A Day of Reckoning

David Cassuto

Halloween is my birthday.  That fact alone likely would not merit the holiday’s mention here.  I note it because only this year – some forty-odd years into my marking of the day– did I stop to consider what makes this holiday unusual.  First, my son, Jesse, whose tastes seem to be rather typical for his age group, debated for weeks whether to dress up as Genghis Khan or as John Dillinger.  Other candidates on the slate include the Grim Reaper and an assassin.  This approach seems atypical of our cultural observances.

A second unique characteristic of Halloween lies with the fact that it does not revolve around the consumption of animals.  Easter and Christmas require hams, Thanksgiving involves turkeys, Passover needs a sheep shank and chicken soup, and July 4th is about barbecue.  The list goes on.  American festivals are meal-based and animals pay a mortal price for our food-related revelry.  Except, that is, during Halloween.

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Happy Birthday, Animal Blawg!!

Happy B-Day, Animal Blawg!!It’s difficult to believe, but Animal Blawg just turned 1!! These last 12 months have been wonderful. Animal Blawg received only 5 or 6 hits per day during the first month or so. Slowly, but surely, the number of hits started increasing.  I’m pleased to report that during the last month or so the Animal Blawg has received over 1,000 hits per day on several occasions.  Our goal is to reach an even broader audience, but I believe this is a good start.

Thanks to all of you for reading the blawg and for your frequent and insightful comments. Thanks are also due to our numerous guest bloggers.

On a more personal note, I want to thank my dear friend and colleague, David, for encouraging me to think about these issues, for allowing me to co-host this wonderful blog with him, and for keeping the blawg going come rain or shine.

Just like it has done since October 2008, Animal Blawg will continue transcending speciesism through 2010 and beyond.

Luis Chiesa

The Dirty Side of “Clean” Energy

Micheal Friese

salmon-snake-river-photoSaving the wild salmon in the Columbia River Basin is an issue that does not get much press outside of the Pacific Northwest.  However, the possible extinction of the Columbia River Salmon has far reaching effects.  One of the more interesting issues (and representative of the greater environmental and animal advocate’s conflict) is that a main reason for the massive die off of salmon is the dams which supply “clean” energy to much of the northwest.  According to William Dietrich, a noted Pacific Northwest naturalist and writer, the natural salmon population has been reduced by 98 percent.  Much of this die off can be directly attributed to the normal operation of dams.

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Fish Pedicures Revisited: The Debate hits New York State

Irina Knopp


The seemingly symbiotic relationship where customers lose their dead skin cells and fish get a free meal is back in the news.  This time, in my home state of New York.

The procedure has spread like wildfire across the country since its establishment in the United States by John Ho at the Yvonne Hair and Nail Salon in the D.C. area.  However, as popularity grew, concerns for the health of salon patrons increased.  Many states have imposed bans on the procedure stating that it can cause fungal and bacterial infections because there is no way to sterilize the fish. If New York follows suit, it would become the 15th state to ban the procedure.

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Interior Proposes Polar Bear Habitat

David Cassuto

polar_bear_iceA while back, the Bush Administration reluctantly declared the polar bear threatened (under the Endangered Species Act) due to global warming and shrinking habitat.  It determined, however, that it would not use the ESA as the basis to require steps to curtail climate change.  Indeed, the Bushies had no intention of curtailing climate change at all.  The Obama folks agreed that the ESA was the wrong means through which to make climate policy.  Thus, the bear remained threatened and the government remained unwilling to take steps to protect it Continue reading

Livestock Emissions Account for 51% of Greenhouse Gases

Katie Hance

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that livestock accounted for 18% of greenhouse gases, making livestock emissions “one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems.”  However recently, Worldwatch Institute, a Washington D.C. environmental think-tank, reported that livestock emissions actually account for 51% of greenhouse gases.

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The Crime-Fighting Leech

David Cassuto

Viktor Korotayev / Reuters File

Viktor Korotayev / Reuters File

In case anyone was thinking that animal law is always depressing, here‘s a story about a leech that cracked a cold case in Tasmania.  8 years ago, a 71 year-old woman had her home invaded and was beaten and robbed.  An engorged leech was found at the scene.  Samples of the DNA from the blood in the leech were added to the police database.  When Peter Alec Cannon was picked up for another offense and his DNA cross-checked — voila!  He pleaded guilty to robbery last Monday.

A feel-good story about a leech.  Truly, a banner week.