ALF/ELF Extremist Eludes Law Enforcement for 12 Years, Finally Arrested in Oregon

Joseph Dibee was arrested on August 10, 2018 on charges of conspiracy to commit arson relating to activities he engaged in with both the extremist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) between 1996 and 2001. ALF posted details of the case and arrest on their website: https://animalliberationpressoffice.org/NAALPO/2018/08/20/joseph-dibee-arrested-in-oregon/.

Dibee was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice 12 years ago but may have been hiding in Cuba, where he was arrested. Dibee and others caused an estimated $45 million in damages to horse facilities, timber companies, and a Canadian ski resort. A co-conspirator, Jacob Ferguson, volunteered to become an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and helped authorities identify others working with Dibee.

DC Circuit Court Affirms Denial of Primate Import Data to PETA

A unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the denial of primate importation data to PETA.  PETA requested primate importation data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 2014.  In response to PETA’s FOIA request, the CDC notified ten affected importers, seven of which objected to the disclosure of the information to PETA. The CDC ultimately withheld information about the number of nonhuman primates in each shipment, the size of their crates, and the airline carrier used under Exemption 4 of the FOIA. FOIA Exemption 4 protects from disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.”

The CDC argued that disclosing the information to PETA would harm the importers, as information about the number of primates imported, the size of the crates and the airline carrier used is maintained by the importers as confidential and the release may result in competitive harm, including disruption of supply routes.

As NABR members know, animal rights organizations, including PETA have long targeted airlines, in an attempt to pressure them into refusing to ship nonhuman primates for research.  The Court of Appeals recognized the risks associated with shipment noting that “knowing in the abstract which airlines transport nonhuman primates is very different than knowing which importers have relationships with which airline carriers, and which airline carriers are willing to transport which species of nonhuman primate along which routes and from which countries.”

The D.C. Circuit Court upheld CDC’s denial of the information to PETA and the Court of Appeals has now also affirmed that decision.

This case highlights the importance of understanding the FOIA and its impact on research.  NABR encourages all members to ensure they have a reviewed the FOIA Guide, Responding to FOIA Requests: Facts and Resources, which was jointly produced by NABR, FASEB and SfN.

WaPo Covers Animal Personhood Case in Oregon

The Washington Post reported on a lawsuit in Oregon that could have ramifications for the animal personhood movement, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). A horse, formerly named Shadow, now re-named Justice, was found to be severely underweight and ill at a veterinarian exam last year. Its previous owner pled guilty to criminal neglect last summer.

Now, the ALDF has filed a lawsuit against the former owner, in the horse’s name. The lawsuit is claiming negligence and is seeking $100,000 in damages for pain and suffering. Animal personhood could have sweeping and disastrous effects on biomedical research, agriculture, and pet ownership.

There have been numerous previous attempts to obtain legal personhood for nonhuman primates (NHPs), and more recently, elephants. The elephant personhood lawsuit in Connecticut has so far been a failure for animal rights activists, though the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) is seeking a review of the Superior Court Decision. Many readers will remember the infamous “monkey selfie” case, brought by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which ultimately failed to grant copywrite rights to nonhumans.

Matthew Liebman, Director of Litigation at ALDF, told WaPo that he hoped this case would be different: “There have been a lot of efforts to try to get animals not only to be protected but to have the right to go to court when their rights are violated. Those haven’t found the right key to the courthouse door. And we’re hopeful that this is the key.”

However, animal law experts, like Richard L. Cupp, a Pepperdine University law professor, have argued that these types of personhood lawsuits are extreme and dangerous. If any animal protected under Oregon’s anti-cruelty law can have a lawsuit filed on their behalf, animal litigation could overwhelm the courts. Cupp expounds on the point, “Once you say a horse or dog or cat can personally sue over being abused, it’s not too big a jump to say, ‘Well, we’re kind of establishing that they’re legal persons with that.’”

Animal Activist Previously Sentenced Under AETA Released from Prison

Nicole Kissane, an animal rights extremist, was released from prison on July 20. The release was profiled via a support web page and Facebook page.

Kissane pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Kassane admitted to illegally releasing minks from farms across the country and vandalizing the Furs by Graf store in San Diego. Further, she pled guilty to vandalizing La Mesa and Spring Valley homes of the Furs by Graf owner and the owner’s parents in 2013.

Kissane was sentenced to 21 months in January 2017 while her co-defendant, Joseph Buddenberg, was sentenced to two years in prison in May 2016.

Targeted Professor Pens Letter Defending Her Research

Dr. Tania Roth, the University of Delaware researcher who has recently found herself targeted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), wrote a piece in Delaware Online standing up for her neuroscience research and the vital role that animals play in medical advancement.

Besides breaking down the legal and regulatory framework she must follow, Roth very astutely notes, “The use of animal models in the research process is pivotal, and provides us with the tools necessary to better study the brain. By understanding basic neuroscience, where scientific knowledge begins, we can discover breakthroughs that will eventually lead to new therapies and offer hope to children and families all around the world.”

Click here to read Roth’s piece, and please take a moment to leave a comment in support of Roth.

NIH Issues RFI on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on June 11 in the Federal Register titled, “Input on Report from Council of Councils on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees.” This RFI stems from the 2015 decision by NIH Director Francis Collins that all NIH-owned chimpanzees should be retired and relocated to the chimpanzee sanctuary, Chimp Haven, in Keithville, LA. However, many of the NIH-owned chimpanzees are of an advanced age and relocation has caused unnecessary stress on several of them. Additionally, there have been an alarming number of deaths of retired chimpanzees after relocation to Chimp Haven during the past several years.

The NIH posted the notice in the Federal Register to inform the research community, and other interested parties, that it has received a report from the Council of Councils Working Group on Assessing the Safety of Relocating At-Risk Chimpanzees. The NIH will consider the recommendations in the report and is inviting the public to comment in response the RFI. This RFI is open for public comment for a period of 60 days and comments must be submitted by August 10, 2018. Comments must be submitted electronically here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=72.

National Review Provides Positive Coverage of Animal Research and Testing

Research with animal models continues to be critically important for breakthroughs in modern medicine. Yet, it is frequently under assault by recognizable and lesser known animal rights groups who oppose the use of animals in ethical and humane research. Yesterday, the National Review printed a piece that we think you should read, covering the benefits of animal research and explaining why science needs animals for lifesaving and life-improving research.

A recent discovery in gene therapy to repair spinal cord damage in rats was notably highlighted as a prime example how animal research is vital.

Please click here to read yesterday’s National Review piece and feel free to share it with your friends, family, colleagues, and social media.

DxE Activists Charged with Multiple Felonies

Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) has been in the news lately for their self-publicized break-ins and thefts of animals in what they deem “rescues.” DxE co-founder Wayne Hsiung and five other activists are facing felony charges in Sanpete County, UT for theft from a turkey farm in January of 2017. It is also being reported that five DxE activists, including Hsiung, are facing new felony charges in Beaver County, UT for the July 2017 theft of pigs from Circle Four Farms, owned by Smithfield Farms. All five activists are being charged with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, two counts of burglary committed against an animal enterprise, and theft of livestock. It was DxE’s own video, profiled by the New York Times, that is now serving as evidence in the theft.

The group brazenly claims to have engaged in several such thefts documented here: https://www.directactioneverywhere.com/open-rescue/#past-rescues.  DxE is using these thefts to push for what they call “Julie’s Law” at the municipal level, a proposal aimed at giving animals legal standing in local courts by granting rights currently reserved for humans.

DxE supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban all animal research and animal agriculture. Hsiung expressly wrote of the hypothetical future he envisions: “The year is 2060. Four years ago, a constitutional amendment was passed enshrining animal rights in the US Constitution. And today, we are shutting down the last slaughterhouse on Earth.” DxE provides more detail in “The Roadmap to Animal Liberation.”

VCU Researcher Reminds the Public Why Animal Research is Necessary

"We gotta get people out of the hospital. It's why we do research." That’s what Dr. Bill Dewey, Chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, said in a Richmond news article about animal research aimed at curbing the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.

Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the opioid epidemic kills 115 people per day in the U.S., and WRIC in Richmond, VA reports there are five ongoing studies at VCU funded by the NIH. In the piece questioning VCU’s research, Dr. Dewey explained that the purpose of VCU’s research with primates is to find pain relief without addiction, a much-needed medical objective.

When asked about the opposition of animal rights groups, he responded, "I disagree with that because I think it's like the story of giving a man a fish… Teaching him how to fish is better." To read and watch Dr. Dewey’s salient comments about the value of animal research studies, please click here.

Court Ruling on PETA ‘Monkey Selfie’ Case

As CNN said, “Monkey ©. Monkey don't.” On Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that monkeys can’t own copyrights or bring copyright infringement suits. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) brought the case forward on behalf of Naruto, the Indonesian macaque who became a sensation when he snapped a selfie with the unattended camera of wildlife photographer David J. Slater.

The level of criticism the court leveled against PETA was surprising. According to the court, PETA “failed” as a friend of Naruto noting, “Puzzlingly, while representing to the world that ‘animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any other way,’ PETA seems to employ Naruto as an unwitting pawn in its ideological goals.”

Slater, who reached a settlement with PETA in October to donate 25% of earnings from his book to charities “that protect the habitat of Naruto and other crested macaques in Indonesia,” told the Washington Post he was “thoroughly delighted” with the outcome of the case and that attorneys’ fees were granted.

Time, USA Today, and NPR also covered the ruling.