Violence in Context

Adonia David

 Yesterday I received an email with a picture of cats that were force-fed toilet cleaner by Proctor and Gamble – an example of animal testing of the type that goes on every day.  The photo was posted by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), an umbrella entity that many view as a fringe and frightening network of individuals who are willing to save animals in testing facilities by taking steps that are prohibited by society such as property destruction etc. (ALF’s guidelines insist that all precautions be taken to make sure no animals or humans are harmed when any destruction occurs, but the fact remains that arson and similar activities are carried out at times).  I have seen other information posted by ALF, perhaps the most disturbing being the story of Britches, a newborn monkey stolen from his mother for a study on “maternal deprivation” and whose eyes were sewn shut to study “sight deprivation.” He was kept in what appeared to be a shut cabinet and given none of the affection a young animal requires.  Members of ALF saved him and, watching the video, I’ll freely admit that I saw them as the heroes of the story despite their reputation. Continue reading

Ban on Domestic Horse Slaughter Lifted

 Gillian Lyons

Since 2006, horse slaughter has been essentially banned in the United States, due to Congressional refusal to fund USDA inspections of horses at United States Slaughter Houses.  It is sad to say that on November 18th, this ban was silently lifted when Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption- effectively lifting the ban on domestic horse slaughter.

The lifting of the ban was the direct result of a Congressional Subcommittee Report “Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter” which connected the 2006 slaughter ban to an increase in neglect and abandonment of horses, as well as a drop in the price for horses. According to the report, the 2006 ban also resulted in a dramatic increase of horses being shipped to both Canada and Mexico for slaughter, with 138,000 horses having been shipped for slaughter in 2010 alone.  Animal welfare organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States argue that allowing domestic horse slaughter is not the proper tool for these managing issues, and instead posit that the move is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Their arguments ring true when reports show that 70% of polled Americans are opposed to horse slaughter.

Continue reading

The Power of Undercover Videos

Ciara Smyth

            On Friday, November 18th 2011, McDonald’s and Target announced they were dropping one of their main egg suppliers after videos emerged showing the supplier’s employees engaging in multiple acts of cruelty against its animals.  The undercover videos  shot by the animal activist group Mercy for Animals show various acts of severe cruelty  being committed against the birds at different facilities of Sparboe Farms, a Minnesota based company.

The courageous acts of individuals from organizations like Mercy for Animals, and the internet, have become a farm animals’ best friend.  As blogger George Buchanan correctly states in his discussion of the workers harming the hens, many other animal right organizations have also gone undercover to expose the conditions of poultry farms.  Just recently, after the release of undercover videos taken at a slaughterhouse by Richard Couto and his organization, The Animal Recovery Mission, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the City of Hialeah Police Department arrested an accused ringleader of the illegal slaughterhouse.  He was subsequently charged him with three counts of animal abuse and 40 counts of confining animals without food or water. Rudesindo “Rudy” Acosta and his associates’ acts of brutal violence against hundreds of helpless animals, including cows, horses, sheeps, pigs and ducks, is beyond egregious and completely shocking to the conscience.
           Undercover video taken includes the repeated beating of pigs with sledgehammers while their stomachs are sliced open.  In one instance, “the killer actually put his hand in the pig’s jugular and ripped it out with his bare hands” said Couto.  Investigators also allege that animals were butchered and boiled alive in some instances.  Another video shows a cow struggling to stay alive after being shot.  Its head is draped over a bucket and a knife rammed into its throat. “I can’t imagine what that animal was going through,” said Couto. Animals are kept aliive to slowly bleed out because the blood has monetary value and is used to make blackened sausage.  Investigators told reporters that more slaughterhouse raids could be coming. They say they’re not going to allow this kind of animal abuse in their city. Just last week, the accused ringleader made his first appearance in Miami-Dade County bond court.  The judge set bail for $500,001.  Yup – over half a million dollars – now this is a judge I would like to shake hands with! Continue reading

Recent Texas Court of Appeals Decision: Using Pets as Property to Gain Ground

Jillian Bittner
In an opinion delivered by Justice Gabriel on November 3, 2011 inthe case of Medlen v. Strickland, the Second Court of Appeals of Texas, Fort Worth, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen’s suit against Carla Strickland for the death of their dog. In what can only be considered a landmark decision, the Second Court of Appeals remanded the Medlens’ case, thereby granting the Medlens the right to sue for the “sentimental or intrinsic value of their wrongfully euthanized dog, Avery.

Kathryn and Jeremy Medlen’s history with their dog Avery began when Kathryn adopted Avery from a homeless man. The facts of this specific case, however, begin when Avery escaped from the Medlens’ backyard during a thunderstorm on or around June 2, 2009. Avery was soon thereafter picked up by animal control. Jeremy Medlen went to the animal shelter, Fort Worth Animal Care and Control, to recover Avery but did not have enough money with him to cover the fee in its entirety. Jeremy was informed that he could return to retrieve Avery on June 10th, and a “hold for owner” tag was placed on Avery’s cage, which was intended to protect Avery from being euthanized. On June 6th, Carla Strickland, an employee at the shelter placed Avery on a “to be euthanized” list for the following day, despite the label on Avery’s designated cage. On June 7th Avery was euthanized. When the Medlen family returned a few days later to get Avery, they were told he was put down. Continue reading

Workers Caught Harming Hens

More on the Sparboe mess…:

George Buchanan
  Sparboe Farms, which runs facilities in Colorado, Iowa, and Minnesota, that supply both Target and McDonalds with eggs, was dropped by the two companies due to animal cruelty. A group called Mercy for Animals filmed “hens crammed in crowded cages, workers burning beaks and one, trying to shove a bird inside the pocket of a co-worker, apparently for fun. Another worker presses his thumb against the back of a chick’s neck until it breaks

The egg supplier, Sparboe Farms, was also sent a warning letter earlier in the week by the FDA, which “found ‘serious violations’ after visiting five of the companies’ production facilities, including failure to have and implement a written Salmonella Enteritidis prevention plan and failure to prevent stray poultry, wild birds, cats and other animals from entering poultry houses.”   Both PETA and The Humane Society have complained, and released videos of the inhumane treatment that occurs at these poultry facilities in years past. But, perhaps with huge corporations such as McDonalds and Target pulling their accounts from egg suppliers, like Sparboe Farms, other suppliers will take notice and not only set standards that conform with anti-cruelty laws; but will also keep an eye on their employees to ensure the treatment that cost Sparboe Farms the lucrative accounts of McDonalds and Target, does not take place at their egg supplying facilities.    Continue reading

McDonald’s and Target Drop their Relationship with their Egg-Supplier, Sparboe Farms

Heather Schlemm

            Mercy for Animals revealed an undercover video of five egg producing farms in three states that both McDonald’s and Target purchase from. Mercy for Animals had its people hired at Sparboe farms and wired them with hidden cameras from May 23rd to August 1st to document the animal abuse occurring. Sparboe Farms is one of the nation’s largest egg suppliers and has facilities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado. Target Corp. was purchasing from the Litchfield Minnesota one and has now agreed to pull all eggs from this farm off its shelves. Target claims to have just been made aware of the facilities conditions and that is why they are immediately stopping their purchases. McDonald’s had purchased from the Vicent, Iowa plant for all its west locations and now says it will never work with Sparboe again. McDonald’s and Target released full statements on their decision to stop using Sparboe. Continue reading

Animal Abuser Registry Laws: NY is First, but Shouldn’t all States Jump on the Bandwagon?

Ally Bernstein

Last month, with a unanimous vote by the Legislature, Albany County became the third county in New York, and the Nation, to require persons convicted of misdemeanor or felony animal cruelty charges to register on the animal abuse registry. According to “Local Law K,” first time offenders will remain on the registry for 10 years and second time offenders will remain there for life and will be prohibited from owning an animal while on the registry. Other provisions of the law will subject offenders to fines and and other punishments for failure to comply.

    According to the Albany Times Union, the laws passed were followed by enthusiastic applause from the legislatures, apparently an “unusual move” after new laws are passed. Lead sponsor, Bryan Clenahan stated, “We know that animal abusers are the same people who commit violent acts toward children and other innocent victims in our community. By taking a stronger approach to animal abuse, we are working to create a safer, more peaceful community for pets and people alike.” Interestingly, this statement reflects that the law was created in order to further the protection of the children and other innocent victims, based on the correlations related to animal abuse and abuse to humans. However, whatever the case may be for why the laws were adopted, they are a major step in the prevention of animal abuse. Continue reading

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