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October 19, 2012

Justice for All: Highlights of Legal Victories for Animals

Hard work and commitment bring major changes in a few short years

All Animals magazine, November/December 2012

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by Julie Falconer

The HSUS's Animal Protection Litigation lawyers are putting abusive industries on the stand, training the next generation of animal law attorneys, and raising the status of animals in the nation's case law and among members of the bar.

Litigating for Animals
Through lawsuits and other legal actions, the team puts factory farms, canned hunt operations, and other abusive industries on the defensive. They also help prosecutors win convictions in criminal cruelty cases. With each victory, they’re adding precedents to the nation’s case law—paving the way for future courtroom successes.

Strengthening the Law
Every year, the team drafts and analyzes more than 100 state and federal bills. “We’re like the boomerang parents,” says HSUS legislative counsel Mila Zain. “We build these statutes, we send them off to be enacted, and then they either come back in the form of a legal challenge to them or a need to take enforcement action, and sometimes both.”

Raising the Bar
Through a clerkship program and courses at law schools, the team is training the next generation of animal law attorneys. Says corporate attorney and animal law professor David Wolfson: “For my law students, there are very few places that can compete with the experience of working as an animal protection lawyer at HSUS.”

Building the Ranks
More than 3,000 attorneys—including future judges and legislators—donate thousands of hours to The HSUS’s litigation work. “We reach out to lawyers in firms across the country who are learning how important these issues are, sometimes for the very first time,” says HSUS senior vice president Jonathan Lovvorn.

Timeline of Legal Victories

2005

  • Convince prosecutor to file first-ever animal cruelty charges against an egg farm for smothering live chickens in a dumpster
  • Defeat court challenge to federal animal fighting law
  • Launch partnership with Georgetown University Law Center

2006

  • Force USDA to limit long-distance farm animal transport
  • Halt lethal research on Steller sea lions
  • Block expansion of sport hunting at national wildlife refuges
  • Defeat series of court challenges to Oregon laws banning baiting, hounding, and canned hunting

2007

  • Win three court cases that end horse slaughter for human food in the U.S.
  • Force Florida Department of Agriculture to issue new health rules for dogs in puppy mills
  • Block mountain lion hunting in Arizona
  • Protect three endangered whale species from drowning in fishing gear entanglements

2008

  • Help prosecutor win groundbreaking cruelty convictions of two Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant employees
  • Block illegal federal government plan to spend millions to defeat California’s Prop 2 farm animal ballot measure
  • Force USDA to expand regulations banning slaughter of downed cows

2009

  • Shutter major Florida puppy mill dog seller
  • Block government policy allowing canned hunting of endangered species
  • Stop U.S. Postal Service and Amazon.com from shipping animal fighting paraphernalia
  • Block sport hunting of endangered wolves in six states

2010

  • Block sale of raccoon dog fur at dozens of major retail stores
  • Win major federal pollution lawsuit against the nation’s largest foie gras producer
  • Win court ruling upholding local government authority to require humane standards for dog breeders
  • Halt killing of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Washington-Oregon border

2011

  • Win $500,000 jury verdict for neighbors of California egg factory farm
  • Win Federal Trade Commission ruling requiring major restaurant chain to hold shareholder vote on farm animal practices
  • Defeat court challenge seeking to reinstate trophy hunting of endangered polar bears
  • Block expanded sport hunting at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware

2012

  • Secure felony conviction in first-ever private prosecution of dogfighting in Ohio
  • Defeat lawsuit seeking to overturn California’s Prop 2 farm animal reform
  • Win court order blocking expanded off-road vehicle use and hunting in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Win ruling upholding new federal animal fighting law

Read more from this issue »

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