Volume Twenty One, Issue Two, Spring 2015
Virginia F. Coleman
The iconic status of the horse in Kentucky belies the bitter reality faced by the vast majority of horses in that state. This Article explains how multiple aspects of the current law enforcement system in the state permit the persistent failure to protect horses against gross neglect and abuse, as exemplified in particular by two case studies. The Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Council, a legislative construct promoted by its backers as a unique safeguard for Kentucky horses, was in fact ill-suited ab initio for this role and has proved uninterested in it. Although there is no legislative cure for indifference on the part of those charged with enforcing laws against neglect and abuse, there are a number of legislative changes that would improve the now lamentable odds faced by Kentucky’s horses. These changes, discussed in Part IV of this Article, are designed to increase the likelihood of action being taken against an offender, including through civil as well as criminal proceedings; secure immediate care for horses which have been victimized and prevent recidivism by offenders; increase the severity of the offense; dampen the current robust market for slaughter horses, and fund the costs inherent in creating a more effective enforcement system. All of the changes proposed are already law in at least some other states—in some instances in many other states—and these existing laws offer a ready model for Kentucky to follow if it so chooses Although the focus of this Article is on Kentucky, all the legislative recommendations made are more broadly applicable to any state which does not yet have a statute as proposed in place.
African elephants are poached for their ivory at alarming rates. If the current level of poaching continues, it is projected they will be extinct from the wild in the year 2025. Preserving the African elephant species is important from an animal rights, conservation, ecological, economical, and crime prevention perspective. The current penalties and fines for the illegal trade in ivory are not enough of a deterrent. One method of deterrence that has not yet been explored is the imposition of tax consequences on the illegal ivory trade. This Note proposes a number of ways to use the tax system to further deter participation in the illegal ivory trade. For tax purposes, illegal ivory should be treated similarly to other activities that have both legal and illegal operations, such as marijuana, gambling, and prostitution. Congress could impose an excise tax on ivory and an occupational tax on those who make or sell ivory products. In addition, there are several tax crimes in the Internal Revenue Code that are applicable to those who sell illegal ivory and do not report the income on their tax returns. For example, tax evasion is one of the related criminal activities associated with wildlife trafficking. Tax consequences will hopefully provide a further disincentive to those participating in the illegal ivory trade.
Sarah D. Cruse
This Article explores and evaluates the use of canines by the United States (U.S.) Armed Forces as military working dogs, and examines the reasons why the current administrative classification of these dogs is inappropriate. The author examines the historical use of, and increasing reliance on, military working dogs by the U.S. Armed Forces from World War II to present day. This historical exploration traces the development of the federal statutes and military regulations that govern the Military Working Dog Program. Federal law currently categorizes military working dogs as ‘equipment,’ which grossly underestimates their role within the U.S. military and deprives these dogs of the opportunity to transition to a peaceful civilian life once they are deemed ‘excess equipment’ and retired from service. Categorization as equipment creates significant obstacles for service members, their families, and civilian parties who wish to adopt these dogs. This categorization also deprives military working dogs of ongoing medical care upon retirement, eligibility for recognition and commendation, and burial in national military cemeteries. Despite some of the recent improvements made in the military’s treatment of these dogs, more work is needed. This Article urges Congress to recategorize military working dogs as canine members of the armed forces in order to properly honor their service to this country, and to protect the dignity of these dogs upon retirement.
Modern industrial animal agriculture and consumer purchasing patterns do not match consumers’ moral preferences regarding animal welfare. Current production methods inflict a great deal of harm on animals despite widespread consumer preference for meat, dairy, and eggs that come from humanely treated animals. Judging by the premium pricing and market shares of food products with moral or special labels (e.g., ‘cage-free,’ ‘free range,’ and ‘organic’), many consumers are willing to pay more for less harmful products, but they are unable to determine which products match this preference. The labels placed on animal products, and the insufficient government oversight of these labels, are significant factors in consumer ignorance because producers are allowed to use misleading labels and thwart consumers from aligning their preferences with their purchases. Producers are allowed to label their goods as friendly to animals or the environment without taking action to conform to those claims. Meanwhile, producers who do invest resources into more humane or environmentally-conscious production methods are competing with companies that do not make similar expenditures. Those companies can sell their products at a lower price without sacrificing profits, which prices-out producers who do invest resources. This Article proposes a new labeling regime in which animal products feature labels that adequately inform consumers of agricultural practices so that consumers can match their purchases with their moral preferences. In this proposed scheme, animal products would contain a label that concisely and objectively informs consumers what practices went into the making of that item. Such a scheme would enable consumers who wish to pay more for humane or environmentally-friendly products to do so, while rewarding those companies who actually do engage in better production methods. While the legal literature discussing food labeling and animal welfare is growing, most of the literature proposes legal definitions of terms like ‘humane,’ expansion of consumer protection law, or labeling systems in which third-parties provide grading or ranking systems for producers of animal products. This Article rejects those proposals as inadequate to sufficiently inform consumers and instead suggests providing consumers with a list of select practices producers engage in.
Rabbits are most commonly perceived as soft, fuzzy, tender, loving, active household pets. However, rabbit meat is growing in popularity among urban farmers, foodies, and chefs alike. The pet rabbit industry is subject to a variety of laws and regulations intended to ensure the humane and proper treatment of these beloved pets. Yet, ‘meat rabbits,’ which are often the same breed or species as pet rabbits, are often not covered by either the protections that govern the treatment of animals used for meat or the protections that govern the treatment of rabbits as pets or companion animals. The lack of laws and regulations applicable to the meat rabbit industry has led to widely documented inhumane treatment and animal abuse. Such beloved companions deserve the benefits of increased government oversight of rabbit meat production. This Article proposes that, on the federal level, the United States Department of Agriculture inspection of commercial rabbit producers and processors should be mandatory rather than voluntary. States must also play a central role because, given the nature of the rabbit meat industry, it is especially important that any new standards reach small farms and urban farmers, in addition to commercial producers. This Article proposes that state standards use puppy mill laws as guidance, given rabbits’ societal status as companion animals. New laws governing the raising of meat rabbits should establish standards for light and ventilation, requirements for environmental enrichment, limits on breeding, and floor space minimums for cages. Such changes will ensure that the rabbit’s more typical role as a companion animal is acknowledged, while providing the necessary protection from abuse and mistreatment when rabbits are raised for meat consumption.