Harming animals to help humans: when charity isn’t charitable

Pigs in gestation crates: http://www.all-creatures.org/

Kathleen Stachowski    Other Nations

There’s something terribly uncomfortable about commenting on people and groups doing charitable, humanitarian work where animal exploitation figures in–even if only remotely or tangentially. It feels like badmouthing Santa or ripping on Mother T. Because oppression of other animal species is so thoroughly woven into the fabric of our lives, it’s considered normal or merely goes unrecognized. You know from the get-go that your comments will be perceived as criticism. The nuances of the discussion will be lost. The defensive accusation, “You care more about animals than people,” will come blasting your way to shut down further discussion. Some things shouldn’t be questioned. Period. Continue reading

The Slavery of Animals

Travis Brown

            People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is bringing suit on behalf of five orca whale plaintiffs against SeaWorld  this week in the United States District Court located in San Diego, California.  The suit, acknowledged to be unlikely to succeed, seeks to expand the boundaries of current animal rights. 

The basis of the claim is a rather progressive one.  PETA is asking the District Court to grant constitutional protection to the whales predicated upon the Thirteenth Amendment ban on slavery.  The group maintains that the Amendment does not solely apply to humans, and that the whales being kept within the parks and used solely for breeding and human entertainment is tantamount to such unconstitutional servitude.  Jeffrey Kerr, the general counsel for PETA stated that, “Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion.”

SeaWorld flatly denies any allegations of such slavery and stated that, “There is no higher priority than the welfare of the animals entrusted to [SeaWorld’s] care and no facility sets higher standards in husbandry, veterinary care and enrichment.”  Continue reading

“Proposition B” Repealed: Suffering Falls Victim to the Economy

George Buchanan

        Less than two years ago Missouri passed Proposition B, the “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act.” However, in April of 2011 Proposition B was repealed.

The United States Humane Society estimates that there are roughly 4,000 puppy mills in the U.S. alone, and that 2-4 million of these dogs are sold each year. All of these dogs will suffer some form of physical or psychological issues due to the horrible conditions they are raised in, and a good portion will wind-up being euthanized when they are not sold. Proposition B required wire flooring for cages eliminated by November 2011; Maximum allowable breeding females per business = 50; Cage height = taller than any dog standing erect; Maximum number of times a female may be bred within 18 months time = 2; Larger enclosures by November 2011. Although these requirements are not exactly ideal for a dog’s well being, they would be an up- grade over the previous conditions the dogs were forced to endure. Continue reading

Trap Neuter and Release Programs (TNR) Lead to Hoarding

Sarah Kelland

Organizations such as PETA and The Humane Society of the United States believe that the trap neuter and release programs for feral cats are not beneficial when their caregivers do not feed them or tend to their medical needs. A recent NY Times article “The Pathological Altruist Gives Till Someone Hurts”, supports this view.

The “someone” refers to a feral animal escaping the possibility of being euthanized in a pound. Hoarders think they are rescuing these animals, but they are unable to see that they are causing more harm than good. Their desire to save feral animals from death ironically leads to having more animals than they are able to care for which results in their death. Walk into a hoarder’s home and “you can’t breathe” and “there are dead and dying animals present.” This becomes a safety issue to the animals, those that live in the home, and the humane officers who come to rescue them.  This is selflessness gone awry. Continue reading

No Tranq-Guns in Ohio

 Rosana Escobar Brown

The recent slaying of about 50 exotic animals in Ohio has animal lovers (like myself) in an uproar.  While it is obvious that law enforcement officials needed to protect the safety of local residents and also had to follow orders, images of the grizzly scene beg the question…

How could this have been avoided?

For starters, the Ohio police could have had more than a few tranquilizer guns lying around; especially out there in farm country where loose animals pose a real problem.  Ohio even has laws about mandatory reporting obligations when exotic animals escape.  Does this mean that whenever receiving a report that an animal is loose, the authorities just show up guns blazing?  Something is very off here. Continue reading

The Elephant in the Living Room: An Inside Look at Exotic Pet Ownership in the United States

Kelly Kruszewski

In November of 2007, 911 dispatchers in Pike County, Ohio, received a call from an alarmed driver—there was a lion attacking cars on Route 23.  Apparently, the lion escaped from his enclosure and ran toward the local highway.  Terry Brumfield owned the lion whose name was Lambert.  In an article published in the Columbus Dispatch shortly after the incident, Brumfield says: “To me, he’s a big, old house cat. A big, old teddy bear.”

    More can be said of Terry Brumfield and his lions in a documentary by Michael Webber known as The Elephant in the Living Room, which uncovers the subculture of exotic animal ownership in the United States.  The documentary follows Tim Harrison, a Dayton, Ohio, public safety officer with years of experience in dealing with exotic animals and even his own past-ownership of them, of which he refers to as the “dark side.”  The documentary also shadows Terry and his two lions, Lacy and Lambert, whom he took in when they were just cubs.  In 2007, when Lambert escaped his enclosure, Ohio did not require a permit for exotic or dangerous animals.  Currently, in nine states it’s actually legal to own an exotic or dangerous animal and in thirty states there are only some restrictions on licensing and permits.  Continue reading

Bill Clinton is a Vegan?

Ashley Macdonald

Don’t worry, it’s for health reasons.  A quadruple bypass and two stents in a clogged artery, to be exact.

I was surprised to read that our former President no longer includes meat, eggs, or dairy in his diet.  Even more surprising was the fact that animal welfare and environmental protection were not mentioned once when he explained his drastic dietary transformation—not even as corollary benefits! When asked directly if he was a vegan, he reluctantly acknowledged that he was.

Americans embraced and encouraged President Clinton’s love of fast-food and meat.  It was something most people could relate to and reminded us that he was just an ordinary American. Could he have publicized his vegan diet 15 years ago without hurting his chances of reelection? Probably not. But what is it about veganism and vegetarianism that makes our elected officials so uncomfortable?

For one, the meat and dairy industries exert great influence over Congress and executive agencies like the USDA. With campaign contributions at stake and pressure from persuasive lobbyists, it is not surprising that beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products are supported and promoted by the government. Continue reading

The Return of a Majestic Giant

Travis Brown

The moose (Alces Alces Americana) population is beginning to rebound in New York State.  Moose constitute the largest member of the deer family and with once dwindling population levels, New York is now enjoying a healthy resurgence of a once scant creature.  Standing as tall as six and a half feet, measured from the shoulder to the ground (leaving their neck and head much, much higher), moose were once the target of aggressive hunting practices in the Northeastern states of the US.  Population numbers did not start to recover until 1935 when Maine prohibited the hunting of moose.  From 1950 to 1990, moose populations in Maine nearly tripled from 7,000 to 20,000.  This marked increase was noticed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2010.  Continue reading

The Real Cruella de Vils: The Little-Known Back Story of the Animal Welfare Act of 1966

Ally Bernstein

What would you do if one day, after letting your beloved Husky, Niko, play outside for two hours, you went to get him from the backyard but he wasn’t there? First, you would probably search the neighborhood, followed by checking the local pounds and posting signs in hopes that all of these efforts would bring your lost Niko home. Thinking to yourself “how bizarre”, after letting Niko play outside in your fenced in backyard for 6 years, “why now would he decide to run away?” As you go down the list of possibilities; “did he chase a squirrel, did I leave the gate open, did he jump the fence”, what happened to Niko?

Two days go by and you see a “LOST DOG” sign near the local post office, but its not for Niko, its for Bishop, another Husky in the neighborhood. “Well that’s weird,” you think to yourself about the coincidence that two Huskies would go missing from the same neighborhood within the same week. What about the next few days when your friend at the grocery store tells you that her sister’s Husky, Layla, went missing the night before after being let out for her nightly exercise. Is this still a coincidence? Continue reading

Republic of Marshall Islands Opens World’s Largest Shark Sanctuary

Gillian Lyons

We all know that sharks hold a certain fascination in the American mind.  I myself cannot drag myself away from the television during the Discovery Channel’s shark week.  What you may not know is that according to the IUCN, up to 30 percent of pelagic shark species (those that live in the “open ocean”) are considered threatened, due at least in part to a large commercial “sharking” industry, an industry which conservation organizations estimate kills 73 million sharks per year.

In an effort to battle the large, lucrative, “sharking” industry, the Republic of the Marshall Islands has recently announced that it was to be home to the largest shark sanctuary in the world.  In the 768,547 square mile sanctuary, commercial hunting for sharks is banned, as is the sale of shark products.  A violation of these bans can result in fines ranging from 25,000-200,000 dollars. Continue reading

Who’s Your Softer Side

Sarah Saville

Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission just launched a new campaign targeted towards juveniles.  The “Show Your Softer Side” Campaign features a series of photographs of famous athletes and their pets with the tagline “Only a Punk Would Hurt a Cat or Dog.”  It targets juveniles because youths often commit the worst abuses in an effort to show their “toughness.” More information on the Commission can be found here.

Although the Campaign has generally been well received, not everyone is happy about it.  Within hours of the launch, editorial critiques like this one, began popping up.  These critiques claim that it is a waste to spend resources on preventing animal abuse when there are still violent crimes committed against people.  Such critique misses the bigger picture.  Animal abuse is statistically a precursor to abuse against people.  Punishing and preventing these abuses prevents crimes against people.  And even without regards to preventing crimes against people, preventing animal cruelty is important in its own right.  Cats, dogs, and other animals are sentient beings capable of suffering.  We adopt them into our families and breed and train them to be dependent on us.  They deserve are respect and our protection.  And we have the ethical responsibility to give them as much.

“Smart collars”: Taking the wild out of wildlife–and putting it on Facebook?

Idaho National Lab photo

Kathleen Stachowski
Other Nations

Spend enough time in Yellowstone and you’ll see an ever-increasing number of radio or GPS-collared animals. Elk, bison, wolves, and the occasional coyote are species easy to spot sporting the bulky neck gear. Research must be big business.

I once watched as wolves skirmished at Blacktail Pond. One in the group wore a collar, and this same animal sat down–repeatedly–to scratch like a fleabag at her itchy neck. Even after her pack mates bedded down for a siesta, the unrelenting torment kept her from resting; she’d jump up again and again to have another go at it. Continue reading

Monkey Business

Sarah Saville

What’s the difference between an ape and a monkey? In high school I would have answered: a tail. In college I would have answered: somewhere between 3%–6% genetic differences. In law school I will answer: the amount of legal protections available to the animals.

Zoologically, great apes include bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. As defined by proposed legislation, great apes include the gibbons of Family Hylobatidae, also known as the lesser apes. The European Union ended research on captive great apes last year. Today, there are currently several proposed measures to extend protections to captive apes in the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services is currently reviewing whether or not to list all chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Wild chimpanzees are currently listed as endangered, but captive chimpanzees are only listed as threatened. The current “split listing” permits the use of chimpanzees in research and to be kept as pets. In April, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett introduced the Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act of 2011. If passed, the Act will retire all federally owned apes used in research and for breeding.   Continue reading

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