Animal Treatment

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Long-time animal rights proponent People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) this year has just a handful of proposals, reiterating previous concerns. Companies have lodged challenges to all of them and few if any votes seem likely. One already has been omitted and one withdrawn.

The withdrawal came at Chevron, where PETA wanted the company to stop giving any charitable contributions to Texas A&M University, “where dogs suffer in painful and deadly muscular dystrophy experiments.” The group withdrew, citing “productive discussion,” but Chevron also had challenged the proposal at the SEC, arguing it concerned ordinary business grounds because it targeted a specific charity, an argument that was likely to succeed. The withdrawal came before any SEC response.

Eli Lilly successfully challenged a resolution asking about “disturbing mistreatment of animals at external research organizations with which our Company has conducted business,” when the SEC agreed with the company’s contention that its current disclosures make the request for another report on contract laboratory policies and procedures moot.

At Home Depot, PETA is asking for an end to the sale of glue traps for rodents, “because they cause egregious suffering to mice, pose a danger to other wildlife and companion animals, and are a human health hazard,” but the company is arguing it is ordinary business since it concerns the sale of a specific product, and does not focus on a significant policy issue. The first argument has succeeded in the past.

PETA at Laboratory Corporate of America seeks “an annual report to shareholders on the measures [the company] is taking to correct and prevent further U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) citations for violations of animal protection laws,” which the company says is both ordinary business and moot.

The SeaWorld Entertainment proposal is a continuation of PETA’s longstanding effort to change how SeaWorld uses animals in entertainment. It asks:

…in order to reverse the escalating decline in SeaWorld’s value and global reputation—as evidenced by a steady drop in visitor attendance as the public learns that animals suffer and die in cramped SeaWorld tanks; a class-action lawsuit by investors who believe that they were intentionally misled by the corporation; a criminal fraud investigation conducted by the Department of Justice; the recent layoffs of an additional 350 employees, bringing the total to nearly 1,000 since the release of Blackfish; and sinking revenue, including falling average admissions revenue per visitor and declining in-park spending—the shareholders urge the board, as a start, to ban all captive breeding in SeaWorld parks.

The company contends at the SEC that it concerns ordinary business, is too vague and cannot be implemented by the company. A previous proposal at the company was omitted on ordinary business grounds in 2017. PETA also withdrew a 2016 resolution to SeaWorld asking it to end its orca breeding program after the company announced it would do so; the company also had challenged that proposal, arguing ordinary business grounds, but the withdrawal came before any SEC response.