Posts Tagged ‘get involved’

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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This past weekend my youngest sister adopted an 8 month old puppy from the local Humane Society. She is a French bulldog/pug mix (the dog, not my sister – har har!) and has been named Ellie May. Ellie, silly

Ellie was rescued a couple weeks ago here in Minnesota: “They were in a barn in wire cages with cobwebs everywhere, sitting in their own feces,” [a Humane Society Rep] said. Don’t puppy mills sound lovely!? Yes, they sound lovely to me too. In case you’re wondering, no, that’s not her brains you see in that picture. She had a rather large cyst removed, and while it looks pretty awful right now, it’ll heal, and hopefully look like this eventually (thank you, amateur Photoshop skills):

Ellie without sore

Anyway, back to this puppy mill business: Ellie May has escaped quite a horrible fate, and stepped into the lap of luxury in joining our family. She doesn’t know it yet, and still thinks we might be trying to hurt her at any given moment, but when she figures it out, I imagine she’ll be quite happy about the whole thing. In the meantime, she is a big hot mess. Potty training has been interesting to say the least. Having been confined in a filthy kennel every day of her whole life, she hasn’t quite figured out that “we don’t go potty inside”. In general she just doesn’t act like a “normal” dog—for example, she is so submissive that she shimmies along the floor on her belly – she hardly stands up at all. Her tail stays firmly tucked between her legs except when she is playing with other dogs (something she is just learning how to do). She doesn’t want humans to touch her, and positions herself in a room so that she always has her back to a corner and her eyes on everyone in the room. It is really quite depressing, and makes me wonder what the dogs who were at this place for YEARS are like if she’s developed these behavioral issues in 8 short months.

And guess what? The woman who is responsible for treating Ellie May and hundreds of other animals this way is going to get some of the animals back. Thank you, Criminal Justice System, this is a great idea. Don’t worry, she is only getting a total of 43 of them back. FORTY-THREE. Let me just say that I have a hard enough time adequately caring for my (albeit very high-maintenance) dog and cat, and she’s going to get 43 animals back to provide such wonderful care for again. It makes me so angry that people can treat animals like this and get chance after chance after chance to do it again.

So, what can you do? First of all, if you want to adopt a dog, please do so from your local shelter or some other rescue group – do NOT go to pet stores or backyard breeders. Give dogs like Ellie a second chance at life. My dog Otis came from the Humane Society and I really couldn’t ask for a better dog. A less demanding dog? Sure–but not a better dog. He is such a sweetheart. Secondly, go to this site and educate yourself about how these dogs are raised, then take the pledge to help stop commercial breeding. Go watch this video and see for yourself how awful these places are, and then get involved!
On that note, I’d like to bring it back around to Ellie, a sweet little girl who has escaped that fate and will live the rest of her life with my sister, who will just love her to pieces forever – even if that potty training thing doesn’t go so well!

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Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: “Because the animals are like us.” Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: “Because the animals are not like us.” Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.
~Charles R. Magel

Did you know that the United States is the largest user of chimpanzees in biomedical research in the entire world? New Zealand, England, Sweden, Austria, and a number of others have either banned or limited such use, and yet we continue to subject our closest living relatives to painful and unnecessary medical testing. And guess what? It’s our tax dollars funding this research. “The cost to U.S. taxpayers for chimpanzee research and maintenance is estimated at $20 – 25 million per year, money that many in the scientific community believe could be allocated to more effective research.”* Based on how little information scientists have obtained by subjecting so many innocent animals to unnecessary tests, the bar for “more effective research” isn’t very high. So if chimps are such good substitutes for humans, why is it that we’ve gotten so little information? The reason is that there are substantial differences between chimpanzees and humans when it comes to diseases like HIV/AIDS:Chimp in research

  • Humans become immunodeficient and do not maintain normal levels of critical immune factors, CD4 and Tlymphocytes. Chronically infected chimpanzees maintain normal levels and do not become immunodeficient.
  • In contrast to humans, HIV does not reproduce well in chimpanzees.
  • HIV infected humans contain the virus in their blood cells and plasma. Chimpanzees contain the virus only in their blood cells.
  • Virus particles are found in human saliva and spinal fluid. In chimpanzees they are not.
  • Humans develop opportunistic infections and cancers associated with HIV. Chimpanzees do not.
  • Humans drop their antibody count prior to systemic illness; chimpanzees do not.**

So, what a great use of our tax dollars! I mean, remember when the scientists found the cure for AIDS from all this research? No? Oh, that’s right BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T.

But, there’s potentially good news. The Great Ape Protection Act (H.R. 5852) could end all the suffering for chimpanzees currently in labs. It would put an end to invasive research and testing on an estimated 1,200 chimpanzees remaining in U.S. laboratories. “The bill would also retire approximately 600 federally owned chimpanzees currently in laboratories — many for more than 40 years already — to permanent sanctuary.”*** Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? I know I’d rather have my tax dollars go toward almost anything else than the pointless use of these poor animals.

So, what can you do? Go to the HSUS website here and find out who your local representatives are. Then, make a quick phone call (or send an email), tell them you strongly support H.R. 5852 and tell all your friends to do the same! These chimps deserve better – help them live out the rest of their lives in sanctuaries.

Also, if you’d like to know more about alternatives to animal testing, check out this website. It has some great information and frequently asked questions and answers.
*Humane Society of the United States.
**Johnston MI. The role of nonhuman primate models in AIDS vaccine development. Mol Med Today. 2000 Jul;6(7):267-70 (as cited here).
***Humane Society of the United States.

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“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”
~Albert Schweitzer

I think about this a lot. Maybe too much.

Sometimes, even though we all know there is immense suffering in the world, we ignore it. In some ways it’s a defense mechanism – how much suffering can we bear to know about in a world where we feel helpless about ending any of it? We’re all guilty at times of just being busy managing our own lives: going to work or school, paying bills, spending time with friends and family, or dealing with our own struggles. It’s not easy to open up your eyes and see all of the terrible things that happen around us.

I know this. I know it well.

I tend to think there are two types of people in the world: those who float through life, and those who really live life and really, really think about the world in which they live. Being a floater is easy–you concern yourself with your immediate circumstances and that’s about it. The latter, however, is really difficult. It means dealing not just with your immediate circumstances, but also with the circumstances across the world – poverty, hunger, child abuse, disease. Man, I got a little depressed just writing all those words. Kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing, though: Can you imagine, just for a minute, what our world would look like if everyone who was able chose to be a Thinker instead of a Floater? What if we all just picked a cause that we care about and put as much as we could in to making a difference for that cause? THAT would be overwhelming too, but in the best possible way. Think about how much we could accomplish.

For some reason, the animal rights movement is what called out to me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about starving children in Africa, or racism, or AIDS . . . it just means that for me, this is what I needed to do. I spared myself the sight of the suffering of farmed animals for a long, long time. When I finally opened my eyes to it, it was heartbreaking. It took me a while to figure this out, but I finally realized that the only way I could not be heartbroken was to try to make a difference. I may have felt helpless, but I wasn’t actually helpless, and neither are you. I may never live to see the day when humans stop treating animals so cruelly, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to my grave without being able to say “At least I tried”.

So, I ask you to do this: Look around you. See the suffering, and then go do something about it.

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