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Posts Tagged ‘companion animals’

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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Kathy Bauck

Kathy Bauck

Kathy Bauck, owner of Pick of the Litter Kennels in New York Mills, MN, was recently found guilty of four misdemeanors: one count of animal cruelty, and 3 counts of animal torture.  Her crimes involved dunking dogs into vats of insecticide and performing surgery on dogs without a license. Several dogs at the kennel were too weak and thin to stand up, and this woman has up to 1300 dogs in her “care” at a time. An officer of the ASPCA reported her to the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act back in 1998 and no action was taken.  Eleven years later, we finally get some kind of justice.

However, you might have noticed above that she was only convicted of misdemeanors – not felonies. In fact, she was cleared of all felony charges. Apparently animal TORTURE only ranks as a “misdemeanor”. In case you’re wondering what the definition of a misdemeanor is (as I was):  A crime punishable by less than a year of imprisonment in a county jail and/or a fine is considered a misdemeanor. Examples of misdemeanors include shoplifting, simple assault, disturbing the peace, and driving under the influence (provided no one is injured).

This monster tortured innocent animals, and will likely see no more than 20 days inside a jail cell. She is still allowed to keep her kennel and keep breeding animals. The only stipulation is that she has to agree to unannounced inspections.  By whom, I am wondering?  Clearly the USDA isn’t “on the ball” (yes, I realize they are understaffed, but it is their responsibility, and they let this go for 11 years!), so who exactly will be inspecting her and reporting her?  Who will do anything to make sure she doesn’t torture any more dogs?

I don’t have a lot of faith that any justice has actually been served and it is incredibly frustrating. It feels like the “victories” are so small sometimes, doesn’t it??

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This video just melts my heart.  It is a great example of how loving and selfless non-human animals can be.  The whole idea that so many people hold that says somehow humans have a monopoly on emotions kind of gets tossed out the window when you see something like this.  We could all learn a little something from this Hero Dog!

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I get frustrated when people suggest that all Pit bulls are a danger to society.  I work with someone, in fact, who is so prejudiced against these beautiful dogs, that she will leave a dog park with her dogs if a pit bull arrives.  While Pit bulls are incredibly strong and can therefore inflict a dangerous wound if they do attack, they are by no means the only breed that bites.  My dog was once bitten by a Golden Retriever at a dog park.  My father was badly bitten on the leg by a Springer Spaniel once and needed several stitches and hospital visits.  Not that I want to give Golden Retrievers or Springers a bad name – I’m just pointing out that any breed of dog can bite.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document that a chained dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an unchained dog.  This shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Additionally, if you look at the breeds of dogs that are most often obtained to be “guard dogs”, you’ll find Pit bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers – usually the same dogs we hear about in dog bite or dog attack stories.  Is it any wonder that a dog who is kept chained, or treated as a security system instead of as a part of the family might act out or become aggressive?  When these kinds of dogs are kept indoors, are well-trained, and treated as part of the family, they are excellent companions, and rarely aggressive.  I mean, do these Pit bulls look like cold-blooded killers to you?

Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

A recent article out of the Victoria Advocate sums up this issue nicely, I think:

Pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other dog. They are loving and loyal animals.

Don’t ban pit bulls. Ban abusive owners.

“There’s a chance for any dog, even a good dog, to bite someone,” said Larry Green, a chaplain for Hospice of South Texas. “The aggression comes from how people raise them.”

Owners should properly care for pit bulls – love, train and keep them humanely enclosed. Besides, banning a breed is ineffective.

“It’s the deed and not the breed,” said David Kirkpatrick, spokesman for the American Veterinarian Medical Association. “There’s quite a bit of science that says banning a particular breed of dog has not proven to reduce dog bites. Breed-specific legislation is stereotyping certain breeds as being vicious. We oppose this.”

A dog’s tendency to bite depends on several factors. Chain any dog to a tree for lengthy periods and the dog will become angry and aggressive, Kirkpatrick said.

“If the dog is trained, socialized, kept in an environment that doesn’t increase its aggressiveness, than you will have a happy, healthy dog.  Dog bites are preventable,” he said.

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This is probably one of the cutest stories about animals I’ve seen in a while, and what animal advocate couldn’t use a good pick-me-up every now and then, right??

It is a story about a very unlikely couple: Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog. They found each other at Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Each showed up all alone, but soon found comfort in the other’s presence. They know they’re not the same species, but it doesn’t seem to bother them at all–they’re friends through and through.

When people try to argue that non-human animals are mindless dolts (which, to be fair, isn’t often argued about dogs, but still…), I like to point to stories like this, which to me so clearly illustrates how complex and emotional non-human animals really are:

Tarra and Bella have been close for years — but no one really knew how close they were until recently. A few months ago Bella suffered a spinal cord injury. She couldn’t move her legs, couldn’t even wag her tail.

For three weeks the dog lay motionless up in the sanctuary office. And for three weeks the elephant held vigil: 2,700 acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner, beside a gate, right outside that sanctuary office.

“She just stood outside the balcony – just stood there and waited,” says Buckley. “She was concerned about her friend.”

Watch the video – totally worth your time, I promise – to see the full story, including watching Tarra’s giant foot pet Bella’s furry belly!

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more about “On Elephant Sanctuary, Unlikely Frien…“, posted with vodpod

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At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans. To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion. Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society.
~Arthur Conan Doyle

This quote kind of says it all, but because I’m a loud mouth, I’ll happily add my own two cents to it!

People often ask me why I made the decision to go vegan.   I can point to certain events leading up to that moment that are helpful in explaining how I got here, but at the same time, when I really think about it, it’s almost as if it wasn’t a choice at all. Of course I wasn’t forced to be vegan – that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that it was almost like I had been asleep before and suddenly I woke up and saw the cruelty and suffering around me; being vegan seemed like something I simply had to do. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I had been contributing to animal suffering for 26+ years. I couldn’t look the other way anymore and continue to act as though I hadn’t just had a complete change in perception.

One of my favorite parts of Doyle’s comment is when he states that “nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again”. We all experience awakenings throughout our lives, whether it’s because we fall in love or get our hearts broken, find religion, have children or any number of other major life events. These things change us permanently and profoundly–just as my awakening changed me. You see, I had always considered myself to be an animal lover, and yet I ate some animal or animal product every single day. What I really was was a dog and cat lover. Then, somehow I opened up my eyes to the beauty and wonder of all non-human animals; I forced myself to imagine the pain and suffering that farmed animals must experience every single day on factory farms, how excruciating each day must be for them… For me, it was virtually impossible not to have a complete change in perception.

I believe that most humans have the capacity to connect with non-human animals, but that we are discouraged from doing so from a very young age. We are taught that dogs and cats are companions, and cows, chickens, pigs, sheep, turkeys, etc. are for eating and/or using in some other way.  It isn’t always easy and it can be scary (as change often is), but if you can open your heart up to the joy and beauty of other non-human animals, you will realize that they are not here to serve human purposes, and they most certainly are not here to endure senseless pain and cruelty only to be brutally killed for our dinner. They are here for their own reasons: to play in wide open pastures, to forage for food to nourish their own bodies, to create and nurture their families, and just to enjoy life. Who are we to take that from them?

My hope is that more people will allow themselves to see animals for the amazing individuals that they are; that more people will have their very own vegan awakening.

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Designer Karl Lagerfeld recently attempted to defend his use of fur in his clothing lines.  What was his brilliant argument, you might be wondering?  “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish” and that hunters are only “killing those beasts who would kill us if they could.”  Um….because bunnies and minks are violent human killers!  VIOLENT, I tell you!  I mean, look at these things:

I, for one, am terrified just looking at this picture.  Those eyes are saying “I’m gonna eat you, human!”

Oh wait a minute, they’re not??  Weird. Because if Karl Lagerfeld, an animal behavior expert idiot, says they would, then surely they would, right??

This argument is one of the most irritating I hear from people who try to justify eating, wearing or hunting animals.  The animals we use for our own purposes are generally the most docile animals there are – not to mention the fact that the majority of them don’t even eat meat themselves (rabbits, deer, cows, for example).  Those who do only do so for survival, whereas humans (in general) can easily survive without using animals for food or clothing.

And newsflash to Mr. Lagerfeld: most fur these days isn’t hunted – it’s raised in factory fur farms where the animals (often dogs and cats) are skinned alive.  Maybe he should watch this video so he can see where the fur he’s using actually comes from (note: the video is very disturbing).

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