Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on the FL Pig Case. Late but interesting.

This was an event that happened a few weeks ago during the start of the Swine Flu scare. Things have calmed down and then the whole area flooded so everyone remembered what they should be worried about. They live in a swamp and in the path of hurricanes and tornadoes when they are not in a drought. However, its such a stunning example of mass hysteria and stupidity I just wanted to post it even if it is old news by now. If you own animals, you never know when the villagers will come up the hill carrying torches and pitchforks:<

Posted: 05/12/2009 at 8:17am
Swine flu fears grip neighbors of pig sanctuary

A Bunnell auto parts store owner is offering free masks to anyone living near a Flagler County swine farm, angering the owner of the Pig Tales Sanctuary who said the offer falsely implies her porkers carry the swine flu.

"I've got a couple people telling me that they heard my pigs have swine flu, so now this thing is going to get people crazy," said Lory Yazurlo, who runs Pig Tales Sanctuary.

But things already seem crazy around Pig Tales Sanctuary at 596 County Road 90. Last week, annoyed neighbors shot to death 10 or 12 trespassing pigs. One of those neighbors said Yazurlo -- who is confined to a wheelchair -- threatened to kill his wife and 1 1/2-year-old son and burn his house down. Yazurlo denies making any threats and says someone is "maliciously" cutting the chain on her gate and setting the pigs free.

Ed Smith, who placed the free mask ad in The Flagler/Palm Coast News-Tribune, said he is trying to draw attention to problems at the 20-acre sanctuary, which he describes as a smelly eyesore and mosquito breeding ground. The ad offers a free mask "if you live or work within 10 miles of a Flagler County Swine Farm County Road 90 East." Smith said he has 5,000 masks at his Bunnell Auto Supply Store, 119 N. Bay St. He said he will give one to anyone who asks, whether or not they live near Yazurlo's pigs.

"I think there's a good possibility that at some point they could be a carrier for the swine flu," Smith said in a phone interview Monday.

But there haven't been reports of swine flu in any pigs, said Terence McElroy, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. "There hasn't been any swine flu in any swine herd in America," McElroy said Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta doesn't even call the virus swine flu anymore; it's now officially referred to as the H1N1 flu because it's so different from what normally circulates in North American pigs, a CDC web site reports.

The swine at Pig Tales have been quarantined, McElroy said, but that's due to pseudorabies, a contagious viral disease that causes a high mortality rate among infant pigs. Pseudorabies does not pose a threat to humans, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Web site.

Nevertheless, Smith said he has given out a number of the free masks. "I've had quite a few people come in," Smith said Monday.

Smith's son-in-law, Andrew King, said hogs get loose every day from Pig Tales. He said the Flagler County Sheriff's Office told him and other neighbors that they can shoot trespassing pigs.

"When they get out and tear our property up, we kill them," King said.

He said in a police report that he took a shot at one of the pigs with his handgun on Thursday morning but missed.

About 15 minutes later, an angry Yazurlo wheeled her way onto his property.

He said he asked Yazurlo to leave, but she didn't.

"I was on my property and she came down there cussing and threatened to burn my house down and kill my wife and my baby," King said in an interview Monday, repeating what he said in a police report.

He said Yazurlo kept cussing and circling in her wheelchair.

"She's acting crazy. I just sat in my truck the whole time till the police got there," Smith said in the interview.

The Flagler Sheriff's Office has forwarded an assault complaint against Yazurlo to the State Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to charge her.

Yazurlo denied threatening King or his wife or son but admits being irate.

"I told him to go to hell or burn in hell and that was all I said to him," Yazurlo said Monday.

Yazurlo adds that she felt threatened by King and plans to file her own complaint, because she said King fired his rifle or shotgun in her direction. She said King claimed he was firing at a pig.

"He shot his shotgun in my direction and I never saw a pig," Yazurlo said.

King said that never happened.

"I did not fire in her direction," King said. "She was not even there when we ran the hog off my property."

King asked a deputy to warn Yazurlo not to trespass on his land anymore. Another neighboring property owner, Roy Hawkins, a potato farmer, also had her warned for trespassing. Hawkins issued the warning after spotting wheelchair tracks on his land.

Hawkins said about eight or 10 different people were shooting at the pigs, which did not do much damage to his potato crop.

"Not too badly, we got there before they could ruin it," Hawkins said.

Read Swan's post first, then read up. Finding the code.

So, I am a lawyer and I am usually pretty good about finding and reading code law. You have been given very good advice by Ms. Swan, but how do you go about finding out the rules and regulations in your area?

I tried it out myself for my County. I googled my County’s website. On the website was a link to the county code of laws. Most Counties have their laws posted on-line now in Muni-code or just on their own website. I started at the obvious chapter—Animals. Nothing there. So then I looked under Garbage, Trash and Refuse disposal. Nothing. Then Land Management. Nada. Then I googled what to do with dead horse and come up with my own blog. Obviously I cannot fill that blog with every possible county and state and local code.

My next move was to call the local extension office. I waited for 5 minutes to get an open line. Then I waited for 5 more minutes to hear a computer tell me all my options. None of them were what I wanted. Then I was transferred to an operator who transferred me to an agent when I requested “information about large animal disposal” That led to an answering machine.

My next move would have been to call my Vet and ask him/her, but that information may have been useful, but not necessarily in compliance with any code. I did not call just to test out the theory because Vets are busy and I am not that clueless to waste their time just to write a blog. Next I checked the state code. Nothing. I know there is nothing in my covenants prohibited except for raising swine.

Now if this had been a real emergency and my horse had just died the time and effort to try and track down information on where and how I was allowed to dispose of him would have sent me right over the edge. When my real horse died last year I could hardly even walk into my house before I just collapsed from grief and exhaustion after being awake with him for 48 hours of colic. My Vet took care of everything and knew who to call and what to do, so I did not even have to see any of it. If I had been required to search code or wait for computers to suggest gardening tips or wait for a call back from the county extension agent while my horse cooled in the back yard, it would have been unbearable. An absolute nightmare. I can’t even imagine how horrible that would be for a parent trying to make a child’s dead horse go away.

So REALLY REALLY take the good advice posted by Ms. Swan and do your homework now!!! Do not wait until you need to know. Although I doubt black booted government thugs will break down your door for an unlawful burial violation, the last thing you will want after you horse passes on is to spend all day trying to find out what is legal and then getting a citation and having to start all over with a now decomposed animal.

Have a death plan and start it now. When the time comes just getting up off the floor might be all you can manage. And you should have not only your plan, but the money to pay for it on hand. Take it from me, the last thing you need to be doing an hour after Dobbin’s demise is driving to the bank to get money for the disposal. And the choices you make in that hell time of grief may not be the choices you would make if your heart was not being ripped out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Guest Post by Jessica Swan: AKA JSwan on "What Remains"

OK, I did not post as I promised. I am a bad blogger. I can't even make up an excuse because then I would be a bad dis-honorable bad blogger. So The truth is I went out searching for more guest bloggers to talk about things YOU need to know even when I do not have time to tell you. They think about this stuff all the time. They are experts in their fields. It was so nice having Jennifer Williams do a guest blog on her area of expertise I got another guest blogger for this post and a few more lined up. I have a blog from a criminal attorney lined up, a bankruptcy attorney to talk about our dreaded debt, and hopefully a sports and entertainment attorney to talk about the ins and outs of these new fangeled sponsorship deals some of the upper level riders are getting these days. And I am working on a post about the employee/private contractor distinction, liability and the tax consequences. Without further delay, today's blog:

After We Say Goodbye: Disposing Of Equine Remains

Jessica Swan

For all the joy that horses bring to our lives, we pay a price. We must endure the pain of parting with our equine friends when they become ill, old, or suffer a traumatic injury. Sometimes, the issue of disposal is not addressed before death occurs, or the chosen method may not be available due to circumstances beyond the owner’s control.

A horse owner should know what options are available in his area, evaluate the pros and cons of each, and observe any statutory or regulatory requirements, before faced with a euthanasia decision; which is a difficult and emotional time for everyone involved.

Increasingly, disposal of animal remains is regulated or restricted. Improper or incomplete disposal of remains may pollute groundwater, attract scavengers, rodents, or pose a health hazard to humans, pets, or wildlife. Authorities or neighbors may take exception to an owner’s choice and take action against the horse owner if the remains cause any of the above to occur.

You do not need to be an attorney or veterinarian to locate information on this subject, most or all the information you need is freely available from reliable sources:

1. Statutes, ordinances or restrictive covenants:
A. Depending upon your location, on-site disposal of animal remains may be regulated, restricted, or prohibited. For those who live in equestrian subdivisions, covenants may restrict or prohibit disposal of livestock remains. Check your state code, local ordinances, and any covenants before making your decision. An additional resource may be your county/town zoning administrator or homeowners association.

2. Your State Department of Agriculture or Extension Service
A. These agencies offer free information for livestock owners. The Agriculture Department may restrict burial, composting, or burning of livestock that died of reportable diseases. It may also oversee cremation facilities or renderers that operate in your state.
B. The Extension Service and its agents may provide support, guidance, and information to horse owners seeking education in on-site composting of livestock mortalities, assistance in locating a renderer, or may be able to put a horse owner in touch with other owners, farmers, or ranchers who can be a resource.

3. Veterinarians, equine hospital/veterinary college, animal shelter, equine rescues
A. Veterinary and lay professionals may be a resource for locating a backhoe operator, renderer, or cremation facility, and may have that information for you when they pay their final visit.
B. Clinics, equine hospitals, or veterinary colleges may offer cremation for a fee; even if the fatality did not occur in their facility.
C. Your animal shelter or local equine rescue may be able to provide a referral for pickup, burial, or cremation. Some rescues may offer euthanasia clinics, which defers some of the final costs and resolves the issue of disposal.

After the owner identifies the available options, their choice is essentially an emotional and/or a financial one. There is no single “right” answer. The key is to ensure the method is permissible; a mistake may cost you dearly and cause great heartache.

This article is not a comprehensive resource; only a starting point for horse owners unfamiliar with disposing of livestock remains, but who wish to educate themselves.

Since restrictions and prohibitions are increasingly common, horse owners should stay informed and provide feedback and input to their horse industry board so their voice is heard within government. Farmers and ranchers are long accustomed to dealing with farm mortalities; and usually have the equipment, facilities, and knowledge to dispose of them. Some horse owners, especially those in less rural areas or in subdivisions, may not have the same background.

Although improper or incomplete disposal of remains can be a legitimate concern for the public, when armed with good information horse owners are fully capable of disposing of the remains of their cherished equine partners.

Jessica Swan is a retired development professional, working primarily within conservation and agriculture. A lifelong equestrian, she is fortunate to share her life with three wonderful horses on her small farming operation in Virginia.

Monday, May 18, 2009

"Equine Law Degree"

Hi! Remember me? The blogger on this blog? I have been really really busy, but I will start blogging again soon. I had work to do, real actual work and lots of it! I also got my house painted and my tiny tractor fixed and have been working on mowing my 5 acre yard for what seems like a lifetime. But I will be posting this week!

Here is a quick answer to a question some of you have been googling and trying to find on my site. I assume those someones are high school kids looking for career information. There is NO DEGREE in “equine law”. You go to undergrad school and get a degree there. Then you take the tests for law school and go to law school. Then if you are lucky you take a few classes in equine and animal law. You graduate with a law degree and then if you want, you practice, among other things that actually pay the bills, some equine law. Equine law is just regular old law, but it is when that law has horses in the facts.

There is no other degree in “equine law.” If you try and take an online horse course that includes equine law, that information is for your own use. You cannot charge others for legal advice unless you are a lawyer. If you do, you break the law and you will need to find a “criminal lawyer” to defend you.

So you have at least 7 years of higher education to complete before you can practice equine law. Then what? Do you just hang out a shingle and start collecting all those legal fees? Ummmmmnope. You do as much equine law as you can, but you do not get a “job” as an equine lawyer unless you get very, very lucky and possibly have a trust fund to actually support yourself. It’s not the exciting high paid career you might be looking for. It’s just being a lawyer, like all other lawyers, but if you are lucky about 50% of your cases might have horses or animals in them.

What if you have already gone to undergrad school and started law school and now want to know about equine law? If your school teaches equine law you can ask your professor. If it doesn’t, you can ask them to start teaching it. That is what I had to do. I had to ask the Dean and the vice dean of my law school to start teaching animal law so I could take the class. I had to support this request with evidence that almost half of other law schools taught at least 1 course in animal law. I even had to find and hire the professor to teach the course. But after just 6 months of constantly harassing and bugging and planting myself in the reception area of the Deans’ offices my school suddenly decided such a great course was a much better alternative to seeing me EVERY DAY and having me bug them again. I think it helped that the Dean’s daughter rode horses and that the vice dean loved his cats.

I only had to wait an extra year for the actual class. It was scheduled for my 2L year, but the professor had to have emergency back surgery and I ended up in “state and local taxation”, the only class left when my seminar in equine law got canceled. After sitting through a 3 hour tax class taught on Friday afternoons, there was no way I was going to leave law school without getting my animal law course! I had earned it. I DESERVED it!

And in my last semester I got to take the class and it was wonderful:> Not only did we have the best professor in the world for equine law, but she also had lots of actual experience as a real live litigator and even gave us the most useful tips on taking the VA Bar exam we had ever heard.

So, in conclusion, if you are googling “equine law degree” you have a lot to learn. You will have to go to law school. You will become a lawyer and then try and get clients with horses who need a lawyer. Sometimes your years of experience will help you serve your clients better then just some un-equine lawyer, but sometimes you will still just be drafting deeds or working on trusts or having to earn your keep doing family or criminal law. There is no special degree and there is no job waiting for you when you get out that will be exclusively equine law. Maybe 1 person every 15 years gets the one job that may exist, but with those odds you might just want to keep working on that dream of competing your OTTB in the Olympics? In time there will be more work in the field since once one lawyer starts suing people then other lawyers get work defending the other side, but if you are looking for a career in horses then you have to want a career in law and the horses are a rare bonus that makes the rest of the work worth it.