Are rodeos humane? No buckin’ way!

SHARK photo

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

It’s summer, and summer means rodeo. Crowds buzzing with excitement; the sound of groans, gasps, and cheers filling the dusty rodeo grounds; pretty rodeo queens waving to wide-eyed kids, and neck-snared calves hurtling through the air and slamming to the ground shaken, terrified, and sometimes injured. You can’t get family entertainment like that just anywhere!

Ah, rodeo. Romantic, tragic rodeo, the stuff of legend and country music.Tales of love–and life–lost to rodeo. George sang it in I Can Still Make Cheyenne; Garth sang it in The Beaches of Cheyenne. Continue reading

The Ghosts in Our Machine – Reflections

Donna Oakes

Last week’s post about The Ghosts in Our Machine featured insightful and thought provoking remembrances of the ‘aha’ moment from 3 of the project team members – Jo-Anne McArthur, Liz Marshall and Ananya Ohri -

Those remembrances were so honest and inspiring that I found myself going back to the post and reading them over and over  again – especially during those moments when I wondered if there will ever be true justice for animals.

Just as inspirational are the writings of 2 other team members – Nina Beveridge (producer) and Lorena Elke (researcher). These are their reflections on the project and what it has meant to them on a very personal level.

Nina’s reflections:

Working on“The Ghosts In Our Machine”  has been a unique and transformative experience for me. It is a cross media documentary so we wanted to employ cross media strategies to gain support and build community. First we built a website ‘demo’ as a sales tool to find funding partners. Simultaneously Cross Media Director/Producer/Writer Liz Marshall created a beautiful trailer with our photographer Jo-Anne McArthur. We accomplished these with a lot of hard work, sweat  and support from professionals who collaborated with us. Once our website and trailer were unveiled, we launched our social media campaign (facebook, vimeo, youtube), which Liz has done an amazing job spearheading. As our community took shape and the outreach progressed, we launched our crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. The best part about the indiegogo campaign is that the people who donated have become really vested in our project. This is where the magic really started to begin for me. I feel like we are a big family now. It’s exciting to see so many people rooting for the project!         Continue reading

Schultz’s Law: Stepping Forward to the Wrong Beat

Anonymous

           Earlier this week New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law a bill that imposes a mandatory five (5) year sentence without parole for killing a police dog. The introduction of this law brings with it a mix of cautious optimisim and trepidation.

Initially, it’s encouraging to see a law with force behind it for the protection of animals. As this blawg has noted, animals in the United States receive very little help from our laws. Under the new law, “those found guilty of killing a police dog or a dog engaged in a search and rescue operation would receive a mandatory minimum five-year prison term, with no eligibility for parole, and a $15,000 fine.” That’s a major change from previous New Jersey criminal law concerning animals; abuse, and abuse that leads to death, is a disorderly persons offense, a misdemeanor that is located in the agricultural subsection of the New Jersey Code. Now purposefully killing a dog is a third degree felony, and one that has a parole disqualifier, which is rare for third degree offenses. Maiming a dog, without killing, is a fourth degree felony.

But before animal rights advocates champion this law, we must step back and look at what is actually happening. This is being called “Schultz’s Law,” so named for a German Shepard police dog, Schultz, who was killed while pursuing a suspect. According to police allegations, when Schultz grabbed the arm of the suspect to apprehend him, the suspect purposefully flung Schultz into oncoming traffic. Schultz died from injuries sustained when a car hit him.  Continue reading

Some Thoughts on The Ghosts in Our Machine

Donna Oakes

I first read about The Ghosts in Our Machine this past May. It is described as “A film & web narrative in development about the individual animals used within the machine of our modern world”.

This project reminded me of how important images (whether in photographs or film) are in eliciting that “aha” moment. The moment when that fog lifts away and we see the truth about how animals are treated – and more importantly, the moment when we see how we have been unwitting accomplices.

I wanted to learn more about the connection that the team members have to this project.  In this post, Liz Marshall (producer, director, writer), Jo-Anne McArthur (photographer, main human film subject) and Ananya Ohri (researcher) provided deeply personal answers to the following questions:

Most people who become advocates for animals can recall having some type of ‘aha’ moment that set them on their path. Was this something that you experienced (and if so, can you tell us about it)?
Additionally, what aspect of the film do you think has the most potential for creating that moment for viewers – and why?

Ananya Ohri’s answer: Continue reading

Steamed and boiled alive: Sentience won’t save crabs

NOAA photo

Kathleen Stachowski  Other Nations

I’m steamed. Simmering. Approaching a boil. Turning red. Feeling crabby as all get-out.

Over what, you ask? Over crabs. Yeah, those funky, scuttling crustaceans. Not that I ever felt much affinity for crabs. They and their brethren seemed so alien–so lacking in mammalian familiarity (claws! shells! eye stalks!)–that it was hard to muster much of a connection. But that was then. Continue reading

Protesting circus animal exploitation in Missoula -or- How we spent our weekend

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Four performances, four protests. Our numbers ranged from three at one show to as many as 10 at another. The Carson & Barnes circus arrived in Missoula, MT for shows on July 9th and 10th, and no show went without protest.

You might know C&B from the eye-witness account of one ex-employee. Or perhaps from the widely-circulated, much-condemned elephant training video (“Make ‘em scream!”). The footage includes a sadistic training session, caged bears neurotically pacing and bobbing, and an elephant getting her hair burned off with a blow torch. Apparently this was filmed before the waxing craze. One can only surmise that their hair, which is supposed to grow on their bodies, somehow interferes with the performance. Perhaps it’s just too scratchy for the pretty circus lady who clambers up on Jumbo! The C&B Elephant Care page says hair is “often…removed with clippers; this helps to prevent parasites from growing on their skin.” Wild elephants, who don’t shave, wax, clip, or torch, wallow in mud and dirt to protect their skin. Continue reading

Reducing animals to ‘game’–a political word choice

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

The online etymology dictionary tells me this about the word “game”:

game (n.)

O.E. gamen “game, joy, fun, amusement,” common Germanic (cf. O.Fris. game “joy, glee,” O.N. gaman, O.S., O.H.G. gaman “sport, merriment,” Dan. gamen, Swed. gamman “merriment”), regarded as identical with Goth. gaman “participation, communion,” from P.Gmc. *ga- collective prefix + *mann “person,” giving a sense of “people together.” Meaning “contest played according to rules” is first attested c.1300. Sense of “wild animals caught for sport” is late 13c.; hence fair game (1825), also gamey.

It’s that “wild animals caught for sport” that I’m after. Just got back from a trip to southern Utah canyon country. Wish I had kept a journal of all the sights I saw along the way that distressed and depressed my sensibilities, but then again, it’s nuthin’ that hasn’t annoyed most of you, too. You know the stuff I’m talking about. Continue reading

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