Throwing the Book at Animal Abusers

By on September 10, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

If there is one overriding reason I think you should support The Humane Society of the United States, it’s that we are effective. With our mainstream reputation, the size of our membership, and the incredible talent assembled on our staff—combined with a drive to push social reforms for animals—we are having an impact in the world and relieving suffering and preventing cruelty.

For instance, already this year, we have helped to pass 76 new laws at the state level to protect animals. That’s a record, beating last year’s unheard of record of 68 news laws. In just two years, we have helped to pass nearly 150 new state laws for animals, and the year isn’t over yet. That, I must say, is an extraordinary record of accomplishment. It happens because of our determination to get the job done and because we have the resources and personnel and members to make it happen.

But we work not just to enact laws, but also to enforce them. Without enforcement, laws are just words on a page.

That’s where our Animal Protection Litigation section comes in.

In January 2005, we created an in-house group of attorneys whose singular mission is to be on the offense against animal abuse. Led by Jonathan Lovvorn, our vice president of Animal Protection Litigation, it’s by far the largest legal team assembled in the history of the animal protection movement.

The group started with just three attorneys. Now, a little more than two years later, we have 12 full-time attorneys. They litigate cases themselves, but are also backed up by a network of attorneys at more than 20 major law firms doing pro bono work for The HSUS. These partnerships magnify our work and mean that we literally have hundreds of attorneys working on animal protection cases all over the nation.

For those animals who will need our legal help in the future, we’ve teamed up with Georgetown Law Center to launch a new clinical education program that puts law students to work side-by-side with our legal staff on cutting-edge cases. We also created a new fellowship for recent law school graduates to work as attorneys for The HSUS before launching their legal careers.

In the last two years, our litigation team has filed more than 25 new cases, and racked up dozens of courtroom victories. Our winning case record is throwing a chill down the spine of animal abusers.

Here are just a few of our actions from the last year:

  • We filed a precedent-setting class action lawsuit against one of the country’s most notorious puppy dealers. Also, our lawsuit against the Florida Department of Agriculture forced the agency to develop new rules for veterinarian health inspection of dogs for sale in the state.
  • Our lawsuit against the Department of Commerce forced a court-ordered settlement to protect three critically endangered whales from slow and horrific fishing gear entanglement deaths.
  • We have participated in three different federal lawsuits to halt the grisly horse slaughter industry, one of which shut down all horse slaughter in Texas.
  • We won a lawsuit that blocked the Department of Commerce’s attempt to weaken the definition of the well-known and trusted "dolphin safe" label.
  • We sued to stop the advertising and sale of dogfighting and cockfighting paraphernalia in violation of federal law.

To learn more about our efforts to protect animals in the courts or join our legal team, visit You can also sign up to receive Animal Protection Litigation’s online newsletter with important updates about our legal actions and activities.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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