Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters



In light of the fact that today’s consumers often want their products to be created in the most environmentally-, globally-, and animal-friendly ways possible, unethical sellers sometimes succumb to the incentive to persuade consumers that goods were created more ethically than they actually were. False advertising law represents a rare, albeit roundabout, legal opening for animal advocates to deal with issues of animal mistreatment, regardless of legislative and executive branch disregard of the importance of animal protection. Whether there is a beneficial change in the law or not, current opportunities in the market for these cases should be sought out and exploited, if only to protect the ground animal advocates have gained in the battle for consumer opinion. This article investigates the ways that consumers can protect themselves from false advertising through the use of federal and state agencies, independent review, federal and state courts, and private attorneys general actions. Animal Law Review at Lewis & Clark Law School 2004

Duck producer in trouble over ‘false claim’ ads

12 July 2012 Animals Australia

CONSUMER authorities are suing Australia's largest duck producer after activists filmed its ''open range'' ducks crowded into dirty pens, some of them covered in faeces with their wing-stubs caught in metal grates.

Pepe's Ducks, which slaughters more than 70,000 birds each week and whose founder was runner-up farmer of the year in the New South Wales Farmers Association in 2010, has been accused of false advertising by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 

It objects to its use of the label ''grown nature's way'' and a picture of a duck walking across a lawn towards a pond, with hills in the distance. Emma Hurst, of Animal Liberation, applauded the ACCC for acting, but said the RSPCA should urgently investigate the welfare conditions at a leading Victorian supplier, Luv-a-Duck. 

''There are equal concerns for the welfare of ducks that are kept at Luv-a-Duck,'' she said. ''We are seeing ducks on their backs, we're seeing ducks smattered with waste, and we are seeing issues such as crusty-eye, which is caused by the fact that the ducks can't dip their eyes in water, so the eye actually cakes over with dirt. They can't adequately clean themselves and that can lead to blindness.'' 

She supplied pictures of ducks in apparent distress, which she said were taken at Luv-A-Duck's farms. She said the company had avoided sanctions because it did not claim its ducks were free-range. 

A writ filed in the Federal Court on Monday claims that Pepe's Ducks contravened trade laws by advertising their duck meat as ''Grown Nature's Way'' and indicating that their ducks ''were allowed to spend at least a substantial amount of their time with access to an outdoor body of water … foraging for food outdoors'', and were of better quality than barn-raised ducks when ''that was not the case''. 

The ACCC, which has recently filed similar cases against free-range chicken producers, is seeking fines, a published correction notice and an injunction preventing Pepe's Ducks from using the labels for three years. The case, which was sparked after Animal Liberation sent film to the ACCC earlier this year, has been sped up and is expected to be heard on August 29. 

A NSW Farmers Association blurb about Pepe Bonaccordo said animal welfare and health were ''two of the highest priorities'' at Pepe's Ducks. 

Neither Pepe's Ducks nor Luv-a-Duck returned calls from The Age last night. A Pepe's Ducks contract farmer, Greg Pebbles, told the ABC last month the footage showed ''a one-off situation'' and said: ''It is our living, we have to look after them.''

IDA Fights Portland Furrier's Lawsuit 

SLAPP suit seeks to silence animal advocates' freedom of speech

IDA is currently defending itself against a civil SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) being brought to the federal court by Schumacher Furs in Portland, Ore. IDA is among a long list of defendants—including other animal groups and individuals, 20 Jane and John Does, and even the city of Portland—in a suit that was filed shortly after the 112-year old fur store announced they were closing their doors for good. Seeking millions in alleged damages, store owners Gregg and Linda Schumacher claim the weekly demonstrations for the past 18 months by animal advocates were unlawful and put them out of business. City leaders and the police disagree, and after monitoring the scene week after week, their conclusion was that the activists were exercising lawful, constitutionally protected free speech.

The SLAPP suit—first used against environmentalists—is a tactic of corporations and animal abusive industries to try to silence or limit free speech of activists who seek to expose their unethical practices. Schumacher is asking the court to grant an injunction against the protests, which, if provided, could impose restrictions on the time, manner, and location of the weekly outreach events. IDA's attorneys, Greg Kafoury and Mark McDougal, will be defending IDA at the injunction hearing on Thursday, May 17th, and have also filed an anti-SLAPP motion to strike Schumacher's entire complaint on the grounds that their clients are well within the bounds of protected speech, and that Schumacher's allegations lack merit.

The lawsuit came as no surprise to activists who were used to dealing with the Schumachers' bizarre actions. The furriers and their employees have spit at, cursed, threatened, and harassed activists: in at least one case, they even followed an activist all the way home. Once, while a high school student was delivering an assigned speech about fur outside of the store with his teacher present, a Schumacher employee came out and screamed “I’m gonna kill you! I’m gonna kill you!” The Schumachers also held weekly "protest sales" at their store, blasted activists with Christmas music at rock concert levels, and held a counter-protest during which Linda Schumacher came out and screamed in the faces of calm activists. They even put a sign in the window stating, "All Protesters Should be Beaten, Strangled, Skinned Alive, and Anally Electrocuted!"

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard said in a public statement dated March 30, 2006, after the Schumachers rejected his offer to help, "I find the recent actions of the Schumachers very unfortunate, as they only perpetuate the problem with the protesters that they supposedly wanted my help to solve. I have come to the conclusion that they have chosen this path as a method of generating free advertisement for their business, and in fact are not interested in resolving the issue with the protesters."

Perhaps poor judgment runs in the family. Kafoury and McDougal have successfully sued a senior member of the fourth generation fur store, William Schumacher, who was forced to pay $600,000 to their client, a Greenpeace activist, when a political disagreement escalated into Schumacher threatening him with a loaded gun while he was legally canvassing in their neighborhood.

Schumacher continues to play the victim, but throughout our campaign, IDA has reminded media and passersby that the real victims are the animals who are beaten, stomped, and skinned alive for a vanity product.

Animal Activists Claim Victory After Federal Judge Throws Out Lawsuit by Furrier

June 18, 2007

Portland, Ore.—In Defense of Animals (IDA) are declaring victory after a federal lawsuit brought against them was thrown out by Federal Judge Michael Mosman yesterday. The case arose out of Schumacher Fur Store owners’ false claims of the so-called “lawless behavior” of animal activists who held weekly anti-fur protests for 18 months outside the fur store. The demonstrations culminated in the store’s permanent closure on May 31st.

“Today is a victory both for free speech and the animals brutalized by the fur industry. The court agreed that our protests are lawful and fully protected under the First Amendment, leaving the Schumacher’s lawsuit lying in ruins,” according to Matt Rossell, Northwest Outreach Coordinator of IDA. “Schumacher cried victim in an attempt to distract the public from the suffering of the animals used to make his coats.”

IDA’s attorneys Greg Kafoury and Mark McDougal won on the merits of their anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion, evoking an Oregon law that protects public participants from the chilling effect of litigation brought against them surrounding their protected free speech. A civil SLAPP suit is a tactic of corporations and industries that abuse animals to try to silence or limit free speech of activists who seek to expose cruel and inhumane practices.

“The effort by the Schumachers to inflict millions in damages and silence our speech was clearly designed to financially destroy IDA and intimidate compassionate individuals from speaking out against killing animals for vanity products,” according to Dr. Elliot M. Katz, IDA President. “We are pleased the courts resolved this matter quickly so we can go on doing our important work on behalf of animals in need.”

Crushing Blow to Australian Wool Industry: AWI Drops Lawsuit; PETA's Call for Boycott of Australian Wool Continues

June 29, 2007 - For Immediate Release

Sydney -- A lawsuit filed more than two years ago by trade group Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) against PETA--over the animal protection organization's global boycott of cruelly produced wool--has been abandoned, and PETA's campaign against the mutilation and mistreatment of sheep continues full steam ahead.

"Our message is that when animal abusers sue PETA, it's at their own peril," announced PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, one of the defendants in the failed lawsuit. "AWI has wasted millions of dollars of woolgrowers' money, only to find that PETA's call for a boycott of Australian wool is going full-throttle as long as lambs have chunks of their rumps cut off with shears and sheep are herded onto export death ships."

PETA began its campaign against Australian wool in 2004 in an effort to put an end to two abuses of sheep raised for wool: mulesing (the mutilation of lambs' hind quarters) and live exports to the Middle East (many sheep die en route in squalid conditions on the weeks-long journeys, and most who survive are abused in ways that would be illegal in Australia, as PETA has repeatedly documented).

Lawyer Fraser Shepherd of Gilbert + Tobin, the firm that represented PETA and several other defendants in the litigation, described AWI's decision to drop its lawsuit as "a clear lesson to other industries that it is extremely unwise to try to silence their critics by using heavy-handed litigation rather than sensible dialogue."

Under the terms of the agreement reached today, AWI is withdrawing its lawsuit and has pledged to do the following, among other things:

* Fast-track the development of genetic alternatives to mulesing by seeking a transition from over-woolled merino sheep to the bare-breeched breed, something that PETA has pushed for since its campaign began some 30 months ago 
*  Not stand in the way of a new labeling system that would ensure that consumers and retailers can distinguish between unmulesed wool and mulesed wool, giving unmulesed wool an advantage in the increasingly popular "compassion-aware" marketplace
*  Be bound to provide quarterly reports to PETA detailing AWI's investments and progress in developing genetic alternatives to mulesing, and encourage the development, approval, and use of pain-relief products

While PETA sees AWI's promises under the agreement as encouraging, it has other promises in mind. "PETA promises the sheep who suffer greatly in the production of Australian wool garments that the upcoming holiday season will find us protesting all around the world to urge consumers to boycott all products made of Australian wool," continued Newkirk.

The sole "concession" PETA has agreed to in return is to temporarily halt a tactic the group had already turned away from calling for boycotts of individual retailers that sell Australian wool--because the group has been successfully working with retailers to pressure AWI to make improvements. Through PETA's efforts, top retailers Liz Claiborne, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Timberland, and Limited Brands as well as U.K.-based megachains New Look and George have moved away from Australian wool, now favoring wool from countries that do not mutilate their sheep; in addition, Nordstrom and Ann Taylor are giving purchasing preference to nonmulesed wool. Fashion designer Marc Bouwer--whose celebrity clients include Mariah Carey, Charlize Theron, and Angelina Jolie--wrote to Prime Minister John Howard urging him to stop live exports and mulesing and pledged to ban Australian wool from his collections.

PETA's call for a boycott of Australian wool has garnered high-profile support from Pamela Anderson, Chrissie Hynde, Martina Navratilova, and Pink, whose Australian wool expose video will continue to be promoted on PETA's Web site.

Newkirk added, "For almost 90 years, the only end in sight was a bloody lamb's bottom, but only 30 months into PETA's campaign, we can see the beginning of the end for mulesing mutilations in Australia. Sheep farmers must face the fact that growing international disgust at the treatment of sheep must make almost any other non-animal occupation--including sewage-pipe cleaning--look like a more attractive proposition." http://www.peta.org/MC/NewsItem.asp?id=9978   

Shock waves continue after court's sheep export ruling

By Marius Cuming, national sheep & wool writer
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 North Queensland Register - Farmonline

Shock waves are continuing following the Federal Court's ruling in favour of animal activist Ralph Hahnheuser, who broke into a sheep feedlot four years ago and contaminated the feed with shredded ham.
The incident seriously disrupted the live export trade and the immediate shipping of 72,000 sheep from Portland, Vic.

But Justice Gray dismissed the legal case by Rural Export and Trading (WA) and Samex against the activist on the grounds that Mr Hahnheuser had been acting in the interests of environmental protectionism, given sheep are part of the environment. He also believed Mr Hahnheuser had not intended to hinder trade.

The Victorian Farmers Federation financially supported the exporters in their action, through the Farmers Fighting Fund.
The VFF has strongly criticised the Federal Court decision.

Livecorp chief executive, Cameron Hall, has since endorsed the VFF criticism, saying, "This sets a dangerous precedent for damaging acts performed by animal activists against livestock industries across Australia."

Mr Hahnheuser is no longer an activist with Animal Liberation and could not be contacted but a spokesman for the group said it would continue to educate the public on the "shameful way" animals are treated through the live export trade."We will continue to defend the animals who cannot defend themselves," the spokesperson said.

It is not known whether Rural Export and Trading (WA) and Samex will appeal against the ruling, with support from the VFF. But VFF livestock president, Ailsa Fox, said new federal legislation regarding the Trade Practices Act had passed in recent months to further protect legitimate business against such activity.

Source: Extract from report in Stock & land, Vic, October 11.

Los Angeles Zoo Faces Lawsuit for Elephant Abuse, Neglect 

AP Friday, August 03, 2007 

Actor Robert Culp and another man have filed suit against the Los Angeles Zoo and the city, aiming to stop construction of a $40 million elephant exhibit and keep the zoo from having elephants on the grounds.

The suit filed Thursday also alleges mistreatment of elephants going back decades, saying that it has caused both direct and indirect damage to the animals. Over the past 33 years, 13 of the zoo's 31 elephants have died prematurely, according to the lawsuit by Culp and real estate agent Aaron Leider.

Among the alleged instances of abuse: a 1984 incident in which an elephant was hit with a bull hook and one in 1986 in which an elephant was electrically shocked by handlers. "We want them to close the existing exhibits, acquire no more elephants and spend the money more wisely," said attorney David Casselman.

Animal welfare activists have long argued that elephants in zoos don't have enough space or soft ground.

Jason Jacobs, director of public relations for the zoo, said the new exhibit would give the animals a wide variety of surfaces to walk on. He argued that the general treatment of the animals had greatly changed over the last 20 years. The City Council approved the construction project last year. The exhibit was scheduled to open in late 2009. The zoo has only one elephant, a bull named Billy. In June 2006, zoo elephant Gita died. According to a necropsy, the animal died of cardiac failure associated with blood clots blocking the right chamber and major vessels of her heart. An investigation determined that zoo officials were slow to react after the elephant was reported in a downed position. 

Julie Woodyer, Campaigns Director
Zoocheck Canada Inc. Campaigning for the protection of wild animals www.zoocheck.com

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)

In November 2006, Congress passed and the President signed into law the AETA. Proponents of the bill, including animal-exploiting industry groups, corporations and the politicians that represent them, pushed for the passage of AETA ostensibly to crack down on violent animal and environmental rights extremists—even though there has not been a single injury or death caused by anyone involved in an animal or environmental action. The bill criminalizes legal, constitutionally-protected activity in order to silence political dissent targeting animal/natural resource-abusing industries.


  •  sweeps up free speech activities such as boycotts, whistle blowing, protests, media campaigning, picketing, audio/video    recording, or any other activity that “interferes” with the operation of an “animal enterprise” resulting in a loss of profits.

  •  singles out animal and eco-activists for exceptionally harsh penalties based solely on political ideology.

  •  is not needed to curb violent actions; federal and state laws already protect corporations from criminal activity.

  •  was designed to eliminate the threat that effective activism poses to the profits and power of the animal and natural resource industries,.

  •  is so vague in its language that it could be used to criminalize anyone protesting the activities of an animal enterprise, which could impact labor unions, community groups, health organizations and social and economic justice movements.

  •  does not provide an exception for those engaged in labor disputes which is contrary to established law.

Comment: Many believe that this threat to free speech is part of a larger effort by corporate interests to use the terrorism label to constrain social activism. Increasingly, SLAPP suits are being used by powerful and wealthy corporations or organizations in an attempt to stifle criticism, and as Internet griping rises, we will continue to see these fights before the courts.  Anti-SLAPP legislation has been implemented in some US states but not yet in Canada. (July, 2008)

Comment: Under the Constitution Act of 1982, these Fundamental Freedoms are guaranteed to everyone in Canada: “(a) freedom of conscience and religion; (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (d) freedom of association.”

March 14, 2013 Meet Your Meat Spin Doctors

Public misinformed about 'humane' animal products; AWI Report; meat recalls regular; HSUS

January 14, 2015 Charges dropped against meat packers protesters (Toronto Pig Save)

Comment: These activists should never have been charged. They are not criminals. The vast majority of animals raised for food in Canada live on industrial sites where they are cruelly confined, unable to express normal behaviours, and forced to slaughter, their lives violently snuffed out, all because of selfish human want.   

Under our archaic laws wherein animals are regarded as chattel property, this is perfectly legal, but is completely unethical and abhorrent to any human being with an ounce of compassion. Please add your voice to the growing number of caring people creating social change and pursuing justice on behalf of all animals.

Read more: Beyond pacifism - another view on attaining abolition, animal holocaust isn't over

Direct action - working for animal liberation; liberating the oppressed