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With the myriad directions of attack on commercial animal use, I thought I’d dust off the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)and take a closer look at it. After looking at the AETA, I’m going to break this down into a series of 3 articles:

  • The 2006 AETA: What is it?  How and where does it apply
  • Why is the AETA important to all levels of Animal Enterprise?
  • Opposition to the AETA and court challenge results

The 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) replaced the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992 and contains a number of key points.

Key point 1: “Inclusion of economic damage to animal enterprises and threats of death and serious bodily harm to associated persons

Under this bill, the term economic damage is defined as :

  • the replacement costs of lost or damaged property or records
  • the costs of repeating an interrupted or invalidated experiment
  • the loss of profits, or increased costs, including losses and increased costs resulting from:
    • threats
    • acts or vandalism
    • property damage
    • trespass
    • harassment
    • intimidation taken against a person or entity on account of that person’s or entity’s connection to, relationship with, or transactions with the animal enterprise

However, economic damage does not include any lawful economic disruption (including a lawful boycott) that results from lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise.  (Author note: ‘disclosure of information’ would include demonstrably true information only.  You’d think that this would go without saying but … )  This clause strongly protects 1st amendment rights of free speech which are similarly protected by the “Rules of Construction” also contained in the AETA.

Key Point 2:  Definition of animal enterprise within the AETA includes the following:

  • commercial or academic enterprises that use or sell animals or animal products for profit, food or fiber production, agriculture, education, research, or testing;
  • any zoo, aquarium, animal shelter, pet store, breeder, furrier, circus, or rodeo, or other lawful competitive animal event
  • any fair or similar event intended to advance agricultural arts and sciences;

Bear with me and consider the previous two points in light of the definition of the offense of force, violence and threats involving animal enterprises.

“Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce:

  1. for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise; and
  2. in connection with such purpose
    1. intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise;
    2. intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family (as defined in section 115) of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment, or intimidation; or
    3. conspires or attempts to do so;

shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b).

I know, blah, blah, legal-ease, blah.  Here’s the meat of the AETA.  If you fall into any of the included animal enterprise categories of the AETA, and you are being subjected to behaviour that falls outside the realms of free speech then you also have the recourse of protection under this act as well.  Hobby dog and cat breeders, I’m looking at you too.

Next article, I’m going to look at the ideas of application of the AETA.  Stay tuned.

2 Responses to “Attacks on Commercial Animal Use, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act”

  1. EdenSprings says:

    Great article & timely, too! Much discussion on whether or not the FBI has probable cause to charge the two women who disrupted the last moments of Best In Show judging at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show by jumping into the ring with their PeTA protest banners under AETA. Would have to have your opinion on this.

    Facts: both women came from out of state, both were charged w/ Criminal Trespass (and other counts). While both deny they did it at PeTA's request, they were carrying professionally printed signs w/ PeTA's logo and there's the large question about how they got those signs into the bldg to begin with as security there is extremely tight.

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