Humanitarian Art Ordinance

I am happy to report the Greater Valley Glen Council voted to support my motion, making it illegal to kill or abuse animals for the sake of art. The motion has now been forwarded to the Los Angeles City Council and to legislators in Sacramento with hopes they will further the effort. This letter was sent to LA City Councilmembers.

Dear Honorable Councilmember,

The Greater Valley Glen Council encourages you to create a Humanitarian Art Ordinance for the city of Los Angeles, making it illegal to abuse or kill animals for the sake of art. A sample ordinance is enclosed for your review.

The San Francisco Art Institute recently planned to display the short film called "Don't Trust Me" by an artist named Adel Abdessemed, which depicted horses and other animals being bludgeoned to death; protests and negative press forced them to cancel the exhibit. Abdessemed's ensuing film titled "Usine" was featured in May 2009 at a New York exhibit. In this film, the artist traps animals in a pen, including pit bulls and roosters, and causes them to rip each other apart.

A Costa Rican artist starved a dog to death as “art;” the animal was tied up at the exhibit and left for weeks with no food or water until he perished. A recent art project in Florida involved dipping live mice into resin, then cutting them into cubes. A domestic cat was skinned alive for a project at the Toronto Film Festival. Two years ago in Los Angeles, an elephant was spray painted to look like wallpaper for an exhibit; LA Animal Services had to go to the exhibit and order the unsafe paint to be removed.

We are opposed to this disturbing trend in the art world and hope you will make it clear that Los Angeles’ art exhibits and projects are compassionate. If the artist creates or contributes to animal cruelty in a country where abusive acts are legal, the resulting artwork should be outlawed in the United States.

This is the sample ordinance for the city of Los Angeles:

The Humanitarian Art Ordinance makes the commission of animal abuse for the purposes of creating media or an exhibit illegal and punishable as a misdemeanor or felony and says The City will not Commission such Exhibits.

Resolution approving the “Humanitarian Art” Ordinance would make the commission of the crime of Animal Abuse for the purposes of creating media or a display in the City of Los Angeles illegal and punishable as a misdemeanor or felony, and the City will not Commission such Exhibits.

WHEREAS, The City of Los Angeles recognizes and approves of the American Humane Association’s “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media” wherein the basic principles declare that: · Animals are not props! · No animal will be killed or injured for the sake of a film production and American Humane Association will not allow any animal to be treated inhumanely to elicit a performance; and

WHEREAS, The City of Los Angeles holds that the production of media that the director or the producer of the media is the direct cause of animal abuse to be captured on media supports an unacceptable industry of animal abuse; and,

WHEREAS, “Animal Abuse” includes the violation of Los Angles Ordinances, State, Federal and international laws pertaining to animal abuse, the interest of animal welfare and animal cruelty laws specifically framed for the prevention of inhumane treatment of animals, including, but not limited to California Penal Code Sections 596, 596.5, 596.7, 597, 597.1, 597.3, 597a through x, 598, 598 a through d, 599 et al, 600, 623, 374d, 384h, 399, 399.5 and Federal laws 7 USC § 1901 – 1907, and 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq; and,

WHEREAS, “Caused or created or contributed to” shall mean that the defendant was responsible for causing the animal to be abused as defined above. A person is responsible for creating or causing the abuse of the animal if the animal would not have been abused in the way that the animal was captured on film “but for” the actions, production and direction of the defendant; and.

WHEREAS, “Exhibit” shall mean a display, presentation, show, film, media and/or screening of Animal Abuse; and.

WHEREAS, nothing in this chapter shall prohibit any person from capturing the Animal Abuse when the individual is not the cause of the death of animals and are not responsible for aiding or abetting in the crime of animal abuse that occurred; and,

WHEREAS, there is a government interest in protecting animals from unnecessary cruelty and not funding or commissioning animal cruelty to occur; and,

WHEREAS, the City of Los Angeles hereby acknowledges that this law is necessary to prevent further animal cruelty; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That this Humane Art Ordinance will make the commission of the crime of Animal Abuse for the purposes of creating media to now be illegal, punishable as a misdemeanor or felony; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City of Los Angeles will not Commission or sponsor Exhibits wherein the creator of the media caused the crime of Animal Abuse to occur; and, be it

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the ordinance would be drafted as a two pronged test for the actual director. The necessary elements of the crime are (a) Animal Abuse as defined under Los Angeles local ordinances, state, federal or international law must have taken place, (b) The defendant would have caused or created or contributed to the crime of Animal Abuse to take place for the purposes of his or her creation of the media or exhibit.

Thank you. If you have any questions, I can be reached at (818) 346-5280.


Charlotte Laws, Ph.D.
Chair – Government Relations
Greater Valley Glen Council

*Ordinance language authored by Commissioner Christine Garcia (SF area).


Anonymous Christine Garcia said...

Thank you for the work you do Charlotte. I heard that this fall, for the first time in more than 15 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major case involving animal cruelty. The case concerns infamous dogfighting videographer Robert Stevens, who was convicted by a Pennsylvania jury of violating a 1999 federal law banning the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty.

I wish I knew about that law actually. First I've heard.

This info is from the HSUS --> The Depiction of Animal Cruelty Act—authored by Congressman Elton
Gallegly (R-Calif.)—was prompted in part by an HSUS investigation
that uncovered an underground subculture of “animal crush” videos, where scantily clad women, often in high-heeled shoes, would impale and crush to death puppies, kittens and other small animals...

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Charlotte Laws said...

Yes, I am hoping we get the right outcome on that case. 25 state attorney generals have sided against video animal cruelty, including Jerry Brown. I wish Obama had chosen Cass Sunstein for Supreme Court. We need people in high places who view animals as more than objects to be used and abused for human gain. Thanks for everything you do, Christine. I am working hard to get the LA City Council to take up your Humanitarian Art Ordinance. Thanks.

1:26 PM  

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