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Posts Tagged ‘Humane Society’

Barack Obama & his daughters

President Elect Barack Obama’s two young daughters, Malia Anne (10) and Sasha (7), were promised that they could get a puppy if their father won the presidency.  Now that Obama has officially been elected (hooray!), it looks like these little girls will finally get their wish.  Now, I don’t know this for sure, but my guess is that most presidents of the past who have had dogs probably got fancy purebreds – “show quality” dogs.  I know a lot of smart & caring people who have gone to breeders or bought puppies at pet stores (ugh!) not realizing that essentially what they’re doing is condemning another dog who’s waiting in a shelter to death.  Until we stop creating demand from breeders and commercial breeders (puppy mills), this country will continue to euthanize millions of healthy, innocent dogs every year.

Obama knows this, and that’s why he has determined that his family’s first dog will be a rescue dog! I could not be happier.  The Obama family will be setting an example for families all across the nation, showing them that rescue is an option, and that you can find a wonderful pet at your local shelter.  Every dog in my family has come from local shelters, most as adults, and they all easily became a part of the family.

I can’t wait to see which lucky pup Malia and Sasha choose to join their family in the White House, and I hope all Americans see and follow Obama’s example!

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“With the passage of Prop 2, California becomes the 5th state to outlaw gestation crates (joining Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado) and the third to outlaw veal crates (joining Arizona and Colorado).  Perhaps most significantly, it becomes the first state to ban battery cages for laying hens, who are killed in far greater numbers than either pigs or calves.”

That’s what awaited me in my email inbox this morning, courtesy of Farm Sanctuary.  How exciting is that!?  No longer will chickens in California have to live like this:

And with California’s lead, the rest of the nation’s egg laying hens might also have a chance to someday live free of cages, able to spread their wings and turn around – such modest requests, really.

I am very excited about this, and want to thank all the animal advocates who worked so hard to make this happen. I know the folks at HSUS and Farm Sanctuary have been working tirelessly to make this a reality, and how wonderful that they have another success under their belt!

To read more about Prop 2, check out these links:

Farm Sanctuary Action Alert: Success on Prop 2!

HSUS: Californians Make History

HSUS President Wayne Pacelle’s Blog: The People Have Spoken

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For a blog that’s about factory farming and animal rights, I realize I haven’t said much about one of the biggest anti-factory farming campaigns going on right now: Yes on Proposition 2 in California.  If passed, Proposition 2 would end the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can’t even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs.  This would apply specifically to hens used in egg production, calves raised for veal, and sows during pregnancy.  Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon have passed similar laws, but if Californians vote yes on Prop 2 on November 4th, the ripple effect across the entire country could be substantial.

I guess I’m not sure why I haven’t said all that much about Prop 2.  Part of it is that it seems like such a no brainer to me that I can’t believe there are so many organizations and individuals who aren’t supporting it. I mean, honestly: requiring that animals can stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs is really kind of asking for the bare, bare, bare minimum.  And yet there’s so much opposition?  Who are these people anyway??  Oh look, here’s who they are–click here.  You can see all the lovely organizations who oppose this legislation, and also learn more about instances where they’ve been in legal trouble for animal cruelty and/or environmental offenses.

Anyway, the HSUS came out with a new ‘Yes on Prop 2’ Commercial.  Check it out & send it to everyone you know in CA.  This ballot initiative is important, and I will be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t pass!

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During the Midwest Animal Advocacy Conference in June (yes, I’m a little slow on some of my posts!), a lot of the things the speakers said really stuck with me.  One of those things came from Paul Shapiro, the Senior Director of the Factory Farming Campaign at the Humane Society of the United States.  To paraphrase, he basically said that at some point in his journey to becoming vegan, he realized that just because he wasn’t physically killing the animals he was eating, it didn’t mean he wasn’t responsible for their pain, suffering, and ultimate deaths.  He likened it to hiring a hit-man, only instead of hiring that hit-man to kill another human (which is how we typically think of hit-men), he viewed meat eating as paying someone to kill an animal for human consumption. If you are doing that, does that make you any less guilty than the person who’s actually slitting the throats of those pigs, cows, chickens and other animals?  He determined that it didn’t and stopped eating animals.

I think it’s an interesting analogy: hiring a hit-man.  I mean, it really makes sense.  If you hired someone to kill a human, you’d be held responsible in a court of law–just because you didn’t pull the trigger doesn’t absolve you of guilt, so why should we feel any differently about paying for meat at the grocery store?  Sure, we’re a few more steps removed – we don’t even meet the person who kills the animals we eat, but that doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for it.  In fact, when it comes down to it, if you’re eating meat, you’re more responsible than those slaughterhouse workers – if you didn’t create the demand, they wouldn’t be there doing your bidding.

Something to think about…

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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.

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This weekend on my 6.5 hour drives to and from my parents’ farm in North Dakota, I saw several trucks transporting pigs to–I assume–slaughter. Every time I saw them, I’d look at them all crammed in there and wondered when they last had anything to eat or drink. I thought about how hot they must be in the 85 degree weather packed so closely together. I wondered how many of them would die on the way to their imminent slaughter. It broke my heart passing those trucks.

Technically, truck drivers are supposed to unload, feed and water the animals every 28 hours. They are to have 5 hours of rest. The thing is, that law isn’t always followed, so animals go days without food, water, rest, or any kind of comfort. Compassion Over Killing did an investigation a few years ago and spoke with truck drivers who admitted to falsifying their documents—saying they unloaded the animals when they never did. I had read that prior to this trip, and couldn’t get it out of my mind as I saw each truckload of doomed pigs.

Animals die all the time during transport because of a failure to provide food, water, and rest. According to a 2006 press release issued by the HSUS:

“…none of the pigs were offloaded after their cross-country truck journey. Instead, the animals, who arrived in Texas on June 26 and 27, were left in cramped confinement inside trucks until June 29, up to an additional 48 to 72 hours, suffering temperatures in excess of 95 degrees. As a result, approximately 150 animals perished.”

Imagine spending DAYS trapped in a truck with very little room to move in 95 degree weather with no food and no water. It is amazing, really, that only 150 of the animals died when you think about it. I don’t think I’d survive in those circumstances!

The other thing that occurs to me is that I used to eat these animals – these sick, starved, dehydrated animals. The idea now of putting the diseased flesh of an animal that knew no kindness in his or her life really does not appeal to me.  The only comfort I had (and it wasn’t much) when I saw those pigs sticking their snouts out of those trucks was that I know I no longer contribute to their suffering.  I wanted to be able to tell them that, to tell them that not all humans are like the ones who forced them onto those trucks, and who will eventually kill them for their flesh.  While I obviously couldn’t communicate that to them, it was good to know that I have at least removed myself from that suffering. I know it doesn’t make a difference to the pigs that I saw this weekend, but hopefully as more and more people go veg*n, fewer and fewer of their offspring will have to endure the same fate.

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The Humane Society of the United States has unfortunately uncovered more abuse of dairy cows. This time the abuse occurred at an auction house in New Mexico. The following video shows some of the offenses, including kicking a weak cow in the head, sticking cows in the eyes with pokers, dragging them by their legs with chains, and other egregious acts of cruelty. I urge you to watch it:

After release of the video, livestock industry officials immediately began spouting off excuses:

John McBride, spokesman for industry trade group the Livestock Marketing Association, disagreed with the Humane Society’s claim that the filmed incidents represented widespread practices in the industry…..”You have to put this in context of the number of cattle handled in markets annually,” McBride said.

I don’t care if there are eleventy billion cattle handled each year and only ONE endures this kind of abuse–even if only a small percentage of cows are tortured, that doesn’t make it acceptable, and it surely doesn’t mean anything to that one tormented cow. She still feels pain, even if billions others aren’t subjected to this same treatment.

“There were no downed cows that went into any packing house or into the food,” said Bouldin [owner of the Portales Livestock Auction]. “I don’t know where (HSUS) got their information. They are obviously misinformed.”

You know, this guy sounds a lot like the owner of the Westland/Hallmark Meat Packing Co in California, who SWORE up and down that downed cattle did not go into the food supply, despite the fact that the HSUS had video footage of that happening. Oh, and PS. They’re out of business now. Woohoo!

[Agriculture Secretary Ed] Schafer said USDA has asked the packing industry to voluntarily ban slaughtering downer cattle that go down after initial inspection. He also denounced any chance the animals shown in Wednesday’s HSUS video were ever slaughtered…..”These cattle were too weak to rise and walk on their own, and would not have been accepted upon delivery to a slaughterhouse,” said Schafer.

Really? I guess I am wondering if Mr. Schafer (a native of my home state of North Dakota) was there at the time these cows were being abused. How could he know so confidently that these animals weren’t slaughtered? Just because they should not have been accepted to a slaughterhouse doesn’t mean that they weren’t, as the Westland/Hallmark case showed us.

Lastly, if I hear one more time that this was an “isolated incident” I am going to have to unleash the Crazy on somebody, because SERIOUSLY? The HSUS has released videos taken at facilities in Maryland, Texas, California, Pennsylvania and now New Mexico. How many more videos will it take before people in the industry and people in our government stand up for these poor animals who are unable to do so for themselves? When is someone going to take responsibility for these appalling acts of cruelty?

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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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This morning on Minnesota Public Radio I heard a story about a local cockfighting operation that was busted in St. Paul. This amazes me. I mean, I know this kind of stuff goes on, I guess, but you don’t think it could be happening at your neighbor’s house or somewhere so close.

According to the Humane Society of the United States website:

Cockfighting is a centuries-old blood sport in which two or more specially bred birds, known as gamecocks, are placed in an enclosure to fight, for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. A cockfight usually results in the death of one of the birds; sometimes it ends in the death of both. A typical cockfight can last anywhere from several minutes to more than half an hour. The birds, even those who do not die, suffer in cockfights. The birds cannot escape from the fight, regardless of how exhausted or injured they become. Common injuries include punctured lungs, broken bones, and pierced eyes. Such severe injuries occur because the birds’ legs are usually fitted with razor-sharp steel blades or with gaffs, which resemble three-inch-long, curved ice picks. These artificial spurs are designed to puncture and mutilate.

What is the appeal of cockfighting? I honestly don’t get it. Who gets off on watching a couple of roosters peck each other to death? I suppose there is money involved, but it still kind of floors me that a bunch of grown men would sit around and watch this and actually enjoy it. What ever happened to good, old-fashioned video game obsessions??

Minnesota’s law allows for those participating in cockfighting or those in possession of birds used for cockfighting to be charged with a felony and sentenced to at least 1 year and 1 day in jail. Spectators are charged with a misdemeanor and charged up to $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. In this case only 2 men were arrested for cockfighting, and spectators were issued misdemeanors.

A big shout out to the person who called 911 when s/he saw a bunch of people carrying chickens into a house!

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