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Animal Law Podcast #70: The Case of the “Teachable Moments”

By Mariann Sullivan — March 31, 2021

On this episode of the Animal Law Podcast, I speak with Vanessa Shakib of Advancing Law for Animals about Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation and Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (“SAEN”) v USDA, in which the plaintiffs sought to vacate two rules promulgated by USDA’s Animal Care division without notice to the public or an opportunity to comment, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act. These rules concerned the implementation of two new enforcement policies, the Orwellian-entitled, “Teachable Moments Rule” and “Self-Reporting Rule,” that drastically limited the ability of concerned members of the public and others to ascertain the true violation history regarding the treatment of animals at licensed facilities, including both puppy mills and laboratories. She’ll also tell us about the recent settlement that resolved the lawsuit and how members of the public can best make use the information now available on the USDA website.

We also speak briefly about a recently filed case, also on behalf of SAEN, against the University of Southern California regarding the stark contrast between the University’s claims regarding how animals are kept in their laboratories and the evidence the plaintiff has gathered revealing a much darker picture.

Vanessa Shakib co-founded and co-directs Advancing Law for Animals, a non-profit law firm for our non-human friends that focuses on animal law, government accountability, and illegal business practices. There, she develops impact litigation to further the interests of animals exploited in research and industrial food production. Vanessa regularly presents talks as an invited expert in animal law both nationally and abroad.

Prior to animal law, Vanessa specialized in illegal taxation, consumer protection, and inverse condemnation, among other practice areas. Her track record in government oversight informs her work at Advancing Law for Animals, where she has successfully challenged cruel and illegally-promulgated regulations at the federal level, and lack of animal-welfare enforcement at the local level. Vanessa continues to consult on a variety of legal matters through her private practice, Shakib Law, PC.


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