A Federal Court judge has denied former Wildlife Services employee Russell Files’ motion to dismiss felony animal cruelty charges. The motion was based on what the Court described as a “seldom-litigated principle of federal constitutional law- federal Supremacy Clause immunity- to bar the State of Arizona from prosecuting him for animal cruelty.”
This is the latest development in a case that has factually and legally been full of firsts, accroding to ADLA president and attorney Stephanie Nichols-Young.
Files was arrested on December 18th, 2012 and later charged in Maricopa County Superior Court with one count of felony animal cruelty after he used a leghold trap to trap a neighbor’s dog, Zoey, who was severely injured in the incident. Files placed the trap in his unfenced front yard. Police report is posted here (warning - graphic images)
Wildlife Services - a division of the USDA, is often criticized for its practices in killing large numbers of wildlife and unintentionally targeted pets. However, it is unusual for the agency to go after an individual pet in this manner.
- The case was designated a violent crime by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Margaret Mahoney - an unusual designation in animal cruelty cases.
- The defense successfully had the case removed to federal court - also unusual in a criminal case.
- In denying the request to dismiss charges, Judge Jack Zouhary noted that “The [Supremacy Clause] defense does not protect a federal officer who misuses his or her position to further wholly personal interests.”
Judge Zouhary presided over a two- day evidentiary hearing to hear evidence relevant to the motion. In his 17 page Opinion and Order he noted that:
Files violated generally applicable agency policies in the course of setting the traps;
Files did not complete necessary paperwork before setting the traps;
Files did not disclose key facts to his supervisors, and his approach to them was not made in good faith;
Files had an actual conflict of interest;
Files defied his supervisor’s instructions.
The entire Opinion is posted here.
The next hearing in this matter is scheduled for August 19th at 4:00 PM at in Courtroom 603, 401 West Washington Street in Phoenix before Judge David G Campbell.
Governor Brewer signed the law requiring full public reporting of greyhound injuries and deaths at Tucson Greyhound Park! Thanks to Representatives Ethan Orr & John Kavanagh, GREY2K USA, The Humane Society of the United States - Arizona, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Humane Voters of AZ, Susan Via, Jamie Massey, Joe Romack, Nancy Young Wright, Caryn Wood, Karyn Zoldan, Sylvia Arena, and all the advocates who contacted legislators!
Click here for the Tucson News video on the new law.
In recent months the Spay Neuter Hotline has been contacted regarding cat colonies believed to be facing some type of crisis in the areas they call home. When these instances arise there are things you can do to help.
· Try to find a contact at the business or community that you can speak with to get the facts.
· Remain calm and respectful when you reach out to the contact and try to find out the exact situation from the source.
· Offer information and assistance with trap neuter return.
· Explain why trap neuter return is the most humane and effective way to control the cat populations living on the streets in our community.
· Rally people that live in the community or are affiliated with the business that are feeding and/or caring for the cats to step up and become the cat management team.
· Provide training on best practices for managing the colony starting with fixing All the cats in the area.
· If you’re feeding cats make sure the first thing you do is get them all fixed A.S.A.P. before a problem arises.
Spay Neuter Hotline is happy to provide resources to assist you in educating individuals and the community as a whole about TNR. We can provide information to you that you can give to others explaining TNR, how our program works, Best practices for colony management and tips for starting a TNR project in the community. The best way to get people on board with TNR is to show them that it works.
Through our program we have fixed over 60,000 cats since 2009. In order for us to be successful and continue to fix as many cats as we do, we have to stay on task. We rely heavily on the cat community to educate and advocate for outdoor cats.
Please remember if you feed outdoor cats, you have to get them fixed.
We are ecstatic to report that the Arizona legislative session adjourned early today without passing the bill that would have severely damaged our animal cruelty law! #1267/HB2587, was proposed by the agriculture industry, and as introduced would have prevented law enforcement from investigating animal cruelty and criminalized those who expose animal abuse. Although the #ag-gag language was removed, the bill would have significantly weakened protection for farm animals, made it harder for prosecutors to convict abusers, and created broad exemptions with unknown negative consequences.
Your advocacy, coupled with the united support of many local and national animal welfare groups as well as the collaborative work of coalition partners, including the Animal Cruelty Taskforce of Southern Arizona, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Arizona Coalition for Equines, Arizona Humane Society, ASPCA, Humane Society of Southern Arizona, The Humane Society of the United States, and Humane Voters of AZ contributed to this very important victory. Thank you.
The Livestock Cruelty Bill HB 2587 passed out of the House committee, despite more than 100 people attending to oppose it! It is scheduled to be heard on the House floor tomorrow. In the meantime, a similar bill was introduced in the Senate and rushed through the committee process. SB 1267 is also headed for a vote by the full Senate.
These bills are being rammed through the Legislature by out of touch lawmakers that are beholden to agriculture industry lobbyists, and we need to stop them! Thanks to the tremendous outcry of opposition from animal protection groups, law enforcement and others, amendments are being proposed that will remove the penalty for those that expose animal abuse.
Unfortunately, the bill would STILL do much more harm than good for the animals in our state (see concerns below). We should be strengthening our animal cruelty laws for all animals – not allowing the agriculture industry to decide which animals should be protected. In fact, according to a recent poll, 87 percent of AZ voters surveyed reported that they oppose putting farm animals in a separate, weaker anti-cruelty code.
Take Action here!
At last count, only 83 Mexican gray wolves persisted in the wild. The wild population is at tremendous risk due to its small size and genetics. But there are three bills in the Arizona Legislature that could push this tiny, critically endangered population of wolves even closer to extinction. Two of these measures will be voted on by the entire Senate on Monday. Read more
Arizona Legislators have just introduced a devastating 'ag-gag' bill that would criminalize whistleblowers who expose animal abuse on factory farms, auctions, or slaughter facilities. The bill also weakens cruelty laws for livestock, including horses, and completely removes all protections from cruelty for poultry.
House Bill 2587 criminalizes the actions of those who document any animal cruelty. It requires video and photos of abuse to be turned in to the Department of Agriculture within five days, creating such a short timeline that no pattern of abuse can be documented.
And if that's not bad enough, this bill changes Arizona's strong definition of 'animal' under the animal cruelty law, removing livestock from its protection. It creates new weakened laws for farm animals and removes all authority from law enforcement to investigate abuse of livestock, including horses. It transfers sole authority to the Department of Agriculture, which has only a small number of livestock officers to cover the entire state.
Click here for more information including how you can help stop this bill.
Every spring thousands of homeless kittens come into animal shelters in Maricopa County. Most do not get out alive. Before temperatures rise and cats go into heat, the Spay Neuter Hotline is asking people to stop procrastinating. Get pet cats fixed, and also take advantage of ADLA’s Trap Neuter Return program to sterilize outside cats. Some female cats are in heat this month, and the number will increase in February. By May shelters will be inundated with kittens!
Please Join the Animal Defense League of Arizona’s Spay Neuter Hotline in its campaign. ADLA is asking animal lovers to spread the word to family, neighbors and friends. We can beat kitten season if everyone in the community pitches in by sterilizing cats in their neighborhood. Says ADLA President Stephanie Nichols-Young, “Whether you love cats or you hate them, Trap Neuter Return (TNR) is the best way to reduce the number of cats in Maricopa County. The Spay Neuter Hotline can help beginners and coach them through the process. In many cases, we have neighborhoods work together to do TNR.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Arizona Humane Society and PetSmart Charities, we are offering free surgeries in eight Valley zip codes: 85015, 85017, 85020, 85021, 85029, and 85051 in Phoenix, and 85301 and 85302 in Glendale. In other areas, the Hotline asks for a $25 donation per cat. Those who cannot afford $25 may qualify for financial assistance.
The Spay Neuter Hotline helped to sterilize more than 15,000 feral cats last year and over 50,000 since March 2009. The Hotline offers Trap Neuter Return to assist with reducing the free-roaming cat population. The Hotline also offers referrals and information to low-cost spay neuter veterinarians for pet dogs and cats. Periodically, there are free programs available for those in need of financial assistance.
Simply call 602 265-SPAY (7729) or visit the website. Sterilize all outdoor cats now, before it’s too late.
ADLA is part of “Fix. Adopt. Save” a three-year initiative that will tackle dog and cat homelessness in Maricopa County. Read more here.
Thanks to all of ADLA's staff, volunteers, and supporters for making 2013 such a successful year! Be sure to check out Squeaky's video on ADLA's YouTube Channel!
Fifteen years after they were reintroduced, only 75 Mexican gray wolves remain in the wild, and they have undergone dangerous genetic deterioration due to government and private shooting and trapping, along with a freeze on wolf releases to the wild.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) now proposes changes to Mexican wolf management —two good changes and many more that threaten the lobos’ survival and recovery.
USFWS will hold a public hearing on its proposal on Tuesday, December 3 at Hon Dah conference center in Pinetop, AZ. Your voice is needed at this hearing to show support for the lobo.
Well-funded wolf opponents are pressing USFWS. We can’t outspend them, we need an army of Arizona animal advocates to step up!
You and other supporters of the Mexican wolf are all that will stand between extinction and survival for these critically endangered, beautiful and intelligent animals.
Please stand up and speak up for the lobo on December 3! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know if you would like to carpool to the meeting, with other ADLA members or volunteers from our coalition partner groups. For more information click here.