New Rules for Feld Entertainment, Inc.—Pay and Comply

Spencer Lo

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed a $270,000 civil penalty on Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (“Greatest Show on Earth”), for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act spanning a period of years, from June 2007 to August 2011. The civil penalty was made pursuant to a settlement agreement, the largest of its kind in U.S. history, in which Feld Entertainment agreed to “develop and implement annual AWA compliance training for all personnel who work with and handle animals (animal trainer, animal handler, animal attendant, and veterinarian technician).” After March 31, 2012, employees who work with and handle animals would be required to complete the training within 30 days of being hired, and by February 28, 2012, Feld must have established a staffed AWA compliance position. This development is welcome news following recent failures to hold Feld accountable for animal abuses, particularly against elephants. Just this past October, a lawsuit brought by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Protection Institute, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act, was dismissed in federal appellate court because they lacked standing. Continue reading

Eliminate Euthanasia by Gas Chamber

Spencer Lo

At an animal control facility in Florence, Alabama, where stray, unwanted animals are routinely euthanized, a young beagle named Daniel was sent to die in a gas chamber along with 17 other dogs. Amazingly (perhaps miraculously), Daniel survived the 17-minute ordeal unscathed, and has now found a permanent home with the help of animal rescue groups. His story recently featured on Anderson Cooper’s show, bringing national attention to the fact that, while Daniel’s survival is unique, his situation was not. Between six and eight million animals are brought to animals shelters each year, and with nowhere to go, upwards of four million are euthanized, many by carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide inhalation. 18 states have outlawed some forms of gassing, while only 9 have prohibited euthanasia by gassing altogether.

As documented by The Humane Society, euthanasia by gas inhalation can be unreliable and cause prolonged suffering and great distress. Death is not always quick, as it can take up to 25-30 minutes to end an animal’s life, and loss of consciousness and brain function occurs only after vital organs are shut down. Further, where multiple animals are gassed at the same time, feelings of panic and excitability can cause fights to break out. A far more effective, and painless, method of causing death is euthanasia by injection (EBI), using sodium pentobarbital, which results in clinical death within 2 to 5 minutes, and loss of consciousness within 3 to 5 seconds. Clearly, then, EBI is more humane, and yet it still isn’t legally mandated in most states.   Continue reading

A Companion Animal for Your Pet

Sarah Kelland 

            Have you ever questioned the emotional state of your pet? Perhaps you have thought your pet was happy or sad at one time or another. According to the money column in the New York Times Magazine, guinea pigs are predisposed to loneliness. To solve this animal welfare issue, Switzerland passed a law making it illegal to own only one guinea pig. This might force a pet owner to buy a new guinea pig every time one passes away. Fortunately, guinea pigs are now available to rent in a town outside of Zurich for the small one time fee of $30. This is clearly an economic opportunity that was seized. Continue reading

The New Jersey Bear Hunt

Brittney Holmgren

New Jersey has begun its second annual six-day bear hunt in an effort to control the state’s growing bear population. This year’s hunt will allow about 6,200 hunters to track down the animals.

As expected, anti-hunt protestors were ready early Monday morning at the beginning of the hunt, winning a ruling from the sate Appellate Court allowing the protestors to demonstrate outside the check –in station on Route 23.

Hunters feel differently, with one stating “It’s not just walking and shooting. I think bears are a natural renewable resource and hunters are doing their job by hunting and keeping the bear population in check.” Continue reading

Rock stars, factory farmers, and 2 gifts to the food bank

Farm Sanctuary photo

Kathleen Stachowski   Other Nations

Sister-in-law Lisa called from the Ozarks recently to suggest that we change our Christmas routine. Let’s just make donations to a good cause, she proposed. Instead of the seasonal madness of obligatory gift-giving–frenzied shopping trips, needless consumerism, looming mailing deadlines–we’d simply contribute something meaningful to someone who needed it. We decided on our local food banks–theirs in Missouri, ours in Montana.

We’ve frequently contributed to our food bank, and I’ve volunteered there a few times in years past. As vegans, though, it gave us pause to consider that this year’s larger-than-usual contribution might purchase meat from factory farmed animals who suffered their entire lives. Continue reading

Elephant Death at San Diego Zoo Launches Calls for a USDA Investigation

Coral Strother

On the morning of November 17, 2011, Umoya, a 21 year old African Elephant, who was a part of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park was found lying on the ground by zoo caretakers.  She had severe injuries and could not get up.  Umoya passed away before veterinary assistance could be provided.  Although the cause of death has not been determined and autopsy results could take weeks to come back, zoo officials believe the wounds were inflicted by an “aggressive interaction” with another elephant.

Umoya was born in the Kruger National Park and was one of the seven original elephants rescued from Swaziland in 2003.  In 2007, Umoya gave birth to a female calf, Phakamile, and in 2010, gave birth to a male calf, Emanti, which brought the San Diego herd now up to 18 elephants in total.  On the day Umoya died, San Diego zoo caretakers gave the herd time to mourn her death, something elephants, both in the wild and in captivity, are known to do.  Umoya stood out in the San Diego herd as being one of the most dominant females and as being the only elephant in the exhibit who walked backwards. Continue reading

A New American Pastime: Hog Dog Fighting

Adrianne Doll

There is a new game in town joining the ranks of cock and dog fighting: hog-dog fighting.  Many southern states report high frequency of such fights, and even justify the cruelty as a solution to their “hog problem.”  The fighting is even being advertised as a new American pastime for the whole family to enjoy, through events, such as hog-dog rodeos, and television, like American Hoggers.  There are numerous website posts looking for places to hunt hogs and hog dogs for sale.

Dogs, often pit bulls, are taught to attack hogs on command.  The hogs usually had their tusks removed with bolt cutters and are unable to defend themselves from highly trained attack dogs.  The defenseless hogs are ripped apart and left to painfully bleed to death.  Often the owners enter their dogs in contests that reward the fastest attacking dog with trophies and cash prizes.      Continue reading

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