ISAR Is Pleased To Announce The International Society For Animal Rights/Helen Jones Memorial Scholarship In Partnership With Center For Animal Law Studies At Lewis & Clark Law School

i Mar 16th

As our supporters know, ISAR’s founder, the late Helen Jones, was a Twentieth Century visionary and relentless warrior in the moral crusade for animal rights in the United States and abroad.

Early in her career, one of Helen Jones’s most profound insights was that an essential strategy for securing rights for animals was through public education, legislation, and the legal system—a strategy that ISAR has employed for decades. Helen recognized the role of law and lawyers in the fight for Animal Rights.

In furtherance of her and ISAR’s dedication to seek justice for companion animals by attacking the overpopulation scourge, ISAR is proud to announce the International Society for Animal Rights/Helen Jones Memorial Scholarship in partnership with the Center for Animal Law Studies at Lewis & Clark Law School. This full-tuition LL.M. scholarship will offer a foreign attorney the opportunity to earn the world’s only advanced degree in animal law.

The Helen Jones Memorial Scholarship is targeted at students who desire and agree to return to their home country to engage in full-time animal law-related work for at least one year. The scholarship will be awarded to a foreign attorney who demonstrates “a sincere commitment to addressing companion animal overpopulation, and the many issues that flow from overpopulation.”

The Seeds of Animal Law

i Dec 15th

The last few decades have seen the birth and exponential growth of a new field of jurisprudence, mostly in the United States, but also elsewhere in the world: Animal Law.

“Seeds” are defined as “the source, origin, or beginning of anything,” giving rise in the context of Animal Law to three important historical questions: What were the seeds, who planted them in the United States, and what have they grown into in service to the cause of animal rights?

Joyce Tischler, attorney, founder, and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund has identified the beginning of Animal Law in America. It was when ISAR and its long-time chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, brought a constitutional challenge against a religious exemption to the federal Humane Slaughter Act. The federal case was entitled Joneset al. v. Butz (374 F.Supp. 1284, D.C.N.Y. 1974).

As “the first animal rights lawyer,” some forty years ago Professor Henry Mark Holzer first articulated his vision of using the law on behalf of animals at the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law,” organized and sponsored by ISAR and Professor Holzer in 1981.

A major result of the conference was to coalesce the attending lawyers into a loose network of like-minded individuals, and to identify the tools necessary to create an entirely new, discrete field of law–one which would take its deserved place among other long-recognized practice areas such as corporate law, property law, criminal law and many others.

Over the past two decades, Professor Holzer’s vision has been almost fully realized.

The seeds that ISAR and Professor Henry Mark Holzer planted have grown.

  • Today, courses in animal law are taught in virtually every major law school in America, usually using books expressly written for that subject.
  • Today, conferences are frequently held for lawyers practicing animal rights law.
  • Today, lawyers draft animal rights legislation, and lobby for their enactment.
  • Today, professional journals devoted solely to animal rights law are published.
  • Today, lawyers litigate animal rights cases in federal and state, and trial and appellate, courts throughout the United States.

ISAR is proud of how its seeds have flourished. From time to time we let our supporters know what new flowers have sprouted in today’s jurisprudentially recognized field of Animal Law.  Please visit to read more about the flourishing seeds of animal law.

ISAR Newsletter Autumn 2017

i Nov 15th

President’s Message

Dear Friends,

ISAR is supporting a powerful new tool in the fight for one of our most important goals: ending the dog and cat overpopulation crisis. We are always searching for new ways to shed light on the overpopulation tragedy and the spay/neuter solution. We have found this in The Cat Rescuers (, a film documentary–in– progress that spotlights the epidemic of literally countless abandoned and feral cats on New York City’s streets, and the heroic efforts of four activists who hit the streets in Brooklyn to fight overpopulation.

ISAR recently had the opportunity to view the trailer of The Cat Rescuers. Believing it can help raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals not only in Brooklyn, but everywhere, ISAR provided a sizeable contribution through Kickstarter to put the funding for the documentary over the top.

The film’s producers told thousands of its social media supporters, “We made our Kickstarter goal, thanks to The International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR), one of the oldest animal rights organizations in the U.S. They came in with a sizable contribution, putting us over the top! Thank you, ISAR!”

Stay tuned to hear more about this moving and motivating film and how rescue groups can screen it in their communities.

Animal Rights Law Reporter


We are pleased to inform ISAR’s supporters that the Animal Rights Law Reporter– founded and edited by Professor Henry Mark Holzer, and published by International Society for Animal Rights – is now part of the online collection of the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law. Read all about it here.

Professor Holzer, chairman of ISAR, conceived the area of Animal Law as a distinct legal practice in the U.S. Animal Law did not exist as a separate legal specialty until 1973 when Professor Holzer filed the landmark lawsuit Jones v. Butz, which advocated for animals’ rights by challenging an exception under the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Act of 1958.

Professor Holzer’s lawsuit served as the opening salvo in what is still the emerging field of Animal Law. Since then, the interest in animal law of lawyers, law schools, the legal profession, the public, and the media has burgeoned.

Spanish Language Billboard Update


Tucson, Arizona, immediately across from Nogales, Mexico, is the site of one of ISAR’s most recent Spanish language spay/neuter billboards.

Spanish language spay/neuter billboards.

ISAR’s most recent Spanish language spay/neuter billboard.


Since January, ISAR spay/neuter billboards in Spanish have spread across the U.S. in cities with sizable Spanish-speaking populations: Fort Myers, FL; Fresno and Los Angeles, CA; New Haven, CT; Philadelphia, PA (English); Denver, CO; Atlanta, GA; Allentown and Easton, PA; Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio, TX; Albuquerque and Anthony, NM; Chicago, IL; Springfield, MA; Providence, RI; Las Vegas, NV; Milwaukee, WI; and the above billboard in Tucson, AZ, which borders Nogales, Mexico.

In August, ISAR supporters in Patterson, NJ, and the New York metropolitan area saw a new Spanish language billboard in the neighborhood.

These billboards have caught drivers’ eyes, prompting numerous calls to ISAR requesting information on local low-cost spay/neuter programs.

Advocating for Animals: ISAR and Animals Today Radio


Animals – powerless and voiceless – have two committed and compassionate advocates in ISAR and Animals Today Radio. Since 2009, ISAR has been a major sponsor of the “Animals Today” radio program/podcast (, an influential national voice that addresses a variety of contemporary animal-related topics with warmth, knowledge and a fierce love of all animals.

Hosted by Dr. Lori Kirshner, founder and President of Advancing the Interest of Animals (AIA), “Animals Today,” a project of (AIA), features news about animals, interviews with veterinarians and other experts, as well as discussions on the important issues affecting animals in the United States and around the world today.

Dr. Kirshner and Dr. Peter Spiegel, the other founding member of AIA, promote respect and compassion for wild and domesticated animals while educating listeners with an appealing mixture of wisdom and warmth. For example, the September 23 show featured Laura Beven, Southern Regional Director for the Humane Society of the United States, who provided a firsthand account of the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey and how animal welfare groups, government agencies and individuals are working to protect and rescue animals affected by the disasters. On the October 7 show, Lori discussed the origins of the field of Animal Law, sharing the recently published International Society for Animal Rights Special Report, Seeds, that describes how Animal Law began and what it has become. Lori express her appreciation to ISAR’s chairman Professor Henry Mark Holzer saying, “We’ve come a long way! Congratulations to Professor Holzer and our most sincere thanks.”

A previous show introduced listeners to Meera Gajjar, an attorney with the Wildlife Whistleblower Program of the National Whistleblower Center. She discussed how animal lovers and advocates can confidentially report if illegal wildlife trafficking, logging, fishing and other wildlife laws are being violated. She stressed that whistleblowers who disclose original information concerning wildlife crimes that result in a successful enforcement action may receive monetary rewards.

Pet owners always tune in to hear Lori and Peter share tips on pet care, such as how to protect pets in hot weather (think ice cubes in water dishes that are placed out of the sun and portable water bowls when you leave home). Before walking your dog in hot weather, do you “test” asphalt by putting your hand on it? You should!

Anyone with an interest in animals – wild or domestic – and their welfare should tune in to Animals Today Radio: Live shows air and stream on Saturday, at 1 p.m.; check your local market for the station. Podcasts of shows are posted on within 24 hours of airing and the page features archived shows.

So please, for some serious talk about animals and to hear what actions listeners can take to help animals locally, nationally, and around the world, listen to, learn from, and support Animals Today Radio!

International Homeless Animals’ Day® 2017: A Quarter-Century of Caring Continues


Across the world, Saturday, August 19 marked the 26th annual International Homeless Animals’ Day® (IHAD®). In more than 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia and more than 25 countries spanning six continents, hundreds of animal protection organizations celebrated International Homeless Animals’ Day. Every year, more and more organizations and animal lovers come together on the third Saturday of August to raise awareness of the tragedy of pet overpopulation and the spay/neuter solution.




In Stowe, Vermont, the North Country Animal League Mutt Strutt attracted 60 people and their dogs of all shapes and sizes to Stowe Village for a parade through town followed by a festival on the events field in honor of International Homeless Animals’ Day.

The Mutt Strutt event raised more than $6,000 for North Country Animal League to support its mission to promote 3 4 responsible and compassionate relationships between humans and animals through adoption, humane education, and spay/neuter initiatives. At least 10 of the dogs at the event had found forever homes through NCAL.




Tri-County Animal Rescue in Clarion, Pennsylvania, hosted its fifth annual IHAD event in Veteran’s Memorial Park. Every year, the event draws more people for a day of fun and fostering love for animals and pet adoptions.

Festivities included a pet parade, pet blessing, animal advocate award presentation, and raffles to help raise money for the shelter.

Throughout the day, speakers from the Humane Pennsylvania Political Action Committee, Safe Haven Small Breed Rescue and Happily Ever After Rescue spoke on a variety of topics including the importance of spaying/neutering and banning puppy mills.

Participants ended the day by lighting luminaries (left) whose glow memorialized homeless animals’ suffering and brought the day to a close.

It was a day of hope and remembrance as Tails of Hope, which runs a low-cost spay and neuter clinic in Hermitage, observed IHAD with events that included a candlelight vigil, led by the Rev. Joe Yurka, (bottom left) to pay homage to the millions of dogs and cats annually put to death in shelters.

“What we want to do is end this senseless killing,” said Tails of Hope board member Maleia James, who is president of Cat Landers. With Tails of Hope, “There’s no excuse now not to spay and neuter animals,” she said.

Rev. Joe Yurka

Rev. Joe Yurka

The city of Hermitage commissioners signed an IHAD proclamation, State Representative Mark Longetti and candidates for local office attended the event.

A beautiful evening and musical entertainment set the scene for those attending the 20th annual International Homeless Animals’ Day Candlelight Vigil sponsored by Defenders of Animals.


Rhode Island

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island-based non-profit has endorsed pro-animal legislation on the national, state, and local levels since 1978, and many of its accomplishments were highlighted during the vigil.

“We have always believed in this credo: ‘The smaller the victim, the bigger the crime,’” said Dennis Tabella, director of Defenders of Animals, seen speaking at left. “I have always taken the side of the underdog, and there is no greater underdog than the dogs and cats that are waiting for homes at our shelters or those poor souls that walk the streets and throughout our neighborhoods without the love and security from a human being.”

“The International Homeless Animals’ Day/Candlelight Vigil was held in conjunction with the International Society for Animal Rights campaign and serves as an opportunity for animal advocates from around Rhode Island to band together on a special day and jumpstart new spay/neuter/adoption campaigns,” said Tabella.

Defenders of Animals is dedicated to keeping the issue of dog and cat overpopulation before the public. It’s crucial that Rhode Islanders have their cats and dogs spayed/neutered and support local organizations that work toward keeping the pet population down so that municipal and private shelters do not have to euthanize animal due to over population issues.



“Something good happens every time we hold this annual event – another cat or dog finds a home, another member helps to foster a dog or cat, or someone new volunteers to help out at an event,” said Tabella.

SOS Chats, held its 12th annual IHAD observance on the Place Pury in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Several guests came to show solidarity for animals abused and killed throughout the world, including a delegation from Kiev, Ukraine, journalists, politicians and celebrities. Each year, SOS Chats utilizes IHAD as a platform for gathering many signatures for their ongoing petition campaigns to protect the animals in Switzerland.



AnimaNaturalis Colombia, Humanitarian Management of Fauna Callejera, Donatón por los Animales, and The Spoon Revolution made the Donate for Animals 2017 IHAD event a day to remember at the Blue Pavilion of Plaza Mayor in Medellín. Music and fun set the tone but there was also a serious side as representatives of animal protection and adoption groups spoke about the need for spaying/neutering and laws protecting animals.




Using the power of social media and the internet, Red de Apoyo Canino observed International Homeless Animals’ Day with an E-Adoption (virtual adoption fair) on its social media channels, followed by a Google Hangout, where the organization provided information on adoption, fostering and spay/neuter campaigns.

Thanks to a generous grant from ISAR, Red de Apoyo Canino organized a three-day spay and neuter program in Sucre State, Venezuela (right), where 125 dogs and cats, many of them homeless, were sterilized, improving their quality of life and slowing the cycle of more unanted animals.



A matching grant from ISAR helped SpayPanama mark IHAD in the best way possible – with volunteers helping vets sterilize 200 mostly feral cats and 70 dogs (right) in the city of Parque Lefevre, Panama where many homeless animals live desperate lives. Said Patricia Chan, director and founder of SpayPanama, “Thank you ISAR for being our guiding light.”



SPCA Penang, Malaysia, alerted city residents to International Homeless Animals’ Day 2017 by sponsoring the SPCA Fun Photo Contest, themed “My Pet, My Best Friend.” City residents were invited to visit the SPCA Shelter to meet new animal friends available for adoption, learn how vital spaying/neutering is and considering volunteering.

The photo contest, winners and their best friends, (right), spurred interest in SPCA Penang, which houses 50 animals. Prizes of pet food were donated by a pet food company and a photo studio donated photo frames.

SPCA Penang added neutering vouchers prizes for each winner. SPCA administrator Leng Lily, was pleased with the turnout and press coverage by the Penang Star and Chinese media. “Events like our IHAD Open House encourage people to adopt pets instead of buying them.”



International Homeless Animals’ Day was observed at the Plaza María Luisa Bombal, Calle Villanelo, in Viña del mar, Chile, with a Venezuela Panama Malaysia Chile 7 responsible ownership pet fair. Mayor Virginia Reginato, participated in the open fair urging animal guardians to spay and neuter their companion animals.

Graduates of the local veterinary medicine college performed free veterinary check-ups for pets and provided information about caring for dogs and cats. Nonprofit associations related to the protection and defense of homeless animals also participated in the fair and provided information on responsible pet ownership and adoption of dogs and cats.




Calling for the protection of “our smaller brothers,” the Group for the Protection of Animals in Tver, a city 90 minutes northwest of Moscow, observed IHAD in Russia. Joined by several other animal rights organizations and with the support of the Gorky Library, a cultural mainstay in this city on the Volga River, the Protection of Animals’ supporters organized a successful pet food and medical supplies drive for animal shelters. Volunteers collected donated supplies at a booth featuring photos of animals for adoption in front of the Library and talked about the importance of spaying/neutering.

IHAD 2017 Proclamations


Recognition by local and state officials of the importance of each year’s International Homeless Animals’ Day is a vital part of keeping the issue of animal rights before the public and progressing proanimal laws through legislative bodies. Several animal protection organizations were presented with signed proclamations declaring August 19, 2017, as International Homeless Animals’ Day.

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp proclaimed Aug. 19 as International Homeless Animals’ Day in the Virgin Islands, consistent with the observance by the International Society for Animal Rights. He called attention to the suffering of abandoned and homeless animals and the issue of pet overpopulation awareness. Mapp’s proclamation noted that millions of unwanted dogs and cats are euthanized at U.S. animal shelters each year because homes cannot be found for them.

Michigan State Rep. Martin Howrylak of Troy promoted House Resolution 126, which declared International Homeless Animals Day throughout the state.

Sadly, Michigan is contributing to this troubling problem. According to a 2014 Michigan Shelter survey, nearly one out of every four animals that enter a shelter in the state are eventually euthanized.

“These are eye-opening statistics,” said Rep. Howrylak. “Unfortunately, many of these animals were loving companions who were ready to be adopted. Due to limited space at local shelters, these animals simply ran out of time to find a new home.”

The August 8 Washington Post featured an article on IHAD and quoted ISAR President Susan Dapsis: “Children can participate in IHAD by walking shelter dogs, grooming shelter animals and spending time with them. This will bring much happiness to the animals and prepare them for their journey to a new home.”

The article highlighted the work of the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket, Thailand, where many of its 500 dogs are socialized and transported to North America for adoption.

ISAR is continually grateful to all those who help ISAR promote our annual International Homeless Animals’ Day observances and the important spay/neuter message. Many advertising outlets assist ISAR each year to shed light on pet overpopulation. We greatly appreciate every radio and television interview, newspaper article, letter-to-the-editor, blogs, YouTube videos, websites, and social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, all of which have helped ISAR to enlighten the public to the tragedy of pet overpopulation and its self-evident spay/neuter solution.

IHAD – August 18, 2018


Please join us in commemorating ISAR’s 27th annual International Homeless Animals’ Day!

ISAR extends a warm invitation to all our veteran event coordinators, as well as to a host of new ones, to join us on Saturday, August 18, 2018 for International Homeless Animals’ Day. Please contact ISAR by mail, phone, fax, or email to receive an IHAD 2018 planning packet.

Together we will continue to be a voice for the animals and continue to demand an end to the suffering and exploitation inflicted on animals each day.


Susan Dapsis
ISAR President

The Animal Rights Law Reporter – It All Started Here!

i Apr 16th

We are pleased to announce that the Animal Rights Law Reporter, – founded
and edited by Professor Henry Mark Holzer, and published by International Society for Animal Rights – is now part of the online collection of the Animal Legal and Historical Center at Michigan State University College of Law.

The area of animal law as a distinct legal practice in the United States was conceived by
ISAR’s chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer in the 1970s. Since that beginning, the interest of lawyers, law schools and the legal profession in animal law has burgeoned.

Animal law did not exist as a separate legal specialty until 1973, when Henry Mark Holzer, filed the landmark lawsuit Jones v. Butz, which advocated for the animals’ interest in challenging an exception under the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1958.

Professor Holzer’s lawsuit is credited with being the opening salvo in what is still the emerging field of animal law, which he actively promoted through outreach and by establishing a professional publication, the Animal Rights Law Reporter (ARLR).

The Animal Rights Law Reporter was published quarterly from 1980 – 1983. Each issue began with a segment entitled, “In the Courts,” which outlined significant court cases involving animals. The issues also contained a section for “In the Legislatures,” where recent animal-related legislation was discussed. “In the Legal Literature” gave updates on pertinent legal articles in the field. Finally, the Reporter provided a quarterly “Bulletin Board,” “Available Resources,” and “Editor’s Comment” from Professor Holzer.

The Animal Rights Law Reporter communicated developments in animal rights law, and kept its readers abreast of all current pending federal legislation which affected animal rights, as well as state legislation.

In the debut January 1980 issue of the Animal Rights Law Reporter, Professor Henry Mark Holzer commented:

“For this first issue, it seems most fitting to comment not so much on what appears, but on that it appears. No one reading the REPORTER needs to be told that, not long ago, the idea of animal rights law was viewed as absurd by all but a handful of people. Yet, in only the past few years, the idea has grown to the point where it is possible – indeed, necessary – to publish this Animal Rights Law Reporter. Consider fully the significance of being able to publish information about animal rights law in legal literature, in legislatures, and in courts. About the availability of legal pleadings, briefs, model laws – all in the cause of legal rights for animals.

Quite beyond the content of any specific piece of information in this, the first issue of the Animal Rights Law Reporter, its real accomplishment is that it has come into being. Hopefully, its existence signals a new chapter in the struggle for animal rights through law.”

You can read more about Professor Holzer’s vision for using the law on behalf of animals at ISAR’s – Another Milestone For Animal Rights Law.


i Jul 29th

Several hours ago, in furtherance of its mission to use law and legislation to protect and advance animal rights, ISAR filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief in the Supreme Court of the United States urging that body to accept a First Amendment case whose outcome will affect the wellbeing of animals.

As ISAR’s supporters know, we engage in extensive public education, including the creation and dissemination of monographs and other material dealing with animal rights: Newsletters, interviews, billboards, observances, seminars, blogs, websites, speeches, courses, articles, reports, memoranda, radio shows, and public service announcements.

A Texas statute suppresses the pure speech of veterinarians, and thus constitutes a grave danger to animals.

You can read the entire brief submitted by ISAR to the Supreme Court of the United States HERE.

Reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation any information that comes your way in any manner concerning “Crush Videos.”

i Jul 1st



By reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation any information that comes your way via the Internet, Email, or in any other manner concerning “Crush Videos.”

In April 2010 the Supreme Court of the United States, by a vote of 8-1, in the case of United States v. Stevens, held unconstitutional the federal statute (18 U.S.C. Section 48) which made it a crime to knowingly create, sell, or possess “a depiction of animal cruelty.”

ISAR had submitted an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-Court”) brief in the case and our Chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, presented two audio commentaries about it—one after our brief was filed and the other following oral argument.

The Court’s eight member majority ruled that the statute was “overbroad,” meaning that the law could be interpreted to suppress speech of activities involving animals which, though distasteful to many (like hunting), were legal. In other words, the Court objected to the potentially broad sweep of the statute, not its laudable intention to protect animals from certain forms of unquestionable cruelty by suppressing depictions of that cruelty.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court very nearly invited Congress to craft a statute narrowly reflecting the federal legislature’s substantial interest in curbing cruelty to animals that took the form of crush videos–a statute which would not be overbroad, but targeted more specifically to the goal that all members of the Court shared: ending the scourge of crush videos (and dog fighting, and similar barbaric conduct).

Accepting that invitation, effective December 9, 2010, Congress promptly reenacted Section 48 as the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. In essence, the statute now criminalizes knowing conduct that creates, sells, markets, advertises, exchanges, or distributes an animal crush video that:

  1. Depicts actual conduct in which one or more non-human animals is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily harm, and
  2. Is obscene. [Section 48 is actually more detailed than this. For example it specifies not only “non-human animals,” but also “birds, reptiles, or amphibians.” The entire statute appear below.1]

We’ll spare you the gruesome details of why Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, who made crush videos, were indicted in the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, on (1) four counts of creation and one count of distribution of animal crush videos in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 48, (2) one count of engaging in the business of selling or transferring obscene matter in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1466(a), and (3) one count of production of transportation of obscene matters for sale or distribution in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1465.

Taking a page from the defense’s playbook in the Stevens case, in the federal trial court Richards and Justice asked the judge to dismiss the indictment because Section was an unconstitutional abridgement of their “free speech.”

The federal district judge agreed, primarily because the defendants’ “free speech” was not of a type the courts have considered unprotected, such as obscenity and speech incidental to criminal conduct.

On appeal, to its credit the government argued that as written new Section 48 punished only the type of speech that is unprotected and thus the law was not overbroad, as had been the prior Section 48 ruled unconstitutional in the Stevens case.

On June 13, 2014, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit unanimously reversed the district court.

The court began its analysis by observing that for new Section 48(a) (2) to apply animal crush videos must be “obscene,” a crucial element of the crime but not one defined in the statute itself.

To provide that definition, the Court of Appeals accepted the one articulated by the United States Supreme Court in the 1973 obscenity case of Miller v. California.

Under that test, the Court of Appeals ruled that the requisite “obscene” element of the statute would be satisfied by “the [defendants’] wanton torture and killing that, as demonstrated by federal and state animal cruelty laws, society has deemed worthy of criminal sanction.”

The court’s reversal sent the case back to the federal district court for trial, which is yet to occur.

Under the facts, the defendants should be convicted. If they are–either by trial or plea–they should be sentenced to the maximum 7 years imprisonment on the Section 48 counts alone, with further punishment imposed on the two obscenity counts of the indictment. Fines should be imposed at the maximum amount allowed by law.

It should be noted that in upholding Section 48–thus condemning wanton torture and killing of animals, and speaking approvingly of federal and state animal cruelty laws–the Court of Appeals has struck a significant blow for animal rights, albeit in the limited arena of unspeakable human conduct.

[1] 18. U.S.C. Section 48 (2010)
(a) Definition.–In this section the term “animal crush video” means any photograph, motion-picture film, video or digital recording, or electronic image that–
(1) depicts actual conduct in which 1 or more living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles, or amphibians is intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365 and including conduct that, if committed against a person and in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, would violate section 2241 or 2242); and
(2) is obscene. 
(b) Prohibitions.–
(1) Creation of animal crush videos.–It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly create an animal crush video, if–
(A) the person intends or has reason to know that the animal crush video will be distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce; or
(B) the animal crush video is distributed in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce. 
(2) Distribution of animal crush videos.–It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly sell, market, advertise, exchange, or distribute an animal crush video in, or using a means or facility of, interstate or foreign commerce.
(c) Extraterritorial application.–Subsection (b) shall apply to the knowing sale, marketing, advertising, exchange, distribution, or creation of an animal crush video outside of the United States, if–
(1) the person engaging in such conduct intends or has reason to know that the animal crush video will be transported into the United States or its territories or possessions; or
(2) the animal crush video is transported into the United States or its territories or possessions.
(d) Penalty.–Any person who violates subsection (b) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 7 years, or both.
(e) Exceptions.
(1) In general.–This section shall not apply with regard to any visual depiction of–
(A) customary and normal veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices;
(B) the slaughter of animals for food; or
(C) hunting, trapping, or fishing.
(2) Good-faith distribution.–This section shall not apply to the good-faith distribution of an animal crush video to–
(A) a law enforcement agency; or
(B) a third party for the sole purpose of analysis to determine if referral to a law enforcement agency is appropriate.
(f) No preemption.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt the law of any State or local subdivision thereof to protect animals.


Do Not Fear That Animal Protection Legislation Will Be Ruled Unconstitutional

i Mar 14th


Do Not Fear That Animal Protection Legislation Will Be Ruled Unconstitutional


ISAR often hears that animal protection organizations are contemplating the preparation and introduction of pro-animal legislation, but fear that courts may rule that the bills won’t pass constitutional muster.

They worry unnecessarily.

The fact is that except for the most egregious bills (e.g., imposition of a $10,000 tax per animal levied on the custodians of companion animals), animal protection laws will be upheld against constitutional challenges. Doubters should consider what has become of other constitutional challenges to various animal protection laws.

For example, various levels of government throughout the United States are increasingly enacting laws that severely restrict, or even prohibit, the breeding and owning of cats and dogs; some of these laws are breed-specific, some apply generally.

There is, of course, substantial opposition to these types of laws, especially from organizations such as the American Kennel Club, which have a huge financial stake in the breeding of dogs. Among their many other arguments against anti-breeding laws, their opponents claim they are unconstitutional.

They are not.

Let’s examine anti-breeding laws and constitutional law to illustrate why.

The core of a typical anti-breeding law is its “findings,” which usually contain statements such as:

  • The euthanasia of unwanted cats and dogs is rampant, with totals annually in the millions of animals;
  • The destruction of these animals, though necessary, is immoral and not befitting a humane society;
  • The practice is not cost effective;
  • The root cause of this mass killing is the problem of overpopulation, which causes social and other problems beyond those created by mass euthanasia.

Based on findings like these, some laws provide for a moratorium on the breeding of cats and dogs. If the overpopulation problem in that jurisdiction isn’t reduced, then a mandatory spaying and neutering program is often provided as Plan “B.”

Equally important is the “Declaration of Intent” found in typical anti-breeding laws. For example:

The Board of Supervisors of the Town of Wherever hereby finds and declares that it intends to provide for the public health safety, and welfare, through a moratorium on the breeding of cats and dogs owned, harbored, or kept in this municipality in order to bring the population of abandoned and stray animals to an acceptable level for protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.

To understand why anti-breeding laws will be held constitutional if defended properly, as will mandatory spay/neuter and other animal protection laws, it is necessary first to understand something about the American system of government.

When the United States was founded, the Constitution created a new federal government possessing substantial power. Concern was expressed about whether any power was left to the states. To address that concern, the Tenth Amendment to the federal Constitution reserved to the states what is commonly referred to as the “police power” — not in the sense of law enforcement, but rather the power to legislate for the public’s health, safety, welfare and morals.

All state constitutions, in turn, delegate its police power from the state to various municipalities — e.g., cities, counties, towns, villages — which gives the latter power to pass laws related to the public health, safety, welfare and morals.

But those laws, like all legislative enactments made at every level of government must pass the test of constitutionality.

Laws affecting rights so fundamental that they are expressly protected by the federal and state constitutions — e.g., speech, press, religion — are tested by a very strict standard. In effect, laws affecting these kinds of fundamental rights (e.g., censoring media reporting, regulating church services) must advance an extremely important (i.e., “compelling”) governmental interest (e.g., not exposing to our enemies plans for the coming D-Day invasion), and be virtually the only way to accomplish that goal.

On the other hand, laws not affecting such fundamental rights are measured for constitutionality by a much less demanding test: Is there a problem properly within the government’s area of concern (e.g. teenage driving), and is the enacted law (e.g. requiring twenty-hours of classes and road testing) a rational way to deal with that problem? Put another way, it is a matter of legitimate “ends” and reasonable “means.”

Since, for example, anti-breeding — and mandatory spay/neuter and other animal protection laws — do not affect any fundamental rights, they would be tested by this lesser standard.

Clearly, following this example, the number of unwanted cats and dogs causes significant social problems: senseless killing, health risks, wasted taxes, and more. Clearly, these problems raise important issues of public health, safety, welfare — and even morals. In other words, the “end” of mandatory spay/neuter and anti-breeding laws is entirely legitimate constitutionally.

Thus, the next (and last) question is one of “means”: Are anti-breeding and mandatory spay/neuter laws a reasonable way to deal with the problem? The “practical” answer is obvious: If there are too many unwanted cats and dogs, it’s certainly reasonable to prevent the breeding of any more in order to prevent the population from growing, allowing normal attrition to reduce the existing population.

The more basic answer is that the overpopulation problem is a moral outrage. Government has the constitutional power and the moral duty to solve it — to alleviate, if not eliminate, visiting the sins of irresponsible owners and breeders on innocent animals. When it comes to anti-breeding and mandatory spay/neuter laws, the end justifies the means –constitutionally and morally. The same can be said for most other proposed animal protection legislation. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts opined in 1931, “[t]he natural, essential, and unalienable rights of men to acquire, possess and protect property are subject to reasonable regulation in the interest of public health, safety and morals.”

Indeed, a wide variety of statutes and ordinances affecting animals have been upheld against constitutional challenge. Some examples in the federal, state and other courts appear HERE.

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit affirmed a federal district court ruling that a recent Ohio statute limiting the private ownership of exotic animals easily passed constitutional muster.

Just as the State of Ohio was not intimidated by predictions that the proposed legislation would be ruled unconstitutional, no animal protection activists should fear unfavorable rulings — not if proposed animal protection bills are carefully drafted, and defended by competent constitutional lawyers.


i Nov 15th




In our Blog of October 5, 2009 we wrote the following:[1]

About a decade ago [in about 1999], again ahead of the curve, ISAR came up with the suggestion that Congress amend the Internal Revenue Code to provide a tax deduction for the cost of spay/neuter. (A copy of ISAR’s Model Statute can be found HERE.) In the introduction to ISAR’s Model Statute we set forth the policy reasons for the deduction, and argued that it’s a “win-win” situation, as indeed it is.

Sadly, nothing came of ISAR’s groundbreaking idea — until now [in 2009].

A few months ago, Representative McCotter introduced H.R. 3501 (the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (‘HAPPY’) Act”), entitled “A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a deduction for pet care expenses.” The Bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

[Apparently drawing its inspiration from ISAR’s Model Statute], [t]he Bill recites that Congress finds “63 percent of United States households own a pet” and that “the Human-Animal bond has been shown to have positive effects upon people’s emotional and physical well-being.”

Accordingly, the IRC amendment would allow a “deduction for the taxable year an amount equal to the qualified pet care expenses[2] of the taxpayer during the taxable year for any qualified pet of the taxpayer,” limited to $3,500. (The statute goes on to define “qualified pet care expenses” and “qualified pet.”)

Because ISAR is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization we can’t lobby for legislation, but we certainly can observe that, given our Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute, H.R. 3501 is a welcome development — but for one problem. Had ISAR’s input been sought in the drafting of H.R. 3501, we would have suggested that the deductible “qualified pet care expenses” mandatorily include spay/neuter. In other words, no reimbursement for any expenses unless included in them was the cost of spay/neuter.

Perhaps Representative McCotter, or his co-sponsors will see fit to amend their amendment.

Although ISAR considered the bill a “welcome development,” we noted that a weakness was its failure to include in “qualified pet care expenses” mandatory spay/neuter.

Regrettably, the bill went nowhere, perhaps for this reason or because it included too much in “qualified pet care expenses.” No such bill has been enacted by Congress since.

In our recent Blog of November 1, 2013 — ISAR’s Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute (Part I) we revisited the subject of a tax deduction for spaying/neutering dogs and cats, making the point that the Internal Revenue Code implements social policy by its myriad allowable exemptions and deductions, that spay/neuter of pet dogs and cats serves several important public interests, and that a tax deduction on a federal and/or state level would greatly foster those interests.

In concluding, we wrote that:

ISAR is making this project — obtaining tax relief for persons who spay/neuter their dogs and cats — a priority.

Immediately below is the outline of an off-the-shelf bill that can be used for introduction into any state legislature and/or Congress.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, ISAR’s ability to lobby for the introduction and enactment of legislation is limited. We need volunteers to carry the ball for us, and for the animals.

ISAR’s proposal for a spay/neuter tax deduction is so simple, and could make such an impact on the overpopulation problem, that there should be no lack of animal advocates who are willing to find a sympathetic legislator willing to carry ISAR’s proposed statute, or something similar, in his or her legislative body or administrative agency.

Often, there is an idea whose time has come. We believe that for this idea — ISAR’s “Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute” — the time has surely come.

But we cannot do this alone. Please help.

One response to our November 1, 2013, Blog informed us that on January 18, 2010 two West Virginia legislators had introduced a bill “relating to creating a personal income tax credit for persons who may choose to spay or neuter their pets.” Because it went nowhere, Senators Laird and Snyder will reintroduce it in the next session of the West Virginia Legislature.

By itself, this is good news.

Even better is that their bill is taken almost verbatim from the Model Statute ISAR promulgated more than 20 years ago.

To repeat: “. . . we cannot do this alone. Please help.” To see how easy it is to introduce ISAR’s Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute (and other of our Model Laws) click HERE.

[1] Material in brackets has been added.

[2] Emphasis added.

ISAR’s Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute

i Nov 1st





Most knowledgeable people understand that the American system of income taxation, both federal and state, is only secondarily concerned with raising revenue. Compared to all revenue raised by taxation, income taxes account for only a small percentage. Indeed estimates are that in 2003 roughly 40% of Americans pay no income tax at all. The fundamental purpose of income taxes is to stimulate certain activities (and discourage others).

For example, the federal tax code long encouraged oil and gas exploration through depletion allowances. Business is helped through write-offs for equipment purchase and depreciation; even by the deductibility of many entertainment expenses. Charitable giving–contributions to ISAR, for example–is fostered by tax deductibility. Home ownership is assisted greatly by deductions for real estate taxes and mortgage interest. Other activities, not favored by the government, are discouraged through taxation. Gambling losses, for example, are not tax deductible. Taxes on tobacco are high. In other words, much of the federal tax code is driven by social policy.

In the states, the same is true. Tax codes encourage and reward certain activities with tax breaks, and discourage and penalize others with higher tax rates and non-deductibility.

As ISAR’s supporters know, as part of our legal and humane education programs, for decades we have promoted the important social policy of spay/neuter as a powerful weapon in the problem of dog and cat overpopulation.

ISAR can promote that important social policy of reducing dog and cat overpopulation by enlisting in our cause every American who files a federal and/or state income tax return.

The taxpayers will benefit themselves, their intact dogs and cats, and strike an important blow for spay/neuter and against dog and cat overpopulation.

How? Like most important ideas, ISAR’s is simple……

Congress and/or the state legislatures should allow a tax deduction for the spaying/neutering of taxpayers’ pet dogs and cats.

Granted, obtaining such legislation from the federal House Ways and Means Committee, which writes national tax laws, or the IRS, which regulates the taxation of income, might be problematic. But not impossible.

On the other hand the situation at the state level is much different. There, legislators are much closer, and typically respond more readily, to their constituents–as many animal rights activists already know from their efforts to obtain the enactment of other pro-animal legislation.

ISAR’s proposed legislation is a win-win proposition; there’s something in it for everyone.

First, countless animals would be spayed and neutered who would otherwise might not be, and countless unwanted births would be avoided.

Although there would be a minuscule drop in tax revenues, there would be a concomitant savings of considerable taxpayer dollars that are now spent on catching, briefly maintaining, killing, and disposing of millions of unwanted dogs and cats.

Fewer unwanted dogs and cats and dogs means more time available to shelters and humane societies for more productive work, e.g.: cruelty investigations, public education, adoption programs.

The modest tax relief which, though not large, would probably reduce or even eliminate the charge for spaying/neutering. This, in turn, would create more paying business for veterinarians, who could then, it is hoped, afford to provide more pro bono or low-cost spay/neuter services to the truly needy custodians of dogs and cats.

An indirect, but nonetheless important, benefit of reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs are the public health and policy aspects, e.g.: at minimum, reduction of the overpopulation problem, with the attendant consequences.

ISAR is making this project–obtaining tax relief for persons who spay/neuter their dogs and cats–a priority.

Immediately below is the outline of an off-the-shelf bill that can be used for introduction into any state legislature and/or Congress.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, ISAR’s ability to lobby for the introduction and enactment of legislation is limited. We need volunteers to carry the ball for us, and for the animals.

ISAR’s proposal for a spay/neuter tax deduction is so simple, and could make such an impact on the overpopulation problem, that there should be no lack of animal advocates who are willing to find a sympathetic legislator willing to carry ISAR’s proposed statute, or something similar, in his or her legislative body or administrative agency.

Often, there is an idea whose time has come. We believe that for this idea–ISAR’s “Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute”–the time has surely come.

But we cannot do this alone. Please help.

“Model Spay/Neuter Tax Deduction Statute”

  1. Allowance of deduction.

Subject to the limitations provided in paragraph 2 hereof, there shall be allowed as a one-time deduction against adjusted gross income amounts paid by the taxpayer for the spaying and neutering of each dog and cat which is maintained as a pet in the taxpayer’s household.

  1. Limitations.

a.) The deduction herein provided shall be allowable only as to sums which have actually been expended.

b.) The spay or neuter surgical procedure shall have been performed by a duly licensed veterinarian on a live dog or cat.

c.) The amount of deduction for each cat or dog which shall have been spayed or neutered may not exceed the reasonable cost of the spay and neuter procedure in the geographical location where the surgery was performed.

d.) The deduction herein provided shall be limited to no more than three companion animals (i.e. dogs and cats) per household in any taxable year.


i Jan 4th

ISAR has long used the legal system in behalf of animal rights.

The first federal case ever to use the phrase “animal rights” was Jones v. Butz, 374 F.Supp. 1284 (SDNY, three-judge court, 1974). ISAR’s chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer,[1] on behalf of a wide-range of plaintiffs challenged sections of the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act on the ground that its religious exemption — which effectively nullified the act’s protection for countless livestock animals -violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The first state case ever to use the phrase “animal rights” was Jones v. Beame, 45 N.Y.2d 402 (1978). Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR’s then-president, Helen Jones, and ISAR itself sued to close the Central Park zoo in New York City on the ground that the treatment of the animals confined there violated the anti-cruelty statutes of the State of New York.

As long ago as the early 1970’s ISAR sued the United States government to stop the slaughter of millions of blackbirds.

In the decades since, Professor Holzer has provided tactical and strategic legal advice to a wide range of animal rights/welfare organizations and their lawyers in cases involving the protection and advancement of animal rights. As of the beginning of January 2013 ISAR has begun offering strategic and tactical advice to a California law firm in connection with its case seeking to reform an animal shelter.

We’ve filed amicus curiae briefs in state and federal courts, for example:

  • O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego, 2007 WL 2570783 (2007) — a case that sought to protect the federal recognized seal rookery at Casa Beach in La Jolla, California, from depredation by swimmers and fishermen. Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR and several other animal protection organizations consulted with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and submitted amicus curiae briefs in the California Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the State of California.
  • Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, Florida, 508 U.S. 520 (1993), in which Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR and eleven other animal protection organizations filed amicus curiae briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Hialeah’s ordinance that prohibited the Santeria cult from sacrificing animals as part of an alleged religious ceremony.
  • United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 1577 (2010) in which ISAR and Professor Holzer (together with Lance Gotko, Esq. of the New York City law firm Friedman Kaplan Siler & Adelman) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the government’s argument that the federal statute criminalizing the making, selling or possessing depictions of “crush videos” and other torture and killing of animals was constitutional.

Increasingly, there are animal-related cases in appellate courts all over the country, involving experimentation, hunting, farming, sport, education, spay/neuter, and more — cases needing amicus curiae briefs from a pro-animal perspective.

There’s a lot of appellate work for lawyers who would use the legal system in behalf of animal rights. Unfortunately, virtually all of it is pro bono publico.

Lawyers interested in volunteering to work with Professor Holzer and ISAR to perform amicus curiae appellate services in aid of animal rights are encouraged to contact ISAR via email (, phone (570-586-2200), fax (570-586-9580) or through the USPS at ISAR, P.O. Box F, Clarks Summit, PA 18411, and provide us with the following information:

  1. Name.
  2. Firm name.
  3. Office address.
  4. Telephone and fax number(s).
  5. Email address.
  6. Year(s) admitted to practice, and jurisdiction(s).
  7. Specialization(s), if any.
  8. Post-law school judicial clerkship(s).
  9. Judicial experience.
  10. Experience with animal-related cases.
  11. Amount of time available annually.
  12. Whether you and/or your firm has a formal pro bono program.

Although at the initial stages of the amicus curiae brief process — issue analysis, research, tactics and strategy — Professor Holzer will be involved and will be named on the brief with volunteer counsel, the work product will be entirely theirs. (It will be the responsibility of volunteers to obtain permission to file the brief, and for filing it. ISAR will pay printing and filing costs.)

Thank you.

[Please forward this request to any lawyer(s) who might be interested in participating].


[1] In The Birth of Animal Rights Law: The Role of Lawyers in the Animal Rights/Protection Movement from 1972-1987, Joyce Tischler, Esq., founder and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund, set out to “explore the roots of a large scale, organized movement, which started in the early 1970s in the United States, spearheaded by attorneys and law students with the express purpose of filing lawsuits to protect animals and establish the concept of their legal rights, regardless of the species of the animals or the ownership interest of humans.”

In that article, Ms. Tischler graciously names as “the first animal rights lawyer” ISAR’s chairman, Henry Mark Holzer, professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School.

She credits Professor Holzer, then a practicing attorney professionally associated with ISAR, with three accomplishments crucial to establishing the field of what today is known as “animal rights law”: with ISAR, having brought the first federal and first state lawsuit to invoke the moral concept of “animal rights”; with ISAR, having founded the Animal Rights Law Reporter, which became “the legal clearinghouse for animal rights law information”; and, again with ISAR, having organized the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law”-an undertaking, in Ms. Tischler’s words, “[t]he significance of which cannot be overstated.”