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Posts Tagged ‘Animal Rights’

There have been SO many things I’ve wanted to write about lately, but I’ve let summer get the best of me and been a bad little blogger. In an effort to “catch up”, here are just a few of the things I’ve been thinking about the last couple months:

  • If you haven’t seen the documentary THE COVE yet, you need to.  It is a haunting, disturbing, thrilling, and often heartbreaking film about the dolphin trade and consequent slaughter in Japan.  While it will probably make you cry if you are anything like me, it will also inspire you to see how passionate the dolphin advocates are about this issue. They will stop at nothing to end this injustice, and that depth of passion just isn’t prevalent enough. The LA Times wrote up a good review of it if you want to read more.
  • Alec Baldwin wrote a great piece for the Huffington Post about the vilification of Michael Vick, and how in a lot of ways it’s hypocritical of a lot of people – specifically, if you are a meat eater, a leather-wearer, and an animal user.  Not that what Vick did can be in any way condoned, mind you, but that we all need to look at what we do day-to-day to contribute to animal suffering, and ask ourselves if it’s really worth it?  Are dogs any more special than pigs, cows, turkeys?  Should we condemn Michael Vick while letting ourselves off the hook just because we aren’t the ones directly torturing these animals?
  • This NYTimes.com article about the treatment of aging horses that have been used for racing is a great read.  It talks about the need for retirement homes, essentially, for these majestic animals.  About 3000 race horses are retired each year, and right now only about 1/3 of those animals find such homes. Most are abandoned or euthanized, or sometimes sold into slaughter.  Quite the “thank you” for years of making their owners mvdayposteroney, huh?
  • As for our human animal counterparts, one of the stories that really got my attention this summer was about the pervasiveness and brutality of rape in Congo.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Congo this summer is what first brought my attention to this matter, and I haven’t been able to stop reading about it.  It is devastating.  While women are the main victims of these crimes, Congolese men are increasingly being targeted.  One organization that is trying to help victims (primarily women) there is called VDay, a non profit established by Eve Ensler, who wrote The Vagina Monologues (a show I highly recommend).  Check out her site and see how you can help.

With that, I promise to post more regularly – enjoy the reading!  Oh, and check out my new food blog: Veg Out With Us!

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Last night HBO premiered a show called Death on a Factory Farm. This is a small segment. I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, and am not sure if I’ll be able to stomach it, but I do have a friend recording it for me.  Has anyone else seen it?  What were your thoughts?

Viewer discretion advised on the clip below…

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To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable crime.

~Romain Rolland, Nobel Prize 1915

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The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.

~Schopenhauer

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If you’ve been following the whole debate about what to do with all the wild horses in the western United States, then you probably know that there was a possibility that thousands of these beautiful animals would be rounded up and potentially euthanized. Well, it looks like the horses might actually “win” this one, thanks to a wealthy philanthropist & horse lover, Madeleine Pickens (wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens) who recently announced that she would adopt not just the doomed wild horses but most or all of the 30,000 horses and burros kept in federal holding pens. While she looks for land that would be appropriate for the horses, the Bureau of Land Management will continue to care for the animals for another year.

Wild horse & burro populations have become more “problematic” as of late, because while their populations are growing, the number of people willing or able to adopt them has fallen, as feed prices have skyrocketed, and the economy has dipped into a serious recession:

The federal government has been rounding up wild horses since the 1980s, putting them in holding facilities and offering them for adoption to horse lovers, who promise not to sell them for slaughter. But the roundups became aggressive under the Bush administration. As of June, BLM was holding 30,088 animals, more than triple the 9,807 held in 2001…. Meanwhile, the pace of adoptions has been falling as the cost of feeding and caring for the wild horses has skyrocketed. The price tag to federal taxpayers for maintaining the horses tripled from $7 million in 2000 to $21 million in 2007. Hay prices for one short-term holding facility in Nevada rose from about $160 per ton in 2007 to almost $300 per ton in 2008, for example.

Luckily, these American icons will not meet the fate that many of their predecessors have, thanks to Ms. Pickens.

See, this is why I should be a billionaire – I’d be a totally good billionaire!  I’d save lots of animals and throw money at different non-profits that were doing animal advocacy work. AND I’d be able to volunteer my time instead of working for a paycheck.  It seems ideal….so, yeah, I should be a billionaire. Heck, even being a millionaire would suffice.  How can I make that happen?  Dear Lottery, pick me….??

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The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.

~Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher, 1788-1860

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Our political leaders have a profound effect on how animals are treated in this country. They enact – or fail to enact, in many cases – laws regarding the treatment of wildlife, companion animals, and “food” animals. The U.S. is regrettably behind the times when it comes to many of these issues, and it seems to me that this is most noticeable in how animals used for food are treated. For example, in Western Europe, non-cage egg production has reached 35%, while it comprises a more modest 4% of all U.S. production. The EU will, by law, be entirely cage free by 2012.

Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is a complete disaster for animals, and electing her to be our next vice president would be a colassal mistake.  Palin has a horrific record when it comes to animal rights – just look at this picture of her sporting fur and you get a peek into her regard for the lives of non-human animals.

In order to boost populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunting, Palin has tried to pass legislation that would make it easier for state officials to gun down wolves and bears from helicopters.  Palin denies that polar bears are a threatened species and went as far as filing a lawsuit to reverse the Bush Administration’s decision to add them to the Endangered Species list.

In her short time as a politician, Palin has clearly demonstrated that her interests are in no way aligned with those of animal rights advocates.  As a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, and a staunch conservative with no regard for the lives of animals, the thought of her being one step away from the presidency should the Republican party stay in power is terrifying to me, as it should be to any animal advocate.  Given her record on wildlife issues, I can’t imagine her supporting any legislation that would positively impact the lives of those animals who are most oppressed: “food” animals.  We cannot afford to go backwards on these issues, and electing her would undoubtedly hinder any progress toward creating better lives for our farmed friends.

For more information on how politicians nationally and locally have voted on animal welfare issues, check out the Humane Society’s Humane Scorecard.

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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.

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Spain’s Parliament could soon be making history for the animal rights cause.  A parliamentary committee recently passed resolutions that would extend some basic human rights to the great apes.  If passed next year, the law would give chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans the right to life, freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture, which would include preventing them from being used in harmful scientific testing.  They could also no longer be used in circuses, for television commercials or for films, though they would still be kept in zoos (under revised, improved conditions).  This law would be monumental, and is expected to pass, which is very exciting!

We share almost 99% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees.  They are similar to us in so many ways:

Male chimps have a drive for power; females have strong maternal feelings. Studies indicate chimps plan for the future, have a sense of fairness, empathy and altruistic tendencies, and they can be violent during warfare.

Their mental capabilities surpass those of many humans – children or the mentally handicapped, for example – and yet so many people still feel that they do not deserve some of our most basic rights.  I don’t understand it.  What are humans so afraid of?  Why are so many humans determined to put nonhuman animals into an “other” category – a “they’re not like us” mentality?  So what if they are like us?!  What is the problem with that?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, it wasn’t that long ago that certain minority groups, women, and children were considered property.  How long will it take us to realize that just as that mentality was misguided, so is this idea that nonhuman animals can be used by humans in whatever way we deem appropriate or acceptable?

Kudos to Spain for taking the lead on this. I will be following its progress and hope that it does indeed pass next year and the movement can gain some momentum from it!

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Thanks to Please Do Not Tap on the Glass for writing about this & inspiring me!

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Just when you think you’ve heard it all, that there is no story about the cruelty humans inflict upon non-human animals that could possibly shock you, you learn something new.  Today, I learned about Chinese bear farms from Please Do Not Tap On the Glass, which is a great blog resource for anyone interested in animals, especially wildlife or species originating in Asia.  I’ve learned a lot over there!

Anyway, apparently a number of species of bears are being farmed for their bile, which is highly prized in Chinese traditional medicine (despite the fact that herbal substitutes are widely available).  This business is incredibly profitable and therefore an attractive venture to impoverished people in rural China.  As a consequence, these bears are seen as mere money making machines (no different than how we treat factory farmed animals, by the way) and their care and comfort are not taken into consideration.

Asiatic black bears, known as Moon Bears because of the golden crescents on their chests, can end up spending up to 25 years in coffin-sized cages where they are ‘milked’ daily for their bile, often through crude and filthy catheters causing the animals intense pain.

Just imagine the torture of being trapped in a COFFIN-SIZED cage for 25 years with a gaping hole in your abdomen.  It makes me sick with grief and anger.  Look at this:Bears rescued from bile farm in China

It is just awful what humans can do.

BUT, on a more positive note, it is also amazing what humans can do.  Since 1993, Jill Robinson, CEO and Founder of the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), has been working to rescue and rehabilitate these beautiful animals.  She has also been working with the Chinese government to end bile farming, focusing on the welfare of the bears, but with an understanding of the economic issues faced by the people who operate these farms.  In exchange for releasing the bears to AAF, these individuals are given compensation to either retire or start up a new business that doesn’t harm non-human animals.  Attacking this issue from both sides, and understanding the human aspects of this problem, seems to me to be a powerful and effective way to go about this.  So far AAF has rescued 247 bears. You can read more about their rescue efforts here.

Despite my intense disgust at learning about this, I am so happy to see someone like Jill fighting for these animals, and giving them a voice.  Lately I have been trying to focus more on all of the wonderful things humans have been doing in fighting cruelty against animals.  We might not be as big of a voice as I would like, but we ARE a voice, and people like Jill just prove how much can be accomplished if only we try.

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