Lorises Are Not Pets

The slow loris may be one of the cutest animals in the world, and they have the social media presence to prove it.

This does not mean that they make good pets. My general principle is that if an animal is not a dog (Canis lupus familiaris) or a cat (Felis silvestris catus), then you should probably think very hard before keeping it as a pet. (Other animals that have become fully-domesticated companion animals include rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, parakeets, and, I grudgingly acknowledge, ferrets. Goldfish too, I guess.) An animal born into captivity might, in an individual case, get on well with humans, but that still doesn’t make it a good idea as a general rule. Not only is it not safe for humans, it is often unspeakably cruel to the animals.

The slow loris is but one example, but it’s a doozy. I’m citing Wikipedia here for the sole purpose of saving time. Click through to the article to see all of the citations.

Slow lorises are sold locally at street markets, but are also sold internationally over the Internet and in pet stores.[129][130] They are especially popular or trendy in Japan, particularly among women.[120][129] The reasons for their popularity, according to the Japan Wildlife Conservation Society, are that “they’re easy to keep, they don’t cry, they’re small, and just very cute.”[120] Because of their “cuteness”, videos of pet slow lorises are some of the mostly frequently watched animal-related viral videos on YouTube.[60][123] In March 2011, a newly posted video of a slow loris holding a cocktail umbrella had been viewed more than two million times, while an older video of a slow loris being tickled had been viewed more than six million times.[131] According to Nekaris, these videos are misunderstood by most people who watch them, since most do not realize that it is illegal in most countries to own them as pets and that the slow lorises in the videos are only docile because that is their passive defensive reaction to threatening situations.[123][131] Despite frequent advertisements by pet shops in Japan, the World Conservation Monitoring Centre reported only a few dozen slow lorises were imported in 2006, suggesting frequent smuggling.[83] Slow lorises are also smuggled to China, Taiwan, Europe, Russia, the United States, and Saudi Arabia for use as pets.[130][120][131] Continue reading


Texas Court Clarifies How to Appeal a “Dangerous Dog” Ruling

The law governing “dangerous dogs” is not as well-defined as it should be, with jurisdiction often split between municipal and county courts. Procedures may vary widely from one municipality or county to another, including between a municipality and the county in which it is located. In an attempt to be brief, if a dog bites or otherwise attacks someone, the local animal control authority may take possession of the dog, and a judge must make a determination as to whether the dog meets certain criteria to be declared “dangerous” (a statutorily-defined term.) The law mandates various requirements on the owner of a “dangerous” dog, including maintaining extra insurance and keeping the dog in an approved enclosure. If the court finds that the dog caused the death of, or serious bodily injury to, a person, it can order the dog destroyed.

Chapter 822 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which covers regulation of non-livestock domestic animals (e.g. dogs, cats, etc.) does not provide specifics about appealing a municipal or county court’s determination that a dog is “dangerous”

In Romano v. Texas, a woman fostering a dog for a rescue group was bitten (the court says “attacked,” but I’m assuming one or more bites were involved) by the dog, an a Montgomery County justice of the peace ruled that the dog caused “serious bodily injury” and was to be destroyed pursuant to § 822.003(e) of the Health and Safety Code. The rescue group appealed to the county court, which dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, albeit without any findings of fact or conclusions of law. The group then appealed that dismissal to the 9th District Court of Appeals. Continue reading


Their First Ride to Their Forever Homes

I found these in an Imgur gallery entitled “First ride to new homes after being in a shelter.” Here are a few highlights, with some pittie-esque dogs and a little one who needed someone to hold their paw.


House Cats, Obligate Carnivores

Australian vegans allegedly nearly killed a kitten by feeding it a vegan diet, as shown in a picture of a newspaper clipping that has been going around on Facebook. Cats are essentially obligate carnivores, meaning that they have to have meat in their diets. Dogs can live, at least in theory, on a meat-free diet, but it’s still pretty damn cruel to the dog. If you are one to eschew all meat products in your home, you might seriously consider sticking to rabbits or llamas as pets, or just not having pets at all.

Anyway, I made a GIF set to express my thoughts on the matter:


Animal “Welfare,” Animal “Rights,” and Animal “Liberation”

"Butter Cow" by anneh632 [CC BY-SA 2.0], on Flickr

I was not familiar with butter cows until just now. Impressive work. (Via Flickr.)

Iowans for Animal Liberation made the news for allegedly dumping red paint on the official butter cow of the Iowa State Fair. (To be clear, this is a sculpture of a cow made entirely of butter, not a cow used to produce butter.)

The main reason I find this noteworthy is that the Associated Press described the group as an “animal welfare group,” not, say, the sort of group that uses the word “liberation” in its name and thinks dumping paint on a butter sculpture is an effect form of activism.

The individuals involved also wrote “Freedom for All” on the glass display case, according to the Des Moines Register. The Register described them as an “animal rights group,” which seems more apt than “animal welfare.”

Maybe I’m quibbling, but animal welfare is a cause near and dear to my heart, and dumping paint on a giant dairy sculpture doesn’t seem to advance that cause even the tiniest bit. Just my $0.02.

Photo credit: “Butter Cow” by anneh632 [CC BY-SA 2.0], on Flickr (NOTE: The butter cow pictured above is from the Illinois State Fair, for the record.)


My 15 Minutes of Animal Law Fame

I was part of a panel at the State Bar of Texas 2013 Animal Law Institute at South Texas College of Law on March 22, 2013. It is very similar to the presentation I did in Austin in September 2011, if you have been following my CLE presentation career. Anyway, here it is:


Get a Coco Gram and Support Animal Rescue!

306558_388538191208379_1452390464_nMy co-blogger, Coco Puffin, has been very busy lately with all of her charity work. She is now spreading her unique brand of Coco joy around Austin while supporting Love-A-Bull and Best Friends Animal Society’s “Strut Your Mutt” event, coming up here in Austin on Saturday, September 29, 2012. You can support Love-A-Bull by buying a raffle ticket for a Coco Gram, or you can have a Coco Gram sent directly to you or someone of your choosing. (Warning: Coco Grams may involve a significant amount of snuggling.)

Here’s more on the Coco Gram campaign from Miss Puffin herself:

Mom says I need a job so instead of wearing a back-pack that carries pickles around the park, I have decided to pursue my dream job: dressing up and going around Austin to deliver CoCo Grams to you and your loved ones. But, what exactly is a CoCo Gram you may ask? Quite simply, it’s a 100% donation to Love-A-Bull that gives you 100% sweet lovin’ in return. CoCo Gram packages.

CoCo Gram 1 – RAFFLE
– Minimum donation of $10

-You could win a CoCo Gram! Package includes 1 CoCo Gram (details outlined in CoCo Gram 2) plus OFFICIAL Love-A-Bull Gear!

– Minimum donation of $25-30

– Quality CoCo time – guaranteed to brighten your day (Need a hug/someone soft to pet? Want to stretch your legs and go for a walk? Want to just sit next to me and look into my adoring eyes? Or, maybe you want to take some pictures with one of the cutest adore-a-bulls in town? You got it!)

– A balloon (because they make the world a happier place)

– Paw printed thank you note because, let’s be honest, you are pretty pawsome

– Picture of us sent to you electronically

-> NOTE: I dress to impress

– Minimum donation of $25-30

-Gift it! Same as above to surprise an Austinite of your choice (or, trust me, we can find one for you) with a random act of puppy love!

-> NOTE: I dress to impress

RESTRICTIONS APPLY – My manager has the details. To sign-up for a package above, please email my manager at cocosmom2012@gmail.com and we’ll send you a form to fill out and next steps. Or, if you would like to donate for donatings sake – PAWESOME! Please just click the red SUPPORT ME button at the top of this page.

ALL proceeds go to Love-A-Bull so they can continue to help educate, advocate, and help good looking boys and pretty girls just like me have a chance to find some kindness & love in this world. Thank you for checking out my Strut Your Mutt profile!

Austin’s most adore-a-bull delivery gram

Photo credit: Coco Puffin in her hula skirt, via Facebook.


Introducing our first blog contributor, Miss Coco Puffin!

180610_135721676490033_5190941_nWe could use a little company around here (the royal “we,” of course), so I have invited a blog contributor to post now and then, whenever it fits her busy schedule of napping, eating bacon, and bringing joy to people everywhere. I am proud to introduce one of the kindest, sweetest, most beautiful young women I know, Coco Puffin.

I had the honor of meeting Coco for the first time more than two years ago, when she was still recovering from some pretty serious injuries and looking for a forever home. The incredibly awesome people at Love-A-Bull (yes, I am quite biased) got her back into full tail-wagging mode and found her a new home and a new mom that helps channel her inner muse. Here’s a bit from Coco’s bio:

Coco (also known as Coco the Magnificent, Puffin, Cocos, Coconut, The Puffster, and Puff-a-luffa-gus) was found as a stray in East Austin, limping in the cold spell during Austin’s 2010 winter. She’d obviously had it rough, and the signs of abuse and neglect were evident. It is very likely that she was used as a breeding dog and had been tossed out or had managed to run away. To make matters worse, there was blunt trauma to the back half of her body and the injuries had “healed” on their own. When she was found by a Good Samaritan, she was dragging both of her hind legs, she was about 30 pounds under weight, flea-covered, extremely weak, and she had recently delivered a litter. She was brought to Love-A-Bull and then went straight to the medical experts at Animal Trustees of Austin where they determined that she would need to get stronger before having surgery to address her physical injuries.

She received hip surgery there and recovered successfully, all the while gaining strength through regular meals, proper flea/tick/heartworm meds, vaccinations, and a warm bed in a loving foster home. After visiting a canine neuro-specialist in Dallas, it was determined that the back limbs would not require amputation, and indeed, her foot could regain some function with therapy. Coco received 5 weeks of physical therapy (underwater treadmill, ball and balancing, and bracing). Coco sustained some semi-permanent nerve damage which causes her to drag her back paw or, sometimes, it flips under on the knuckles, but, today, she is able to place her foot correctly most of the time. She will likely always need a brace (and has a very cool one!) for physical activity, but this condition does not slow her down a bit!

Today, about 3 1/2 years old, she weighs a healthy 55 pounds (after our last vet visit Aug 2012 – make that 59 pounds 😀 Well deserved treats & grandparents that spoil her rotten are doing great things for her curves) and is a happy, loving, gentle, and very respectful girl. She may walk a bit funny, but her spirit is going strong and she hasn’t looked back. She LOVES carrides & roadtrips, enjoys Starbucks whip cream, LOVES cuddle time and getting dressed up, and she really has never met a person or child she hasn’t liked. She has also very quickly become a shining example of what it means to be a FABULOUS ambass-a-bull! Her personality shines with 100% Diva-liciousness and, of course, a true social networker, she has many, many real-life friends in Austin, across the country, and even around the world! Her wonderful, friendly temperament around people and children, with a special affinity towards little dogs, especially Chihuahuas, has left a special place in the hearts of her foster families, and it finally found her adopted and into a permanent home Spring 2012. An ardent lover of being petted and loved, she will offer up her belly for rubs all day until the cows come home!

63482_127097720685762_2145173_nI tend to blog about whatever issue is bugging me on any given day, or about geeky stuff like Star Wars or Game of Thrones. I am also quite riled up about animal welfare issues, and Coco Puffin is here to offer the voice of someone who has seen the worst, and the best, of both people and dogs. Please welcome Miss Puffin and make her feel at home.


The BAMF Bichon


Behind this smile, beats the heart of a BAMF

This story is why I will never make fun of the Bichon Frisé breed ever again. (Trigger warning for animal neglect, injury)

They may look small and dainty, but Sophie the Bichon Frisé proved that these dogs are powerful survivors. It is tempting to focus on the colossal failure of the human in this story, to condemn him as a fool at best or a monster at worst, to wax legalistic about how he should go to jail or never own a dog again, and so forth. I’m sure plenty of people will cover that ground, so I want to focus on Sophie, whom I shall dub the Wonderpup.

A dog that was dragged accidentally behind a truck by its owner for about a mile Sunday will recover from its injuries, officials said.

David Bolduc said that after walking Sophie, a small bichon-frisé, outside his Water Street residence, he slipped the leash over the tow hitch of his vehicle while he did a couple of tasks in his garage. When his wife called him to invite him for lunch at McDonald’s on Kennedy Memorial Drive, he got into his truck and headed off to meet her, without remembering where Sophie was.

“I just forgot about it,” a distraught Bolduc said Tuesday.

According to a report filed by Chris Martinez, animal control officer, the dog was dragged for nearly a mile before the leash came off of the tow hitch near KMD Florist and Gifts.

A little farther up the road, another motorist alerted Bolduc to what had happened, and he rushed back to recover Sophie, who was on her feet on the sidewalk, alongside the road.

The dog suffered injuries that were significant but not life-threatening, including the total loss of patches of skin on an area from its abdomen running to the chest, and on the knuckles of its front paws. The pads of all four paws also suffered injuries.


“I would like to commend the animal control officer for doing a fine job,” Bolduc said. “He got a hold of the veterinarian and made him open up for me.”

Sophie was admitted to the Kennebec Veterinary Services in Oakland, where Dr. Paul Smith sedated her and treated her injuries.

She remained in the veterinarian’s care until Tuesday, Bolduc said, and was responding positively to antibiotics.

Bravo to Sophie for being a seriously tough cookie. Bravo also to Dr. Paul Smith, owner of Kennebec Veterinary Services, for being available on a Sunday to treat Sophie.

It should go without saying that a dog is not like a Big Gulp that you might accidentally leave on the roof of your car. Sophie should not have had to go through that ordeal to prove how incredible she is. We can’t know what was going through Sophie’s mind, but I suspect she wanted to follow her human and tried to keep up with the truck–if she had fought the leash, her injuries might have been far, far worse. Dogs have a way of reminding us of their enduring, determined love. It’s up to us to remind our fellow humans, and ourselves, that we bear the burden of being worthy of that love.

Photo credit: ‘AG Cody’ by Rocktendo (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


My Response to Iowa Republican Representative Steve King on Dog Fighting

You may have heard about Representative Steve King’s (R-IA) opposition to amendments to the current Farm Bill that would expand federal criminal laws regarding dog fighting. The Dog Files has a good summary of the proposed amendment and Rep. King’s objections:

During a tele-townhall event last week, King complained about an amendment to the farm bill that prohibits attendance at organized animal fights and imposes additional penalties for bringing a child to these bloody and horrific displays. Staging fights, possessing and/or training animals or moving animals for fighting purposes is already a federal crime. This amendment to the US Farm Bill would extend that to anyone spectating and wagering on animal fighting.

Congressman King went as far to say in his live town hall video broadcast that “it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.”

When I first read this yesterday, my initial impulse was to post a link to the Dog Files story on my Facebook page with a snarky note asking Republicans to please pick up their trash, but two things made me pause before shooting off at the mouth (or keyboard.) First, I’m trying to respond to ideas and arguments that shock my conscience with slightly more restraint, out of a “catch more flies with honey sentiment,” although I admit it is difficult. I will still call stupid “stupid” to its face. And that was the second thing that gave me pause: while I believe Rep. King is 100% wrong, something about the rhetoric he employed prevents me from outright calling it any of my usual deserved slurs. The false equivalence that Rep. King uses here calls for a nuanced response, followed up by an analogy that is both more apt and more inflammatory. In short, Rep. King compares dog fighting to boxing, when I posit that he should be comparing it to child pornography. The following is my open letter to Rep. King. Continue reading