Join us on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 for NABR’s Next Webinar!

Join us on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 for NABR’s next webinar, 2014 USDA Inspection Numbers: Will History Repeat Itself?

A preliminary analysis of the FY 2014 inspection data reveals that the numbers were down. Inspections were down 7%, the number of citations down 21%, direct noncompliant items down 76% and repeat noncompliant items were down 68%. While the Top Ten cited sections still are topped by IACUC functions and veterinary care issues, the number and nature of citations provide some interesting insights into the inspection process.

Join us on January 13, 2015 when we will:

  • Review the Top Ten categories of citations
  • Provide an overview and analysis of the nature of those citations
  • Provide practical tips on how to avoid those citations
  • Provide our perspective on the overall inspection process


Click here to reserve your spot on January 13, 2015!




Webinar participants will be provided with a Certificate of Attendance upon request.

*This webinar is a complimentary service for NABR member institutions. An unlimited number of interested participants from each member institution may register free of charge. Interested participants from non-member institutions must be pre-approved and will be charged a per-person access fee of $279. All major credit cards are accepted. You will be contacted for payment upon registration. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Surgeon General Nominee Confirmed by U.S. Senate

Today, Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed by the United States Senate to become the nation’s Surgeon General, replacing Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin who resigned from the position in July of 2013.  He will now become the head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) and become the nation’s top doctor and leading voice on issues of public health.

Dr. Murthy was nominated by President Barack Obama in November of 2013 for the post but his confirmation was delayed due to resistance from conservative lawmakers over past comments he made citing gun violence as a threat to public health.

Dr. Murthy was confirmed by a 51-43 vote.

Legal Immunity Offered to Ebola Vaccine Makers

On Tuesday, December 9, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced that manufacturers of Ebola vaccines would receive liability immunity in the U.S.  Part of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, this move is focused on facilitating the development and availability of experimental Ebola vaccines.

Secretary Burwell’s declaration provides immunity under U.S. law against legal claims related to the manufacturing, development, and distribution of three vaccines for the Ebola virus. It does not, however, provide immunity for claims brought forward in courts outside of the United States.

To learn more, please read reports by Reuters and The Hill.

NABR Members: Please Be Sure to Complete Your Membership Surveys!

If you belong to a NABR member institution, you should have received an email from us with an online survey designed to help us learn to better serve your needs.  If you have not already, please take a moment to complete and submit the survey to us.

If you have not received this email, please contact us at to be supplied with the survey.

Thank you for your assistance!

PETA and Anti-Abortion Groups File Joint Brief in Pending U.S. Supreme Court Case on Cyber Threats

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case about whether threats made on Facebook can be considered criminal threats, or if they are protected by the First Amendment. The nation’s highest court decided in June to hear the case of Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man convicted in 2011 of making criminal threats on Facebook against his estranged wife and others. Two lower courts previously determined Elonis’ online behavior became criminal when he posted rap lyrics and other messages on his Facebook account that discussed killing his wife.

In the December 1 article, "Are Facebook Rants Threats, or Free Speech?," Fortune reported details about the case, including the fact People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a joint friend of the court (amici curiae) brief with eight anti-abortion groups, and three individuals. According to the article, PETA and fellow amici do not “condone violence or true threats of violence intended to induce fear of imminent harm,” but they do think the government’s arguments could limit their ability to protest. They argue protests are often built around opposition to an authority, and frequently include calls to action and passionate language that could be perceived as intimidating by those the protestors challenge. PETA and the anti-abortion groups’ brief claims that requiring only an objective (“reasonable person” or “negligence”) standard, rather than requiring proof of subjective intent to threaten in order to convict, “would allow those who seek to squelch political protest to use the statute as a sword, silencing those who disagree with their opinions or policies.” Several free-speech rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and media organizations also have submitted briefs arguing that there should be a very high federal standard when it comes to convicting someone for online messages perceived to be threatening. “Words are slippery things, and one person’s opprobrium may be another’s threat,” says the brief from a group led by the ACLU.

Among more than a dozen amicus briefs filed, a number of groups against domestic violence and hate crimes, including the Anti-Defamation League and National Network to End Domestic Violence, have indicated their support for the government’s case against Elonis. Nevertheless, Time wrote last week that many experts expect the Court to rule in Elonis’ favor in order to protect all kinds of speech, no matter how appalling. The Court’s decision is not expected until sometime in 2015.

Court Dismisses Chimpanzee “Personhood” Case

Today, Thursday, December 4, a New York appeals court unanimously affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking legal personhood for a chimpanzee.  This appeal was in response to an earlier dismissal by a court in Fulton County that denied a request by the Nonhuman Rights Project for a writ of habeas corpus last December.

The Supreme Court of the New York Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department specifically pointed to the definition of “person” in Black’s Law Dictionary which defines a person as, "[a] human being" or, as relevant here, "[a]n entity (such as a corporation) that is recognized by law as having the rights and duties [of] a human being."

In affirming the dismissal, the court stated, “Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights – such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus – that have been afforded to human beings.”

To support its ruling, the court also cited two law review articles authored by Pepperdine Law Professor Richard L. Cupp Jr., who presented at a NABR Webinar “Understanding Animal Legal Personhood Issues” in April.  The law review articles argued that rather than creating new rights for animals, society and its laws should place greater focus on humans’ moral responsibility for our treatment of animals.

In a separate case filed by the same organization, judges in a Rochester, NY appeals court on Tuesday heard arguments that a privately owned chimpanzee in Niagara Falls should be considered a legal person with a right to “not be owned or imprisoned.”  A decision is not expected in this case until early 2015.

To read today’s full decision, please click here, and continue to visit for updates on animal law and animal “personhood” news.

Second Chimpanzee “Personhood” Appeal Heard in New York

Judges at an appeals court in Rochester, New York, heard arguments on Tuesday, December 2 that a chimpanzee owned by a couple in Niagara Falls should be considered a legal person with a right to “not be owned or imprisoned.” The lawsuit was filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), an animal rights group that hopes to set a landmark legal precedent: rights for an animal other than Homo sapiens.

Legal experts say their chances are slim, but the argument is being heard. An online report of the hearing with some questions asked by the panel of judges was published this morning in

A decision is not expected in this appeal until early next year; a decision on the first appeal filed in Albany, NY, on behalf of another chimpanzee may come in the next few weeks.

President Visits NIH to Underscore Need for Funds to Fight Ebola

President Obama visited the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus on Tuesday, December 2, using the opportunity to congratulate researchers on their recent work with a promising Ebola vaccine.

As reported by UPI, after a tour of the facilities, the president offered words of encouragement and thanks to NIH officials, while also calling on Congress to approve his Administration’s request for $6.2 billion in emergency funding to continue the fight against Ebola at home and abroad. Mr. Obama told NIH employees "The fight is not even close to being over," USA Today reports, later adding: "We cannot beat Ebola without more funding."

A full report with picture can be found at the NIH Director’s Blog.

Louisiana’s Runoff Election is on Saturday, December 6

If you live in Louisiana, don’t forget that Saturday, December 6 is runoff election day in your area.  Early voting is already underway so please be sure to vote early or plan to vote on Saturday.

The December 6 election features two U.S. House races, a number of local races, but most notably, the race between Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) and Senator Mary Landrieu (D) for the state’s U.S. Senate seat.

For more information about voting in Louisiana, please visit the Secretary of State’s website by clicking here.

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