Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Federal Judge Slaps Injunction on Cab Company Refusing to Carry Woman with Scooter and Service Dogs

On April 9, 2013, Melodie and James Doud got into the line for a taxi at the Reno Airport.  The first available taxi was Yellow Cab Co. # 132, driven by Mohammed Parvez, who declined to let the Douds into his vehicle, saying that it was not equipped to transport people with physical disabilities.  The Douds were traveling with a motorized scooter which Melodie Doud needed, having lost a leg to cancer. They also were also traveling with two service dogs.  The second taxi in the line was another Yellow Cab, and this driver also refused to take the Douds, alleging that his religious beliefs forbade him from transporting their service dogs. (According to one court document, the driver said to them: “I’m not taking you because you have dogs, dogs are dirty and it is against my religion to transport a dog.”) 

A third taxi, from the Whittlesea Company, also refused to carry the Douds.  James Doud then flagged down an airport police vehicle.  The officer approached the fourth taxi in the line, another Yellow Cab, the driver of which agreed to transport the Douds.  This took 45 minutes.  Almost lost in the details of the case was the fact that James Doud was himself an employee of Yellow Cab and may have lost his job because of the action he took against his employer in this matter. 

Just over a month later, on May 19, the Douds were again at the Reno Airport and again encountered Yellow 132, still driven by Mohammed Parvez, who again refused to take the Douds, this time saying it was “against the law,” despite Melodie’s assurance that her scooter would fit into the taxi.  The scooter breaks down into five pieces, the heaviest of which weighs 50 pounds.  (The picture of the scooter here is from a manufacturer’s document filed with the court.)  James Doud then called a supervisor at Yellow Cab Co., Mukesh Sharma, who agreed to pick up the Douds.  The Douds also called the airport parking authority and the airport police, and the police found a taxi for them, though the Douds chose to ride in Sharma’s taxi when it arrived.

Complaint Filed

The Douds described these experiences as “humiliating, discouraging, demoralizing, and maddening.”  On May 21, 2013, the Douds filed a complaint with the Nevada Transportation Authority, which determined that Yellow Cab had violated Nevada Revised Statutes 706.361, which provides that persons with disabilities are entitle to full and equal enjoyment of facilities of public transportation, which applies to “any common motor carrier of passengers.”  Yellow Cab appealed the decision.

The Douds also sought a preliminary injunction to stop Yellow Cab from refusing to give them service in the company’s standard taxis.  To obtain a preliminary injunction, a plaintiff must establish (1) he or she is likely to succeed on the merits, (2) likely to suffer irreparable harm without such relief, (3) that the balance of equity is in the plaintiff’s favor, and (4) that the injunction would be in the public interest.  A trial court is given broad discretion in deciding whether to grant a preliminary injunction.  

The federal district court for the district of Nevada determined that a preliminary injunction was appropriate because the Douds were likely to succeed on a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they would likely suffer harm unless the cab company’s refusal to serve them was stopped, the injunction would not burden the cab company, and issuing an injunction requiring the company to accept disabled passengers would be in the public interest. 

The court noted that regulations under the ADA, 49 CFR 37.29, specifically mention taxi services, providing:

“Private entities providing taxi service shall not discriminate against individuals with disabilities by actions including, but not limited to, refusing to provide service to individuals with disabilities who can use taxi vehicles, refusing to assist with the stowing of mobility devices, and charging higher fares or fees for carrying individuals with disabilities and their equipment than are charged to other persons.”

Yellow Cab argued that it had offered the Douds a reasonable accommodation by asking them to ride in vehicles equipped for disabled passengers who use motorized scooters.  The company had a practice of referring disabled customers to a sister company, Reno Sparks, which has wheelchair-adapted vehicles that can transport the entire scooter with the passenger, without any need for disassembly.  The court noted, however, that making Yellow Cab accept disassembled scooters placed no undue financial or administrative burden on the cab company.  Also, James Doud could lift each piece of the disassembled scooter by himself, so there was no need for Yellow Cab to be concerned about its drivers lifting heavy equipment. 

Prior Taxi Dispute

This is not the first time, and is not likely to be the last, that a taxi company has refused to provide services to a customer with a service dog.  In 2003, a dispatcher for the Yellow Cab Drivers Association, Inc., sent a driver to a department store in Salt Lake City.  Upon being pointed by store employees towards a blind woman with the guide dog, the driver turned and left (DOJ Complaint 202-77-34).  Responding to the woman’s complaint, the Department of Justice stated that Yellow Cab is in the business of providing transportation services to members of the public and is covered by Title III of the ADA (42 U.S.C. 12181(10) and 28 CFR 36.104.  

As part of the settlement, Yellow Cab agreed to distribute a car window decal to all drivers in size 12 or larger, to be placed on every cab, welcoming persons with service animals.  The decal was to be on cabs "purchased, leased, or operated" by Yellow Cab.  All drivers and dispatchers had to take an ADA training program, and all future hires had to be trained concerning passengers with disabilities within 30 days of starting to work for Yellow Cab.  Yellow Cab also agreed that the Department of Justice could perform unannounced testing.  The woman who complained received 25 free fare certificates. 


The federal district court for Nevada granted the preliminary injunction, stating:

“Yellow must not refuse to transport the Douds on the basis of Mrs. Doud's disability. Yellow must provide the Douds with taxi services on the same terms and conditions as any other passenger. If, however, any portion of Mrs. Doud's disassembled scooter is too heavy to lift, Yellow's drivers need not lift it. Yellow must also incorporate into its existing driver training that the Douds may ride in Yellow's standard taxis.”

The case is likely to continue.  James Doud alleged that he lost his job with Yellow Cab in retaliation for filing the complaint against the company he worked for.  That sort of retaliation could lead to substantial penalties if established.  Doud v. Yellow Cab Company of Reno, Inc., Case No. 3:13-cv-00664-MMD-WGC, 2014 US Dist LEXIS 120243 (August 28, 2014). (See Service and Therapy Dogs in American Society, pp. 155-157.)

As one who was a long-time resident of New York City, where cabbies cruise for fares but, particularly at rush hours, only stop for passengers likely to be going short distances who don’t have luggage, it must be said that an injunction like this would have little effect at any location other than a taxi stand.  Even there, I could be passed to the second or third cabbie in the line just because I was not wearing a suit and tie on a given day.  “I’m going out on a call in a minute.”  “I’ve got to stop for gas if we’re going any further than midtown.”  An injunction would do no more than assure that certain excuses were not used.  Still, the fact that rights are not always enforceable does not mean that they do not exist.

Thanks to Leigh Anne Novak for valuable suggestions.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Centers for Disease Control Seeks Funding for PTSD/Service Dog Study

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to fund “a laboratory-based work-simulation study” that will “investigate the influence of the presence of and interactions with a dog on the reactivity and performance of veterans with and without PTSD to work-related and startle stressors.”  The study will be conducted at a research facility of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Morgantown, West Virginia.  The CDC’s announcement that it is seeking funding for the study was posted in the Federal Register on September 9 (79 Fed. Reg. 53430). 

The proposed study is described as follows:

“The role of dogs in potentially moderating the effects of the stressors will be investigated with either the absence or presence of a dog in some conditions and a dog that is either familiar or unfamiliar to the veteran in other conditions. The general working hypothesis is that the presence of, and/or interaction with, a familiar dog reduces stress and enhances work performance for both veterans with and without PTSD, with a greater benefit to veterans with PTSD.”

The  CDC announcement mentions therapy dogs, which perhaps means that when a dog unfamiliar to the veteran is used during some of the trial circumstances, therapy dogs will be used.  The kinds of symptoms that dogs may be useful in alleviating are listed as “diminished interest or participation in significant activities, feelings of detachment or estrangement from others, difficulty falling or staying asleep, hyper vigilance, exaggerated startle response, difficulty with concentration or attention, and a restricted range of affect.”

The CDC expects to recruit U.S. veterans for the study, including veterans with service dogs, by getting help from various veterans’ organizations.  About 400 persons in veterans’ agencies will receive emails concerning the research study, with follow-up phone calls.  Veterans will have to complete some questionnaires that will be posted on the internet, and those selected from this stage will go through several days of assessment sessions at the NIOSH Morgantown facility. Screening forms will include:
From the initial pool, 64 veterans will be enrolled in the laboratory portion of the study, including at least 16 veterans who own service dogs.  On entering the study, veterans with service dogs will complete the following materials: 
  • Big Five Inventory (BFI) 
  • Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (CBARQ)
  • Pet Attachment and Life Impact Scale (PALS) 
  •  Dog Personality Scale (DPQ)   
  •  Social Style-Self and Social Style-Service Dog questionnaires
There will be no cost to participants other than giving their time. 

The CDC is probably hoping to find evidence that service dogs are helpful to veterans, but acknowledges that no particular outcome is certain:

“A review of mostly anecdotal evidence suggests that animal-assisted interventions may have general therapeutic benefits for individuals with PTSD. Although a few reports tout the benefits of human-animal companionship, no studies have focused specifically on investigating the elements of human-animal interactions that might be therapeutic for individuals with PTSD or other stress-related disorders. Furthermore, there is scant evidence supporting the notion that service dogs or therapy dogs may directly improve functioning and, thereby, ease an individual’s reintegration into society and employment.”

While most studies on the benefits of therapy dogs are rather anecdotal, research in the area is becoming more rigorous, as noted here in a recent blog

Anyone, including members of the general public, can obtain more information on the project by calling (404) 639-7570.  Comments can be sent to Leroy A. Richardson, 1600 Clifton Road, MS-D74, Atlanta, GA 30333.  An email can be sent to omb@cdc.gov.  Mr. Richardson is a Chief in the CDC’s Information Collection Review Office in Atlanta.  Written documents should be received within 60 days of the Federal Register announcement, i.e., by November 8. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bomb Dogs Work Faster When Handlers Are Distracted

The relationship between the handler and a detection dog is often of concern because of the possibility that the handler’s thoughts or feelings as to the presence of a target substance may result in a signal to the dog that it is time to alert, a phenomenon known as cueing. When typical drug-related criminal activity is suspected, the handler may intentionally signal the dog to give a trained final response so that probable cause for further action is established.  More often the concern has been that the handler may not be aware that his beliefs are leading to subtle behavioral changes in his management of the dog that result in the dog giving an alert.  (See Cueing and Probable Cause.) Yet the handler’s mental state may influence a working dog’s effectiveness in other ways, as indicated by recent research from Israel. 

A team of ten scientists from the Behavioural Neuroscience Lab at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine in Haifa considered how putting stress on handlers affected the performance of explosives detection dogs.  For purposes of the study, the team sought to distinguish between two possible types of handler stress: external stress, which was defined as stress irrelevant to the task of the canine team, and internal stress that was relevant to the task.  The team studied five Malinois and their handlers working in the Israeli Air Force.  The dogs had been in service about six months, but each handler had at least a year of experience with the dog to which he was assigned.  Salman Zubedat, Shlomit Aga-Mizrachi, Adi Cymerblit-Sabba, Jonathan Shwartz, Joseph Fiko Leon, Shlomo Rozen, Itay Varkovitzky, Yuval Eshed, Dan Grinstein, and Avi Avital (2014).  Human-Animal Interface: The Effects of Handler’s Stress on the Performance of Canines in an Explosive Detection Task. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 158, 69-75.

Experimental Design

To provide a baseline on the level of stress in a handler, a pre-pulse inhibition test was given both before the handler was put in a stressful situation and after a trial was completed.  External stress came from a three-minute conversation with the handler’s unit commander.  After the conversation, a task was performed in which the dog could identify two explosive odors.  In training sessions, however, dogs could detect 1, 3, 4, 5, or 6 explosive odors.  When the dog sat next to a hot spot, it was allowed to play with a ball as a reward. 

The search area was long and narrow, a 50 meter line with a two meter width, which teams were given no more than five minutes to search.  The unusual search area may have been chosen to duplicate a street in a dense urban environment where explosive devices might be hidden in buildings against the street or in items like carts along it.  Alerts, false alerts, and misses were to be measured, though no false alerts or misses were recorded (which says a great deal for Israeli military dogs).  Consequently, differences in performance levels of teams were established by measuring the energy levels of the dogs and the time intervals for the trials. 

An experimenter hid the explosives before a trial so that the handler and other staff were blind to the location of explosives.  Hides were placed in different orders relative to the exploration direction of the dogs.  Sites were explored from different directions by the teams so as to limit the effect of possible contamination, though the paper says that the “location of the hidden explosives remained constant between the different test days.” (This may have been a design flaw as the amount of odor available to the dog would tend to increase over the period of the experiment.) An alert consisted of the dog sitting near the hot spot and poking its nose towards the exact location of the hide.  Trials were videotaped.

Applying Stress

Internal stress consisted of having external viewers, commanders, and study executives present during trials.  These participants pointed at the handler as he walked the long and narrow search area and pretended to write down comments during the trial.  External stress, the three-minute conversation, consisted of the commander informing the handler that he would be reassigned to another military unit, that the handler was going to face a military investigation, or something else designed to rattle the handler. The handler was ordered not to share the conversation with anyone. At the end of the trial, the handler was told that the stressful information had been revoked, but that the handler still should not share the information.

The external stress condition (“You’re facing an investigation,” etc.) “led to the highest startle response compared with the control and the ‘internal stress’ conditions.” When handlers were under external stress, the dogs had the shortest, and thereby most efficient, detection times.  External stress was also correlated with the highest levels of canine activity.  As measured by the PPI test, stress on the handlers impaired their covert attention, and external stress produced the highest impairment of the two types. 

As to what explained this unexpected finding, the research team hypothesized:

“We postulate that the stress disturbed the handlers in their focus of attention and thus led to less control of the dogs’ leash. Consequently, it allowed the dogs to manifest their training outcome in a less ‘handler-dependent manner’. This presumable locus of control transfer may explain the improved performance of the dogs.”


The importance of explosive detection dogs in Israel may be indicated by the size of the team involved in this study. A photograph from a recent military operation shows the value that the Israeli military assigns to the protection and care of military dogs. 

The results might have differed had the search area been wider so that the sweep would have required crisscrossing.  Although training sessions could involve various numbers of hides, the scientists chose to use only two hides and perform limited recorded trials.  Having people, including supervisors and other officials, watch the trials might be more stressful for some handlers than others. Different ways of applying stress should be explored since a major difference between the two types of stress was when they occurred in relation to a trial.  Implementing variations on the experimental design will be important to verify the conclusions reached by this team. 

Still, the situations presented are clear enough, and the general nature of the findings is quite credible.  A handler with his own problems is less likely to be interested in cueing his dog to alert since he may not want to spend time dealing with a more detailed search or the resultant paperwork from a situation of his own making.  Thus, the research might have applications in a wider range of canine operations. 

This blog was written by John Ensminger and L.E. Papet.

Note on the photograph: This picture was provided by a friend in Israel, who advises us that it was sent anonymously from Gaza to an Israeli television station.  This apparently gave the station license to use the picture without giving the station the right to license (or preclude) our reproduction of it here. We believe it may have been reproduced elsewhere.  The anonymity may mean the photographer does not wish to acknowledge the context or is prevented by Israeli military law from asserting ownership.  If, however, someone believes the usage here violates an interest in the work, it will be removed on a credible claim of superior rights.  Anyone wishing to communicate with us regarding a claim as to the rights of the picture is asked to send an email to jensminger@msn.com.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Yelling at the Umpire: What the Unanimous Decision of the Supreme Court in Florida v. Harris Is Coming to Mean to Law Enforcement in the United States

Criticizing a 9-0 decision of the United States Supreme Court, one without even a concurrence, without the hint of disagreement along the bench, is a little like yelling at the umpire.  You know you’re not going to change the call.  You just hope that the ump looks at the next pitch a little more carefully. 

When the Supreme Court issued Florida v. Harris on February 19, 2013, we found some reason to be hopeful that the Court’s decision would not lead to a decline in the standards of training and testing of narcotics detection dogs, and that field records would continue to be maintained for administrative purposes even though their relevance in criminal prosecutions was largely sidelined by the Court’s perspective.  Justice Kagan, after all, had written that the defendant could “contest the adequacy of a certification or training program, perhaps asserting that its standards are too lax or its methods faulty.”  Also, she acknowledged that field records “may sometimes be relevant.” She had referred to the possibility of undermining the government’s assertion of probable cause from the dog’s alert by providing evidence that the dog had been cued by the handler to alert, though by declaring field records largely irrelevant she had made it difficult for the defense to gather some of the most important evidence that might support a cueing argument. 

We did not expect at the time Harris was handed down that some prosecutors would begin recommending field records be minimized, maintained no longer than necessary for administrative purposes, or worse yet destroyed so that statistics could not easily be gathered that might show that dogs were alerting in far more instances than the probabilities of drug use among the population would suggest were likely.  We did not expect that Justice Kagan’s words would be seen by law enforcement as confirming that there was no easier way to get into a car than to call for a drug dog, reliable or not.  As long as the dog gets there in an hour or so, there is probable cause.

We have been provided a copy of a dash cam video by a reporter with a major newspaper in which a deputy sheriff can be heard explaining to a ride-along, as the officer waits for the arrival of a K-9 team to conduct a sniff of a car he has pulled over on an Interstate, that the safest bet is not to try to justify a search based on circumstantial evidence but rather just to wait for the dog because that makes it easy for the courts, they don’t really need to hear anything else.  The stop involved was on a drug corridor on the side of an Interstate where cash is more often found, as in fact happened, not on the side where the drugs usually move.  The money was the real purpose of the stop.  There was not even any intent to make an arrest, rather just a desire to get the motorist to say that the money was not his, that it had been abandoned, so that it could be forfeited without further protest and thereby supplement the coffers of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.  Our analysis of the video suggests the very real possibility of intentional cueing. 

The Supreme Court has effectively blessed a shakedown industry that is becoming popular with certain elements in law enforcement across the country.  We explain why this is happening in an article that appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Animal and Natural Resource Law of Michigan State University. 

John Ensminger and L.E. Papet 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Service Dog Barred from International Flight; After Pre-Trial Ruling Opens Way for Monetary Damages, Parties Settle

Traveling with a dog or cat to Canada is easy as long as you have a veterinarian’s certificate stating the animal has been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years, unless the dog or cat is younger than three months, in which case it must be in good health when it arrives.  As to assistance dogs, a Canadian government website for travelers explains that if the animal is certified as a guide, hearing, or other service dog, there are no restrictions on the user being accompanied by the dog while in Canada.  A website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency explains that certification for a service dog consists of documentation “by a recognized organization.”  If the service dog was self-trained, or not trained by a “recognized organization,” it could still travel as a pet as long as the owner had proof of rabies vaccination.  Presumably most travelers with service dogs make some kind of effort to get a relatively official looking letter stating that the dog is capable of providing services related to a disability.

Although no certification requirement will apply to a domestic destination, flying with a service dog into Canada is not much different from flying with one from New York to Los Angeles.  An airline in either instance must accept as evidence that an animal is a service animal (1) the credible verbal assurances of the individual with the disability who uses the animal, (2) the presence of harnesses, (3) tags, or (4) identification cards or other written documentation. In the Department of Transportation’s Draft Technical Assistance Manual on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel (explaining to airline personnel regulations finalized in 2008), airlines are told the following regarding the placement of service animals in cabins:

“You must permit a service animal used by a passenger with a disability to accompany the passenger on his or her flight…. In addition, you must permit a service animal to accompany a passenger with a disability to the passenger’s assigned seat and remain there if the animal does not obstruct the aisle or other areas that must remain unobstructed to facilitate an emergency evacuation…. The service animal must be allowed to accompany the passenger unless it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or presents a significant threat of disruption to the cabin service.”

Specifically as to seating, the Manual states: “For a passenger with a disability traveling with a service animal, you must provide, as the passenger requests, either a bulkhead seat or a seat other than a bulkhead seat.”

If the animal is an emotional support animal, the airline can insist on a letter on the letterhead of a licensed mental health professional, including a medical doctor, specifically treating the passenger’s mental or emotional disability stating (1) the passenger has a disability contained in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (2) the passenger needs the service animal as an accommodation for air travel or for activity at the destination, (3) the provider of the letter is a licensed mental health or medical professional treating the individual for the mental or emotional disability, and (4) the date and type of license of the professional.

Particularly relevant to the case about to be described, the Manual provides:

“Note that carriers are required to carry service animals even if the animal may offend or annoy carrier personnel or persons traveling on the aircraft…. [I]f you refuse to accept an animal as a service animal, you must explain the reason for your decision to the passenger and document it in writing.”

As to destinations outside the U.S., the Manual tells airlines:  “You must promptly take all steps necessary to comply with foreign regulations such as animal health regulations, to permit the transportation of a passenger’s service animal from the United States to a foreign destination.”

Thus, Canadian and U.S. law make it easy to fly into Canada with a service dog and use the dog during the visit.  This was not to be true for one Florida couple, however, as a recent case describes.  Adler v. WestJet Airlines, Ltd., No. 13-62824, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92332 (DC So. Dist. Fla., July 8, 2014). 

Flight from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto

Barry and Melissa Adler bought tickets from WestJet Airlines to fly from Fort Lauderdale to Toronto on September 18, 2012.  Melissa, according to an opinion by Judge James I. Cohn of the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida, “suffers from numerous medical conditions and must be accompanied by a service animal.”  She sought advance approval from WestJet to bring her four-pound Yorkshire terrier on the flight and received a form letter from WestJet, in which the dog is described as an emotional support animal.   

(If I were advising an airline on such a letter, I would recommend that it explicitly state that, if the dog caused a significant disruption in cabin service, it might have to be removed from the cabin.  The Manual provides that a service animal "must be allowed to accompany the passenger unless it poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or presents a significant threat of disruption to the cabin service." Such a statement could help deter people making bogus service animal claims to get their pets into the cabin and could remind people whose service animals are not fully trained or which might not react well to the stress of a flight that they should perhaps put the animal in cargo.  If this letter is standardly sent in response to requests to travel with emotional support animals, it is not clear why it does not ask for a supporting letter from a medical or mental health professional, though an airline certainly does not have to request such a letter. It is also possible that WestJet has several form letters for service animal requests. The complaint does indicate that written documentation was supplied by the Adlers prior to receipt of the letter from WestJet.)

According to the complaint, Melissa had specifically requested, and had been assigned, an aisle seat for herself and the dog.  On the day of the flight, the Adlers arrived at the gate with their boarding passes but “were told that WestJet’s senior flight attendant felt that Melissa’s dog would disturb other passengers.  WestJet thus moved the Adlers from their reserved seats to another pair of seats where the flight attendant thought the Adlers would cause less disruption.”

The court’s description continues:

“The Adlers boarded the airplane and took their newly assigned seats…. While waiting for take-off, Melissa took various medications, including some meant to induce sleep.... Melissa soon fell asleep with her dog on her lap….  While Melissa slept, Barry remarked to the flight attendant who had required them to change their seats that Melissa's dog was not causing any disturbance…. The flight attendant responded that she was uncomfortable with the Adlers and their dog being on the airplane…. The flight attendant informed Barry that the aircraft would return to the gate, and that the Adlers would have to deplane. Upon reaching the gate, WestJet's personnel required the Adlers to get up and leave the airplane…. [The complaint says that “the flight attendant ordered the Plaintiffs to get up.”]  Unfortunately, Melissa, who had taken sleep-inducing medication, had difficulty standing up and walking off of the aircraft…. The Adlers told the crew that Melissa would have trouble walking to the gate without assistance…. The crew, however, did not provide any assistance, such as a wheelchair, and the Adlers left the airplane under their own power.... At the gate, Barry demanded an explanation for their removal from the airplane, but received none.”

The complaint adds that at the gate, Barry Adler asked to speak with a Conflict Resolution Officer but none was present and none was made available.  He also requested the names of the flight attendants that had removed them from the airplane but no names were given. 

The Adlers went home.  That night, a WestJet official phoned the Adlers and apologized for their removal from the flight and arranged for the Adlers to fly from Miami to Toronto the next day. Undoubtedly someone in the chain of command at WestJet realized that the flight attendant had made a serious mistake, though the seriousness of the error did not become evident to the airline until the Adlers filed their lawsuit in December 2013, over a year after the incident.   

Melissa “suffers from a progressive disease of the nervous system,” which she contended was exacerbated from being forced to walk from the aircraft.  The Adlers also alleged that they were humiliated by being ejected from the airplane.  They asserted three causes of action:
  •  negligence
  •  fraudulent misrepresentation 
  •  negligent training and supervision
WestJet moved to dismiss each of these claims.  Judge Cohn’s opinion concerned his order granting dismissal, but with a right to amend, of several of the claims, and his denial of the motion to dismiss the negligence and negligent training claims.  This will, unfortunately for the law of service animals in flights, be the extent of the law from the case as the parties agreed to a confidential settlement and the federal district judge dismissed the case on August 11, 2014.  Nevertheless, what was decided is very important for those members of the service animal community who fly with their animals. 

Common  Law Negligence

The complaint alleged that WestJet had duties imposed by the Air Carrier Access Act and implementing regulations, but stated that the “lawsuit does not sound in violation of the ACAA, but in common law negligence.”  WestJet argued that Congress did not intend to create a private cause of action for ACAA violations and the Adlers could not assert a negligence claim implicating ACAA standards.  Judge Cohn rejected this argument “because although the ACAA may be relevant to WestJet’s duty of care, the mere fact of its relevance does not convert the Adlers’ negligence claim into a preempted claim to enforce the ACAA.” 

The Eleventh Circuit, in Love v. Delta AirLines, 310 F.3d 1247 (11th Cir. 2002), rejected a suit in which a disabled individual sought an injunction requiring Delta to comply with the ACAA, but Judge Cohn determined that the Adlers were not trying to enforce the ACAA as their claim was “one for simple negligence under state law,” and he found that the ACAA did not preempt their state-law claims.  Other cases, according to Judge Cohn, “have concluded that the ACAA, though it may not create a stand-alone cause of action for disability discrimination, does not preempt state-law negligence claims for injuries related to a failure to provide appropriate accommodations on airplanes.”  See, e.g., Gilstrap v. United Air Lines, Inc., 209 F.3d 995 (9th Cir. 2013); Elassaad v. Independence Air, Inc., 613 F.3d 119 (3rd Cir. 2010); Gill v. JetBlue Airways Corp., 836 F. Supp. 2d 33 (D.C. Mass. 2011). The court accepted, however, that “although the ACAA does not entirely foreclose claims by disabled individuals asserting injuries other than discrimination against air carriers, it does abrogate conflicting state-law standards of care.”

In order to establish common law negligence under Florida law, the Adlers would have to establish (1) a duty or obligation requiring the defendant to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risks, (2) a failure to conform to that standard, (3) a reasonably close causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury, and (4) actual loss or damage.  The standard involved could, under Judge Cohn’s ruling, be based on ACAA requirements.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

Since WestJet provided written permission to Melissa that she could fly with a service animal, the Adlers alleged that this “written representation by WestJet was a false statement concerning a material fact.”  Judge Cohn said that under Florida law:

“[A] plaintiff asserting a claim for fraudulent misrepresentation must allege a misrepresentation concerning a past or existing fact; promises of future action are usually insufficient…. A promise can support a fraud claim, however, when the promisor had no intention of performing at the time the promise was made. This is because a statement of the promisor's present intent is considered a statement of present fact…. [T]he Adlers were required to plead that WestJet had no intention to allow the dog on the airplane at the time of its promise.” 

The judge determined that the Adlers pleadings on this issue were “too conclusory to supply the necessary allegations of intent,” but he did consider it possible that “the Adlers may be able to remedy this deficiency through supplemented allegations.”  This claim was dismissed with leave to amend. 

Negligent Supervision

As to the third claim, Judge Cohn noted that it was really two claims:

“WestJet contends that the Adlers have failed to plead a claim under Count III of their Complaint, for negligent training and supervision, because they do not allege that WestJet had notice that any of its employees were unfit for their jobs. Though plaintiffs often bring claims for negligent training and negligent supervision together, the two causes of action are distinct, and only a negligent supervision claim requires the plaintiff to allege that an employer knew or should have known that its employee was unfit. Accordingly, the Court will dismiss Count III only insofar as it alleges negligent supervision, and will allow the Adlers to proceed on a theory of negligent training.” 

Judge Cohn elaborated on the negligent training issue as follows:

“Drawing all permissible inferences in the Adlers' favor, the Complaint also pleads sufficient facts to show that the Adlers, as passengers on a WestJet flight, were in a reasonably foreseeable zone of risk from the actions of WestJet's flight crew, such that a legal duty of care in training the flight crew ran from WestJet directly to the Adlers. Accordingly, the Court finds that the Adlers have pled sufficient facts to sustain Count III on a theory of negligent training.”

Montreal Convention

The prior arguments could apply to a domestic flight as well as to an international flight, but WestJet added an additional preemption argument that could only apply to an international flight.  WestJet argued that all of the Adlers’ claims were preempted by the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, commonly known as the Montreal Convention.  The Convention has 107 signatories, including the United States and Canada.  In Article 17, the Convention provides:

“The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking.” 

An accident has been defined as including an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger,” which Judge Cohn determined could include “a flight crew’s unexpected and unusual response to a passenger’s medical condition….”  The injuries of the Adlers were within the scope of the Convention, which expressly provides for recovery of certain personal injury claims subject to certain limitations on liability.  The Convention’s liability limitations are complex, but for present purposes, limit some recoveries to under $200,000 if an injury was not due to a carrier’s negligence.  Judge Cohn ruled that the Montreal Convention permitted the Adlers to “proceed on state-law claims within the scope of the Convention, subject to the Convention’s limitations on liability.”


Having failed to derail most of the Adlers’ lawsuit, perhaps facing considerable liability from a trial, WestJet agreed to settle.  The particulars of the agreement reached by the parties were not provided in filed documents nor to my knowledge made public and I do not know the size of the settlement. Monetary issues might not have been the only factor encouraging WestJet to settle.  The claim for negligent training involved reputation risk.  No airline wants bad press concerning its training programs at a time when security issues are paramount in the public’s mind.   

WestJet’s quick apology the night of the event suggests that the ejection of the service dog may have happened in part because this was an international flight.  Crews on domestic flights are more likely to know about service animal rules, whereas taking a service dog on an international flight is less common. The crew may have even been based in Canada. In any case, the owner of the service animal has to be sure that he or she will be able to use it in the foreign country, and some foreign countries still limit recognition of service animals to guide dogs.  One does not want to take a service animal aboard a flight only to discover that it will be required to go into quarantine at the destination.  Many people will not want the headaches of preparing in advance for such possibilities, even though Canada is quite relaxed in this regard.    

The analysis by Judge Cohn concerning the incorporation of the ACAA standard into state negligence concepts on the duty of care will be important in subsequent lawsuits where airlines do not accept service animals, and will no doubt also be cited in negligence cases where the entity denying admittance is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The negligent training and supervision claims will be made in similar cases in the future, though pleading will be refined as a result of Judge Cohn’s decision.  Airline defendants may try to refine the Montreal Convention argument that WestJet tried.  This is a significant case in service animal law. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Once a Companion to the Sun God, the Mexican Wolf Now Faces Extinction

Proposed Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area (revised July 2014)
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has announced additional changes to rules it initially proposed in June 2013 regarding the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area.  This is an area where the seriously threatened population of Mexican wolves is to be protected.  It is not likely that the expansion of the area now being proposed by the agency will actually improve the chances of survival for this subspecies of the gray wolf, but it is a step in the right direction. 

Before providing some detail about the proposed changes, it is appropriate to say something about this animal that is now considered a subspecies of the gray wolf.  The subspecies designation is recent, but this wolf’s history includes a thousand years of special status in pre-Columbian cultures during which they were sometimes kept for ritual purposes, perhaps as sacrifices to the sun god as representatives of his companion across the void of night. 

Canis lupus baileyi

Vernon Bailey, 1898 (Smithsonian Archives, Wikipedia)
In 1931, Vernon Bailey (1864-1942) described the Mexican wolf as a “rather small dark-colored wolf, in summer dully tawny, and in winter coat yellowish gray, heavily clouded with black over back and tail.  The skull is smaller and slenderer than the larger, lighter colored wolf of the Great Plains region.”  Adults are on average about five feet long and weigh between 50 and 90 pounds, with a shoulder height between two and two and a half feet.  

Bailey found many of these wolves far from typical and said that some “show evident gradation into the larger, paler wolf of the Great Plains region.” (The wolf was named after Bailey by two of his colleagues at the U.S. Biological Survey, Edward Nelson and Edward Goldman, who described the wolf as a separate subspecies in the Journal of Mammalogy in 1929.)  Genetic analysis (Garcia-Moreno et al. 1996; Leonard et al. 2005) has concluded that Mexican wolves are “the most distinct grouping of gray wolves,“ supporting their designation as an endangered subspecies.

Bailey described the Mexican wolf’s range in the United States as “mainly within the Upper Sonoran and the Transition Zones, and their greatest abundance has long been in the open grazing country of the Gila National Forest.”  Fish & Wildlife includes Mexico in its range description:

“Mexican wolves historically inhabited montane woodlands and adjacent grasslands in northern Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona and the Trans-Pecos region of western Texas ... at elevations of 4000-5000 ft. where ungulate prey were numerous …. The subspecies may have also ranged north into southern Utah and southern Colorado within zones of intergradation where interbreeding with other gray wolf subspecies may have occurred…. The southernmost extent of the Mexican wolf’s range in Mexico is consistently portrayed as ending near Oaxaca…. Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico inhabit evergreen pine-oak woodlands (i.e., Madrean woodlands), pinyon-juniper woodlands (i.e., Great Basin conifer forests), and mixed conifer montane forests (i.e., Rocky Mountain, or petran, forests) that are inhabited by elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer.”

Bailey wrote as early as 1906 that these wolves were a problem for local stockmen.  While camped at the head of the Mimbres River, Bailey reported that he “could count on about four wolves passing his station every two or three nights.” Occasionally he encountered bands of six or eight or even more.  Interbreeding with dogs was also occurring:

“In this rocky country they were traveling almost entirely in the trails and roads to save their feet from the sharp, stony surface outside. They had little fear of the ranches and often passed close to the buildings and killed stock as freely within the pasture as outside. At one ranch on the Mimbres below camp several wolves had been shot in the pasture from the house. A huge black, half wolf and half dog, which was kept chained in the corral at the Mimbres store, had been raised from a large mongrel bitch that had been visited by a male wolf at night, and this only remaining member of her litter was unmistakably as much wolf as dog, except for the color. It was a savage brute and considered too dangerous to run at large.”

Bailey reported that “they had no trouble in finding cattle of any age or condition,” which they preferred to deer, “which are more nimble and not so easily caught.”  Occasionally they ate jack-rabbits.  Bailey reported that the wolves were particularly active at night:

“At night they make long trips into distant localities where they make their kills. When the young are small the food is always swallowed and later disgorged at the den for the little fellows. The food is thus partly masticated and is more easily digested. As the pups become stronger, large pieces of calves and yearlings, as well as antelope and other game, are carried to the den. The heads of calves and game animals, as well as other bones, are brought in great numbers, no doubt chiefly for the young to play with and for the necessary development of teeth and jaws.”

Days are quieter:

“They generally lie about the den during the day and keep a close watch. In leaving the den on the approach of man, they will usually move off over the highest points in order to command a back view. They very often howl when their young are approached or molested. Both young and old wolves sleep much in midday, but at other times they are very active.”

Bailey Notes on Photograph (Smithsonian archives, Wikipedia)
As to where the animals construct burrows, Bailey said that in “rough country they are generally found in a crevice or natural cavity, usually in the rim of a mesa. Even where there are suitable places among the rocks, badger burrows are often enlarged to the desired size and depth. Sometimes the den is prepared under the roots of an upturned tree, and it is common to find the young in holes in solid rock, where they can be obtained only by blasting.”

As indicated by the previous sentence, despite his devotion to biology, Bailey was not concerned with preserving all members of the species.  Nevertheless, he did not believe they should suffer in being caught.  A photograph with Bailey’s hand-written notes, taken from papers now in the Smithsonian, indicates his concern with steel traps.  The current regulations prohibit certain traps, such as neck snares. Traps now also to be “appropriately sized,” so that an Interagency Field Team can arrange for radio-collaring and releasing the wolf. 50 CFR 17.84(k)(5)(iii)(C)

In 1916, J. Stokley Ligon (1879-1961), who worked for the U.S. Biological Survey, estimated that a single adult wolf costs ranchers between $1,200 and $1,500 per year (up from $25,000 in present dollars).  Bailey wrote that forest guards, rangers, and local and outside trappers were all killing the wolves, such that by the 1920s they had become so rare that they “were too scattered to make professional trapping for the bounty profitable.” 

Numbering in the thousands before European settlement, there were only dozens of Mexican wolves left by the 1930s. 

Wolf Mural, Teotihuacan, Atetelco Compound (Wikimedia)
Wolves at Teotihuacan

The Mexican wolf was well known to pre-Columbian cultures.  Archeologists excavating pyramids at Teotihuacan, a site 25 miles north of Mexico City, have concluded that the inhabitants bred wolves with dogs, which were used in rituals and eaten, as the bones at excavations display cut marks.  Some bones were cooked but the heads and faces could be used for priest and warrior attires.  

The burials date from the 7th to the 16th centuries AD, but most were dated from 600 to 950 AD.  Pumas may also have been bred in captivity for ritual purposes.Sugiyama (2013) notes that such carnivores “dominated the landscape and their status as top predators no doubt added to their symbolic value.”   Animal burials in tunnels, passages to the underworld, included wolves, coyotes, dogs, and wolf-dog hybrids. The hybrids were not as large as Mexican wolves, but morphology suggests they were bred from Mexican wolves. 

Domus Animalium, 1524 Nuremberg Manuscript
Analysis of strontium and zinc in the bones of hybrids establishes that they had a primarily herbivorous diet, suggesting that they did not roam freely but were kept in captivity and fed by humans who gave them only minimal access to meat.  Dogs, in contrast, seem generally to have had more meat in their diet. This suggests to Valadez et al. (2002), in a particularly elegant piece of archeological research, that the hybrids were kept isolated for ritual purposes.  Chronicles of later peoples, such as the Aztecs, say dogs ate the same food as people but were not given raw meat because of a belief that this would make them too aggressive.  The animals were oriented to the west in the Teotihuacan burials, which is interpreted by Valadez et al. (2002) as likely meaning that they were sacrificed in rituals concerning the passage of the sun.  Xolotl, an Indian god with a dog shape, was the sun’s night companion.  Xolotl may have been conceived of as a wolf, but the hybrids were more tractable and could accompany humans in rituals just as Xolotl accompanied the sun. Dog skeletons found in quarry tunnels at Teotihuacan were described by Manzanilla et al. (1996) as  perhaps being "conceived as guides to the underworld." The universal nature of dogs as guides to the underworld was the subject of a blog about Anubis and Cerberus several years ago

Not all websites designate the Teotihuacan mural shown here as being of a wolf as Valadez et al. do.  I have found at least one that called it a leopard.  I find it easiest to think of the figure as that of a canid by imagining it without the headdress and the feather-like rows above the back and behind the tail. I do not presently know if there is any speculation about the possibility that the depiction might show a wolf wearing something of a costume, with a headdress.

There is evidence that the Teotihuacans and other pre-Columbian cultures maintained buildings where wild animals were kept, the best known of which is the House of the Animals (domus animalium) in the Aztec capital.  The structure is labeled on the Nuremberg map of Mexico City published in 1524, and was adjacent to the central plaza of the city. Its function for the Aztecs was at least partially to be a zoo for entertainment, but being near the temple complex, the animals may have been fed on the torsos of sacrificial victims. The House of the Animals is labeled in the lower left of the portion of the map reproduced above.  The animals, mostly birds, are in square cubicles below the label.       

Florentine Codex, Book VIII
Evans (2000) says the Mexico City zoo-aviary complex “had specimens from all over Mexico, and sculpted images of varieties that could not survive in the Central Highlands.  These were made of stone and precious metals, and recall Tenochtitlan's precious metal 'House of Birds' ….”  This complex was taken over by the Franciscan order in 1529, as St. Francis of Assisi’s love of animals made this an appropriate syncretism.  Brother Bernardino de Sahagun described caregivers for holding the animals of the forest, including jaguars, wolves, mountain lions, and bobcats (cuidadores de animals silvestres, jaguares, lobos, leones de montana, linces). The figure from the Florentine Codex shows what may be a caregiver with various birds and wild animals. 

Beginning of Protection for the Mexican Wolf

The Mexican wolf was listed as an endangered subspecies in 1976 (41 Fed. Reg. 17740, April 28, 1976), followed in 1978 by listing the entire gray wolf species in North America south of Canada as endangered, except in Minnesota where the designation was threatened (43 Fed. Reg. 9607, March 9, 1978).  The 1982 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan called for establishing a captive breeding program along with reintroduction of wolves to the wild. Breeding programs were conducted at locations such as the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility south of Albuquerque.  The Fish & Wildlife photograph shows the fenced areas of the Facility. 

Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility (FWS)
Wayne and Hedrick (2011) state that all "Mexican wolves alive today descend from three captive lineages founded between 1960 and 1980 from a total of seven wolves.”   In 1998, 13 Mexican wolves were reintroduced to the wild near the border between New Mexico and Arizona.  Although, the population had begun to increase, there were still only 42 wolves in the area in January 2010, in part because 32 wolves had been illegally killed.  Wayne and Hedrick state that only two killers were identified and successfully prosecuted.  Many animals were also removed from protected areas due to depredation claims (after which they may be kept for a time in places like the Sevilleta Facility).  These researchers state:

“Given expected rates of wolf removal and killing, we suggest that for recovery of Mexican wolves three populations, each simultaneously having 250 animals for 8 years (approximately two generations) is the minimum necessity.”

They suggest that Mexican wolves could also be introduced to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and certain Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado sites.  This suggestion was not taken up by the Fish & Wildlife Service. The Interagency Field Team estimated that there were 83 Mexican wolves in the wild in 2013, up from 75 in 2012.  It is not clear if such numbers would be accepted by other conservation scientists.

Carroll et al. (2013) note that “a population derived from inbred and interrelated founders generally must have a larger census population size than a population derived from outbred and unrelated individuals.”  Because the Mexican wolves now in the wild come from such a small number of founders, this group says that “viability of the existing wild population is uncertain unless additional populations can be created and linked by dispersal….”  Nevertheless, the models of this research group give reason to hope that the Mexican wolf may indeed survive. 

Proposed Enlargement of Experimental Population Area

The changes now proposed by Fish & Wildlife involve expanding the areas within which Mexican wolves can be released, and in which they can disperse and occupy, extending the southern boundary of the MWEPA from I-10 to the Mexican border in New Mexico and Arizona, and changing some definitions and rules regarding when wolves can be taken while attacking livestock and non-feral dogs or to manage ungulate populations.  Livestock is defined in a draft environmental impact statement as cattle, sheep, horses, mules, burros, llamas, and alpacas. For purposes of the proposal: “Take means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.”  An “unintentional take” is coincidental to an otherwise lawful activity, so it does not include poisoning or shooting.  “Harass” is defined as “intentional or negligent actions or omissions that create the likelihood of injury to wildlife by annoying it to such an extent as to significantly disrupt normal behavioral patterns, which include, but are not limited to, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.”

Attaching Radio Collar (2013 Draft Environmental Impact Statement)
The changes are most easily explained by reference to the zones in the map reproduced at the beginning of this blog.  Zone 1 is where Mexican wolves can be released or translocated.  Translocation is the release of Mexican wolves into the wild that were previously in the wild, and may involve giving the animal a radio collar. This Zone contains the Apache, Gila, and Sitgreaves National Forests, as well as parts of the Tonto and Cibola National Forests.  

Zone 2 is where Mexican wolves would be allowed to disperse naturally, and where Mexican wolves may be tranlocated.  On federal land in Zone 2, initial releases would be of pups less than five months old.  On private and tribal lands in Zone 2, Mexican wolves of any age can be released, but there must be a state-approved agreement with private landowners or a Fish & Wildlife-approved agreement with tribal agencies.  Thus, private landowners may collectively be able to limit such releases of wolves in the areas of their ranches. 

Neither initial releases nor translocations are to occur in Zone 3, but Mexican wolves will be allowed to disperse and occupy this area.  The preamble to the 2014 proposal describes this Zone as “an area of less suitable Mexican wolf habitat and where wolves will be more actively managed….” Zone 3 is not contiguous as part of it is in western Arizona and part is in eastern and southern New Mexico. 

Fish & Wildlife explains that it is extending the southern boundary of the MWEPA to the Mexican border because the Mexican Government is attempting to reintroduce Mexican wolves, which may disperse north into southern Arizona and New Mexico. 

Predator Damage Management

The new proposal provides that USDA employees involved in predator damage management may take Mexican wolves under certain circumstances.  Owners of domestic animals, including livestock and pets, may take Mexican wolves in the act of biting, killing, or wounding a domestic animal.  If there is a pattern of livestock or pet kills by Mexican wolves, and Fish & Wildlife or an agency or party designated by it has failed to stop the problem, Fish & Wildlife can issue a permit to a domestic animal owner or to an owner’s employees or land manager, or to local officials, to take Mexican wolves, including allowing permit holders to harass and kill the wolves.  “Permits issued under this provision will specify the number of days for which the permit is valid and the maximum number of Mexican wolves for which take is allowed.”

Livestock Guarding Dogs

The 2013 proposal provided that throughout the MWEPA, Mexican wolves could be taken by livestock guarding dogs “when used in the traditional manner to protect livestock on public, tribal, and private lands.”  The July 2014 proposal retains this, though the reporting mechanism for such a take is now more specific.  Whereas the 2013 proposal said that such a take “must be reported to the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator or a designated representative of the [Fish & Wildlife] Service within 24 hours,” the new proposal provides the following on when and where a take of a Mexican wolf must be reported:

Illegally Killed Wolf with Radio Collar (2013 Draft Environmental Statement)
“Unless otherwise specified in this rule or in a permit, any take of a Mexican wolf must be reported to the Service or a designated agency within 24 hours. We will allow additional reasonable time if access to the site is limited. Report any take of Mexican wolves, including opportunistic harassment [as opposed to intentional or planned harassment], to the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, 2105 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113; by telephone 505–761–4748; or by facsimile 505–346–2542. Additional contact information can also be found on the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program’s Web site at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/.  Unless otherwise specified in a permit, any wolf or wolf part taken legally must be turned over to the Service, which will determine the disposition of any live or dead wolves.”

Hybrids and Feral Dogs

The proposed rules allow Fish & Wildlife or any designated agency to “capture; kill; subject to genetic testing; place in captivity; or euthanize any feral wolf-like animal or feral wolf hybrid found within the MWEPA that shows physical or behavioral evidence of: Hypbridization with other canids, such as domestic dogs or coyotes; being a wolf-like animal raised in captivity, other than as part of a service-approved wolf recovery program; or being socialized or habituated to humans.” Nevertheless, if a canid is “determined to be a pure Mexican wolf, the wolf may be returned to the wild.” For a subspecies of wolf close to extinction, the latitude given officials to shoot first and conduct tests later is disturbing.  A more careful set of criteria should be drafted. 

Protecting Wild Ungulates

If Arizona or New Mexico determines that Mexican wolf predation is having an impact on wild ungulate herds—herds of pronghorn and bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and bison, the state may request approval from Fish & Wildlife to remove wolves from the area of the ungulate herd. Approval allows the state to capture and translocate wolves inside the MWEPA.  Occasionally approval may be granted to a state to kill wolves in such circumstances. Granting such requests very often will probably doom the reintroduction program.


Mexican Wolves (FWS)
Wayne and Hedrick (2011) observe that in the U.S., “wolf conservation policy and management has often been schizophrenic, ranging from predator control and open hunting to reintroduction and absolute protection.”  This schizophrenia is particularly evident with the Mexican wolf, which even Bailey, the naturalist whose name was given to the subspecies, helped eradicate from parts of New Mexico in the early 20th century.    

I believe that ranchers have the right to protect their flocks, so I hope that that these wolves will be content with bighorn sheep, deer, and other game that was theirs to hunt before the domestic herds arrived.  The extension of the wolf population area south to the Mexican border may allow some of the wolves reintroduced in northern Mexico a place to live, but only greater efforts than have been made so far will assure the survival of this wolf.    

The blog was written by John Ensminger and L.E. Papet. 


Bailey, Vernon (1931). Mammals of New Mexico. Washington, DC: USDA Bureau of Biological Survey.

Blanco, A., Perez, G., Rodriguez, B., Sugiyama, N., Torres, F., and Valadez, R. (2009). El Zoologico de Moctesuma: Mito o Realidad? Asociacion Mexicana de Medicos Veterinarios Especialistas en Pequenas Espedes-AMMVEPE, 20(2), 28-39.

Boone, Elizabeth Hill (2011). This New World Now Revealed: Hernan Cortes and the Presentation of Mexico to Europe. Word & Image, 27(1), 31-46 (noting that the zoo, Domus animalium, was a great curiosity to the Spaniards).

Brown, D. E. 1983. The Wolf in the Southwest: The Making of an Endangered Species. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Carroll, C., Phillips, M.K., Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A., and Schumaker, N.H. (2006). Defining Recovery Goals and Strategies for Endangered Species: The Wolf as a Case Study.  BioScience, 56, 25-37. 

Carroll, C., Frederickson, R.J., and Lacy, R.C. (2013).  Developing Metropopulation Connectivity Criteria from Genetic and Habitat Data to Recover the Endangered Mexican Wolf.  Conservation Biology, 28(1), 76-86.

Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service.  Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf, RIN 1018-AY46, 79 Federal Register 43358 (July 25, 2014).

Evans, Susan Toby (2000).  Aztec Royal Pleasure Parks: Conspicuous Consumption and Elite Status Rivalry. Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, 20(3), 206-228.

Fredrickson, R.J., Siminski, P., Woolf, M., and Hedrick, P.W. (2007).   Genetic Rescue and Inbreeding Depression in Mexican Wolves.  Proc. R. Soc. B., 274, 2365-2371.  DOI:10.1098/rspb.2007.0785 (finding “there is still potential to establish vigorous wild populations”).

Garcia-Moreno, J., Matocq, M.D., Roy, M.S., Geffen, E., and Wayne, R.K. (1996).  Relationships and Genetic Purity of the Endangered Mexican Wolf Based on Analysis of Microsatellite Loci.  Conservation Biology, 10(2), 376-389. 

Hedrick, P.W., Lee, R.N., and Parker, K.M. (2000). Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) Variation in the Endangered Mexican Wolf and Related Canids.  Heredity, 85, 617-624 (“combining the three Mexican wolf lineages (adding the Ghost Ranch and Aragon lineages to the McBride lineage) would increase  genetic variation in the captive population.”).

Leonard, J.A., Vila, C., and Wayne, R.K. (2005). Legacy Lost: Genetic Variability and Population Size of Extirpated US Grey Wolves (Canis lupus).  Molecular Ecology 14, 9–17.

Manzanilla, Linda, Lopez, Claudia, and Freter, AnnCorinne (1996). Dating Results from Excavations in Quarry Tunnels behind the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan.  Ancient Mesoamerica, 7, 245-266.  

Mundy, Barbara E. (1998). Mapping the Aztec Capital: The 1524 Nuremberg Map of Tenochtiltlan, Its Sources and Meanings. Imago Mundi, 50, 11-33 (giving Monteucsoma gardens and zoos put him in a context Europeans would understand).

Nelson, E. W. and Goldman, E. A. (1929), A new wolf from Mexico, Journal of Mammalogy, 10, 165–166.

Wolf Pups at Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility  (FWS)
Parsons, D.R. (1996). Case Study: The Mexican Wolf.  In New Mexico’s Natural Heritage: Biological Diversity in the Land of Enchantment.  New Mexico Journal of Science, 36, 101-123. 

Sugiyama, N. (2013).  Animal Management, Preparation and Sacrifice: Reconstructing Burial 6 at the Moon Pyramid, Teotihuacan, Mexico.  Anthropozoologica, 48(2), 467-485.

Sugiyama, Nawa, Sugiyama, Saburo, and Sarabia, Alejandro (2013). Inside the Sun Peryamed at Teotihuacan, Mexico: 2008-2011 Excavations and Preliminary Results. Latin American Antiquity, 24(4), 403-432 (noting wolf skull found in offering chamber of sun temple).

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Southwest Region (201). Mexican Wolf Conservation Assessment.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Southwestern Regional Office, Mexican Wolf Recovery Program (Augus 2013). Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Revision to the Nonessential Experimental Population of the Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus bileyi) and the Implementation of a Management Plan: Preliminary Draft.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Public Affairs Office (July 2014). FAQs: Proposal to Revise Mexican Wolf 10(j) Rule: Frequently Asked Questions.

Valadez, Raul, Rodriguez, Bernardo, Manzanilla, Linda, and Tejeda, Samuel (2002). Dog-wolf Hybrid Biotype Reconstruction from the Archaeological City of Teotihuacan in Prehispanic Central Mexico.  9th ICAZ Conference, Durham 2002.  Dog and People in Social, Working, Economic or Symbolic Interaction (Snyder, L.M., and Moore, E.A., eds).

Wayne, R., and Hedrick, P. (2011). Genetics and Conservation in the American West: Lessons and Challenges. Heredity, 107(1), 16-19.