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Posts Tagged ‘dogs’

This weekend I got into a rather passionate debate with some friends of friends about animal rights. One of them was pretty educated about the evils of factory farming, and said that she didn’t eat much meat because she had to know where it came from. Her husband on the other hand, didn’t know much about factory farming at all, though he was curious about what I had to say and was a good, respectful listener.

After a lot of back and forth about how animals are treated, how ethical meat consumption is, and why I’m vegan, we ended up with them stating that animals wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for humans to eat them – as in, they were put on this earth specifically for us to use as we see fit.  I said that I think animals exist for their own purposes, not for ours.  They exist to be pigs and cows and chickens and zebras and elephants.  I asked them why lions exist, since we don’t eat them (okay, maybe some humans eat lions, but I don’t think many).

“To eat zebras”, they replied.

“Um, ok, why do dogs exist?”

“To be our companions and protectors.”

“So why do humans exist?”

“To eat animals.”

“Wait – so everything on this earth exists to either eat other animals or to be

Here's my l'il doggy, just being his doggy self!

eaten by them? Or apparently, in the case of dogs, to be our buddies?”

They didn’t really have an answer to that.

It is kind of weird to think that we’re all just here to eat each other, isn’t it?  I mean, to be fair, I don’t know why the hell we’re all here either, but I certainly do not think it’s to eat or be eaten.

They also tried to tell me that veganism is no better because of all the animals that are killed in the process of harvesting vegetables and grains.  UGH. I am so tired of hearing that one.  Let’s walk through this: yes, small animals and insects are killed in modern agriculture in the planting and harvesting of various crops.  Those crops are then largely fed to “food animals”, which are then slaughtered and fed to humans.  So, logically speaking, we could kill significantly fewer animals by simply harvesting those crops and eating them directly, could we not?    And isn’t that better from an animal rights perspective than the alternative?  Yes, yes it is.  Plus, I don’t claim to be perfect – I step on ants and insects all the time, I’m sure. I hit them with my car.  I live my life trying to do the least harm possible, but I can’t claim I’ve done no harm to animals.

It gets exhausting fielding these same questions again and again to people, and yet I have to remind myself that I once thought that way, and if no one had ever explained things to me, I’d still be eating the standard American diet – SAD!  Do I think this couple is going to be vegan now?  Heck no, but at least I tried to explain my perspective to them, to show them that not everyone thinks that animals are here just for our selfish human purposes. Maybe eventually it will sink in, maybe it won’t, but I did what I could!

So, friends, why do we humans exist anyway?

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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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polarSometimes being an animal rights advocate is emotionally exhausting.  Today is one of those days.

Last night I was watching Animal Planet, as I often do, and the show was about polar bears in the wild.  There was a  mama polar bear and her 2 cubs who were not yet full grown, but also not tiny. Due to lack of food, a big male polar bear was following the threesome in the hopes that he could eat one of the cubs (apparently they will eat their own kind if they can’t find other food).  The mama and her cubs walked for hours trying to get away from him, but finally one of the cubs collapsed from exhaustion and hunger.   The mama bear was trying to get him back up but she couldn’t and eventually she had to leave him so that she could protect her other cub and herself.  I had to turn the channel before the big male bear got to the dying cub.  And then I cried.  Yes, I cried at the cruelty of nature.

What immediately hit me after getting so emotional about this is how nature is kind in comparison to the horrible cruelties humans impose on non-human animals, especially “food” animals.  That cub probably lived just as long as any pig does on today’s factory farms…and he at least lived his short life FREE.  He knew the love of his mother, got to swim, play, and run around.  Chickens, turkeys, pigs and other farmed animals get nothing of the sort. They spend their lives cooped up in tiny cages, feeling pain and sorrow every day.

So then I got even sadder.  Then today I read a story about a man who broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house and put her 5 month old puppy in the oven and killed him, and I got EVEN SADDER.  I mean, how can a human being be so incredibly heartless? HOW?

Anyway, the thing about caring so much about animals is that it lends itself all too easily to sadness.  I still have not figured out how to completely combat this.  How do you find the energy sometimes to go about your every day life when you know how much suffering there is in the world around you – human and non-human?  And how do we ever know if we’re doing enough?  The truth is that I never feel like I’m doing enough.  I’m vegan, and I educate others about veganism; I write this blog; I volunteer for an animal rights organization doing office work and event planning; and I have a dog and a cat whom I love dearly….but none of it really feels like enough.  Will it ever?  Will I ever hear a story about animal cruelty and not feel like surely I’m NOT doing enough if things like that are still happening?  I don’t know.  Anyone have any thoughts/advice?

(Sorry this post is such a downer….I guess it’s just one of those days.)

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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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