It’s a great time to be an animal in America.
At least, that was the underlying theme of an animal-law conference last weekend at Lewis & Clark Law School, home to the Center for Animal Law Studies.
About 225 students, lawyers and animal activists attended the annual conference, held at Lewis & Clark for 16 years, to hear updates on everything from “Should the Animal Law Movement Be Vegan?” to “Lessons Learned from the Vick Dogs,” as in Michael Vick, the NFL quarterback now serving 23 months for dogfighting.
The mood was largely upbeat, with speakers saying 2008 was a banner year locally and nationally for animal rights. And legal eagles find Oregon as alluring as catnip.
“Oregon really is a great place for pets,” says Stephan Otto, an attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “In addition to…animal-friendly legislation, we have everything from dog oncologists to pet hypnotherapists.”
Here are the five most interesting things WW learned:
- In 2008, half the states in the U.S. either adopted or revised their animal-fighting laws. Among them: Oregon, which expanded the parameters of felony animal-fighting laws to include penalties for watching the animal fights, advertising for them or possessing equipment used in the fights.
- Massachusetts became the first state to ban the leasing of dogs and cats. Some websites offer such services for people who “don’t want the full responsibility of owning a pet.” In Oregon, however, such sites remain legal.
- If it seems more expensive lately to scramble an egg, animal-law attorneys believe they know why. They’ve filed six class-action lawsuits against the egg industry in the past year, alleging price fixing.
- Another egg-cellent piece of news: Californians are about to vote on Proposition 2, which would ensure more humane living conditions by 2015 for egg-laying hens, pregnant sows and calves raised for veal on factory farms. Oregon already has laws protecting the living conditions of livestock.
- Minnesota and Illinois recently passed laws allowing dogs in patio areas of restaurants. In Portland, business licenses are flexible enough that most restaurants, if they prefer, may allow dogs in patio areas. Three barks for us.