Bloomington, Indiana, Adopts Pet “Guardian” Language

According to a report by the Associated Press, Bloomington, Indiana became the 14th municipality to adopt language referring to pet owners as guardians. The city’s codes relating to pets refer to the animals’ “owner/guardian.”

The change was pushed by animal rights activist Karen Smith and In Defense of Animals. Smith likened the change to the ending of offensive racist language,

We’ve changed the ways we talk about racial references; (this is) another linguistic change along those lines.

In a press release, In Defense of Animals president Elliot Katz said,

I am delighted that the citizens and city council of Bloomington have recognized the value of the term guardian. Because so much animal abuse and neglect stems from viewing animals as disposable property, this is an important step in changing people’s consciousness and respect towards the animals with whom we share our lives.

Source:

Bloomington, Indiana Recognizes Animal “Guardians”. Press release, In Defense of Animals, December 28, 2005.

Indiana Court Rules Lesbian Partner Must Pay Child Support

In February, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a lesbian woman must pay child support for a child conceived by her partner before the two separated.

In 1997, the woman adopted her partner’s in 1997 when the two were involved in a relationship. After the relationship dissolved, the biological mother of the children sought and received a child support order while the non-biological mother sought to dissolve the adoption.

Lower courts had overturned the support order, but the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the order. Judge John G. Baker wrote in a 22-page ruling that,

Whether a person is a man or a woman, homosexual or heterosexual, or adoptive or biological, in assuming that role, a person also assumes certain responsibilities, obligations, and duties. That person may not simply choose to shed the parental mantle because it becomes inconvenient, seems ill-advised in retrospect, or becomes burdensome because of a deterioration in the relationship with the children’s other parent.

Baker’s ruling followed a November 2004 case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that same sex partners could adopt the children of their partners and still retain parental rights

Source:

State Appeals Court Extends Parental Rights to Gay Woman. Associated Press, November 29, 2004.

Lesbian Ordered to Pay Child Support. Associated Press, February 18, 2005.

Lesbian Partner Ordered to Pay Child Support. Axcess News, February 19, 2005.

Animal Rights Activist's Home Raided in San Diego Fire Case

Law enforcement officials investigating a San Diego fire that destroyed a five-story apartment complex on August 1 raided the home of animal rights activists David Agranoff and Cari Beltane on August 14.

Agranoff and Beltane run an animal rights group called Compassion for Farm Animals. In May 2003, Agranoff was forced to submit hair, saliva and fingerprints to a Indiana grand jury investigating an arson at an Indiana poultry case.

Agranoff and Beltane later led a protest attended by about 30 activists complaining of the “harassment” they faced from police. Agranoff said at the protest,

We are not guilty of anything. Neither was Martin Luther King when he was targeted by the FBI. People have the right to an opinion without being subject to criminal investigation.

Most news outlets, however, failed to note that Agranoff has faced legal troubles before this related to his animal rights activism. In 1996, Agranoff, then 22, was sentenced to 6 months in jail and fined $1,000 after being convicted of resisting arrest and unlawful assembly during a protest at a New York fur store. At the same trial, Nicole Rogers, 19, was sentenced to two months in jail and a $500 fine, and Christopher Tarbell, 20, to one month in jail and a $500 fine for trespassing and unlawful assembly.

Agranoff’s sentence was thrown out on appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, but Rogers and Tarbell’s sentences were affirmed.

Oddly enough at trial, lawyers for the trio complained that they were being unfairly associated with Anima Liberation Front-style actions, so it was a bit surprising to see that among other things that apparently drew the attention of law enforcement to Agranoff is his role in arranging an appearance of Rodney Coronado to speak in San Diego the day of the arson.

Source:

Judge Sentences Fur Protesters To Jail Three Animal-Rights Activists Were Convicted Of Misdemeanors For Their Actions During A Demonstration At Georgio’s Furs. The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), August 2, 1996.

Animal Rights Activist Sentenced To 7 Months Convictions Of Two Other Members Of The Group In Separate Incident Upheld. Jim O’Hara, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), March 1, 1997.

Agents raid activists’ home in arson probe. San Diego Union-Tribune, August 2, 2003.

They call search by agents harassment. Ray Hubbard, San Diego Union-Tribune, August 24, 2003.

David Agranoff's Other Arrests and Admiration of Terrorists

As I noted previously, David Agranoff had his home raided by law enforcement officials in August as part of their investigation into a $50 million August 1 arson in San Diego. Agranoff and other activists complain that Agranoff is being needlessly harassed by law enforcement officials.

Well, Agranoff certainly should understand needless harassment. As he told Mark Gabrish Conlan in an interview posted on Indymedia, Agranoff has quite a history of harassing those he disagrees with,

Zenger?s: How did you first get into trouble with the law?

Agranoff: My first arrest was at Sims Poultry, a poultry producing plant in my hometown. I was caught in the act of spray-painting the trucks, in an act of economic sabotage — not a very effective one. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It’s not that I don’t support people doing those kinds of actions, but there’s a lot of things people need to understand before they choose to take an underground action like that. I didn’t understand what it involved, and that’s why I got caught. I was just acting on emotion and anger that I felt towards the industries that harm animals.

Agranoff here is referring to his 1993 arrest and conviction for vandalizing Sims Poultry. He plead guilty to criminal mischief and resisting arrest, and was given a one year suspended sentence. Agranoff says in his interview that he has been arrested 15-20 times since while protesting various businesses.

Agranoff emphasizes that after his first arrest he decided not to participate in such acts anymore, but nonetheless admires the “heroism” of those who do,

However, when someone says, “What do you think of the ELF”, then I have to say that if somebody felt compelled to risk their freedom and their life — since, if they’re caught in the act of doing this, it’s very possible that they could be shot at — to do actions like that, as far as I’m concerned, that is true heroism. By putting their life on the line to defend the environment, they’re putting the earth and all life forms on it before themselves. They are trying to defend the planet and willing to risk their own lives for that. That is a true act of bravery, and it puts me in a position where I have to defend the people who make those kinds of decisions.

Sources:

David Agranoff:
Activist Victim of FBI, Corporate Harassment
. Mark Gabrish Conlan, August 2003.

ALF claims responsibility for Sims arson. Steven Hinnfield, Herald Times (Indiana), May 15, 2002.

Indiana Couple Challenges State's Hunter Harassment Law

Frederick and Rosanne Shuger are appealing an Indiana judge’s ruling on that state’s hunter harassment law, arguing that the law is unconstitutionally vague.

The Shugers stand accused of interfering with a deer cull on property owned by the town of Beverly Shores, Indiana, numerous times over the past couple years. According to the Northwest Indiana Times, the couple show up in their car prior at the beginning of the deer cull and,

They allegedly yelled obscenities, slammed car doors, belw the vehicle’s horn and alowed a dog to bark, all actions that could scare away the prey.

The Shugers’ attorney, Garry Weiss, argued before Superior Court Judge Julia Jent that the charges should be dismissed on constitutional grounds, but the judge denied the motion. Weiss has now appealed that decision to the Indiana Court of Appeals. The Shugers also claim their right to free speech is violated by the statute.

The Indiana statute looks pretty solid, saying that anyone who

knowingly or intentionally interferes with the legal taking of a game animal by another person with intent to prevent the taking commits a Class C misdemeanor.

So the Shugers could show up outside the cull and hold up signs protesting the hunt, they could hand out leaflets opposing the cull — but they can’t knowingly or intentionally make a lot of noise in order to scare off animals. That seems like a pretty straightforward definition.

Weiss’ claim that the the statute is vague makes about as much sense as a poacher claiming that Indiana’s statutes don’t adequately define what it means to illegally “possess” an endangered animal.

The full text of Indiana’s hunter harrassment law is available here.

Sources:

Hunter harassment law faces challenge. Bob Kasarda, Northwest Indiana Times, May 6, 2003.

Deer culls must proceed unhindered. Northwest Indiana Times, May 9, 2003.

ALF Takes Credit for Fire at Indiana Poultry Distributor

In early May somebody tried to set off a series of explosions at a small poultry plant but managed to only destroy a single truck (see Indiana Poultry Plant Targeted by Arson). On May 15, 2002, the Animal Liberation Front took credit for that arson in a press release that claimed,

The culprits for the Sims Poultry fire were not crazed arsonists bent on killing and maiming. They are serious political activists employing a strategy of economic sabotage against an industry which tortures and kills animals for profit.

Translation — crazed animal rights arsonists were responsible. The owner of Sims Poultry suggested to the Associated Press that the group might be trying to take credit for an action it did not carry out (which would not be unheard of for these folks).

Source:

Animal-rights group claims it torched, destroyed truck at poultry plant. Associated Press, May 16, 2002.