Activists Chose Wrong Vehicle to Fight for Pigs

     (CN) – Animal rights activists challenging the California State Fair’s treatment of pregnant pigs relied on a doomed strategy to pursue their claims, a state appeals court ruled.
     The Animal Legal Defense Fund and two if its members sued the California Exposition and State Fairs and the Regents of the University of California over the transportation of pregnant pigs, and the practice of housing the pigs in farrowing crates, narrow enclosures that allow them to lie down but impede any other movement.
     The pigs are displayed in the state fair’s livestock nursery exhibit approximately two weeks before they are due to give birth.
     According to California law, “every person who keeps an animal confined in an enclosed area shall provide it with an adequate exercise area.”
     Also, a law called Proposition 2 went into effect this year that banned, among other things, gestation crates for pregnant pigs.
     “The farrowing crates are so small that the mother pigs cannot turn around or walk,” the plaintiffs complained. “The restriction of movement once at the State Fair deprives the pigs of the opportunity to engage in any exercise, which causes suffering due to physical discomfort, boredom and stress.”
     The Alameda County Court agreed with the fair’s assertion that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge their practices with a taxpayer action asserting government waste.
     The plaintiffs appealed, but the San Francisco-based First District California Court of Appeals upheld the decision in a ruling written by Justice James Richman for a three-justice panel.
     He stated that the plaintiffs were using a taxpayer action instead of directly asserting a violation of animal cruelty laws.
     “We believe the Legislature intended the enforcement mechanisms it established – and the entities in whom it entrusted such enforcement – to be the exclusive mechanisms for, and entities charged with, such enforcement,” Richman wrote.
     Also, Richman noted three relevant exceptions to Proposition 2’s ban on gestation crates.
     “First, it does not apply ‘During transportation.’ Second, it does not apply to animals ‘During state … or county fair exhibitions.’ And third, it does not apply ‘To a pig during the seven-day period prior to the pig’s expected date of giving birth,'” Richman wrote.

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