Your Vote Counts – Or At Least It Should

The Missouri Secretary of State has approved the ballot initiative, Your Vote Counts Act, meaning supporters can gather the signatures needed to put the measure on the 2012 ballot. The ballot initiative would amend the Missouri Constitution to prohibit the state legislature from amending or repealing

a statue enacted by a citizen’s initiative except by either a three-fourths vote each of the House of Representatives and the senate, or a a vote of the people through a referendum. Currently, a citizen’s initiative can be amended by a simple majority of the legislature and the governor’s approval. Under the proposal, the citizen’s initiative could be amended or repealed by a majority vote of each chamber if the ballot language states as much.

The amendment, called Your Vote Counts Act, would apply to all legislative actions going forward "whether the initiative statute was enacted before or is enacted after the effective date of this section".

The effort to amend the constitution resulted, in part, because of radical amendments made by the legislature and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in 2011 to the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act passed by Missouri voters just a few months earlier in 2010.

The Your Vote Counts Act would give some protection and meaning to citizen’s initiatives. The vote could not be so easilly overturned – or undermined. For more on this initiative and how you can help collect signatures to put the measure on the ballot, visit

Candidate Perry Akin to Palin?


Op-ed by Steve Long, editor/publisher of Horseback Magazine 

Animal Law Coalition Update Oct. 18, 2011: Since the publication of the op-ed piece below, the petition to stop the killing of burros in West Texas Big Bend Ranch State Park has nearly 100,000 signatures: Go here to sign!   Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, has condoned the killings. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. has dismissed the burros as "feral donkeys" from Mexico. The Department claims the burros must go, meaning they are to be shot and killed on sight, to make way for the restoration of bighorn sheep. The department is actually making way for hunting of bighorn sheep; bighorn sheep are prized by trophy or big game hunters. reports the bidding for hunting permits for bighorn sheep has reached $152,000.  

It is cruel and pathetic that an agency charged with protecting and conserving wildlife is nothing more than a shil for special hunting interests, that brutal killing passes for "conservation" and "wildlife management". 

What else you can do – Submit questions during debates and town hall meetings to candidate Perry as to why he is not following humane, progressive conservation policies and instead treating these animals to cruelly?  

Original op-ed article: Three years ago when former Texas Parks and Wildlife parks director Walt Dabney issued a moratorium stopping shooting of wild burros in the vast Big Bend Ranch State Park animal advocates quieted down.

The shootings were halted after a flurry of bad press in the local Big Bend Sentinel and in the statewide Horseback Magazine.

Now that donkey killings have resumed under new parks commissioner Brent Leisure, the public outcry has dramatically increased, with 60,000 names on a petition and a possible ricochet into the presidential campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Contacted by Horseback Magazine last week for an interview on the issue, Leisure punted, kicking the controversy to an underling, Kevin Good. Horseback responded saying the issue was getting legs and required comment from the top. Both Leisure and TPWD head Carter Smith’s email addresses were provided.

The Perry campaign will likely have to respond to the issue because the Texas governor will almost certainly be compared to Alaska’s Sarah Palin who advocated shooting wolves from the air prompting howls of protest from wildlife advocates and outraged citizens. (More on Palin.)

The outcry may be worse in Texas where equine advocacy groups are already active fighting horsemeat processors shipping thousands of domestic horses across the border to Mexican abattoirs. The burro killings are also likely to be linked to the alleged inhumane treatment of wild horses in the American West during helicopter driven stampedes by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Texas Parks and Wildlife launched the resumption of donkey killing with Perry’s approval, advocates claim.

The petitions are being sponsored by the website,

Wild Horse and Burro advocates claim the state agency is attempting to rid the park, 70 miles across, of burros to make way for Big Horn Sheep, a big game animal coveted by wealthy hunters.

The state agency counters saying the approximately 70 burros are destructive to the huge park’s fragile landscape and that the burros are not a native Texas species. They also claim to have worked with wild horse groups to humanely capture the burros yet none of the animals are in captivity.

Animal Law Coalition NOTE: More than 50 burros have been gunned down by Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. The burros are not protected by the 1971 Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1331 et seq. That federal law only applies to wild horses and burros on federal public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. These burros being killed are located in a Texas state park, the Big Bend Ranch State Park in west Texas. 


CT Law Restricting Animal Rescue Signed by Gov

dogs in transitGov. Daniel Malloy has signed into law a bill that requires "animal importers" to register with the state which includes payment of a $100 annual fee.

Substitute House Bill 5368 also requires "animal importers" to comply with regulations that can be issued with respect to "health, safety and humane treatment" of the animals. The Commissioner of Agriculture is authorized to inspect the animals and any records of the "animal importer".

A violation can mean a fine up to $500.

Animal importers must also notify the state Dept. of Agriculture and local zoning officer of any sale, adoption, or transfer of animals that is open to the public. A failure to comply can mean a fine up to $100.   

What is an "animal importer"?

According to the bill, an "animal importer" is "a person who brings any dog or cat into this state …for the purpose of offering such dog or cat to any person for sale, adoption or transfer in exchange for any fee, sale, voluntary contribution, service or any other consideration".

This includes "any commercial or nonprofit animal rescue or adoption, humane relocation or delivery organization that is not otherwise required to be licensed".  This means all rescues and those transporting animals to rescues within the state. The definition is broad enough to include those traveling through the state with rescued animals.

More requirements under the new law

Not only must animals imported into the state be accompanied by a health certificate, but the "animal importer" is responsible with limited exceptions for obtaining a veterinary exam and new health certificate for the animal within 48 hours of entering the state. Also, the animal must be examined by a licensed veterinarian every 90 days until the animal is sold, transferred or adopted. Veterinary records must be kept by the animal importer for up to 3 years. A violation of any of these provisions can mean a fine up to $500. 

Then there is this provision: Any animal importer who intends to offer for sale, adoption or transfer any dog or cat at a venue or location that is open to the public or at an outdoor location, … shall provide notice to the Department of Agriculture and the municipal zoning enforcement officer of the town …not later than ten days prior to such event. Such notice shall state the date for such sale, adoption or transfer event, the exact location of such event and the anticipated number of animals for sale, adoption or transfer at such event.

A violation can mean a $100 fine.

This notice appears to apply to a rescuer transporting an animal into Connecticut for transfer at a shopping center, for example, to another rescue which may then take the animal for placement or transport out of state.  notice.  

The Federation of Responsible Rescues says the new law will "effectively ends the ability of legitimate rescues to offer dogs for adoption in the state of Connecticut by making the cost so prohibitive that adoption is not feasible for the vast majority of adopters."

Substitute H.B. 5368 specifically excludes breeders and dealers bringing dogs and cats into the state to deliver them for sale at pet stores.

Fines are also increased from a $100 maximum to up to $500 for violations of laws requiring health certificates for imported dogs and cats with copies sent to the commissioner of agriculture, permission from the state veterinarian for import of dogs or cats under a rabies quarantine, and the ban on the transport into the state dogs or cats less than 8 weeks of age without their mother for sale, adoption or transfer, and the sale, adoption or transfer of dogs and cats less than 8 weeks of age. 

The new law goes into effect October 1, 2011.

Rescuers may be entitled to tax deductions

A U.S. tax court has ruled a volunteer for an animal welfare non-profit is entitled to deductions for many expenses incurred in performing trap neuter return for feral cats and providing care for "foster cats". 

The key is that the taxpayer, Jan Elizabeth Van Dusen, performed this work, as a volunteer primarily for a charitable organization, Fix Our Ferals. Also, she was able to establish for the allowed deductions that the unreimbursed expenses she incurred were indeed in connection with her work with cats.

As the court explained, "Fix Our Ferals’ mission is to engage in "trap-neuter-return" activities, which consist of trapping feral cats, neutering them, obtaining necessary medical treatments and vaccinations, and releasing them back into the wild. Fix Our Ferals enlists volunteers to perform these tasks. The volunteers usually return cats to their original neighborhoods, but sometimes cats are moved to safer neighborhoods….

"After being neutered, the cats must be temporarily housed in volunteers’ private residences while they recover. After the cats recover and have received all necessary medical treatments, they are usually returned to the wild.

"Some cats cannot be safely returned to the wild. Typically those cats are young, sick, injured, elderly, or tame. Those cats must be cared for domestically. We refer to all care for trapped cats, including temporary housing while cats are recuperating from neutering, as ‘foster care’. We refer to cats under foster care as ‘foster cats’.

"Some of the cats are not returned to the wild because they are already tame. Volunteers try to tame the other cats that cannot be returned to the wild to make them suitable for adoption. The volunteers then attempt to place the tame cats in no-kill shelters or adoptive homes. The success of placing the tame cats depends on shelter availability and people’s willingness to adopt.

"Although some of the cats that cannot be returned to the wild are adopted or given to shelters, others remain in foster Sometimes volunteers capture tame stray cats when they attempt to trap feral cats."

The court continued, "Van Dusen was a Fix Our Ferals volunteer in 2004. She trapped feral cats, had them neutered, obtained vaccinations and necessary medical treatments, housed them while they recuperated, and released them back into the wild. She also provided longterm foster care to cats in her home. She attempted to place long-term foster cats in one of two no-kill shelters, Berkeley East Bay Humane Society or East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or otherwise find them adoptive homes. Some foster cats, however, stayed with her indefinitely".

The court found "Van Dusen’s inability to trace her cat rescue work exclusively to Fix Our Ferals does not pose an insurmountable bar to deductibility. We find that she performed most of her work in 2004 for Fix Our Ferals. Moreover, all of the other organizations with which she was affiliated, and therefore to which she may have provided services, qualify as section 170(c)organizations."