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Category: Law & Government

Missouri governor signs compromise on voter-approved Prop. B, 'Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act'

Puppy mill rescues

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri officials pushed through new regulations for the state's dog breeders in a flurry of legislative activity Wednesday that started with Gov. Jay Nixon signing one bill repealing sections of a voter-approved dog-breeding law and ended with the governor signing another measure that implemented a deal between dog breeders and welfare groups.

The maneuvering was needed to pass a compromise on new rules for Missouri dog breeders that was brokered by Nixon's administration and supported by several state-based agriculture and animal-welfare groups. Nixon called the new legislation "a dramatic, important, significant step" that would improve the care of dogs while ensuring breeders can continue to operate. The industry has an estimated $1-billion impact in Missouri.

In the end, Nixon and lawmakers eliminated parts of the "Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act" passed last November by voters, including a limit of 50 breeding dogs per business. Other portions were changed. The new law seeks potential middle ground on the specifics of the living-space requirements, and it gives breeders more time to comply with the new rules.

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Iowa agriculture committees approve bill that would limit animal groups' undercover investigations

HyLine

DES MOINES, Iowa — Angered by repeated releases of secretly filmed videos claiming to show the mistreatment of farm animals, Iowa's agriculture industry is pushing legislation that would make it illegal for animal rights activists to produce and distribute such images.

Agriculture committees in the Iowa House and Senate have approved a bill that would prohibit such recordings and punish people who take agriculture jobs only to gain access to animals to record their treatment. Proposed penalties include fines of up to $7,500 and up to five years in prison. Votes by the full House and Senate have not yet been set.

Doug Farquhar, program director for environmental health at the National Conference of State Legislatures, said Iowa would be the first state to approve such restrictions but Florida is considering similar legislation. The Iowa measure was introduced after a number of groups released videos showing cows being shocked, pigs beaten and chicks ground up alive.

"It's very transparent what agribusiness is attempting to do here," said Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Assn., a California-based group dedicated to protecting farm animals from abuse. "They're trying to intimidate whistleblowers and put a chill on legitimate anti-cruelty investigations. Clearly the industry feels that it has something to hide or it wouldn't be going to these extreme and absurd lengths."

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California ferret owners mount new efforts to have their pets legalized in the state

Ferrets

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California's ferret owners are tired of being criminals.

They live in the only U.S. state besides Hawaii that bans residents from keeping ferrets as pets, forcing an untold number of Californians to keep their beloved weasels hidden from the public.

But these renegade ferret lovers have no plans to abandon their long, furry friends. Instead, they're ramping up their campaign to persuade lawmakers, wildlife regulators and the public that it's time to overturn a ban that's been in place for nearly 80 years.

"There is no reason the ownership of the domesticated ferret should be illegal in California," Pat Wright, who heads the Legalize Ferrets campaign, told the California Fish and Game Commission in February. "These guys are part of our family. The pet-human bond is a strong one, and you're stepping on it."

State wildlife regulators say escaped or discarded ferrets could establish feral populations and threaten native wildlife, such as nesting birds, rabbits and squirrels.

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California gets a new first dog: Pembroke Welsh corgi named Sutter joins Jerry Brown's family

SutterBrown California has a new first dog in Sutter, a 7-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi recently adopted by Gov. Jerry Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown.

The Times' California state politics blog PolitiCal reported in early January that the corgi was being considered for a top spot in the governor's administration. The Browns' previous pet, a dog named Dharma, passed away in 2010.

Sutter had belonged to Gov. Brown's sister Kathleen, a Goldman Sachs executive and former state treasurer who recently moved to Chicago. The governor and first lady had been caring for Sutter since Kathleen Brown's departure. 

"He finds all the extra food lying on the floor in the office," Gust Brown told the Sacramento Bee of Sutter's job duties. "He barks at anyone, he gives snuggles, he warms up the Republicans." Beyond Republican-warming, his hobbies include herding and accompanying the Browns on jogs.

The Humane Society of the United States was quick to praise the Browns' decision to adopt Sutter; Wayne Pacelle, the group's president and chief executive, wrote on his blog that "we're excited whenever the cause of companion animal adoption gets a boost."

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Hawaii attorney scoffs at animal cruelty charge for client who beat peacock with baseball bat

HONOLULU — The attorney for a Hawaii woman who bludgeoned a peacock to death says his client shouldn't be on trial on animal cruelty charges because peafowl are pests and the state doesn't require a permit to kill them.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports Earle Partington told jurors in opening statements Wednesday that the case against Susan Maloney is "ridiculous."

Maloney has said she killed the bird on May 17, 2009, because she was tired of its constant squawking outside her condominium complex.

Maloney is charged with second-degree cruelty to animals. The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

RELATED NEWS ABOUT ANIMALS AND THE LAW:
Long sentence for Puerto Rico man convicted of horse-dragging spurs debate
U.K. 'Cat Bin Lady' pleads guilty to animal cruelty charge for dumping cat in trash bin

-- Associated Press

Ohio's outgoing governor issues emergency order banning new dangerous exotic pets in the state

Alligator

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio's outgoing governor has ordered a ban on new dangerous pets, in one of the last states to allow them to be owned with few restrictions.

Gov. Ted Strickland signed an emergency executive order Thursday. The ban bars private ownership of any new wild animals and comes after the fatal bear mauling of an animal caretaker in the Cleveland area last summer.

The emergency measure is only valid through March 6, but Strickland's successor, John Kasich, says he supports the ban in concept and the state should let it continue.

Strickland says the order fulfills his end of a deal with animal rights groups and Ohio's agribusiness industry. The agreement had kept the Humane Society of the United States from going to the ballot in November with a measure restricting animal cruelty.

RELATED EXOTIC ANIMAL NEWS:

-- Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press

Photo: Pet alligator? You can't get a new one in Ohio -- or a bear, big cat, ape, crocodile or venomous snake. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Tucker Carlson thinks Michael Vick should have been executed

Tucker Carlson is on TV this week, as a substitute. Tucker Carlson does not have his own TV show, in part because Jon Stewart famously schooled him when Carlson was co-hosting CNN's "Crossfire."

Tucker Carlson wants Michael Vick to be executed Carlson never recovered.

What has happened to Carlson's career in the six years that Stewart knocked the bow tie right off the smug host? Carlson has three things going for him. He has a relatively new website, The Daily Caller, which launched earlier this year. He regularly calls into the Bubba the Love Sponge's radio show. And to pay the bills, he is under contract with Fox News, where he pops up on various political shows to punch up their panels and occasionally fill in for vacationing hosts.

This week Carlson is keeping Sean Hannity's seat warm. Tuesday he chose to punch up "Hannity" using the trifecta of any controversial conversation: religion, politics, and extreme stances on death. While setting up a segment on President Obama's recent telephone call to Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles (wherein the president praised the Eagles for giving ex-con quarterback Michael Vick a second chance after being incarcerated), Carlson casually stated that even though he is a Christian, he thinks Vick should be killed for the crime that the courts thought was only worthy of 19 months in the clink.

"I'm a Christian," Carlson quipped mere days after the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. "I've made mistakes myself, I believe fervently in second chances, but Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way. And I think, personally, he should've been executed for that. He wasn't, but the idea that the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs? Kind of beyond the pale."

Job well done, Tucker. If there's three things popular on the "Hannity" show it's God, guns, and Obama-bashing. Carlson hit his quota in less than 16 seconds. And like a cherry on top, the Internet is buzzing with people typing out "Tucker..."

Some of the reaction after the jump.

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Senate votes to ban distribution of 'crush videos'

KittenVertical WASHINGTON — Videos appealing to a sexual fetish by showing women killing small animals will be banned under legislation that cleared the Senate on Friday and is headed to President Obama for his signature.

The voice vote in the Senate followed a vote in the House on Monday to ban so-called crush videos that depict the abuse and killing of animals.

Congress banned such videos in 1999, but the Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the law, saying it was too broadly written and violated 1st Amendment free-speech protections.

The more narrowly crafted bill going to the White House makes it a crime to sell or distribute videos that violate bans on animal cruelty by showing animals being burned, drowned, suffocated or impaled.

"Animal torture videos are barbaric and have no place in a civilized society," said Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), one of the House sponsors. "By promising to lock up the people who produce and distribute these videos we can work to put a halt to this horrendous practice."

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House votes to outlaw sales of 'crush videos' documenting animal cruelty

Kittens

WASHINGTON — The House on Monday voted to ban so-called crush videos that depict the abuse and killing of animals.

The measure would revive, with some modifications, a 1999 law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in April on the grounds it was too broadly written and violated 1st Amendment free speech protections.

Congress has been trying since then to come up with a more narrowly crafted law, and the measure the House passed still differs slightly from a version approved by the Senate in September. It now goes back to the Senate.

"We need a law that stays on the books," House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said in explaining the decision to tinker with the Senate language.

The bill was the first to be taken up in the lame-duck session of Congress that opened Monday.

The legislation, which the House originally passed in July, would make it a crime to sell or distribute videos that violate bans on animal cruelty by showing animals being burned, drowned, suffocated or impaled.

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Missouri voters have their say on the state's controversial puppy-mill proposition

Puppy As voters across the country go to the polls, many animal lovers are watching one state in particular: Missouri, where debate has been raging for months over a proposition that would impose new regulations on large-scale dog breeding operations.

Proposition B, if approved, would mandate breeders who keep 10 or more female dogs "for the purpose of breeding those animals and selling any offspring for use as a pet" to provide for each:

-- Sufficient food and clean water;
-- Necessary veterinary care;
-- Sufficient housing, including protection from the elements;
-- Sufficient space to turn and stretch freely, lie down and fully extend his or her limbs;
-- Regular exercise; and
-- Adequate rest between breeding cycles.

It would also require that breeders keep no more than 50 unaltered dogs over the age of 6 months. (Read the full text, including definitions of the terms "sufficient," "necessary," "regular" and "adequate" for the purposes of the proposition, at the Missouri Secretary of State's website.) If approved, violations by breeders would be considered misdemeanor offenses and could carry a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail and a $300 fine, according to the Associated Press.

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