strong>, July 15, 2008, Globe and Mail, Toronto, Canada
* Fido, Fluffy Become More High Profile Part of Law, March 29, 2008, USA Today
* “Suits Target Animal Shelters” August 21, 2008, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY
* “WLKY Investigates Animal Cruelty” August 20, 2008, WLKY TV, Louisville, KY
* “Dog Custody Battles Increase as Divorcing Couples Argue Over Who Keeps the Pet” July 20, 2008, Sunday Telegraph, London
* Animal Legal Defense Fund Youtube Video Playlist
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