Archive for August, 2008

Ellie May

Ellie May

Update #1: A while back, I told you that my sister adopted a pug/french bulldog mix from the Humane Society. Ellie is a darling little girl with huge ears and a sweet disposition. Ellie was one of the pups rescued from Mystic Elegance Kennels in Olmsted County, MN. When we got her, she had had a cyst removed – it had been growing on her forehead and was left untreated. The owner of Mystic Elegance, Shelly Whelan, was selling pugs, boston terriers, french bulldogs and a few other breeds via the internet. At the time of the rescue, there were 131 live rabbits and 73 live adult dogs on the premises. There were also several rotting carcasses of dogs, rabbits and farm animals. Well, I am sad to report that Whelan did indeed regain custody of some of the animals: 15 adult rabbits and their litters, 1 goat with her 2 kids, and 25 adult dogs with their litters. She was fined $10,000 and ordered to keep the animals in more appropriate enclosures. I am so disheartened by this news. I think of little Ellie locked in a kennel all day long and it breaks my heart. She has such a sweet personality — one that has taken quite a while to come out after her unfortunate start in life — and I’m sure the animals Whelan recovered are the same way, and they will never know the joy of living with a loving family, stealing underwear and shoes, and peeing on carpets. They will only know loneliness and suffering. For more information, check out this website and the court order – and PLEASE don’t buy pets over the internet.

* * * *

Update #2: Regarding The Truth About Dolphins in Captivity: A letter to the editor of the Caribbean News Network from former dolphin trainer Richard O’Barry. 38 years ago, O’Barry left the captive dolphin industry and has been educating the public about its evils ever since. This letter is extremely well written and highlights many of the things I touched on in my post. O’Barry also wrote a book called Behind the Dolphin Smile.

Read Full Post »

A 14 year old girl in rural Argentina gave birth to a baby boy and abandoned the child in a field outside the town of La Plata (not far from Buenos Aires).  The following day a neighbor heard the baby crying and went to investigate.  It was then that the man saw that the baby was being protected by La China, his dog who had recently given birth to a litter of puppies.  La China had apparently carried the infant about 50 meters from where he had been abandoned to where her puppies were huddled.  In the 37 degree weather, the boy would have died without the dog’s intervention.  Amazingly, aside from a few minor scratches, the boy was perfectly fine.

La China’s guardian says the dog is a hero, and is a bit overwhelmed by her new found fame.  You can watch a video here and see how scared she looks–poor thing!  Hopefully the excitement will die down a bit and she’ll be able to raise her puppies in peace.

Stories like this make me wonder why humans can’t be more like dogs, honestly.  La China didn’t care that this baby wasn’t her own species, she just knew that he was helpless, and she took him in – at least that’s what I think!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be so compassionate?

Read Full Post »

You need to go watch this awesome video, courtesy of Non-violence United. It’s about the environmental impact of eating meat and dairy products vs. going vegan; the global food shortage; your health; and the human/non-human animal disconnect.  It’s 11 minutes out of your day and more information than you can shake a stick at!

No disturbing images (ok, there are a couple of dead sea-life, but aside from that…), no anger or aggression – just information! Check it out now and see how you can help the people, the planet, and the animals.

Read Full Post »

I thought it would be kind of fun/interesting to post a couple of the ridiculous questions I’ve gotten since I became vegan. These are my two favorites:

“If you were stranded on an island with only your dog, and you ran out of all other food, would you kill your dog and eat him?”

Um. No. No, I would not. I also would not eat any children that I may have given birth to on that island – I mean, he is like my CHILD. Secondly, though, why am I stranded on an island with only my dog? And how long was I there that I ate EVERYTHING the island had to offer? Didn’t I pick up any agricultural skills while I was there? Does the island have powers that make people stupid??  Regardless, no, I would not eat my only companion, thankyouverymuch.

“Let’s say you had a cow and you really loved your cow and treated her really well. Then let’s say that cow gave birth, but the baby died of natural causes. Would you milk the cow and drink the milk?”

At the time, I couldn’t think of a good comeback to this, but a friend of mine later gave me this: “If your dog had a litter of puppies and all the puppies died, would you milk the mother and drink it?” Too good–and I really wish I had thought of this in the moment.

Don’t get me wrong – I am more than willing to answer questions for people who are legitimately curious about being vegan….but these particular questions just didn’t strike me as “legitimate”. Call me crazy. No, really, I don’t mind.

Read Full Post »

A friend of mine sent me this article today about a gorilla in a German zoo whose infant passed away on August 16th. The devoted mother refuses to let go of her baby’s body as she is mourning this loss. Seeing this striking image is proof to me that animals have emotions. Like us, they form deep bonds with their offspring, and a loss of that magnitude affects them as it would us. Zookeepers indicate that the gorilla’s behavior is completely normal and happens all the time when an infant dies.

The other thing that struck me about this article was the very last sentence: “She [Gana, this same gorilla] had a female baby in 2007 that now lives at the Stuttgart Zoo.” It’s only August, 2008 right now. Even if Gana gave birth to her other baby in January of 2007, that still falls short of the 2.5-3 year period that mother gorillas nurse and care for their young. This bothers me. Why do we assume that it is okay to take a baby away from her mother after only a year when they are used to being together for 2 to 3 times longer? Oh yes, that’s right: because the Stuttgart Zoo needed a gorilla on display. I suppose it also could be because gorillas usually only give birth once every 4 years – probably because they are still caring for an infant – and if they took the baby away, Gana would be more likely to reproduce again. Either way, it seems to me to be all about humans, with little regard for Gana and her infants. It seems cruel and unnecessary to me, but just goes to show you how humans think they have a monopoly on emotional bonds.

Read Full Post »

On Deer Hunting

I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.

~Ellen DeGeneres

Read Full Post »

Until I read Tom Regan’s book, Empty Cages, I never really thought about dolphins in captivity. I mean, dolphins are beautiful animals, and watching them is mesmerizing. Though I can’t remember a time I’ve paid to go to a show involving dolphins, I know I’ve seen and been amazed by them on TV on a number of occasions. Reading that book, however, opened my eyes to what marine parks across the world don’t want us to know: dolphins are incredibly unhappy in captivity. Some facts:

  • Dolphins are incredibly intelligent. They have unique voices and communicate with each other frequently. They have been known to use tools and to teach their offspring to use tools.
  • Wild dolphins can swim 40 to 100 miles per day – in pools they go around in circles.
  • Many marine parks subject their mammals to hunger so they will perform for their food. Jumping through hoops, tail-walking and playing ball are trained behaviors that do not occur in the wild. Dolphins don’t perform for the love of performing or because they want to please humans – they perform because they are hungry.
  • The dolphins you see at marine parks were probably captured in the wild. They were taken from their families, to whom they were undoubtedly very strongly attached. Their strong bonds have been documented to lead them to stay with injured or ill individuals, even actively helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.
  • Every seven years, half of all dolphins in captivity die from capture shock, pneumonia, intestinal disease, ulcers, chlorine poisoning, and other stress-related illnesses. To the captive dolphin industry, these facts are accepted as routine operating expenses.
  • The average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years; yet half of all captured dolphins die within their first two years of captivity. The survivors last an average of only 5 years in captivity. In addition, 53% of dolphins die within 90 days of capture.

Like other animals, dolphins rely heavily on their families (“pods”). They get love, companionship and a sense of safety from being together. Obviously once they are stolen from their pods to become entertainment for humans, they lose this vital emotional support. It is understandable then that so many of them die — they literally die from heart break.

Dophin Care UK sums it up nicely, I think:

The tragedy of dolphin captivity can be seen between the shows. When the music stops and the cheerful crowds go home, the dolphins resume to lying listlessly on the surface of the water, starring into the barren concrete wall of their tank. There is nothing else for them to do. This is where their journey ends.

How depressing–I can’t imagine how lonely and bored they must feel. I am glad there are groups both in the US and abroad that are doing everything they can to stop the imprisonment of dolphins. In the meantime, please don’t go to these marine parks – you’ll be supporting a cruel, horrible industry and all for what? Just a little entertainment? It’s just not worth it.

Read Full Post »

I recently celebrated my 28th birthday, and one of the gifts I received was very unexpected: a pig!

Okay, so I didn’t actually PHYSICALLY get a pig (I wish!), but my wonderful friend Becky sponsored a pig at Farm Sanctuary in our names. It was such a wonderful gift (THANK YOU, BECKY!). Anyway, this week I received my “adoption” packet about Hazel, a floppy-eared pig. She is hilarious looking (no offense, Hazel), but in the most adorable way. I loved reading about Hazel and her companion Harry’s journey to Farm Sanctuary. An excerpt:

Like their offspring, Hazel and Harry were destined to be killed for pork, but every time Cem tried to load the willful pigs onto a slaughterhouse-bound truck, they would run away and hide, always eluding capture….Formerly of the mind that farm animals raised and treated as humanely as possible returned the favor to the farmer in their deaths, the [farmers] became increasingly troubled and slowly started to phase out their supplemental operation….Harry and Hazel were not only [their] friends, but creatures with desires all their own, namely the chance to hold onto their dignity and their lives.

The couple committed to a vegetarian lifestyle and vowed to find these two pigs a place where they could live out the rest of their lives in peace. Because of Hazel and Harry’s big personalities and determination to live, these former farmers completely changed their lives – how inspiring is that?!

So, thanks to Becky for giving me such a wonderful gift and for helping Farm Sanctuary to do its amazing work; and thank you to Hazel for making such an huge difference in the lives of the people you’ve touched. I hope I get to meet you someday. Oh, and if you get a chance, go say hello to my buddy Goodwin!

Read Full Post »

Many of you have probably seen the news story about the woman who recently cloned her pet Pitbull, Booger, who passed away from cancer in 2006. The cloning procedure resulted in 5 miniature copies of Booger and cost the woman $50,000.

Yes, $50,000.

Look, if there is anyone who understands what it’s like to love a dog, it’s me. My dog Otis is like my baby. I cannot imagine my life without him, and I dread the day when I will have to. He is a sweet, kind, loving, stubborn little guy who makes my life so much more enjoyable – I would do anything for him.

Well, almost anything. I would NOT clone him so that I could have him again and again and again. Why? Because it wouldn’t be fair. This country alone is wildly overpopulated with unwanted pets. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that between 3 and 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year due to overpopulation. These are often times healthy, young animals that shelters just can’t house—they aren’t vicious or sick or old. They are simply victims of overpopulation.

How, then, can someone justify spending $50,000 to CLONE their dog? How can you look the other way while millions of other animals will die, knowing that you could have saved at least one more had you not decided to do something so irresponsible? What’s more – think of how that $50,000 could have been better used to benefit homeless animals if it had been donated to her local shelter or to some other animal advocacy organization!

I think when you look at it from that perspective, there’s just really no way to justify cloning – no matter how much you love your pet. I hope that my dog Otis lives a long and happy life, and that when he passes, I know I did the very best for him that I could. Then, when the time is right, I will go to a shelter and find a new dog to love and will start that incredibly rewarding (though eventually sad) process all over again.

Read Full Post »

You should go read this essay over at AfroSpear – excellent look at several kinds of oppression and how they are linked to the oppression of non-human animals.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »