By Bee Friedlander, Animals and Society Institute (ASI)
Before we move on to the new year, I want to review some of the important stories related to animals that made news in 2010.
January: Earthquake in Haiti; ARCH (Animal Rescue Coalition for Haiti) forms.
February: Sea World trainer Dawn Branchau dies after being attacked by Tilikum, an orca whale, during a show. After 3 days, SeaWorld Orlando resumes its killer whale show. This tragedy sets off another round of discussion about whether these animals belong in captivity. One expert argues for release, saying: "building a tank the size of Rhode Island wouldn't be large enough for a six-ton male such as Tilikum, an animal capable of swimming 100 miles in a day." Read Margo DeMello's ASI Diary essay, Captive Animals: More Questions.
March: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meeting in Doha ends with no agreement to protect marine animals. CITES’s Secretary General, emphasizing the accomplishments, remarks “To say that the Conference was a disaster is simply an exaggeration.”
April: On April 20, the Supreme Court in US v Stevens overturns a law that banned so-called “crush videos,” depicting animal cruelty. In ruling that the law is an unconstitutional violation of free speech, the court does leave open the possibility that a bill more narrowly written would pass constitutional muster. Read my ASI Diary entry on the case, Cruelty and Censorship.
On the same day, the Deepwater Horizon exploded, setting off the gulf oil spill that kept the nation transfixed for months. One of the most compelling images throughout the ordeal will be those of oil-soaked brown pelicans. Read my comments here, and Ken's here.
May: An employee of Conklin Dairy Farms in Ohio is arrested after video shows intentional cruelty to dairy cows and calves; farm owner is not charged. Read my ASI Diary posting, updating the guilty plea and the judge's sentence that includes AniCare treatment, The Conklin Dairy Cruelty Case: A Perspective.
June: A bill to prohibit the creation, sale, marketing, or distribution of “crush videos” is introduced in the House, in response to April’s Supreme Court decision. The bill is aimed at obscene depictions of intentional crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, or impaling of an animal. (The bill is on a fast track: it will pass the House in July by a vote of 416-3, the Senate in November by unanimous consent; and be signed by the president in December).
July: In Spain, the Catalan parliament votes to ban bullfighting, after an international effort in support of the measure (including a letter drafted by the ASI and signed by 150 academics around the world).
Baltimore’s Anti Animal Abuse Task Force, formed to combat the growing incidents of dog fighting, especially among juveniles, issues a 64-page final report (with one section discussing the AniCare treatment model.)
August: Rocker and hunting advocate Ted Nugent pleads guilty to deer poaching in Yuba County, CA. “I'm very disappointed in him,” says a board member of the California Deer Association.
September: The European Union, in action receiving little attention in the
US, establishes a requirement that member countries adopt new rules, within two
years, to reduce the number of animals used in lab experiments and to tighten
controls over such procedures. Although pleased that the new rules require use
of non-animal alternatives where scientifically suitable, the UK-based BUAV
calls the act a missed opportunity to ban several practices such as the use of
non-human primates and the re-use of animals, and to outlaw certain experiments
October: 170 member countries meet in Nagoya, Japan for the 10th annual Convention on Biological Diversity. Delegates establish a 10 year strategic plan to address the extinction crisis. At the same time, a report is issued estimating that 20% of the world's vertebrate species face extinction.
November: Missouri voters pass Prop B which establishes standards for dog breeders, in a state known to have the largest number of puppy mills in the country. Three states pass “right to hunt” amendments, although Arizona voters reject a proposal to enshrine the right to hunt, fish and harvest into the state constitution.
December: Long-time animal rights activist Doris Dixon dies. Doris's involvement dates to the night she saw Cleveland Amory on the Tonight Show in the late 1960s. She dedicated the rest of her life to helping animals and mentoring people who themselves are now prominent in the animal advocacy movement.
Michael Vick again generates controversy when he announces intention to have another dog. Not only animal advocates weigh in. Everyone has an opinion on the quarterback, it seems, including President Obama, while a conservative commentator says Vick should have been executed. Read Ken's Diary posting, Michael Vick: An American Story.
Now we look forward to 2011. One change you will see in the new year is the introduction of the ASI Blog. We will be unveiling this new site soon (check back in a day or two). It will provide more frequent, shorter, and more varied comments on our work and on those animal issues we think you'll want to know about, as well as providing more opportunity to interact with you. We'll be expanding our social media presence into additional platforms. The ASI Diary will continue to provide in-depth analysis and commentary several times a month, with diarists Ken Shapiro, John Thompson, Jill Howard Church, Margo DeMello and me. Let us know what you think!